Final Fantasy VII Remake: What We Know So Far
August 4, 2019

Final Fantasy VII Remake is real, and it's looking to be extremely special. Aiming to please fans of the original 1997 PlayStation game and newcomers who've either started the Final Fantasy series recently or never even played an RPG, Square Enix have tackled this massive task head-on and are creating something that looks and feels masterful. It rightfully won our Best of Show during our E3 2019 Awards because of its sheer presence at the show: we found out a ton of new information, saw some greatly-anticipated moments, and got a much better look at the combat and the new Midgar.

We want to celebrate by sharing all of our favourite tidbits on this huge remake (some of which we just learned this past June), our favourite things about the game, and what we want to see next.

intro by Alana Hagues

Final Fantasy VII Remake Screenshot - Cloud Looking UP at the Mako Reactor
The Most Notable Things We Learned About the Game
A Release Date!

After the State of Play in May, everyone expected FFVII Remake to make an appearance at this year's E3, but did anyone expect to get a release date? On March 3rd 2020, we'll be able to get our hands on it, even if it's in installments. March heralds the Midgar portion of the game, but a much more expanded version. We've seen glances at familiar scenes, faces and places, but there's a lot of new stuff to take in too. Midgar looks absolutely stunning, and the fact that it's out in early 2020 is shocking. In 2018, Square Enix finally gave Kingdom Hearts III a release date, and in 2019, they followed the trend and gave their second elusive project a release. We couldn't be more excited.

by Alana Hagues

Tifa's Redesign

Up until recently, we'd only see Cloud, Barret, Jesse, and the rest of AVALANCHE. So where was everyone's favourite ass-kicking barmaid? Luckily, we didn't have to wait any longer. Tifa Lockhart made her grand debut, and she was absolutely perfect. From a more practical pleated skirt, to the incredible amount of detailing on her gloves and her bracelets (the little Bomb charms!), Tifa punched her way through the trailer, backflipping and kicking her way through enemies like never before. She stole the show, and while she wasn't playable at E3, she's easily the character we're most looking forward to playing as.

by Alana Hagues

Final Fantasy VII Remake Screenshot - Battle System
The Blending of Action and Turn-Based Combat

Ever since the original gameplay footage four years ago for Final Fantasy VII Remake, more than a few fans have grumbled about the change to what could be a pure action based battle system. But, much to nearly everyone's delight, Final Fantasy VII Remake is going to be a seamless blend of action combat and a turn-based system. As the player doles out attacks, a meter fills, and so do your teammates'. When the meter is full, the player can switch to different characters and select specific attacks or magic attacks. Those of us who got our hands on the game at E3 were pleased with how smoothly it seems to play. It's a system that is sure to please both action fans and turn-based fans alike, and it looks like a brilliant move from Square Enix.

by Zach Wilkerson

Final Fantasy VII Remake Screenshot - Sephiroth
Sephiroth THIS EARLY?!

In the original Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth didn't make an appearance in person until well near the midpoint of the game. This was effective in building up a sense of mystique and dread surrounding his character, but in the decades since the game's release, Sephiroth has been firmly established as one of Final Fantasy's most popular and iconic villains. It makes sense that Square would want to give him a more prominent role in the Remake, and with Tyler Hoechlin (of Supergirl fame) stepping in to voice the character, this incarnation of Sephiroth should prove to be very interesting.

by Peter Triezenberg

Final Fantasy VII Remake Screenshot - Jessie Handing Cloud Materia
Materia is Back

One question many fans had about the Final Fantasy VII Remake was whether or not the classic Materia system would be making an appearance. We now know that it certainly will be: players can once again slot Materia into their characters weapons to bestow upon them powerful abilities, including summons and magic spells. Not all Materia from the original game will make the transition over to the Remake, but there will be brand-new Materia to make up for this.

by Peter Triezenberg

Final Fantasy VII Remake Screenshot - Barrett Readies for Action
What We Still Want to See
Expanded Midgar/More Reactors?

