E3 2019 Dreams — I’m Praying to YHVH for a Shin Megami Tensei V New Trailer
The last time we saw any new footage for Shin Megami V was in 2017. It's high time for a new trailer, and E3 is the best place for its debut.
Quick trivia: when was the last time we heard any news about Shin Megami Tensei V? If you said 2017 — two years ago — then congratulations: your prize is getting me the bottle of water my thirsty self so desperately needs.
The last trailer reveal, announcing the Western release for the title on Nintendo Switch and subtitling the original Japanese trailer, was dated from November 29, 2019. And the last piece of official news, which came from Shin Megami Tensei series producer Kazuyuki Yamai, came out on December 28, 2017.
However, other than that we did get a recent statement from Naoto Hiraoka, former Atlus CEO, in January of this year concerning the development of SMTV:
“Shin Megami Tensei V is still in development, but as it’s the first time ATLUS is taking on the challenge of developing games on Nintendo Switch, there’s many approaches. And the way to present the works is our challenge from now on, and please patiently wait for upcoming information.”
And while it’s nice to have official confirmation that SMTV is still being worked on, it would be even better if the development team showed us something more tangible, so we can visually see the progress being made on the title since we last saw it. And what better time to nearly guarantee so many eyes on this upcoming title than to drop a trailer during one of the biggest video game events in the world?
Believe me, I know that being a mainline Shin Megami Tensei fan is suffering, because of how long it can take for a new title in the franchise to release. For instance, the wait between SMTII and III (better known as Nocturne) was nine years (1994 to 2003) and the time between SMT III and IV was ten years (2003 to 2013).
But you can’t just show us such an exquisite trailer — featuring actual HD assets, a haunting soundtrack, and horrifying images coupled with cryptic text and easter eggs riff with content to interpret — and then except us fans to be content with no new footage or screenshots for such a long time.
Looking at this rationally, the actual statement given by the series producer gives us a bit of foresight as to why it’s currently taking so long. From the article detailing the developmental process of SMTV back in December 2017 (via 4Gamer):
“Yamai explains that this is the first time in a long time that a numbered Shin Megami Tensei game gets released on home consoles, so he aims to develop it properly, without making any compromise.
Currently, details are being filled up, art is being created, and the process is in the ‘scrap and build’ phase, iterating the gameplay on the actual console. We also hear that he’d like to have a formal reveal as soon as possible, and he would be pleased if fans could be patient for a while.”
For those not aware, “Scrap and Build” is a Japanese term that refers to old homes being demolished and rebuilt on the same land rather than renovated. Applying it to game development, Yamai is essentially saying that instead of using older assets and engines for SMTV, the development is scrapping all of that and developing everything from scratch.
Considering that the team is using Unreal Engine 4 for the first time, is developing a mainline title on a home console for the first time in almost twenty years, and that they’re creating HD assets from the ground up, then it would make complete sense for the developmental cycle to stretch out this long. Unlike the Persona team, which had the chance to work with HD development due to Catherine and then Persona 5, the SMT team is essentially fumbling around in the dark.
However, that doesn’t mean there should be such a long period after with nothing being shown. Atlus revealed the game and trailer over a year and a half ago, solidifying the concept of its existence in fans’ minds and creating anticipation for the finished product. Therefore, they have a responsibility to now keep those same fans updated of its progress. If full scale trailers were an issue (due to development hardships), interviews, screenshots, progress reports, and other methods would have been more than adequate to keep fans informed.
As it has been a long (almost) two years, a brand new trailer for Shin Megami Tensei V, complete with more story details, is long overdue. Gameplay would be an excellent bonus — double if it showed both dungeon crawling and the battle system.
From what was shown in the 2017 trailer, we can assume that Tokyo becomes overrun with demons at some point and the city is now a horrific and chaotic nightmare. There are also mentions of a “Messiah” needed to come save the people, and that they possibly would hold his hand skyward before perishing. Finally we have the keywords “Shekinah Glory” — which translates to “Miracle of God” — prominently featured.
All this evidence points to the conclusion that this game will most likely be Law-centric, since the surviving citizens will be clamoring for some sort of stability that the angels are bound to capitalize on.
I gleaned all that from the small amount of footage in that first trailer. Imagine how much more of the plot and setting could be uncovered with just one more trailer. Fans could truly get a sense for the complex politics at work, how much the devastation has spread out, how humanity is fairing in the aftermath of the carnage and exposure to the demons, why and how demons were unleashed in Tokyo in the first place, and even meet some of the other characters — including that young woman seen with the hero who was later killed alongside him.
That’s also not to mention if that same trailer also showcased how the protagonist would traverse Tokyo. Will they keep the classic overworld map, or will players be able travel through and explore each part of the city proper? And while it goes without saying that the dev team will keep the 3D style dungeons of Shin Megami Tensei IV intact, how much more expansive will the designs and layout be now that the series has embraced Unreal Engine 4?
Then there’s the matter of the battle system itself. There’s no doubt in my mind that we will see a return of the Press Turn System, one of (in my opinion) the best turn-based battle systems ever created, so any gameplay would naturally revolve around that. But as SMT IV added the Smirk mechanic, adding even more strategic depth to the system, SMTV has the potential to mold a new mechanic that could change significantly change the foundation of Press Turn. And wouldn’t that be exciting to see in a new trailer?
Having it laid bare, this is far too much content for one mere trailer to convey. So my ultimate wish would be for an initial trailer reveal during or around E3 that contains a bit more plot and gameplay. Then Atlus could trickle out more mini trailers, screenshots, and teasers at regular intervals. Once Atlus gains momentum and garners interest in the game, it would just be a matter of keeping fans hooked until launch, whenever that happens.
In conclusion: I’m a Shin Megami Tensei diehard and at its dried up well dying of thirst. Please Atlus, give us something this year.
As we near E3, what do you want to see the most at this year’s show? What’s your dream scenario? Be sure to let us know in the comments. Lastly, be sure to check out some of the other hopes and dreams for E3 2019 from the rest of the DualShockers writers.