Here’s how Square Enix can improve upon the already excellent first instalment.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake had impossibly high expectations to live up to, but it passed that test with flying colours. And now that we’ve had some time to enjoy it and digest it, we’re already looking ahead to the future. The wait for Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part 2 – or whatever Square end up calling it – is going to be a long one, but whenever the game arrives, we’re hoping it will make some improvements upon its predecessor to deliver an even more unforgettable experience. In this feature, we’ll be going over nine such improvements that we wish to see.
Final Fantasy is usually at its best when it puts players in large, open environments, so it’s sort of surprising that Remake, in spite of being extremely linear, was good as it was. But here’s the thing- it wasn’t good because of that linearity, it was good in spite of it. The strengths of its combat, story, and characters carried the game, but the actual linearity was kind of a bummer. For the sequel, we’re hoping for Square to blow things wide open. We don’t expect the game to not have no linearity whatsoever, we just expect it to be a much smaller part of the game than it was in the first instalment.
Which, incidentally, brings us to our next point…
This goes hand in hand with our previous point about hoping for less linearity- we’re also expecting actual open world game design. Looking back at the original Final Fantasy 7 and knowing what comes after Midgar, it’s kind of hard to imagine the sequel as anything but open world. What approach Square Enix take to that should be interesting to see- whether its an actual, huge open world driven by next-gen technology with cities and towns seamlessly peppered throughout, or an overworld-type area to explore that leads to discrete city environments. Either way, we want to see larger areas that have plenty of room for exploration and are not just comprised of what are effectively just multiple corridors.
Linearity isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There have been countless games over the years that have had extremely linear but still solid level design. Final Fantasy 7 Remake, for the most part, was not one of those games. Most sections were comprised of corridor after corridor, there were countless instances of pointless dead ends that had nothing interesting to see or do, and once again, these weaknesses were only as masked as they were because the game’s combat was just so dam good. It goes without saying that bespoke dungeons and isolated locations even in the sequel will inevitably be linear- but our hope is that those have much better level design than what the first game had. With smart use of puzzles, varied traversal mechanics, and better incentivization of exploration, Remake Part 2 could very well achieve that goal.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s side quests were pretty typical JRPG fetch-quest fare, for the most part. We’ve already brought this up a couple times, but this just needs to be repeated, because again, it’s totally applicable here- most of the side quests were enjoyable because they were designed around excellent combat encounters. And while we’re obviously hoping that that will continue to be true in the sequel, we also hope that the actual quest design will be better. As a whole, gaming audiences have come to expect better writing, stories, and contextualization from even the most insignificant side quests in games, and hopefully, Remake Part 2, unlike its predecessor, will meet those expectations.
In case you hadn’t caught on, we really, really, really like the combat in Final Fantasy 7– but even it had some issues here and there. For instance, the mid-combat cutscenes. Why were those an issue, you say? Well, by themselves, they weren’t, but if you triggered a spell, ability, or worse still, a Limit Break and then had the damage from that attack negated because it got interrupted by a mid-combat cutscene, that could really sting. Perhaps Remake Part 2 could communicate this more clearly to players- either don’t let us unleash, say, a Limit Break when an enemy’s health bar is close to triggering a cutscene, or better still, just let players deal that damage regardless.
Aerial combat was another minor weakness in Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s incredible battles. There were quite a few enemies throughout the game that were designed specifically as aerial threats, but only Barrett and Aerith were capable of dealing with those enemies. Sure, Cloud and Tifa could deal attacks as well, but that was a messy process- after a flurry of three or four hits, they’d be back on land, and would have to jump up again, and might miss a couple attacks in the process. With that in mind, better aerial combat that allows characters to stay airborne and maybe even air juggle enemies is a thing we really want to see in FF7R’s sequel.
What an odd thing to point out, but one that Final Fantasy 7 Remake compels us to call out nonetheless. Characters making excessive and awkward anime grunts and noises during cutscenes and conversations is by no means exclusive to this game- countless games – especially those developed by Square Enix – do this. But 7 Remake would go a bit too far with this. Cloud doesn’t need to go “huh!” or “ngh!” or “ghr!” every five seconds- it was needless and, more often than not, actually detrimental to storytelling. So please, Square, just… you know, cut it out.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake is an absolutely beautiful game- it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call it one of the best looking games of this console generation. But sometimes it’s clear that the PS4’s hardware can’t keep up with the game’s ambitions. Texture pop in, muddy textures, blurry pre-rendered backgrounds were not a complete nuisance in FF7 Remake, but there was still plenty of that going on. The sequel needs to make sure it irons out those issues- and if it’s exclusive to next-gen consoles (which it almost definitely will be), we’re assuming that’s exactly what it will do.
How well Final Fantasy 7 Remake would be paced was a question many people were asking, given that the game was adapting only the Midgar sections of the original. Surprisingly enough, its pacing was actually pretty good- it wasn’t perfect though. Some parts dragged on too long, while some sections felt like they were clearly designed to increase the game’s runtime. For instance, the second trek through the sewers can feel like a bit of a drag (even though it has a really cool resolution). Similarly, the train graveyard feels like a bump in the game’s pacing, seeing as Cloud, Tifa, and Aerith are rushing to Sector 7 to stop Shinra’s attack at that point in the story (though it helps that thee actual section is really good). With Remake Part 2, Square Enix will hopefully judge the cutoff point for the game’s ending in a way that they don’t have to force sections in that feel like they’re harming the game’s overall pacing.