Final Fantasy VII Will See ‘Dramatic Changes,’ And That’s Good

Final Fantasy VII Will See ‘Dramatic Changes,’ And That’s Good

Don’t expect the upcoming remake version of Final Fantasy VII to be exactly the same game you remember excitedly talking to your friends about over the school lunch table.

At least when it comes to FFVII‘s battle system, things are going to be different the second time around, according to Game Director Tetsuya Nomura. Speaking with Official Playstation Magazine (thanks, GamesRadar), Nomura called the changes “dramatic,” although they won’t change the game so much that fans are left looking at something completely different. Don’t expect an FFVII shooter, in other words.

Still, at first it’s easy to bristle at Nomura’s comments, especially as a fan of the game and someone who looks back fondly at long Playstation play sessions and excited talk at school about finally beating the Emerald Weapon. Just exactly what do “dramatic changes” entail, and, uh, why do we need them?

But think about it for a second and the answer is probably, “Because no one (in the U.S., at least) would really want to play it otherwise.”

Even loving the Final Fantasy series as much as I did when I was younger, I kinda … hated playing the games. The stories and characters were why I showed up, and random battles and tough boss fights were usually just speed bumps on the way to discovering another strange town or catching the next batch of lengthy Sephiroth monologuing. I wanted to learn about Jenova, the Ancients, what the hell the Lifestream was and why Cloud was being such a dick. What I wasn’t really interested in was fighting groups of random Shinra soldiers every eight or 10 steps.

And while I’ll occasionally fire up an RPG with menu-based battles even today (I’m currently trekking back through Chrono Cross on my PS Vita), I can see why Square Enix has moved on to other systems. It’s not especially engaging, and seems like a pace killer, especially when we see modern games fluidly moving from fight scenarios to exploration and back again. It’s easy to imagine a scenario in which Square Enix looks at FFVII‘s old Active Time Battle fights and worries that kids these days won’t want to play them.

The world’s also a different place than it was in 1997. The games landscape has changed dramatically. Gone are the days when console gamers hoping for interesting stories in video games had nowhere to look but JRPGs. It’s hard to see the genre as anything more than, well, niche, given the wealth of game options available to us. Players growing up today (again, this is my very American perspective, so take that as you will) know RPGs to be something more akin to Skyrim than to Chrono Trigger. My cowriter bestie Nick Hurwitch expressed similar sentiments over at

That throws some loops at a Final Fantasy VII remake, and I think Square Enix is smart to recognise that fact. Near two decades to time passing is, well, a lot of time passing. And as much as I’d like to revisit Final Fantasy VII in a more graphically pleasing form, I think what I’d really like is Final Fantasy VII‘s story in a game form that doesn’t make me slog to experience it. I wonder if other fans feel the same.

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance journalist and co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveller’s Guide to Time Travel and The Space Hero’s Guide to Glory. You can follow him on Twitter at @philhornshaw or contact him at [email protected]


    • It should be the Kingdom Hearts system if they want to change it, I hate the quasi real-time combat of anything after FFX. Replaying KH2.5 now, and I’m reminded that the combat / franchise is the best the company has been since the PS1 era Final Fantasies.

    • Nooooooo, FF13’s battle system is one of the biggest reasons why I haven’t been able to endure the chore of trying to finish it.

      FF15, please.

  • I’ll withhold judgement until I find out the actual nature of the changes. If they scrap the way battles start (i.e. ditch random encounters), then I can live with that. But I’ll be pretty upset if they do something like ditch the ATB/turn-based combat or the materia system etc, since I think those are a core part of FFVII’s gameplay, and aren’t really broken (and thus not in need of fixing) even all these years later.

    I guess worst case I’ve still got the original to play on my PS3/Vita.

    • And this is what I am super concerned about. I strongly dislike active battles. Hence why I was never much of a fan of anything past FFX. If they absolish the ATB system in favour of something from FF13 or (gasp) FF15. That might be game over for me. 🙁

      • Agree. It’s pretty much guaranteed to ruin any chances I have of bothering with the remake too. I don’t mind active combat (I really enjoy Tales for example) but only when I’m actually in direct control.

  • “Because no one (in the U.S., at least) would really want to play it otherwise.”

    Sorry but in my personal experience, that’s the kind of mentality that leads to the dumbing down of a product. One great example was the movie ‘Shaolin Soccer’, which the Weinsteins ‘wisely’ edited down ‘because otherwise the Americans would not want to watch it’. Now, people flock to the original version rather than the American version. Or another, The Castle. Re-edited, redubbed and some bits refilmed for an American Audience because people were afraid ‘Americans wouldn’t get it’. When I talk to an American who sees the original, they love it, Aussie references and all, but for the life of them, can’t remember and have never seen the US version. While it’s a popular activity to bash Americans, in the end you really only do a disservice to your own product, assume the mentality of a whole audience and dilute the entire experience. I hope FF7 turns out great but if this is the reason it’s being changed, or one of the major ones, that’s not a positive reason at all.

    • Not positive in the least but it was always going to happen.