Square Enix has stated that the first installment of the Final Fantasy VII Remake will expand upon the city of Midgar. What exactly this means is up in the air, though. Will we be able to destroy more Mako Reactors? Visit different sectors? Save the other members of the AVALANCHE crew? Will there be optional bosses or additional side quests? The possibilities are honestly endless.

by Peter Triezenberg

Summons

One of the big draws of the original Final Fantasy VII was the incredible summons. Even today, the scope and audacity of many of the summon animations still impresses. But, we still haven't seen any of them in action. So, how will they integrate them into this iteration? Will they be more similar to Final Fantasy XII where they join you in combat, or will they stick to the lengthy cinematics? Long cut scenes might feel out of place in Remake, but it some of us just don't think it would feel like Final Fantasy VII otherwise.

by Zach Wilkerson

Final Fantasy VII Remake Screenshot - Jessie and Biggs
More time with Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie

We've already seen some of this in the existing trailers, but it will be interesting to see how Square Enix expands on the roles of Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie. With an entire game's amount of time to develop them as characters, here's hoping we get to know and love the AVALANCHE crew even more than we already do.

by Peter Triezenberg

The Turks

Conspicuously missing in action from the footage shown at E3 were the Turks, agents employed to do the Shinra Corporation's dirty work and regular antagonists throughout FInal Fantasy VII. Given than Reno, Rude, and the gang have been relegated to comic relief in Advent Children and other spin-offs, we're all curious to see how the Turks will be portrayed in the remake.

by Peter Triezenberg

The Endless Staircase

Everyone's done this at least once, right? What a great Easter Egg this would be if Square Enix decided to leave this in, and let you choose how to get inside the Shinra Headquarters? We've loved the bickering we've already seen between Cloud and Barret, two big personalities snarking back at each other, and this would be the perfect place to demonstrate this further while glancing back at one of FFVII's funnier moments.

by Alana Hagues

Final Fantasy VII Enemy Model - Touch Me
Image via FF Wiki
The Unusual Enemies

We've only seen soldiers and mechs in FFVII Remake so far, but there's a whole host of weird and wonderful enemies dotted around Gaia (The frogs called Touch Me come to mind. No, seriously.) but if we're just looking at Midgar, you're not going to be disappointed either. Just outside the Wall Market you might come across a Hell House, which is a tree-armed creature which bursts through the house's exterior once you've done enough damage. What wood will the house be made out of? Or will it be made out of a different material altogether? Then, in the Shinra Headquarters itself, there's a whole host of undesirables waiting for you. Actually, we're not sure we want to see what these nightmarish creations will look like on completely new hardware...

by Alana Hagues

The Full Scope of the FFVII Remake

One big question still looms over the Final Fantasy VII Remake: exactly how long will this project end up being? We know from interviews with Kitase and company that this first installment will encompass the early Midgar section of the original game, and that they are still trying to figure out the scope of the next episode. Hopefully, we won't have to wait quite as long for part 2, but given Square Enix's history of lengthy development times, the jury is out. In any case, we still want to know how many installments there will be, and just where in FFVII's story this first game will end.

by Peter Triezenberg

Final Fantasy VII Remake Screenshot - Aerith
Individual Thoughts
Corey Hall

Having the opportunity to experience the Final Fantasy VII Remake demo at E3 was an incredible way to return to a world which I haven't experienced in nearly two decades. As a kid, I rented the classic title from my local Blockbuster and proceeded to pour hours of my time into that game, playing through until completion, only to never touch it again. After that, it was left to steep my nostalgia-tinged memories, untouched for years — until now.

Standing at the base of the Mako Reactor in the Square Enix booth, smoke billowing out above my head, I felt like I could really taste the Mako in the room. It was an electrifying experience, but one which also felt quite daunting. Approaching a remake of one of the highest regarded games of all time, the expectations hang in the air just like the ominous smoke cloud above the reactor itself.

But from the moment we stepped into that Mako Reactor, it was plainly evident that every aspect of the revered classic had been lovingly woven into the fabric of this newly forged iteration. From the dialogue to the combat, every element felt like an expansion upon the foundation so masterfully set out by the original.

Having seen footage of the game before getting our hands on the demo, we knew exactly how beautiful the game would look, but were pleasantly surprised at just how wonderful it felt to step back into Cloud's combat-worn shoes once again. Of course, the briskly paced, hack-and-slash battles featured wonderfully implemented uses for both Cloud and Barrett, which organically encouraged switching between them to best utilize their unique abilities.

Tackling the Scorpion Sentinel boss has transformed the original version, much like many other aspects of the remake, taking the fight to explosive new levels with its multi-phase approach. Cloud and Barrett must work synchronously to topple the mechanical menace before entering a phase which sees the heroes running to find cover. These changes keep the battle flowing, fun, and fresh, and required quick planning and precise movement.

