It’s been four years since Square Enix first announced Final Fantasy 7 Remake, and we’ve all been patiently (and impatiently) waiting to finally getting our hands on the game. Impossibly enough, that wait is about to come to and very soon. At E3 2019, not only did we find out when the hotly anticipated remake will be out, we also got to see it in action for a good chunk of time, and we learned a great deal about it as a result. In this feature, we’ll be talking about some of the most interesting things we’ve learned about the title over the last couple of days. Without further ado, let’s jump right in.
Final Fantasy 7 was, of course, originally a turn based RPG, but turn based combat systems have become a rarity in today’s day and age (I mean, unless you’re Pokemon or Persona). But while Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a game with real time combat instead of turn based, it still smartly integrates systems to keep the command-based flow of battles in the original intact. It does that through Tactical Mode. Tactical Mode is what you enter when you access menus in the middle of combat. In Tactical Mode, time slows to a crawl, and gives you the time to select commands for using your spells and abilities.
Remake sheds the original’s turn based battles, but the ATB gauge isn’t going anywhere. You can switch between characters during battles at any time with the press of a button to play as them, and each character has ATB meters. You build up your ATB meters to get ATB charges by landing regular attacks, which is done in real time- this happens fairly fast, encouraging you to make use of your ATB charges at a fast and steady clip. ATB charges are what you use to use special attacks and to land magic spells- every one of these moves uses up an ATB charge.
We’ve spoken plenty about the command based aspect of combat in Final Fantasy 7 Remake- but what about the real time aspects? When you’re not in Tactical Mode, Final Fantasy 7 Remake plays as an action RPG. You land attacks by repeatedly pressing (or holding, depending on which character you’re controlling) the attack button. Each of these attacks, however, does very little damage. Their purpose isn’t to be used to take down bosses and larger enemies- instead, you use these to build up your ATB charges, which is what you use to dish out attacks that do the real damage. During battles, characters can also block or evade attacks. Meanwhile, if you’re the sort of player who prefers real time action instead of command-based tactics, you can also assign special abilities and spells to shortcuts, a la Kingdom Hearts, so that you don’t have to enter Tactical Mode.
STAGGERING AND LIMIT BREAKS
Enemies also gradually build up stagger gauges, and this system works about the way you’d expect it to. Once an enemy has been staggered, it, well, staggers, and is opened up to greater damage. All attacks you deal on a staggered enemy are stronger, but those that an enemy is weak to become especially deadly, and will likely be a key element in strategies for many a boss battle. There’s Limit Breaks too, of course- yep, they’re returning. The Limit gauge fills up as much more slowly than, say your ATB charges, and are thus not meant to be used all too frequently- which makes sense, because these are really heavy hitting attacks, and are going to be most effective as finishing moves or boss killers.
OUTSIDE OF COMBAT
We’ve spoken plenty about the combat in Final Fantasy 7 Remake, but what about everything outside of combat. Well, we don’t know much in that regard- the E3 showing was focused on combat and its intricacies quite a bit. But we do know a bit. There’s NPCs to talk to and areas to explore, of course, while players can also find treasure chests scattered throughout the world, which is about what you’d expect.
Tifa is perhaps one of the most beloved characters, not just in Final Fantasy 7, but probably the entire series. So how the remake handles her character and her design is something that a lot of people were equal parts curious and worried about. Well, during their E3 showing of the upcoming remake, Square Enix finally showed Tifa, and it’s safe to say that fans won’t be disappointed. Her design is very similar to what we saw in Advent Children. We also got to see her in combat here and there, and though we didn’t see nearly enough, it does seem like she’ll be a lot more nimble and agile than the likes of Cloud and Barret.
All those years ago, when Square Enix confirmed that Final Fantasy 7 Remake would be an episodic release, the announcement was met with a healthy dose of criticism and skepticism. With its recent re-reveal Square confirmed that that hadn’t changed- that it’s still going to be a multi-part title. But it seems that might actually end up being a good thing. Square are promising that each part of the remake will be a full fledged game in and of itself. In fact, the first part, which is launching next year, is going to have so much content, it’ll be shipped on two Blu-Ray discs.
So then what about the future of the remake? After the first part is out, how long do we wait for the next one? How many parts are there going to be? What parts of the original release will they cover? As it turns out, right now, it’s all pretty much up in the air. Square Enix are working on the release of the first part, while simultaneously, production on the next one is also ongoing. But they haven’t yet decided how many parts there will be in total, or how much of a gap there will be between each part.
This is automatically implied when you consider that the original game is being split in multiple parts, with each part being a full release in and of itself- but the story of the original game is being heavily expanded, with Square using the new technologies and techniques that were not available to them during the days of the PS1 to tell FF7’s story properly. As per the devs, while they’re going to try and keep the main plot points and central character arcs intact, they will be expanding upon the stories of many side characters – such as some fan favourite ones that may not have been too important in the original game.
So how much of the PS1 Final Fantasy 7 is Remake going to cover? The first part is set entirely in Midgar, and will focus on the conflict between Shinra Electric Power Company and Avalanche. Midgar was not a very substantial part of the original game, all things considered, which makes the fact that Square Enix are making an entire full-fledged game out of it that much more impressive.
Beyond the standard edition release, those purchasing the game will, of course, have the option to splash some extra cash and get better packages. There’s the Deluxe Edition, which includes a hardback art book, a mini-soundtrack CD, a Cactuar Summon Materia, and a Sephiroth Steelbook Case. There’s also the Collector’s Edition, which will come with all the contents of the Deluxe Edition, on top of a Carbuncle Summon Materia, a Play Arts Kai Cloud Strife, and a Hardy Daytona figure.
And when exactly is Final Fantasy 7 Remake coming out (or the first part, at any rate)? It launches sooner than we would have expected- it’ll be out exclusively for the PS4 on March 3, 2020.