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Reader Discussion: What Do You Want From The Final Fantasy VII Remake?

Final Fantasy VII is an old game that's getting a modern makeover, but does it need more than just a visual update? Would it be sacrilegious to change the game's combat system? How many changes are too many, and when does it stop being a remake?

Yesterday, our very own Joe Juba made some controversial opinions about Sqaure-Enix's upcoming Final Fantasy VII remake, saying that the updated game should change some of FF VII's familiar combat system, story beats, and mini games, among other things. What do you think about this? Does Final Fantasy VII need more than just a facelift? Do you think the original combat system is still fun? Does the game's story still match the new art design? Director Tetsuya Nomura has already said that the remake could deviate from the original, but what exactly would you want to see changed in the Final Fantasy reboot?

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Opinion – The Final Fantasy VII Remake Needs To Make Changes

The unveiling of Square Enix’s upcoming Final Fantasy VII remake at E3 seemed almost too good to be true. With the reveal, Final Fantasy fans united in joy and surprise at the prospect of the RPG classic’s return. But that was only the first step. Now that the game is confirmed, Square Enix faces the more difficult task of living up to fan expectations that have been percolating for a decade.

Like many RPG fans, I was obsessed with Final Fantasy VII when it released back in 1997. It is one of my fondest gaming memories, and one of the most significant titles in the industry’s history. Square Enix first sparked rumors of a remake at E3 2005 with a tech demo showing off a visually upgraded version of FF VII’s intro. In the 10 years since, many gamers have agreed that they want to revisit the story of Cloud and company. However, what form should that new version take? Should it be a faithful adaptation of the original, with the only visual changes to make everything look better? Many fans are hoping for that – but it would be the biggest mistake Square Enix could possibly make.

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The original PS3 tech demo from 2005

After the remake’s announcement, I wrote a feature about the things that should and should not change for the Final Fantasy VII remake. I received some passionate and strongly worded responses via comments, email, and social media. Some of them were disputing specific points I brought up (like the battle system), but many of them also were resistant to the idea of any change whatsoever. Here’s a small sample:

“are you sure you want the remake??? Cuz, it should mostly stay the same, that's the point… if you want garbage, play new ff”

“Leave Final Fantasy VII alone. The fans that have demanded a remake of the game want the game they bought 20 years ago to simply look better. They do not want a completely different game.”

“FF7 needs to stay the same base game and mechanics. Maybe a graphic/audio update, voice acting, and more opt content. No dif.”

“If you even played (or appreciated) final fantasy 7 in its entirety you would not try to alter the game in anyway. It won the hearts of gamers because it stayed true to a formula, not ‘what would sell.’ I hope you do not write another article.”

These sentiments are coming from a reasonable place; I am, in fact, among the millions who played (and appreciated) the original, and I understand the desire to re-experience something you love with a modern sheen. There’s nothing like playing a great game for the first time, and I’ve often wished I could recreate that sensation with certain titles. However, the success and popularity of games are products of their time and place, and that isn’t something you can replicate with a visual overhaul. The only way you’re going to capture all of the highs and lows exactly the way you remember them is by playing the original. For the remake, Square Enix needs to expand its horizons and bring in a new audience.

Even though fans have wanted it for years, the Final Fantasy VII remake isn’t just for them. Why would Square Enix spend the money and time necessary for a project of this scale only to sell it to people who are already fans? Appealing to nostalgia is certainly a part of the strategy, but Final Fantasy VII is 18 years old; many gamers today weren’t even born when it came out, so Square Enix can’t rely on faithfulness to the original to make the remake relevant. Video games – and RPGs in particular – have evolved a lot in the last two decades. Not just graphics, but battle systems, voice acting, interface, cinematography, pacing, and progression have changed with the times. To have a shot at success, this needs to be something that can stand alongside its competition on store shelves – not something that plays like a PlayStation game with a new coat of paint.

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Reveal trailer for the FF VII remake

In the ‘90s, Japanese RPGs were juggernauts. Today, the games that adhere to the traditional format only have niche appeal. I don’t like this fact, but it’s the truth. Personally, I would love to see the market flooded with more modern forays into the genre in the vein of Lost Odyssey, Ni no Kuni, and Persona 4. I’d also like to see more developers emulate the 16-bit style (like 2011’s Radiant Historia). Unfortunately, the sales numbers seem to show that these games can’t be as successful as they once were.

