Square Enix revealed the North American cover art for Final Fantasy VII Remake on Twitter Tuesday, paying homage to the artwork from the original 1997 PlayStation release. However, as Final Fantasy fans quickly noted on social media, Remake’s cover makes no mention of the fact that it’s only the first of a yet-unknown number of installments. While some Square Enix fans (like Kotaku’s Jason Schreier) were miffed by this “misleading” packaging, others found reason for hope, speculating that the first installment of FF7R might encompass more of the story than we thought.
We’ve known since E3 back in June that the first part of FF7 Remake will focus on Midgar. As we noted a couple weeks back, the official copy on every official trailer description states “the first game in this project will be set in the eclectic city of Midgar.” Even so, the FF faithful have long speculated that the game will end with one of the most iconic, spoilery moments in the game: the climactic showdown between Cloud, Aerith and Sephiroth in the Temple of the Ancients. Back in May, the contents of a promptly deleted social media post by someone claiming to have insider information from Square Enix’s El Segundo office made the rounds on the FF7 Remake subreddit. Among the biggest potential bombshells? There’s more to the first installment of Remake than just Midgar. The leaker claims to have seen multiple in-game locations — Cosmo Canyon, Gold Saucer and Kalm — as well as open-world exploration elements such as Chocobos and Cid’s Tiny Bronco aircraft. None of the key art or gameplay footage released by Square Enix up until this point has shown anything other than Midgar.
There’s plenty of reason for skepticism about this months-old leak. After all, why would Square Enix hide that it’s completed more of the game than anyone thought? Even so, SquareElSegundo did mention some major details about the game that have since proven accurate: The game was playable on the E3 show floor, players will get to cross-dress as Cloud at the Honey Bee Inn (yesssss), and the squats minigame from Wall Market’s gym will return.
However, other aspects of SquareElSegundo’s claims remain unconfirmed: we haven’t seen any official footage of party members like Cait Sith or Cid, and while the leaker makes a number of points about the game’s combat system, they make no mention of the optional, turn-based Classic Mode, a strange detail for anyone familiar with the FF7 fandom to overlook. What’s more, the leaker’s claim about a June PSN demo was just plain wrong.
While Square Enix has given fans little evidence to suspect the first installment of Remake will go beyond Midgar and all the way to Aerith’s send-off, it would make narrative sense, if the developers could actually pull it off. After all, it’s only after the party ventures out of the massive mechanical city that we begin to learn more juicy details about the true nature of Cloud’s relationships with Sephiroth and Tifa. Sure, there’s intrigue to be had with Shinra, the Turks, Avalanche and Shinra, but it’s difficult to imagine an appropriate cliffhanger where the action could leave off at that early stage of the story. After all, this is only a handful of hours into the original game.
Then again, the development team has a formidable task ahead of it; even the massive open world of FFXV only had three or four large cities to explore. It may not be reasonable to expect fully realized, expanded versions Midgar, Nibelheim, Gold Saucer and more iconic FF7 environments could be finished in time for Remake’s March release. There’s a reason Square Enix resisted the fan demand for a remake for two decades: it’s a massive game to begin with, and updating it for current-gen consoles is a monumental project. As much as we’d love to relive the Nibelheim incident in spectacular 4K glory come spring, we’re not holding our breath.
Final Fantasy VII Remake comes out March 20.