Early reactions to Final Fantasy VII Remake are overwhelmingly positive, and now that everyone has gotten their hands on the demo released Monday, gamers have noticed a particular difficulty setting called "Classic Mode."
How exactly does Classic Mode adjust the FF7 Remake experience? Does it make combat anything like the original?
Square Enix first announced the existence of Classic Mode at 2019’s Tokyo Game Show. The mode was said to emulate that “Classic” turn-based gameplay of the original and many other Final Fantasy games of yesteryear.
What is Final Fantasy VII Remake’s Classic Mode?
In FF7 Remake, “Classic Mode” simplifies your combat experience by making dodging, blocking, moving, and performing normal melee automatic and in the control of the game's AI. You’re only left responsible for everything relating to the Command menu and using the Active Time functions.
Essentially, this means that you’re almost a backseat driver for the AI, in control of the more complex actions as the simple stuff becomes automatic. Despite the best intentions by Square Enix, Classic Mode makes no other attempts to emulate the original’s gameplay.
The setting is meant to more closely resemble the original in some fashion, which utilized an Active Time Battle system that's riffed on in the new system. The original was turn-based like many classic JRPGs, but your characters gradually recharged their capacity to take an action every round, putting pressure on the player to make quick decisions or otherwise take a lot of hits from the enemy. But rather than resemble the turn-based nature of the original, Classic Mode in Final Fantasy VII Remake instead makes things incredibly easy.
The FFVII Remake treats Classic Mode similar to but distinct from difficult settings like Easy or Normal. In the game's demo, Classic Mode cannot be selected independently from the difficulty setting, meaning that the mode is currently hard-locked to overlap with Easy mode, making for a very easy experience for players that's mostly automated.
"The player-controlled character will attack and defend automatically, allowing you to focus on executing commands," the in-game text reads. "The battle difficulty is the same as Easy."
If you do choose Classic Mode and dislike the experience, you can change to a different setting via the difficulty option found within the in-game menu.
What’s the point of Final Fantasy VII Remake’s Classic Mode?
With the addition of Classic Mode, developer Square Enix seemingly hopes to appease the audience who wanted a visually updated Final Fantasy VII. "It essentially turns the game into a classic menu-based RPG," a September 2019 Square Enix blog post reads, putting an emphasis on a "combat system [that] is all about giving players a choice in how to play."
The statement is entirely true as you’ll regularly be confined to menus, but classic mode makes no further attempt to replicate the seminal JRPG. Enemies will still appear around all 360 degrees of your party, rather than making an orderly line ahead of you. Attacks aren’t turn-based, nor set to a specific rhythm. Enemies can still attack your party in any order they please.
Classic mode is closer to auto-pilot than a Final Fantasy VII’s iconic gameplay.
Final Fantasy VII Remake will be released April 10, 2020 for PS4.