You can say that this is a cynical approach, focused more on what will sell than what is the best artistic vision for the game. But sticking to an outdated formula doesn’t seem any more authentic or wise. Only the developers can decide the best direction for the re-imagined version of Final Fantasy VII. One vision for the game was already executed years ago with the best tools available at the time. With all of the new advances, hardware, and opportunities, why assume that creators would want to adhere to a design rooted in the late ‘90s? In fact, some of those decisions may have been necessary concessions due to technical limitations, and this could be the chance to do things that weren’t possible at the time. Even if that’s not the case, assembling a replica of something you’ve already made does not seem interesting from a creative standpoint. Shouldn’t the team be free to modify its vision according to the options available?

All other points aside, everything boils down to one simple argument: If the remake doesn’t bother to rethink or reinterpret anything, it’s a wasted opportunity. The story, characters, and mechanics of Final Fantasy VII are known quantities; the whole point of a remake is to reinvigorate the familiar with the surprising. If all of the battles and narrative beats are the same as they were before, what’s the point of making something new? If it only looks better, but doesn’t contribute anything unique to the world or the gameplay, then there’s no reason for it to exist. If you want the same game you know inside and out, play the PlayStation original. If you’re excited to explore new facets of the Final Fantasy VII universe and see how it can expand, keep an open mind and start coming to terms with the inevitable changes on the horizon.

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Weekend Deals: PlayStation Fantasy Flash Sale, Tropico 5 For A Song

Earlier today, we shared with you a big sale on Sega’s Total War games. If you’re looking for something a little different, there are some other options courtesy of the PlayStation Store and Kalypso.

Sony is running another PlayStation Flash Sale, this time with a fantasy theme. There are a number of titles on deep discount, including the following highlights on each of the platforms:

PlayStation 4

  • Game of Thrones Season Pass (Telltale) – $ 12.50 (50 percent off), also available on PS3Dr
  • Hand of Fate – $ 8.00 (60 percent off)
  • Shadow Warrior – $ 7.50 (75 percent off)

PlayStation 3

  • Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – $ 3.75 (75 percent off)
  • Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen – $ 13.20 (67 percent off)
  • Lego Lord of the Rings – $ 5.00 (75 percent off)

Vita

  • Soul Sacrifice – $ 4.50 (70 percent off)
  • Tales of Hearts R – $ 14.00 (65 percent off)

PSP

  • Valkyria Chronicles 2 – $ 5.00 (50 percent off), Note: Vita compatibility requires copying uninstalled file from PS3.

TurboGrafx 16 (Compatible with PS3, PSP, Vita)

  • Bonk's Adventure – $ 1.20 (80 percent off) Note: Vita compatibility requires copying uninstalled file from PS3.
  • Dungeon Explorer – $ 1.20 (80 percent off)
  • New Adventure Island – $ 1.20 (80 percent off)

More titles are available, with deals available through Monday, June 29, at 11 a.m. Pacific / 2 p.m. Eastern. For complete details visit the PlayStation Store.

Kalypso also let us know that its most recent entry in the Tropico series is on its deepest discount ever. The fifth entry in the dictator simulation franchise is available for $ 9.99 this weekend, a savings of 75 percent. This discount extends to multi-copy bundles and the Steam special edition.

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The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited – Returning To An Expansive Fantasy World

Day two of my latest adventure in the lands of Tamriel on PlayStation 4 begins with me dodging town guards – apparently stealing every loaf of bread has drawn the ire of the city. It didn’t help that I “accidentally” launched a fireball blast at a citizen that was napping on the docks either. If the guards catch me, I’ll have to pay a hefty fine, but I can deal with that – my coffers are overloaded with all the pickpocketing and stealing I’ve been doing, so I have more than enough to purchase a mount and some nice gear, even though I’m only around level 10.

