While watching Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference all it took was the Phantom Dust School symbols to be displayed on a screen behind Ken Lobb to have fans on the edge of their seats to see what was next. Microsoft did not disappoint. After ten long years we got our first glimpse of what a reimagined Phantom Dust might feel like. If we weren’t already overfilled with excitement at the fact that Phantom Dust was coming back and center stage at E3, they drop Chopin’s Nocturne Op.9 No.1, a nod to the original Phantom Dust’s amazing soundtrack. At the same time things switch to slow motion for the impending clash between Freia and “some guy”. After getting over the initial shock of seeing a new Phantom Dust trailer it wasn’t long before someone noticed a Halo Wars poster on one of the billboards. I was already interested in the text I could see on some of them and trying to decipher what they and the trailer might mean. Let’s take a closer look. (click on images for full size view)
In the opening shot, from the the back we see a man sitting on a bench in a park square. Above and to the left of the man’s head is a billboard that reads. “DID I SEE THIS? WHO WAS I? THIS MADE ME FEEL SAD”. You can also see this behind the angle statue. The top billboard has the same text, followed by an Xbox logo and another bit of text reading, “DID I SEE THIS?” To the right of mid-frame you can see what looks to be Marcus Fenix’s silhouette in a shot from Gears of War. Just above and behind that looks like it could be a Covenant Banshee from Halo. On the building to the right you can see “CLOSED BY POLICE IN MOSCOW AFTER PAYING” and what looks to be a stock ticker with symbols and prices. The curious part, the tickers (news and stocks) do not move.
I asked Microsoft about the man in the trailer, wanting to know if he was supposed to be Edgar or the protagonist from the original game. Because when compared to Freia’s new look he looked nothing like either of them. They confirmed the woman is Freia, but were not ready to share any details about who the guy was just yet. Notice the pin on his left lapel, it’s the symbol for the Optical School of skills. Might he just be another Esper or member of the Visions? He looks to be lost in his thoughts.
Next there is a disturbance and the man is knocked out of the peaceful scene. In this frame we can see another billboard with “WHO WAS I?”, another Xbox logo, and a yellow billboard with pennant-shaped colored bursts coming from the center. To the right of the that billboard you can see a bird that flew from the trees as the trouble began. This reminded me of the opening cutscene of the original Phantom Dust where you ascend a staircase, open a door to the surface and birds fly away.
Freia makes her return. She was instantly recognizable with her white hair, high collared white jacket, neck belts and buckles everywhere. She even kept her fishnets and knee pads. The only thing missing was her trademark sunglasses. The purple aura represents her arsenal is built mainly of skills from the Faith School.
The world is suddenly post-apocalyptic, as was the world of the original Phantom Dust. Here we realize that what we saw at the beginning of the trailer was likely not the real world. Maybe it was just a vision the man was day dreaming of or trying to recreate? The man’s blue aura represents an arsenal built mainly of skills from the Ki School.
The deflected projectile hits the angle statue, erupting into a cloud of smoke, ash, and debris. It looks like Phantom Dust’s incredible destructible environments will be back. Not only did they give skills a great sense of power and look amazing on screen, they could be used strategically.
In this shot where they are running at one another, in the upper left you can see the Halo Wars poster that first got people’s attention. Frank O’Connor (343 Industries) when asked if he has anything to share about Halo Wars 2 said, “Not at the moment and that poster was just a weird coincidence.”
In the final shot when Freia and the unknown man meet, two more phrases can be seen. Again, “DID I SEE THIS” to the left and “WHO WAS I?” (reversed) to the right. Notice the building in the lower left is a facade. This is not the only building like this in the final frames of the trailer, there are many.
Before the logo is shown we see Phantom Dust’s tagline, The Battle For Reality Begins. What does that mean? Well, we already know the core battle mechanic will be back, that is what Phantom Dust is really all about. Ken Lobb, during his interview with Rev3Games said about the single player game, “We’ve got this great RPG that we love. We want to tell that that story, we’ll, want to tweak, uh…” and then changed the topic. So, it sounds like the story may be altered in some way from the original. Could the motivation for battles in the single player game be to regain reality instead of your lost memories? More as it becomes available.