For the sake of brevity, I won't take up time reiterating the countless positive aspects of the game which my colleagues have so skillfully articulated. Instead, I will simply say, Final Fantasy VII Remake is something which must be experienced firsthand to be truly appreciated. Despite its divisive multi-entry release schedule, the brief demo left us feeling excited and hopeful for what's to come when Final Fantasy VII Remake dives into our lives in March 2020.

Alana Hagues

I was lucky enough to attend E3 2019, and it wasn't just playing the demo that stuck with me, it was the entire experience. I'd already hyped myself up for FFVII Remake with the Square Enix conference, and on the final day of the show I decided to get in line and queue up to try and get an elusive ticket to play the demo. And I managed to snag one! By the afternoon, I made my way over to Square Enix's booth, which from the outside looked like a run-down part of Midgar, with posters for Shinra and LOVELESS all across the walls. And in the middle, the protruding tip of a Mako Reactor was sticking out. It was like stepping into a street in Midgar.

As reams of people with their lucky tickets, we lined up outside what looked like a train station. Two women clad in Turks gear walked up and down, inspecting our tickets — one with Rude's trademark leather gloves, adjusting them, but both glaring up and down us as we anxiously waited to get inside. It really made me feel like I was getting ready for something big. And I was! The minute we were allowed on the train, we were shown advertisements by Shinra, before Jesse interrupted the broadcast and delivered us our message: destroy the reactor. It was time. We'd be living the first 20 minutes of Final Fantasy VII all over again, yet this time it would be oh-so different. Just being lead from the queue, into the "train," then through to the demo area illuminated in Mako-green light, gave this impression. It was magical, and something I'll never forget. Essentially, the demo was the icing on the cake, and the best 20 minutes I spent with a game at the show.

Final Fantasy VII Remake Screenshot - Cloud and Barrett Take On a Boss
Peter Triezenberg

Ever since I first played the game at a school science fair (true story!), Final Fantasy VII has stuck out in my mind as a quintessential RPG. The prospect of remaking such an iconic game is no doubt a daunting idea for fans and developers alike, but based on what was shown at E3 2019, the Final Fantasy VII Remake project is off to a great start.

Seeing Cloud, Barret, Tifa, and Aerith rendered in cutting-edge high definition (something that has been relegated to CGI cutscenes and direct-to-video movies up until now) was a treat, almost like reuniting with old friends or family members. While I'm a little bummed that the Advent Children actors won't be reprising their roles, the new voice cast sounds really, really good: I especially loved the banter between Cloud and Barret while in battle. The real-time combat also looks very, very different from the turn-based battles of old, but in a good way. Mixing the ATB system with real-time action almost seems like an evolution of what Square was going for with Final Fantasy XV, and with the combat director from Kingdom Hearts II working behind the scenes on the Remake, I have no doubt that the game's combat system will be excellent. Heck, the first boss battle against the scorpion robot alone is already a true spectacle.

While I still have my doubts about the game's multi-part approach, if the entire series winds up being as polished as the promising demo footage, RPG fans are in for a treat. March 2020 can't come soon enough.

Zach Wilkerson

When my cousin brought over a copy of the original Final Fantasy VII and let me take it for a whirl, I was entranced. The cutscenes were jaw dropping. The graphics (at the time) blew my mind. The story and the music and...oh, I loved everything about the game. Nothing in the 22 years since I've had my hands on FFVII the first time has matched the magic I felt during my first playthrough.

Well, that was until this year's E3, when I got my hands on Final Fantasy VII Remake. There are so many things that are memorable about the experience, like being harassed by fully dressed Turks while waiting in line, or the delightful introductory video where Jesse hacks into a Shinra commercial to walk us through the basics of combat, or the green glow coming from the Mako reactor in the booth.

Nothing, however, matched the experience of playing the game. The graphics are wonderful, and the character models are true to the original, but not to a fault. The music is outstanding. The additional voiced dialogue as Cloud and Barrett make their way through the reactor is amusing and well-written. The combat feels entirely unique, but so grounded in turn-based concepts that it was easy to pick up even in the limited time I had with the game. The boss fight against the Guard Scorpion was epic, with movement around the battlefield and weak points to pay attention to. Most importantly, this game still feels like Final Fantasy VII. The magic is still here, and I walked away from my demo time every bit as giddy as I was all those years ago.

RPGFan