Final Fantasy VII has been lauded as one of the great JRPGs to revolutionize the western gaming world since its release in 1997. And fans have been clamoring for years to get some kind of remaster or remake that let them see and play FFVII in an updated setting. We need a Final Fantasy VII Remake!
In 2015, Square Enix announced it would make those dreams come true, bringing a full-blown do-over of the classic to the PlayStation 4. Since then, there hasn’t been a ton information about the aptly titled project, Final Fantasy VII Remake. Will we learn more during the Square Enix E3 2018 press conference? Who knows — but here’s everything we do know right now.
Cloud will look pretty different
In February of this year, Square Enix showed four never-before-seen screenshots of the upcoming game at Final Fantasy’s “Farewell Stories” exhibition in Tokyo, an ongoing event celebrating 30 years of the iconic RPG franchise. The four screenshots contradicted previous gameplay footage and concept art of lead protagonist Cloud Strike and other characters.
Those at the exhibition said that Cloud is handsome, but has an “immaturity suitable for his age.” Three other characters — Brigs, Wege, and Jessie — have apparently had their looks modified, too, although perhaps not as extensively as Cloud. Briggs was described as “super handsome, Jessie was said to be cute, and Wege was “refreshingly chubby.”
It’s coming to PS4
According to Square Enix’s announcement, FFVII Remake will come to PS4 first, but there is no word on compatibility with other systems. Square Enix has brought Final Fantasy games to other platforms, including Xbox, in the past, but Sony has not said when its exclusivity deal will end.
Square Enix began the FFVII Remake project with the help of developer CyberConnect2, which worked on the content that you can now find online. However, in May 2017 Square cancelled the contract: The company announced that Naoki Hamaguchi would instead be taking over development of the Remake project, ensuring the project would stay fully in-house.
According to streaming interviews, Square Enix appeared to be worried about meeting deadlines and ensuring quality. Hamaguchi specifically stated: “In view of factors such as improving quality when the product goes into mass production in the future, the company has decided to shift the developmental system back to within the company, so as to maintain a stable schedule and have control over factors such as quality.”
The Remake will be released in different parts
In an interesting twist, Yoshinori Kitase wrote a blog that appears to confirm that FFVII Remake will be released in different, episodic sections. He referenced a “multi-part format” and said that fans were right when they guessed it would be a multi-part series (while still being a single game).
Why break it up? According to Kitase, the team did not want to make “a condensed version” of the game, and cut elements of the the original version that people loved.
Unfortunately, Kitase did not give any more details about the game’s new structure. How many parts will Square Enix release? Will the whole game launch at once, or will there be a gap between each release? Expect answers closer to the release date.
Changes in Gameplay
Square has been very careful to refer to the new FFVII as a “remake,” rather than a remaster or reboot. The wording was chosen carefully to let fans know that changes will be coming. Maps, materia, battle screens, conversations, items, and more may be altered.
So far, we’ve seen only the briefest glimpses of content from the game: At this point, they’re just glorified concept art and cutscenes. Many of the images show the opening of the game where Cloud is running through the murky streets of Midgar on his first AVALANCHE mission. From the brief trailer and still images, we can put together several clues on how the gameplay is shaping up:
- New cutscenes aside, Midgar looks very similar, with most scenes plucked more or less directly from the original game and showcasing very familiar monsters (the characters, on the other hand, have had some notable changes — Barrett, do you really need sunglasses underground?).
- Battle does appear to be largely action-based. It looks partially automated, and partially controlled via a familiar menu that includes options for Summon, Magic, and more. Combine that with real-time battle screens, and…well, we’re not sure what’s going on, although it is reminiscent of Final Fantasy XV’s gameplay. Remember, this may just be an early mock-up of what combat could look like.
- The graphics are incredible. If what we’ve seen is what gamers will get, the game’s visuals are extraordinary, but it’s still a little too early to be sure at this point.
- We don’t know if the Remake will be open world. It would be incredibly disappointing if it wasn’t, but the changes Square is making may force the game into a more linear path. We’re keeping our eyes open for a world map or some other encouraging sign.
Changes in Story
Square isn’t talking much about the story, but it is widely expected some elements will be tweaked so that they make more sense to a modern audience. Tetsuya Nomura has clarified that there will be “more plot devices” and that the remake will “take a different approach and make something that suits the time.”
This is also a chance to make the game fall more in line with the other FFVII content that Square Enix has produced since then, including Dirge of Cerberus, Advent Children, and so on. It’s worth noting that one of the promo images distinctly shows Sephiroth’s fallen angel wings, a detail that wasn’t included in the original game but made popular by new cinematic content years later. Square seems intent on incorporating such new content into the remake.
The most concrete info we have on this is an interview with Square Enix CEO Yosuke Matsdua where he talked to shareholders, stating that the Final Fantasy VII Remake would be released within three years (along with Kingdom Hearts III and other Square projects like an upcoming Avengers game). So, sometime between now and 2020 is currently the best guess for at least the first piece in the series.