'Final Fantasy 7 Remake' Release Date Reveal Raises Worrying New Questions
Can Square Enix deliver this ambitious project in full?
Square Enix’s E3 2019 presentation Monday night focused a lot of time on the upcoming remake for Final Fantasy VII, and even if the game looks like a stunning reimagining of the classic RPG, I can’t help but worry about the sprawling scope of this ambitious remake project — especially now that Square Enix has re-confirmed the game will be told in a “multi-part series.” The first installment will focus just on the city of Midgar, a small portion of the full game.
How long is it going to take for these remakes to tell the complete story? How many individual installments will it wind up being? Will Square Enix ever create another core Final Fantasy game ever again?
“A spectacular reimagining of one of the most visionary games ever, the first game in this project will be set in the eclectic city of Midgar and presents a fully standalone gaming experience,” the game’s official game description reads, meaning two things: Final Fantasy VII Remake will only include the game’s first act, which ends when Cloud and his party leave the city of Midgard to explore the wider world — and the game will be the first in a new series of standalone entries.
Players won’t purchase Final Fantasy VII Remake and then download DLC in installments to expand the story. Since 2015, Square Enix has said that “each entry [will provide] its own unique experience.”
This alone feels like a misstep. Will player progress transfer over? How much will gameplay elements change? How long will we have to wait between installments? We just don’t know.
Early footage of the game confirms familiar sequences like Cloud’s motorcycle battle, but also some new elements like shadowy creatures attacking Cloud and Aeris or a visit from the ghost of Sephiroth. Square Enix calls the remake “a reimagining” of the original that will delve “deeper into the world and its characters than ever before.” These kinds of alterations to the original plot might anger purists, but they’ll keep the experience fresh for fans.
Final Fantasy VII Remake — which really ought to get some kind of subtitle or at least Part I in its title — will ship as two Blu-ray discs when released on March 3, 2020 thanks to the expanded story elements. This is a rarity for contemporary games and an indication that despite covering a small portion of the FFVII story, the remake will be an enormous game in terms of data storage.
By comparison, Red Dead Redemption II also ships as two Blu-ray discs, and its file size came in at a mind-boggling 99 gigabytes. Currently, the standard PlayStation 4 Blu-ray disc can hold around 50 gigabytes, so we can assume Final Fantasy VII Remake will measure between 50 and 100 gigabytes — about twice the average for PS4 games.
This honors the Final Fantasy legacy of shipping really huge games.
When then-Squaresoft was developing Final Fantasy VII in the early- to mid-‘90s, the company migrated from Nintendo over to Sony’s PlayStation console because the game was so ambitious and large in scope that the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) couldn’t handle it. (This was just before the advent of the Nintendo 64, which couldn’t have done it either.) Final Fantasy VII was the first game in the series to use full motion video and 3D computer graphics with 2D backgrounds.
You just couldn’t fit all that data on one of Nintendo’s cartridges. Squaresoft instead opted for three discs on Sony’s PlayStation. The game’s critical and financial success helped launch Sony’s consoles into the forefront of gaming, which is why the remake will be a PlayStation 4 exclusive.
Most of Final Fantasy VII happens across the first two discs of the original PlayStation version. The third disc covers only the final few areas featured in the narrative leading up to the epic final battle, but it still has data of the game’s entire world.
Based on what we know of Final Fantasy VII Remake so far, it’ll only cover about half of the original Disc 1, up to the point where Cloud leaves Midgar with Barrett, Tifa, Aeris, and Red XIII. The squad won’t have reached the town of Kalm, where Cloud recounts his adventure with Sephiroth years prior in a lengthy flashback sequence. He hasn’t even met Cait Sith, Yuffie, Vincent, or Cid. We won’t even get access to the world map at all.
We can assume that the second installment will cover all of that before the group explores more of the world in locations like Junon, Cosmo Canyon, Gold Saucer, and eventually the Forgotten City where Sephiroth kills Aeris. (I would be flabbergasted if the second remake game didn’t end here, where the original Disc 1 ended.)
By the time it comes out, Final Fantasy VII Remake will have been in development for more than five years. Most of the hard work developing the combat system and character models will already be complete, but when the game opens up into the broader world for the second entry, new challenges await the development team.
Will traversing the world map recycle mechanics from Final Fantasy XV? How will airships function? What about all the splendor of the Gold Saucer amusement park and its many mini games?
This remake series could eventually become four or five separate games and span more than a decade of separate releases. I guess Final Fantasy XV was the final Final Fantasy after all.
Final Fantasy VII Remake will be released on March 3, 2020.