Final Fantasy VII Remake facing drastic changes. Is Square-Enix playing with fire?

Final Fantasy VII Remake facing drastic changes. Is Square-Enix playing with fire?

Hands up. Who’d given up on ever seeing a Final Fantasy VII remake? I certainly had, especially after reading one interview with Square-Enix a while back where they said they wouldn’t even consider it until they’d made a game as good as FFVII. Considering the XIII trilogy (they made three!) exists, it didn’t look good.

But as we saw during Sony’s presser, it is happening and will be coming to PS4 first and presumably other formats afterwards. We’re getting what we want. But are we?

Exactly what do we want from a Final Fantasy Remake? Take the original with those -still gorgeous- prerendered backgrounds, if the remake went down the route of sticking to the original, we’d be seeing redrawn visuals, but exploration gameplay would still favour this isometric view, or we’d run towards the painted backgrounds as our character got smaller.

It’s unlikely this will happen. Square-Enix is more than likely going to design fully 3D stages with a modern controllable camera throughout. Who wouldn’t want to have a deeper look around Midgar or poke their face into the darker corners of Nibelheim Mansion? We’ve already seen some famous locations remade in 3D in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII on the PSP, so it’s not much of a stretch.

Combat could face the most drastic overhaul, as the producer, Tetsuya Nomura, has hinted that the old turn-based style would be strange with the new design when speaking with [Engadget]: “I don’t want to change it that much. But we can’t have these upgraded, beautiful 3D models of Cloud and Barrett, still lining up in a row, jumping forward to attack an enemy, then jumping back to wait for their next turn. That would be bizarre. Of course there will likely be changes there.”

Oh, Square-Enix, prepare for the mother of all backlashes if you get this wrong. Looking back at the originals, you can certainly see where he’s coming from, but turn-based combat is Final Fantasy VII. For many Western gamers, myself included, FFVII was the first turn-based RPG they ever played, so there’s a huge attachment to the old battle system. By all means though, ditch the random encounters by putting enemies on the map and making most encounters optional -that’s the most dated element in old RPGs for me.

Final Fantasy VII Remake facing drastic changes. Is Square-Enix playing with fire?

So, what are Square-Enix’s options here? If they’re diving into full-on real-time combat, we could see something similar to Crisis Core, or the more fluid fights of Kingdom Hearts. It’d be a huge departure from the original, but possibly the next best thing and much more approachable for series newbs.

It’s too soon to make a call on the combat from Final Fantasy XV, but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Square-Enix try to unify the combat between the two as it would make it easy to go from XV to the VII Remake. From what I’ve played in the original demo build of XV though, it’s too stiff and limited in comparison. I’ll have to try the magic options in the final game to see how diverse it is though.

The XIII trilogy featured turn-based battles, but was horribly maligned with the stagger meter that made fights waaaaay too long. Seriously Square, please don’t include a stagger system. I’d seriously question buying the game if you do. The XIII series wasn’t a complete disaster, stagger system aside, the combat in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII showed enormous promise. Lightning had various attacks and spells assigned to the face buttons and could use a few before waiting for them to recharge, providing a curious mix of real-time and turn-based strategy to the fights. Lightning wasn’t rooted to the ground either to take her lumps; she could dodge, guard and even move a little.

Final Fantasy VII Remake facing drastic changes. Is Square-Enix playing with fire?

It’s unlikely Square-Enix will ditch FFVII staples like Materia and slotting gems into the weapons (boy, I’ve missed that). They’ve already said they won’t be doing anything drastic like swapping character genders either, so we assume all the characters will return. Even the stage where Cloud dresses in drag to sneak past some guards will be kept in, so expect the sense of humour to still be there amongst all the moodiness.

Square-Enix is certainly playing with fire every time they consider changing anything in one of the most beloved video games of our time. But Nomura makes a good point when he says:

“The “HD” PC version is coming to PS4 already. We don’t need two of the same thing. Even if we beautified and upgraded the visuals — something that’s bound to happen. If it’s a full remake, then of course, we want to take a different approach. If we actually just upgraded the visuals — there’d be no need for me to direct it.”

Final Fantasy VII Remake facing drastic changes. Is Square-Enix playing with fire?

I can see where he’s coming from. Having bought the original on PS1, finished it twice and then bought it again on PSP a few years ago, I’m ready for a new direction. I’ve next to no interest in the upcoming PS4 version of the PC port as there’s not enough of a difference over the last version I played. The original is already future-proofed by being available on so many modern formats, so I’m willing to see them tinker with the original. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous they were going to break it though.

How about it readers? What do you want to see changed or left the same for the Final Fantasy VII Remake? Ever played the originals? Or would you be coming in new? Either way, we’ve probably got a year or three to stress out about it.

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