Matt is a lifelong gamer who has spent over a hundred hours playing various Japanese role-playing games.
This isn't your grandad's Final Fantasy VII - and it might not be yours either.
After years of absorbing every detail in trailers and carefully curated gameplay footage, Final Fantasy VII Remake was finally released on April 10, 2020 for PlayStation 4. The game was a critical and financial success for Square Enix, selling over 3.5 million copies in the first three days of its release.
The original 1997 release of Final Fantasy VII is widely considered a timeless classic and among the greatest Japanese role-playing games ever made. Fans have been clamouring for a remake for decades, but Square Enix has delivered a complete reimagining of the game from the ground up.
Nonetheless, many fans who have played and beaten Final Fantasy VII Remake may feel a sense of unease about the direction of future games. Whether you are new to the series or a longtime fan, are three reasons to worry about the Final Fantasy VII Remake.
1. A Whole New Battle System
The original game's Active Time Battle system was a clever compromise in 1997, but 2020's remake attempts to marry turn-based combat and action role-playing in an entirely different and potentially disastrous way.
Gone are the days of random encounters and separate battle screens. Players freely maneuver the field in battle and attack to fill their ATB gauge, which can be spent to commit powerful abilities, magical spells, or use items. Having the gauge fill in this way creates a balancing act for the player — to frequently switch between characters and button-mash basic attacks to fill the gauge, then pause the action to spend points on special moves.
Item usage being tied to the ATB gauge can lead to frustrating dilemmas in the heat of battle. Inevitably, there are situations where players may need to throw an injured party member into harm's way before being able to use a healing potion or revive a fallen ally. Players who fail to keep watch of this system's many conflicting moving parts are sure to suffer several frustrating failures.
The camera and character movement during battle often push against each other, obfuscating the spacial relationship between the player character, the environment, and his enemy. The menu offers a veritable puzzle-cube of camera options that seem to promise a perfect setting for everyone, but making a single misguided adjustment can morph the simplest battles into confusing and overlong slugfests.
2. Plot, Pacing, and Padding
Apart from a beautiful graphical update that seamlessly transitions between cutscenes and gameplay, Final Fantasy VII Remake adds hours of content on top of the classic story.
The game's April 10 release is just the beginning of a multi-part series of games, and only follows the adventure through to the heroes' escape from the city of Midgar — merely ten percent of the original game's plot. Final Fantasy VII Remake can take between 30 and 50 hours to complete on Normal difficulty, compared to five hours spent in Midgar in the original game.
3. What Comes Next?
This first part of Final Fantasy VII Remake was in development for several years and suffered disappointing delays. The release date for part two has not been announced, and Square Enix has not revealed how many more sequels are planned. Considering that many of the character assets were already completed during the first part's development, the most optimistic outlook has the next installment releasing sometime in 2022.
The original plot of Final Fantasy VII promises a massive overworld beyond the city of Midgar, with several villages and cities to visit. The new setting stands in stark contrast to the linear and contained nature of part one's Midgar. This dramatic difference in scale could cause the continuation of Final Fantasy VII Remake to suffer yet more delays and setbacks.
This series of games is beginning with the launch of a new console generation, and Square Enix has confirmed that at least the first two parts of Final Fantasy VII Remake will release on PlayStation 4. However, PlayStation 4 will be defunct technology after the release of PlayStation 5 at the end of 2020. Without a real release schedule or an understandable plan, one cannot help but wonder how, when, or if the remake will ever be released in a finished state.
Did you play Final Fantasy VII Remake? Drop a comment below if you're feeling cautiously optimistic or downright anxious about the future of this series! Also, check out my new article What's Next for Final Fantasy VII Remake.
burbigo on July 21, 2020:
This article is really interesting, thank you !
Matt Pietropaoli (author) on March 04, 2020:
Thanks, Poppy! I'm very excited to see what brand new players take from remake without any baggage from the original game or the spin-offs.
Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on March 04, 2020:
Excellent article! I totally agree with the nostalgia bait. I didn't have a PS1 growing up so I never played FFVII myself, but I know a lot of people who are looking forward to this. Hopefully, it'll live up to the hype.