e3 2015

What We Want (And Don’t Want) From The Final Fantasy VII Remake

by Joe Juba on Jun 21, 2015 at 09:01 AM

In a surprising E3 announcement, Square Enix and Sony revealed that the Final Fantasy VII remake is happening. This is a practically miraculous development for fans who have been hoping for such a project ever since the PS3 “tech demo” shown at E3 2005. Now that it’s officially happening, we can start speculating about the form it will take.

As director Tetsuya Nomura has said, the remake could deviate from the original. That’s a loaded statement, since the scope isn’t clear; we know that it’s more than just a cosmetic upgrade, but the degree to which the story and systems are changing is unclear. Square Enix says we will learn more about the project this winter, but until then, this list runs through some changes we’d like to see.

WANT: The materia system
Of everything Square Enix could potentially alter for the remake, the way materia works should stay more or less the same. It’s a fun and versatile way to customize your characters, letting you decide the roles your favorite characters play in combat. New spells and ways to combine them would be excellent, as long as the core concept is still there.

DON’T WANT: A complete story overhaul
More character-focused arcs? More backstory? More side plots? Those additions are things we’d like to see. However, don’t mess with backbone of the story. It should still be about Cloud and his companions fighting against Shinra and following Sephiroth’s trail. As long as that remains the driving force of the plot, other narrative detours and deviations will be easy to appreciate.

WANT: Parts of the expanded FF VII universe
The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII initiative (which included projects like Dirge of Cerberus, Crisis Core, and the Advent Children film) introduced some cool facets to lore of Final Fantasy. Players learned more about Zack and Aerith’s relationship, saw more of the Turks in action, and met interesting characters like Angeal. Folding some of these elements into the main game could to a lot to enrich the story, but…

DON’T WANT: Other parts of the expanded FF VII universe
Though the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII had some good parts, it also had lots of dumb stuff. Cait Sith’s Scottish accent, Genesis (a foe who is basically as strong as Sephiroth, except he’s based on a real-life pop star), and anything involving Vincent’s nemesis Weiss are all things that would be better left as apocryphal content.

WANT: Revamped battle system
On one hand, the traditional turn-based battle system is one of the core pillars of Final Fantasy VII, and a large part of its appeal. On the other hand, if Square Enix is hoping to hit mainstream success with the remake, it probably isn’t a good idea to lean on 20-year-old game mechanics. Though we wouldn’t mind something more traditional, some recent installments in the series – like Final Fantasy XII, XIII, and XIII-2 – have done a good job modernizing combat without sacrificing the fun essence of tactical combat. Look toward those for inspiration on the battlefield.

DON’T WANT: Terrible minigames
When people remember Final Fantasy VII, they think fondly of the cinematic sequences, story moments, and fights. However, the bizarre and terrible minigames are often obscured by the mists of time. If Square Enix decides to include sections based on snowboarding and defending Fort Condor in the remake, fine – but they had better be drastically different from the bad minigames in the original. We’d definitely still like to see the Chocobo breeding/racing figure into the equation, assuming that those systems get an overhaul, too.

WANT: Dual musical options
This one isn't likely, but would still be fun. The remake will almost certainly have newly recorded versions of the songs from the original – and we'd like the ability to switch between them at will. It's like how some remakes let you switch between the old graphics and the new ones at the press of a button, but in this case, it would be for the soundtrack. Not that the new tracks won't sound good, but the extra dose of nostalgia would be a nice touch for fans.  

DON’T WANT: Don Corneo’s Mansion As-Is
Some fans love the weird sequence where Cloud needs to cross-dress to confront Don Corneo, but the whole quest and its surrounding side objectives are goofy, and deal with situation with all the grace and nuance you would expect from a late-‘90s video game. Some silliness is fine, and Nomura has implied that we'll still see a cross-dressing Cloud, but the rest of the scenario could easily altered without losing anything of substance.

WANT: Cool new summons, and the option to skip them
When Final Fantasy VII first came out, the array of awesome summoned monsters and their cinematic attack sequences were among the coolest parts of the whole game. Getting more of these powerful attacks featuring other iconic creatures from the series seems like a no-brainer. However, this time, we want an option to shorten or skip the lengthy summoning sequence. They’re fun to watch the first few times, but those minute-long attacks can really add up over the course of a big RPG.

DON’T WANT: Random encounters
It might have been normal at the time, but the way combat initiation works in RPGs has evolved, and the original approach doesn’t cut it any more. Players should not finish a battle, then take three steps only to be thrown into another battle with an unseen foe. We hope Square Enix implements a less annoying, more elegant way to handle the frequency of combat.

WANT: Aerith back
This one is tricky. Aerith (a.k.a. Aeris) needs to die as part of the main story, and that absolutely should not change. However, considering the popularity of numerous bogus “secret methods” to resurrect her in the original version, it would be a cool nod to fans to actually make it possible in the remake. Of course, it should be non-canon and difficult to achieve, but it would be a fun post-game goal to aim for.

That's it for our list. Share your own wishlist in the comments below! And for more about Final Fantasy VII, read our Essentials piece explaining why it's one of the must-play titles in gaming history.