My lawbreaking adventures are just one aspect that has been added to Elder Scrolls Online since its PC launch last year, and a noticeable feature in the newly released Tamriel Unlimited on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. In addition to adding more of the freedom we have all come to know and love through other Elder Scrolls titles, there’s a hefty endgame component, essentially an alternate advancement system, that lets players continue to grow and develop after level cap. As always with an Elder Scrolls game, it’s up to you to determine the direction of your character through item use and exploration – if you want to be rogue that wears plate armor,  or a two-handed cloth wearer, you can create a template of your very own as you explore the vast world.

The Elder Scrolls Online’s control scheme lends itself well to controller mapping and for combat. Because there’s a focus on a few key skills and the timing of basic attacks, you have a full range of powers at your fingertips without having to worry about overbearing and overloaded hotbars. The sparse UI does an excellent job allowing you to see what abilities are available without taking up valuable screen real estate. The game’s controls feel fitting for console, and the combat seems to have bit more weight behind sword strikes and offensive actions than my trip to Tamriel last year. On the subject of crafting, it’s incredibly satisfying to load your pack up with dungeon loot, and then break it all down to craft fantastic equipment.

Ability morphing lets you hone your powers by adding special features to skills that may seem basic at first. Each class line contains ultimate abilities that can only be used for additional complexity and fun to combat. For my time on console, I piloted a heavily armored storm mage, who essentially turns into Emperor Palpatine, capable of electrocuting packs of enemies.

Voice chat is easy to access and use, though you may wish to turn it off in heavily populated areas. The game’s dungeon grouping system has improved some of the issues I had with risk/reward ratios during my first trek through ESO, but it’s still slightly frustrating that the group finder doesn’t simply match players and dump them directly into an instance – you still have to port around a bit to get to your final destination.

The crown shop contains a motley assortment of consumables and cosmetics for those that want to continue supporting the game after initial purchase. Things like pets, mounts, jester outfits, and other assorted items are available for a price. Players can also opt to sign up for “membership plus” which is essentially a subscription that provides crowns each month, and presumably other content offerings down the line.

Due to a comfortable control scheme and a buy-to-play model that takes the pressure out of being forced to “get the most efficiency” out of your playtime, Elder Scrolls Online is a solid fit for console – it’s far more fun to wander aimlessly, farm gobs of consumables and craftables, and spend thirty minutes trying to steal a goblet undetected if you’re not constantly thinking about a subscription fee ticking in the background.

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[Update] Square Enix Says Final Fantasy VII October Release Date On Its Site Is Wrong

Update: Square Enix has responded to our inquiry regarding the Final Fantasy VII PlayStation 4 port. Unfortunately, the date the company listed is incorrect.

"We can confirm that the published release date for this title is incorrect," a representative told us via email. "As discussed at this year’s E3, Final Fantasy VII will be ported to the PlayStation 4 in Winter 2015.  The pricing has already been announced last December to be set at $ 15.99."

Original Story:

Despite announcing the surprising Final Fantasy VII remake at E3 2015 last week, Square Enix is pushing ahead with its port of the original for PlayStation 4. The publisher has dated the game for this October.

Square Enix’s website lists a price of $ 15.99 and release date of October 16. The page also mentions the PC Only features, including achievements and the character booster, but those have not yet been confirmed for PS4.

We anticipate that a press release with full details will arrive later this morning. We’re also reaching out to Square Enix and will update as more information is available.

[Source: Square Enix]

 

Our Take
With the remake likely years out, it’s no wonder Square Enix is cashing in with a PS4 version as it announced at PlayStation Experience. With huge western titles coming this fiscal year, a Final Fantasy VII port on PS4 is just the cherry on the publisher’s cash flow sundae. 

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What We Want (And Don’t Want) From The Final Fantasy VII Remake

In a surprising E3 announcement, Square Enix and Sony revealed that the Final Fantasy VII remake is happening. This is a practically miraculous development for fans who have been hoping for such a project ever since the PS3 “tech demo” shown at E3 2005. Now that it’s officially happening, we can start speculating about the form it will take.

As director Tetsuya Nomura has said, the remake could deviate from the original. That’s a loaded statement, since the scope isn’t clear; we know that it’s more than just a cosmetic upgrade, but the degree to which the story and systems are changing is unclear. Square Enix says we will learn more about the project this winter, but until then, this list runs through some changes we’d like to see.