      You mentioned last time that the remakes happening because there is an audience for it. That audience was never going to be focused on fans of the original so much as bringing in new fans.

      I take no pleasure in this at all, I was always critical of a remake for that reason. I have always been in the first camp of the original fans, a remake is bad idea. The second camp want a remake but want it to be everything FFVII with modern bells and whistles.
      The loudest camp and the one the game is being designed for is people who wouldn’t play the original because it was old and didn’t stand up (for them) with newer content in the franchise.

      God I want it to be great too, I’m just not sure it’s going to tick all the boxes. All this talk of it not being the remake many will expect sounds like warning to original fans more than anything.

      • There can be a new audience by all means, you just ensure you’re not using the excuse of ‘a new audience’ in place of ‘doing what the focus testers want us to do’ or whatnot. Movies made by boards have had this issue since, well, forever.

    • This is why all those articles describing the “death of JRPGs” are such bummers to read for me. I feel publishers are going to read them and the comments from people (who haven’t played JRPGs but only know about them from these articles and videos) and are going to assume there’s no market any more. Which means they change things that don’t need changing to differentiate.

      If you really want to know if there’s a market for AAA console turn-based RPGs, release one.

  • Sadly it’s very hard to please everyone with these kinds of things, Many people want a similar battle system because they loved it in the original, I see a lot of people want it to play like Kingdom Hearts (in which case I think they should just play KH but that’s another can of worms)
    I personally am a fan of turn based, strategy and ATB systems, that was one of my biggest draws to the series next to the art, so the idea of it turning into an action RPG kind of sours my impression of it. I wont condemn it yet though, it’s best to wait till we have some gameplay footage before getting wound up about the possibilities.

  • This is why a remake should never have been asked for. It was obvious that they needed to change the system in order to appeal to a new audience but it was the whole package fans fell in love with. Ever since the materia system battle systems having spiraled down into the steaming turd of a battle system we had in the ff13 games. Personally I love how the star ocean games handle battles and yes i do think it would be an improvement but again its not the game I fell in love with.

    Now all we will have is all the near sighted fools who desired the remake bitching about how its different than what they wanted. It seriously wasnt enough with the movie and spin off game drivel? The cow had been sucked dry long ago but you shits just needed a remake.

    We should be looking forward to new and better things not games we have already played with a brand new coat of paint. Fuck everyone who ever thought this was a good idea.

      • That right there is whats infuriating. Ive got to agree with you that SE has released some rancid turds in recent years but that doesnt mean they cant still do incredible games. Consider what could be done on a brand new IP with all the time and money pissed away on this nostalgia driven cash grab. We could be missing out on a new experience that rivals the one we had when we first played FF7.

        Im mad at the wasted potential and the people who wanted it to happen.

        • We could be missing out on a new experience that rivals the one we had when we first played FF7.

          Impossible. Square’s new experiences have been average. Even the FF15 demo was dull. More FF7 is never going to be a bad thing.

          • I’ll wait and be hopeful. It’s not like a demo’s going to be representative of an FF experience – it’s the world, story, characters

            And besides, when you’ve got a sample of, like, 3, it’s pretty hard to say there’s a statistical connection between SE and being past it. (Plus, the handheld games were pretty excellent)

    • The cow had been sucked dry long ago

      There’s a mental image I really didn’t need on a Monday morning. Cheers.

  • Turn based gaming was put in the games because of the limitations of technology at the time. That’s fine. That doesn’t mean that whatever battle system they’ve implemented since XII is better though. Style over substance again. Bigwigs think that flashwizzbang fast paced fights are all people want these days instead of a game where you might need to, shock horror, think ahead about your tactics. XIII was panned because of the battle system. XV, I have no idea what’s going on in the battles with the character I’m controlling, let alone being aware of what the other 3 characters are doing. That’s not the experience I want in a FF game

    If the system maintains full control over your party in a decent way, I’ll be happy. If it’s real time where you’re focused on 1 person spamming the attack button while the others are AI controlled, I’ve never wanted that in a FF game and that’s why I don’t like any FF game since XII. The ATB system in FFVII IS real time anyway. Enemies will still attack you while you’re deciding what to do. Re-releasing FFX in HD (twice) makes no sense if people don’t want to play turn based games because the fighting system in X is a lot slower paced than VII

    • XIII was panned due to removing the illusion of choice and exploration with it’s corridors and the fact it take about 10-15 hours to be done with the ‘tutorial’ and be given the ability to actually build a party. The combat system, despite it focusing on a critical character, was one of the better aspects of the game.

      • Better is relative though. The annoyance of having characters take time to switch between roles was horrible. Not to mention battles could take longer than 10 minutes scrolling through the same paradigms based on the phase of some monsters. Some bosses took upwards of 20 minutes..

      • I never understood why FFX was heralded as one of the best in the franchise when it was exactly as linear as XIII. I don’t get how people got blind-sided by the linearity of XIII.

