With the long-awaited Final Fantasy XV out of the way, Final Fantasy VII Remake has to be the most highly anticipated game on Square Enix's upcoming roster. Rumoured for as long as we can remember, the new version of the game set to be released on the PS4 in the next few years promises to modernise the classic, heartbreaking tale while revolutionizing what a Final Fantasy game looks like on a modern platform. But what exactly do we have to look forward to? Read on to find out more!
1. A multi-part release
The idea of releasing the Final Fantasy VII remake in multiple parts was one born out of necessity, according to producer Yoshinori Kitase. According to him, one of the reasons why the remake has been put off for so long is because the sheer amount of content that would be involved in the games creation would not be able to fit on a single instalment, meaning that fan-favourite content would have to be cut and we would only receive a condensed version of the title. The development team got around this by releasing the game in multiple parts, allowing players to not only replay all their favourite parts of the original game but also to explore new quests that weren't present in the original release. There's still no news on how the structure for this multi-part release will work, but personally we're hoping that each game will be released a few months apart, allowing hardcore gamers to finish each part in turn and experience each new launch as a community. What we do know is that each game will be roughly the size of Final Fantasy XIII - not a small feat given how expansive that game was.
2. Expanded maps
One of the main reasons that the team first considered a multi-part release was to explore the world of Gaia more fully, allowing players to have a more fleshed out experience. Gone for good is that pesky overworld we travelled across, replaced by a fully transversible world in which you can look under every rock and inside every stream before moving on to your intended location. Furthermore, locations that we couldn't access in the original will be fully explorable in the new remake - we've been promised that more locations in Midgar will be ready for us to sightsee, meaning that we may be able to explore some of the seven other sectors we never looked around in the original game.
3. A completely updated battle system
The original FFVII was known for it's Active Time Battle system, a time-based twist on the traditional turn-based battle system which had dominated the RPG genre before it's release. Instead of featuring a system in which each party takes turns attacking the other, the original game featured time gauges which, upon filling up, allowed the player to attack their opponent. With battle screens now a thing of the past (although kudos to Pokémon for keeping the dream alive!) and gamers now expecting a more fast-paced, interactive experience, the remade version has been updated with a brand new battle system in which players can attack enemies in the world map. Developers have compared this style to Final Fantasy Dissidia and Kingdom Hearts, with Limit Break gauges allowing for more powerful attacks; but in reality, we wouldn't be at all surprised if the system was cut and paste from last years Final Fantasy XV, which featured an almost identical concept.
One interesting new feature not present in any of these previous games is the promise of interactive and destroyable environments. "Map and object destruction will also happen," confirmed Nomura recently, going on to say, "there are part-based destruction elements like breaking the Guard Scorpion’s legs."
4. Beautiful graphics
Over the years, probably the biggest reason people have had not to give the original FFVII a chance were the boxy, amateur 90s graphics. It's something the developers are keenly aware of and which they clearly have the technology to fix. Every character will have their model rebuilt from the ground up by Visual Works, Square Enix's CGI development branch. Instead of developing their own technology for the game's engine, S-E will be working with Unreal Engine 4, the same one used for games such as Tekken 7, Street Fighter V and Gears of War 4 as well as the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III. S-E are also branching out with the lighting and video quality components of the graphics, using technology from Geomerics and CyberConnect2 for each respectively. Branching out to work with other companies for such a huge title is a rare move for S-E to make, and one we're hoping will balance out some of their zanier ideas and allow them to garner some outside perspective from trusted sources.
5. A classic Final Fantasy experience...
Three core staff members from the original FFVII game have returned to help with the remake. Original character designer and Final Fantasy legend Tetsuya Nomura is back to direct and handle character design; the original game's director has returned as a producer; and Kazushige Nojima, who wrote the original script, is retooling it for the remake. This Holy Trinity of FF legends was originall brought together by FFVIII, FFIX, FFVII, FFIX, and FFXV producer Shinji Hashimoto, who took an interest in the remake following constant questions about it at panels. Apparently, all three of the developers felt that they were reaching "that age" - a time in which they felt that if they waited too much longer, they might not be alive to help develop a remake of FFVII - and none were willing to pass it onto a new generation.
Sadly, it is worth noting that legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu, who worked on the original FFVII's absolutely stunning soundtrack, will not be returning for the remake. Uematsu still seems to have a healthy relationship with S-E and works with them regularly, so we're not sure why he's not on board; but we're hoping that the majority of his original soundtrack, which includes songs like the beautiful 'Aerith's Theme', will remain intact, if updated.
6. ...Complete with connections to the Compilation of FFVII
Since the original game's release in 1997, a whole metaseries of media within the Final Fantasy main series has sprouted up around it, known officially as the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII was a mobile game following the Turks; Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII is a first person shooter starring optional character Vincent Valentine; and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII was a prequel game focusing on minor character Zack Fair. The film sequel Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children was also released in 2005, along with the anime Last Order: Final Fantasy VII, while short stories and a novel written by Kazushige Nojima were also released to the Japanese market. It may seem like a lot to pull off, but developers are committed to incorporating the settings and characters of the Compilation where it makes sense, making a more integrated gaming experience. "If there are any areas where we can use the settings or the characters, we do want to try to incorporate it in there, so it gives off that sense of nuance and those other stories existing," said Kitase, before backtracking a little with, "But, of course, it would be difficult to follow up on everything that happened in this universe. So, maybe some of the characters who weren’t as famous won’t appear or be mentioned." As long as we get some recognition of Vincent and Yuffie knowing each other before the main game, I'll be happy.
7. A crossdressing main character
Need we say more? One of the most bizaare and fascinating sequences in the original game features Cloud dressing up as part of an "inflirtration" mission (do you see what we did there?). Nomura has asked fans to "please look forward" to the iconic scene in the remake; and who can resist with the promise of Cloud in a dress in glorious HQ vision?
What aspect of the FFVII remake are you most looking forward to? Do you think the new version will be an improvement on the original or is it an unnecessary addition? Check out the latest trailer below and let us know your thoughts in the comments section!