WANT: The materia system
Of everything Square Enix could potentially alter for the remake, the way materia works should stay more or less the same. It’s a fun and versatile way to customize your characters, letting you decide the roles your favorite characters play in combat. New spells and ways to combine them would be excellent, as long as the core concept is still there.

DON’T WANT: A complete story overhaul
More character-focused arcs? More backstory? More side plots? Those additions are things we’d like to see. However, don’t mess with backbone of the story. It should still be about Cloud and his companions fighting against Shinra and following Sephiroth’s trail. As long as that remains the driving force of the plot, other narrative detours and deviations will be easy to appreciate.

WANT: Parts of the expanded FF VII universe
The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII initiative (which included projects like Dirge of Cerberus, Crisis Core, and the Advent Children film) introduced some cool facets to lore of Final Fantasy. Players learned more about Zack and Aerith’s relationship, saw more of the Turks in action, and met interesting characters like Angeal. Folding some of these elements into the main game could to a lot to enrich the story, but…

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DON’T WANT: Other parts of the expanded FF VII universe
Though the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII had some good parts, it also had lots of dumb stuff. Cait Sith’s Scottish accent, Genesis (a foe who is basically as strong as Sephiroth, except he’s based on a real-life pop star), and anything involving Vincent’s nemesis Weiss are all things that would be better left as apocryphal content.

WANT: Revamped battle system
On one hand, the traditional turn-based battle system is one of the core pillars of Final Fantasy VII, and a large part of its appeal. On the other hand, if Square Enix is hoping to hit mainstream success with the remake, it probably isn’t a good idea to lean on 20-year-old game mechanics. Though we wouldn’t mind something more traditional, some recent installments in the series – like Final Fantasy XII, XII, and XIII-2 – have done a good job modernizing combat without sacrificing the fun essence of tactical combat. Look toward those for inspiration on the battlefield.

DON’T WANT: Terrible minigames
When people remember Final Fantasy VII, they think fondly of the cinematic sequences, story moments, and fights. However, the bizarre and terrible minigames are often obscured by the mists of time. If Square Enix decides to include sections based on snowboarding and defending Fort Condor in the remake, fine – but they had better be drastically different from the bad minigames in the original. We’d definitely still like to see the Chocobo breeding/racing figure into the equation, assuming that those systems get an overhaul, too.

WANT: Dual musical options
This one isn't likely, but would still be fun. The remake will almost certainly have newly recorded versions of the songs from the original – and we'd like the ability to switch between them at will. It's like how some remakes let you switch between the old graphics and the new ones at the press of a button, but in this case, it would be for the soundtrack. Not that the new tracks won't sound good, but the extra dose of nostalgia would be a nice touch for fans.  

DON’T WANT: Don Corneo’s Mansion As-Is
Some fans love the weird sequence where Cloud needs to cross-dress to confront Don Corneo, but the whole quest and its surrounding side objectives are goofy, and deal with situation with all the grace and nuance you would expect from a late-‘90s video game. Some silliness is fine, and Nomura has implied that we'll still see a cross-dressing Cloud, but the rest of the scenario could easily altered without losing anything of substance.

WANT: Cool new summons, and the option to skip them
When Final Fantasy VII first came out, the array of awesome summoned monsters and their cinematic attack sequences were among the coolest parts of the whole game. Getting more of these powerful attacks featuring other iconic creatures from the series seems like a no-brainer. However, this time, we want an option to shorten or skip the lengthy summoning sequence. They’re fun to watch the first few times, but those minute-long attacks can really add up over the course of a big RPG.

DON’T WANT: Random encounters
It might have been normal at the time, but the way combat initiation works in RPGs has evolved, and the original approach doesn’t cut it any more. Players should not finish a battle, then take three steps only to be thrown into another battle with an unseen foe. We hope Square Enix implements a less annoying, more elegant way to handle the frequency of combat.

WANT: Aerith back
This one is tricky. Aerith (a.k.a. Aeris) needs to die as part of the main story, and that absolutely should not change. However, considering the popularity of numerous bogus “secret methods” to resurrect her in the original version, it would be a cool nod to fans to actually make it possible in the remake. Of course, it should be non-canon and difficult to achieve, but it would be a fun post-game goal to aim for.