        • Most of the final Fantasy games are very linear, even games that got you out to the world map quickly were very linear in that you had to got to certain locations to progress with the plot and going to other locations usually didn’t really matter FFVII could have had you leave Midgar, corridor to Kalm, corridor to the Choco farm and then to Junon without making any difference. Fort Condor was closed that early anyway.
          XIII got rid of the fluffing about but people don’t like that for some reason.

          • It also had side quests, equipment farming, minigames, treasure that was actually fun to find, backstory of the world to explore (talking to characters, etc.) and secrets. And don’t discount how important it is to have that fluff, to feel like you’re exploring a world and pad out the experience – not just going from A to B. It’s a pretty major part of how WOW and Bethesda games do the way they do

        • FFX had a linear plot progression but had a number of big things over XIII. XIII’s character progression is completely linear. You have no choice for most of the game which characters you’re using, they have fixed classes and abilities. They level up the same way. You’re basically just putting XP into a specific class, there’s no room for customizing or anything (compare to how flexible the Sphere grid is in FFX, especially later in the game when you can move all over the place in it and remove & replace nodes).

          I’d also argue that FFX actually bothers to try and make you care about the characters.

  • Absolute sincerity: Do whatever the hell you want, Nomura.

    I was initially worried they’d change so much of the game to the point where it’d be horrible, and nothing like the original. Then I grew up a little and realised that I’d hate Squenix if it was exactly the same game.
    I love FFVII. I’ve finished it countless times (I literally don’t know but it’s definitely past 5), I preordered and played the hell out of the Steam release and I had a ball…but I’m ready for changes. As long as the characters and settings are still there, I’ll probably love it.

    • I’m ok with change, even to combat, hell, even to materia, if the change makes sense. I don’t know what the change will be so I won’t judge it. All my stance is, is change for the *right* reason. Don’t change because you’re afraid your focus group won’t like it. Artistic integrity is paramount and if your artistic vision is true, and good, by and large people will come to it. I will play this, I’m not afraid of change, I just want the change to be for the right reasons. I don’t want to play a carbon copy of 7, I want to play the game 7 can be these days with new technology 🙂

      • Completely agree. If they stuck to their guns and released what they wanted to, and I don’t like it, I’ll still respect them for trying.

        It’ll be interesting to see what happens with materia. It’s completely integral to the story so it’s hard to imagine it’ll vanish, but I reckon they’ll try and make it more “modern” (read: complex).

      • As long as they don’t swap actual, sequential levels for something wholly more confusing and needlessly complicated like they did with FFX onwards. I loved the materia system, I’d hate for that to change personally.

  • Players growing up today (again, this is my very American perspective, so take that as you will) know RPGs to be something more akin to Skyrim than to Chrono Trigger.They are more likely to think of it as more akin to WOW or Dragon Age where abilities have cooldowns which is just turn based combat with an ATB system. JRPGs may be thought of as “niche” but that’s only because it’s the story, characters and artistic aesthetics that make them so. They can still be separated into hack’n’slash, ARPG, open world, tactical, grid based, etc.

  • This makes me sad 🙁 I’m not looking forward to it at all to be honest, and I loved that game like no other

      • I got rid of my PS1 a long… long time ago….
        There are a thousand places I could play the original if I wanted to, but that obviously isn’t the point…

        The game was huge for a reason, so why change what was already so succesful? Update yes, but there is seriously no need to change it

        • Because the ATB system is outdated. Just because something was successful in the mid 1990s, doesn’t mean it’s going to do well today. If they weren’t going to make any changes, the game will only serve the fans who would buy it for nostalgia’s sake, and prevent new audiences from enjoying the world and story of FFVII.

          • Thats what new games are for, and why they have a hundred other different versions of FF that no longer have turn based combat. This is a remake, and should stay true. Its not for nostalgia, that was a core part of the game that they are completely changing. I don’t know if you have actually ever played it, but it worked really well with that game, some of those boss fights required you to stop and think “What am I going to do next”, and ATB actually gave you that time to stop and plan out an attack strategy

            Or better yet, give us the option to switch it on and off. It couldn’t be that hard to do?

    • Yes you can. If you enjoyed the story and characters. If you want to keep the ATB/Turn based elements in Final Fantasy VII, go play the original and stop bitching.

  • Enemies on the map, rather than random encounters? I’d be fine with that. Don’t need a transition into a battle mode either. Speed up the combat, make it a bit flashier and more exciting? That’s fine too.

    Control over only one character while shitty AI handles the rest? No thanks.

    It might be true that the core FF7 gameplay would feel a bit dated in a modern game, but I’d argue that if you go too far in ‘modernizing it’ you’re going to miss the point. You still need to pay respect to the original game. If you change everything about it, you’re risking alienating the core audience. Alienate enough of them and it could sink Final Fantasy as a franchise and that would probably take Squenix down with it.

  • The material system was fantastic! It was the sole reason why I was always so disappointed with following sequels.

    Would be a damn shame to see them move on from it. It really is as iconic as the game itself imo.

  • What’s wrong with ATB? I still prefer it to some of the chaotic button mashing or Quick-Time-Event-y stuff that many modern RPGs use.

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