With Final Fantasy 7 Remake due tomorrow, April 7, Square Enix recently dropped one final deep-dive developer diary highlighting the remake's combat system and boss fights.
While this diary starts out with a familiar overview of the reworked ATB combat system, it's loaded with new insights that establish where Square Enix was coming from and what its goals were when designing the new combat system (which you'll need to enable closed captions to see). I especially like this quote from battle director Teruki Endo, who discussed the nature of real-time action:
"In Final Fantasy 7 Remake, I felt that players had to be able to experience all the elements that were in the original game. I thought of the best way to include those in a way that would fit well and not affect the core play experience. That resulted in us using and evolving the elements from the original in a very natural way … The term action covers a multitude of things. For example, simply having the camera move around and allowing the player character to move freely. Also performing attacks immediately when you push a button and other elements that rely on reflexes and input timing. We needed to decide how far to push things and which of those action elements to use, as well as how much of the ATB system to incorporate on top of that."
It's easy to lump third-person action games together, but there are huge fundamental differences between, say, Bayonetta 2, God of War, and Final Fantasy 7 Remake. They're all supported by different systems, true, but their moment-to-moment actions also feel totally different despite being similar on paper. Endo's analysis highlights this, and in the same vein, he later adds that individual enemies in the remake were also designed to prompt action- and menu-based responses from players.
Later in the video, lead battle designer Tomotaka Shiroichi outlines the two pillars for all the game's bosses. Square Enix felt that every boss should have multiple phases and, to varying degrees, act as bridges for story events, all while maintaining the challenge and variety that players would expect from a boss in an action game. Our own Heather Wald highlighted this in her review of the remake:
"The boss battles in the Remake present a real challenge. You'll have your work cut out trying to take down some of the big bad foes, and every single one will test your ability to adapt to its special moves and fighting habits and press you to work out how you can best use each character's unique abilities to your advantage."
If you need more Cloud in your eyeballs right the hell now, check out the final and spoilerific trailer for Final Fantasy 7 Remake.