That's it for our list. Share your own wishlist in the comments below! And for more about Final Fantasy VII, read our Essentials piece explaining why it's one of the must-play titles in gaming history.

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More Final Fantasy XV Information Coming On June 4

While there won't be a major Final Fantasy XV E3 presence this year, director Hajime Tabata will be responding to fans next week. Square Enix has announced the date and time for the next episode of Active Time Report.

Tabata and global marketing manager Akio Ofuji will be back to offer another development update. In previous episodes, we learned about plans to update the Episode Duscae demo

It was also during Active Time Report that Tabata shared that the game won't be making a splash at E3. The program is fully subtitled, so you can understand everything, even if you don't speak Japanese.

Active Time Report will air on June 4 at 6 a.m. Pacific / 9 a.m. Eastern. You can watch on YouTube or Twitch. For more on Final Fantasy XV, check out our most recent preview.\

 

Our Take
I've spoken with Tabata before and have enjoyed how enthusiastic and open he is. The Active Time Report is a great way to keep fans in the loop, especially after Final Fantasy XV seemingly made no progress for years. Tabata seems like the right person to bring Final Fantasy XV through to the end, and I especially enjoy that Square Enix subtitles the Active Time Report so we can enjoy and learn from it. 

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Laid-off Zynga devs get a fresh start at a fantasy sports company

A former Zynga employee tells Re/code that roughly 38 of the 42 devs who lost their jobs when Zynga shuttered its Orlando studio this month have gone on to join fantasy sports game company Fanduel. …


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History Of A Final Fantasy Summon: Alexander

When it comes to the summoned beasts of the Final Fantasy series, Bahamut is probably the first that comes to mind. That's for a good reason: He's awesome. However, several other cool Eidolons have made multiple appearances throughout the course of the series. In this feature, we take a look at the video history of one of the most underrated recurring summons, and the only one that looks like a giant robotic cathedral: Alexander.

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Final Fantasy VI
It isn't a coincidence that Alexander looks like a church in his inaugural appearance; he's the only Esper that can teach your characters the spell Holy. This sequence establishes many of Alexander's hallmarks for later games, including rising from the ground and shooting a tiny laser that erupts into a field of flame.

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Final Fantasy VII
The move to 3D was good for Alexander, giving players a better idea of his enormous size. While Final Fantasy VII is infamous for dragging out its summoning animations, Alexander's is pretty short and to-the-point; he draws a weird glyph on the ground, but otherwise, it's pretty similar to his previous incarnation.

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Final Fantasy VIII
This version breaks from tradition a little, since Alexander trades his signature laser beam for a salvo of explosive energy missiles. He also rises out of the ocean this time, but he still comes across as some sort of ancient, subterranean machine.

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Final Fantasy IX
Though Alexander is a key part of a pivotal moment in Final Fantasy IX, you don't get to summon him in battle. That might have something to do with the fact that he's the size of an entire city. Anything that can defeat Bahamut with no more than a flash of its wings is definitely too overpowered to put in players' hands.

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Final Fantasy XI
In addition to being the final boss of the Treasures of Aht Urhgan expansion, players can also summon this Celestial Avatar themselves. Instead of dealing his usual brand of fiery doom, this version of Alexander casts "Perfect Defense," increasing your resistance to damage and status effects.

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Final Fantasy XIII
Seeing one of Final Fantasy's coolest creatures saddled to one of its lamest characters is painful, but Alexander is a professional and doesn't complain (That won't stop me from complaining, though: Hope is terrible). 

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(Warning: Do not watch if you haven't finished Final Fantasy Type-0, but plan to) 
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
It may not be an official numbered entry, but Alexander's appearance in Type-0 is too cool not to mention. He's not just a robo-buddy who helps you out on the battlefield; he is a pure weapon of mass destruction this time around. 

What Final Fantasy summon would you like to see featured next? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

(Video credit to all of the original uploaders)

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See Square Enix’s DirectX 12-powered Final Fantasy graphics in a new video

It’s become a game industry tradition that the Final Fantasy developer shows off its latest and greatest realtime facial animation as tech demos, and this one’s a doozy. …


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