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Final Fantasy 7 Remake: Cloud's been redesigned (again), new screenshots, and everything we know so far

Fast Facts

  • Final Fantasy 7 Remake release date: TBC
  • Developer: Square-Enix/CyberConnect2
  • Publisher: Square-Enix
  • Format: PS4

Ever since Square Enix showed off the power of the PlayStation 3 with a tech demo featuring Final Fantasy 7's protagonist Cloud hopping off a speeding train in glorious high-definition, fans have been clamoring for a proper remake of the seminal JRPG from 1997.

After years of hoping and numerous teases, Square Enix finally announced that the Final Fantasy 7 Remake is real… at E3 2015. It's now 2019, 30 years since the first Final Fantasy game launched on PlayStation, and details about what players can expect from this PS4 reimagining are still incredibly scarce. 

We've been able to glean some important details over the past few months, though, including the scope of this now-trilogy project, its combat system, and more. Read on to find out everything you need to know about what is shaping up to be one of Square Enix's most ambitious projects yet.

Cloud and his friends have been redesigned since those first trailers

At a recent 30th anniversary Final Fantasy art exhibition in Tokyo, Final Fantasy 7 remake director Tetsuya Nomura made a surprise appearance, and brought with him a bunch of new exclusive screenshots from the game itself. Unfortunately, those screenshots have been kept privy to those who were present at the time, but witnessing fans took to Twitter to reveal that key characters from the game appear to have been heavily redesigned since we last saw them in previous trailers. 

Cloud, in particular, has been made to look "more natural" and in line with his appearance in the original game, with a special focus on highlighting his "dorky character", according to Nomura. Other personalities given a face lift include Biggs ("super handsome"), Wedge ("chubby refreshing"), and Jesse ("cute!"), but hopefully we'll get to draw our own impressions once these pictures are inevitably released to the wider web. 

This Final Fantasy 7 remake screenshot is the only new content we'll be seeing for a while.

At a special 30th anniversary event for Final Fantasy, Square Enix revealed a brand new key art image for the Final Fantasy 7 Remake (seen above)... and that's about it. No release date, no additional footage, no further details on gameplay. It's a bit of a disappointment for the live celebration of Final Fantasy 7's own 20th anniversary, and an interview in Famitsu with Remake and long-time Final Fantasy director Yoshinori Kitase (translated over at Siliconera) sheds a little more light on when we'll get to play the first chapter of this upcoming trilogy of FF7 episodes. The main takeaway: don't hold your breath.

"We’re currently brushing up the scene from the announcement trailer," Kitase says. "We can now see the line of quality that we’re aiming for more clearly, but there’s still a ways to go." As for discussing how far along the game actually is, Kitase is "hoping for" showing off some footage this year, but the team is still "undecided". Whenever we get it, Kitase has said that "it’d be nice if we could have it playable or a trailer for it at an event." So. Yeah. Don't expect to play this game any time soon.

Final Fantasy 7 gameplay will keep materia, other "well-received" aspects

In the same Famitsu interview, Yoshinori Kitase shed some light on what fans can expect to see when they actually play the game sometime within the next decade. While the core battle system is shifting from its turn-based roots to a more action-oriented system (with developers behind the combat of the Kingdom Hearts and Dissidia series helping out), you can still expect to see a lot of the bits that made Final Fantasy 7 special on the PS1 - like materia.

In Final Fantasy 7, materia are those little orbs you find and purchase from vendors along your journey, each one imbued with magical spells, abilities, and summons. You can equip them to each of your heroes, allowing you to customize exactly how you want to approach combat. When asked about whether materia will return in the Remake, Kitase replied: "There’s still a lot that I can’t say but we won’t be removing any parts of the original Final Fantasy 7 that was well-received." So that bit where you ride a dolphin's back to leap up to to the scaffolding in Junon Harbor is in, then. Right?

Final Fantasy 7 Remake trailer recreates the intro of the original on PS4

The first Final Fantasy 7 Remake trailer was little more than a basic E3 teaser, a fluffy taste to make rabbid fans lose their mind in a Los Angeles theater or filming their mugs in reaction videos. The second, more detailed gameplay trailer shows key moments lifted directly from the original game's famous assault on a Shinra power reactor with Cloud, Barrett, and the collected members of Avalanche rendered in startling detail. It also shows the battle system has changed a whole lot. 

Final Fantasy 7 Remake release will be episodic but its entries will be full-sized role-playing games on their own

At PlayStation Experience 2015, a Square-Enix press release revealed that this new version of FF7 "will be told across a multi-part series, with each entry providing its own unique experience." While many people took this to mean that the Final Fantasy 7 Remake would be doled out painfully like a Telltale series or Square-Enix's own Hitman, the company has since revealed that this means that the original will be recreated fully in a series of larger games much in the same was that Final Fantasy 13 was released alongside Final Fantasy 13-2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 to tell a complete story.

"It will essentially be a full-scale game for each part of the multi-part series. In XIII, each installment told the story from a different angle," said Final Fantasy 7 director and Remake producer Yoshinori Kitase in an April 2016 interview with Game Informer. "It was kind of like approaching an unknown territory, in a sense. Whereas with Final Fantasy VII Remake, we already have a preexisting story, so it wouldn’t really make sense if that isn’t encompassed in the multi-part series, and it wouldn’t make sense to remake it if we don’t encompass that that entire story."

