Few games from the Final Fantasy lineage have set the fanbase on fire in recent years as much as the remake of the much-celebrated Final Fantasy 7 from over 20 years ago. It was a remake that many fans have been clamoring for over the course of many years as the originals’ visuals and gameplay mechanics are notably dated and can hold the experience back quite a bit for newer players and people who just aren’t used to that sort of game, which is a lot of gamers these days. So of course, with the announcement of the remake of perhaps Final Fantasy’s most popular entry of all time came lots of new appreciation and love from the Final Fantasy fanbase that hasn’t been treated too much in recent years. The Final Fantasy XIII games were okay, but not quite what hardcore fans wanted, Final Fantasy 14 is more focused on the MMO wing of the Final Fantasy audience, and Final Fantasy 15, while still a great game, wasn’t exactly the crowd-pleaser that hardcore Final Fantasy fanatics were wanting.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake would change that trajectory, though. Pleasing old school hardcore Final Fantasy fans as well as catering to those that are a little bit more accustomed to the gameplay that you would find in 15 is a pretty narrow line to walk but Square Enix was largely able to do it with part 1 of what will certainly be a trilogy and the Final Fantasy remake saga. The game smartly blended the story and characters of the original which were handled with great care and changed very little, with gameplay mechanics and production values that would feel far more familiar to more modern players. For most, it was exactly what the doctor ordered – and had the added benefit of bringing in many new players to the series that might not even really know what they were getting into. So where does that leave us? Well, for those who have already completed the game and seen all that it has to offer, they are essentially playing the waiting game.
It’s no secret that Square Enix is going to be milking this remake for all that it’s worth than maybe even more than that. As such, a follow-up to the Final Fantasy 7 Remake that continues the story of the original game is surely imminent. But how imminent? And how long should Final Fantasy fans really be expected to wait on bated breath for the follow-up before losing interest in the series and moving on and forgetting about it?
Thankfully, history may have some hints for us when it comes to answering the former. The previous Final Fantasy entry to be broken up into multiple games – the 13 trilogy – seems to more-or-less be the roadmap that Square is following now with the 7 remakes. Both games concern the same story and set of characters yet are broken up into separate releases. If they really are trying to duplicate that format, then perhaps it’s going to take a couple of years. Final Fantasy XIII was released in 2010, its follow-up didn’t come out until 2012, then, of course, Lightning Returns launched in 2014. Each game was about two years apart, which even for that time was a pretty short development cycle.
While other triple-A games of the 7th generation were well into development three years, four years, or maybe even longer than that, the Final Fantasy XIII games were still able to come out on a regular basis every couple of years. This was not due to any sort of magic on Square Enix’s part as the games we’re fairly linear compared to previous entries and were each clearly built upon the previous games’ foundation. Given that, it’s probably fair to assume that we’ll get Final Fantasy 7 Remake games on a similar schedule. they won’t need to remake character models or invent combat mechanics like they did for the first game for the next two, so in theory that should cut down on development time significantly for the second and third game in the trilogy, much like it did for the 13 games.
The Final Fantasy 7 Remake series does have something different going on than those games did – mobile games. Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier and Fantasy 7: Ever Crisis. Both of these games are slated to launch well before the next main installment in the FF7 series and will undoubtedly be taking some resources from Square Enix to get made and released to players. It’s impossible to know if the development of these mobile games will slow down development of the mainline series or not, although common sense would lead one to believe that Square Enix knows what they’re doing well enough to make sure that all projects are supported enough to make sure that nothing is leeching progress from anything else. I think we can probably give them the benefit of the doubt on that one.
There’s also another element to keep in mind for the following section of the Final Fantasy 7 story; after Midgar it turns into a much bigger game. The folks developing the Final Fantasy 7 Remake don’t have the luxury of being able to make it whatever they want like they did while making Final Fantasy XIII. While some creative freedom is certainly doable, they do have an outline to follow here and that outline dictates that once the Midgar section is over, the game opens up quite a bit with more explorable spaces, more characters, and just a lot more content available to the player in general. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that the next game is going to take longer to make than the first one did but it does seem to imply that it may, and perhaps the idea of getting a game in the main line story every two years is a little bit more debatable. Although given the team’s proclivity to change things around with the narrative and take a few liberties with the foundation that the original game created, it’s tough to say exactly what they’ll be doing and how much it will affect their development time.
All of that said, the long and short of it is we still just don’t really know how long of a wait we’re in for, but the good news is that developers are going out of their way to make sure that Final Fantasy 7 stays in everyone’s mind in the meantime. With the Intergrade expansion, some mobile games and maybe more, we will certainly have plenty to do with Final Fantasy 7 in the coming years regardless of whether or not the main line game comes out in 2022, 2023 or beyond. On top of all that we do also have Final Fantasy 16 on the way as well although admittedly still probably much further off than most realize at this point. Either way, regardless of how long of a wait that we’re in for with the next Final Fantasy 7 installment, Square Enix absolutely is aware of what this IP is for them and how much of an appetite there is out there for games that bear the Final Fantasy name, so if you were into the franchise to any degree, you’ll have plenty to do while you wait for the next mainline game.
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