Final Fantasy VII Remake is one of the surprise stars of this year’s E3 for me, with new information shedding light on previously unknown aspects of the game. We got a release date, a demo, a new trailer, and information about its different editions… but that’s not all. Today, I actually played it.
On the E3 show floor, we had a behind-closed-doors presentation from Final Fantasy VII Remake producer Yoshinori Kitase about the game, its scope, it’s future, and the team’s goals. After that, I played the same demo Square Enix showed at its E3 event – a boss fight against a giant robotic scorpion. All of these experiences resulted in a flood of new details and impressions; in this rundown, I’ve distilled the tidbits I found most interesting during my time with Final Fantasy VII Remake.
1. Thinking of the game as “episodic,” at least how the word normally applies to games, seems like a mistake. Square Enix confirmed what it said three years ago: each part of Final Fantasy VII Remake is a full game.
2. This isn’t a side-project; the team at Square Enix views this game as the next full numbered entry in the Final Fantasy series.
3. The team feels that Midgar represents Final Fantasy VII better than any other location.
4. The second installment of Final Fantasy VII Remake is in the planning stages.
5. The voice cast is different; Square Enix says a new generation of performers is the best way for newcomers and old fans to experience Final Fantasy VII Remake.
6. Our demos show the raid on Mako Reactor 01, which seems to be the beginning (or very near the beginning) of the game once again.
7. The map and layout of the reactor is practically the same as it was in the original version of Final Fantasy VII, except you explore it in 3D.
8. During combat, slowing down time using tactical mode gives you time to select commands. You can (but you don’t need to) assign your favorite commands to shortcuts.
9. You can lock onto your targets with R3, or slash freely with the square button.
10. You build up your limit gauge by taking damage.
11. Barret’s limit break in the demo is called “Fire in the hole,” and it’s big charged blast from his arm cannon.
12. Cloud’s Braver attack is just a regular ability now, but Cross Slash is a limit break.
13. In addition to Braver, Cloud has special attacks called Focused Thrust and Triple Slash.
14. You build up your ATB charges by landing attacks. When you’re playing, they refill pretty quickly, encouraging you to use them liberally instead of hoarding them.
15. Using standard attacks, blocking (holding R1), and evading (pressing circle) don’t cost ATB.
16. Actions that require expending your ATB include: Using items, activating abilities, and casting spells.
17. Using magic costs MP in addition to the ATB charge.
18. In addition to their regular attacks and special abilities, each character has a unique feature mapped to the triangle button.
19. Cloud’s unique feature is switching stances; he goes between “operator mode” (standard speed and damage) and “punisher mode” (slower speed, higher damage).
20. Barret’s unique feature is “overcharge,” which is a single big shot, rather than his usual continuous fire.
21. During combat, you can swap between party members by pressing up or down on the d-pad.
22. I could not swap between characters during exploration; after battle, control reverts to Cloud.
23. Treasure chests are scattered around, and you open them with the triangle button. You can’t open them if you are engaged in battle.
24. The materia system is returning and will be similar to the one in the original game, though Square Enix wouldn’t dive into the details.
25. At least for Cloud’s sword, it appears that the equipped materia is represented cosmetically on the weapon.
26. Jessie (one Barret’s crew) gets sort of flirty with Cloud. She talks about how cute he is, and is curious about how “close” he is with Tifa.
27. The screen takes on a static-like visual and audio distortion when people mention things about Cloud’s past, like his relationship with Tifa, or his time in SOLDIER.
28. During one of these distortions, Cloud sees a single black feather falling.