Final Fantasy 7 Remake gameplay says goodbye classic turn-based battle system

As opposed to being another CGI trailer to drum up hype, the FF7 PlayStation Experience demo actually showed some gameplay alongside its beautiful cutscene shots, a surprise for anyone who still didn't believe in the dream of the remake. For some, though, the new trailer's emphasis on what appears to be action combat rather than classic turn-based combat was a bit of a disappointment. Square has promised that it will retain a familiar feel while also moving towards the type of action scene in another recent Final Fantasy. 

"We haven’t completely transitioned into action, but as our director [Tetsuya] Nomura-san says, Final Fantasy (in terms of action games) is best represented by Dissidia in the current landscape," said Yoshinori Kitase in that April 2016 interview. "In terms of the Final Fantasy action battles people have experienced themselves, that is most familiar to them these days. In terms of the image of the battle system, that’s where we’re getting the feel from. It won’t be as action-focused as Dissidia, of course, but the the visuals and how the gameplay feels in essence will be drawn from that Dissidia-esque style."

Final Fantasy 7 Remake is directed by Tetsuya Nomura, developed by CyberConnect2

In a move that is almost guaranteed to make the wait for the FF7 remake even longer, Square-Enix has handed the project to one of its busiest directors, Tetsuya Nomura. The character designer-turned-director has had a lot of balls in play over the last few years, and even when he stepped down as director of Final Fantasy 15, that was so he could ramp up production on Kingdom Hearts 3, which was edging dangerously close to mythical status. He's apparently so busy that he didn't even know he would be directing the FF7 remake until he saw his name next to the game in an internal company memo.

While Nomura's glacial directing speed might hang up the game, the studio focussing on its creation should help keep things swift. CyberConnect 2, the studio behind Asura's Wrath, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure All Star Battle and many more, is handling the heavy lifting on Final Fantasy 7 Remake PS4.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake has the original head writers  on board

Don't worry: CyberConnect2 won't be rewriting Final Fantasy 7, an already weird game, to be as bananas as their games like Tail Concerto. Yoshinori Kitase and Kazushige Nojima, the original writers, are headlining the remake. Kitase directed FF7 and co-wrote the script with scenario writer Nojima, meaning the remake is headlined by three members of the dream team that created FF7 in the first place.

Roles have been shuffled a bit for the remake - Nomura will be directing as previously stated, while Kitase will be acting as Producer (and seems pleased with the directorial choice, per Nomura's retelling) - but it's not too much of a shift from what's listed in the original game's credits. Given that these three were responsible for many of the top-down decisions that made FF7 the phenomenon it is (apparently Nojima and Nomura are equally to blame for that one scene), they'll likely know just how to maintain what made FF7 great while making the changes that need making. 

Final Fantasy 7 Remake characters and locations will use Advent Children as a visual reference, but won't copy the film's look exactly

Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children, the 2005 movie sequel to the game, forever altered the way people thought of characters like Cloud Strife. Nomura's heroic but still cartoony designs were replaced by more realistically proportioned figures and setting, and that style has carried over to Final Fantasy 7 Remake. which has come to define the look of FF7's locations and characters in the ten years since it was first released. While the movie featured an opening flashbackthat could indicate what the Remake's characters will look like, Square isn't reusing any assets from Advent Children

Nomura noted in an interview with Official PlayStation Magazine: "[We] don't intend on utilizing the 3D models of Advent Children as is because, well, its a different technology." That's for the best. Advent Children, after all, was a long time ago.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake won't be a shot-for-shot remake

"We're not able to say the details of [what's changing] but we are bringing dramatic change to the Final Fantasy 7 remake," Nomura explained following the game's E3 reveal. But before you dig your torches and pitchforks out of storage, know that Nomura doesn't want to push those alterations too far: "We are going to be bringing dramatic change, but we want to make sure it's still recognizable as Final Fantasy 7."

That makes sense, and you have to expect some change to happen when a game is remade almost twenty years after its initial release. Plus, there's the fact that FF7 was created when 3D gaming was still a wild and unexplored frontier, and it's rife with poor translations and mechanics that have missed out on twenty years of evolution, so there's going to have to be a real transformation here for the remake to appeal to a modern audience. It might be painful for some fans, but it's something that needs to happen (and hey, if Square's looking for ideas, we have a couple on offer).

Final Fantasy 7 Remake PlayStation 4 exclusive... to start

Now this is easily the most predictable part of an unpredictable reveal: while the internet was collectively losing its composure over the remake announcement, Sony America's VP of Publisher and Developer Relations Adam Boyes declared: yes, this is Final Fantasy 7 Remake PS4 exclusive. But then he clarified that it's PS4 first. Final Fantasy has flirted with PlayStation exclusivity for years, and the game was revealed at Sony's own E3 2015 press conference, but this may end up a multi-platform release just like the original Final Fantasy 7 which eventually made the jump to PC.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake release date isn't set in stone

Coming from the company that loves to abuse the phrase "Coming Soon", the fact that FF7 has no specific release date isn't specifically surprising. Also Kingdom Hearts 3 needs to be finished before Nomura can give us a firm Final Fantasy 7 Remake release date. Seeing as 2017 is the game's 20th anniversary, though, it's likely Square is pushing hard to mark the occasion in style.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake to be a multi-part series
Watch: Final Fantasy 7 Remake vs Final Fantasy 7 (Original)
'Dramatic changes' and Advent Children will help shape the Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Going episodic is the only option for the Final Fantasy 7 remake

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