The Final Fantasy VII Remake takes some unexpected turns as Square Enix plans new elements for its iconic game.
Instead of releasing as one game, Final Fantasy VII Remake will come out in multiple parts, “with each entry providing its own unique experience,” according to Square Enix in a press release put out on Sunday night.
Square Enix revealed Final Fantasy VII Remake’s first gameplay footage during Sony’s PlayStation Experience conference on Saturday, showing the new realistic character designs, voice acting, all-new environments and different battle system. The game is first launching on PlayStation 4.
Square Enix claims the game’s original scope is too big for a traditional single release and needs to be split up across different installments. The company didn’t reveal how many separate titles it’s planning on developing. The time between each new release wasn’t announced. No pricing was set. It also wasn’t revealed how the game will be published, either digitally or as a retail disc.
Key members of Remake’s development team at Square Enix explained the reasoning for this decision and revealed more details about the game in two interviews with Japanese publications Famitsu and Dengeki Online.
Yoshinori Kitase, who was the director on Final Fantasy VII and is the producer on the remake, discussed additional details about the company’s goals for the game’s expansiveness. If Square Enix launched Remake as a single title, a lot of content would have to be cut and they wouldn’t be able to include new additions to the game, according to Kitase. He also said developing a single release would turn out more like a “digest” version of the original game and not the remake people are expecting or that the team wants to create.
“The idea that a remake of Final Fantasy VII would not fit into a single release was there from the very beginning,” Kitase said.
Kitase went on to explain that the team wouldn’t be able to replicate that expansive feeling of the original 1997 release caused by advancements in the story or by exploring new areas and towns if Final Fantasy VII Remake wasn’t split into multiple parts.
“One of the main reasons why we haven’t done a remake until now is because it’s a massive undertaking to reconstruct Final Fantasy VII from the ground up with the current technology,” Kitase said. “To a great extent, we just couldn’t take the plunge. Producing a proper HD remake of Final Fantasy VII that maintains the same feeling of density of the original results in a volume of content that couldn’t possibly fit into one installment.”
Final Fantasy VII Remake’s areas are going to be a lot more populated and dense, filled with more details like in the latest gameplay trailer. Based on this design goal, some parts of the original game will still be cut but new sections will be included as well, with more scenes added to the original game. Players will be able to explore parts of Midgar, the beginning area of the story, that they couldn’t do in the original release. Most of the latest footage from the Sectors of Midgar are in-game except for a few parts taken from the E3 2015 debut trailer.
“When you’re remaking the entirety of the original version in that quality, it’s not possible to fit it all in one release,” he said.
Each installment of Final Fantasy VII Remake will have the content size of a full-on release, according to Square Enix. It’s not clear how much of an open world Final Fantasy VII Remake will be or how backtracking and exploring previous areas of the game will work if it’s an episodic release. It also wasn’t revealed if Square Enix is redoing the game’s world map or what will happen to the many mini-games of the original.
There are going to be storyline changes in the remake but the major plot points will remain the same. Kazushige Nojima, who was the scenario writer on Final Fantasy VII and co-wrote the original game’s story, is going to be working on the remake’s. There will be surprises in the storyline that weren’t included in the first release. Parts of the game’s story will also become more detailed.
Kitsase said they aren’t creating Final Fantasy VII Remake purely for nostalgia and want to do something new that will also make longtime fans happy. “I want to get the fans of the original version excited,” he said. “We’ll be making adjustments to the story with this feeling in mind.”
The game’s new battle system is more real-time than turn-based like in the original. An action variation of the ATB (Active Time Battle) gauge will be in the remake as well as the game’s Limit Break special moves for each character. The ATB might be renamed during the course of development. Nomura said the remake’s fighting system does lean more towards the style in the Kingdom Hearts franchise. The battle tempo will be like the one found in the recent Dissidia Final Fantasy playable at arcades. Final Fantasy VII Remake’s party system will still feature three characters like in the original but players can freely switch to the person they want to control.
Tetsuya Nomura is one of the lead directors and artistic designers on the project after leaving his role as director of Final Fantasy XV in 2014. He’s also the current director on the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III. Nomura worked on the character design in the original Final Fantasy VII release. Some of the characters are going to be redesigned for more realistic appearances but will stay true to the original models.
The company isn’t using any assets from “Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children,” which is an animated movie first released in September 2005 that takes place two years after the events of the game. The developers stated the film’s technology is too outdated to incorporate into the remake and doesn’t fit the realistic portrayal the game is aiming for. The characters have already been redesigned many times to find a balance between realism and the original game’s unique appearances. They won’t appear too realistic so players can’t recognize them anymore.
Square Enix is working with external companies to help with Final Fantasy VII Remake’s development. CyberConnect2, a Japanese developer known as CC2 and the team behind the .hack and Naruto franchises, are one of the studios assisting on the project. Square Enix chose CC2 for the developer’s experience of making action games. CC2 also worked on Final Fantasy VII: G-Bike, a 2014 mobile game released in Japan. Additional programmers, designers and key members from other companies are being brought on for the project.
The Final Fantasy VII remake has been in development for around a year. Square Enix revealed the game in June at Sony’s E3 conference. Instead of Square Enix developing the remake with its own game engine as it typically does for its key franchise, the company is using Unreal Engine 4.
Final Fantasy VII released on multiple discs on the original PlayStation when it first launched in January 1997, with the story spread across all three of them. The game used pre-rendered backgrounds, fixed camera angles and featured a large world map with many areas.