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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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[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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Oculus Unveils Final Version Of Oculus Rift Headset

Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus Rift, welcomed those in attendance at Oculus' E3 2015 press conference by revealing the final version of the Oculus Rift VR headset. The headset has been adjusted numerous times over the course of the past three years, and Iribe feels confident that this is the version that will be ready for retail.

The final version of the Oculus Rift headset is more lightweight than previous versions and is more comfortable to use while wearing glasses. The headset comes with built-in earphones for game audio, but they can be removed in favor of your own headset or earbuds. The retail version is touted as low-latency and with a wide field of view. It is also more ergonomically designed than previous versions.

The headset also includes a camera, which is meant to sit on the desk in front of you to track the motion of the headset. The camera is designed to stay out of the player's way and not be obtrusive to the gameplay. Once Oculus Touch, the system's motion controllers release, the camera will assist in tracking that as well.

In addition, each Oculus Rift headset will come packaged with an Xbox One controller. Oculus is currently planning on shipping the Rift to consumers in Q1 2016. The company has still yet to detail the final pricing of the headset.

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[UPDATE] 343 Industries Says Halo 3: ODST Listing Not Final

It looks like the Xbox.com posting hinting at Halo 3: ODST's digital release on Xbox One is placeholder. The official Halo twitter account tweeted the following.

[Original story posted May 26, 2015 at 07:31 PM]

According to its listing on the Xbox.com marketplace, Halo 3: ODST remastered for Xbox One is only a few days away.

You can find the listing here, as well as a screenshot of listing above. It shows that the game will be available on Friday May, 29 and will be 8.1 GB to download.

Following the botched online multiplayer launch of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, 343 promised it would give the Halo 3 follow-up campaign, ODST, the same remaster treatment and make it available for free to Master Chief Collection owners. We've known the game wouldn't be too far off, and even that it would release in May, but this is the first hint of a solid release date.

[Source: Xbox.com]

 

Our Take
This could certainly be a mistake or an inaccurate release date as it doesn't appear 343 has confirmed the date anywhere else, but it has said the game would be available in May and considering the last day of May is this coming Saturday, a Friday release seems like a pretty solid bet.

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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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The Evil Within Executes In First-Person For Final DLC Add-On

The Evil Within’s third and final piece of add-on content is out today. And instead of playing as a feeble human wracked by nightmarish visions, you get to play the big, hulking, monster out to inflict terror and pain.

The Executioner DLC changes the perspective to first-person, as players take on the role of the hulking Keeper. You’ll be fighting against the same monsters you’ve seen, but with new weapons and upgrades.

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Throughout the combat and the exploration, you’ll learn more about this pitiable creature and who he was before his transformation. The Executioner DLC is part of the season pass ($ 19.99) and available individually ($ 4.99).

For more on The Evil Within, check out our review.

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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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(skip to 1:25)
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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