Final Fantasy VII Remake: Is Dev Playing With Fire By Revamping Gameplay And Episodic Release?
Three or four considerations arose in our minds after the PlayStation Experience 2015, of course about Final Fantasy VII Remake. The game has been re-revealed and for the first time ever Square Enix has publicly showed gameplay sections, which made clear what the project is all about. And, maybe you had already guessed it, people started to complain because they don't like something in it.
First, Internet users have claimed the new gameplay is too fast and furious for the original's standards - Final Fantasy VII was a turn based and almost strategic Japanese role-playing title. Our opinion is not too different from that but it's not a matter of us not liking how the gameplay is shaping up, it's a matter of opportunity. Was it necessary for Square Enix to completely remake the gameplay as well?
In our opinion, no, it wasn't necessary. Those who I've talking to in the last few hours have claimed this new gameplay is something Square Enix needs to bring the Final Fantasy VII experience to a whole new audience, and this makes sense, and SE is right while trying to do this because its investment is going to be huge. But what about making a minor investment and offering to the players just what they've been asking for years?
That would be the basic Final Fantasy VII game remade with new graphics and modern visual style. No need to completely revamp the gameplay with an action-oriented combat system a la Final Fantasy XV or Kingdom Hearts. And minor investment doesn't mean minor income and revenue because millions of players who have enjoyed the original would have spent their money on something like that as well.
Another thing people have been complaining about is the "play it first on PlayStation 4" tag remarked at the end of the trailer (just like the trailer showed at E3 2015). While it's not great to see Sony discussing "first on" or "console debut", it's something that Square Enix has all the right to do and probably they're doing it exactly where the investment can have the best return.
It has already happened with Rise of the Tomb Raider, where they thought that without the Uncharted competition and trying to place themselves against it on yet another console they could have got the maximum return at least from a marketing perspective. In our opinion, sales say that experiment has not worked the way Square Enix wanted, and Microsoft doesn't care just because they wanted to go out and say they had the best Xbox holiday lineup ever from a quantity perspective.
Square has all the right as a publisher to go and try the same experiment on the other platform, and there's a good amount of chances this time around the experiment could go as they desire. PlayStation is the home of Final Fantasy and there's no doubt about the fact Sony fans will "help" their console, and the franchise they love when it comes to exclusive contents.
On the other hand, looking at it from the Xbox fans perspective, we wouldn't care much about that deal. The game is in the works for Xbox One and PC, too, just because the very same Square Enix is acting this way with Rise of the Tomb Raider - it looks like it's going to be a matter of one-year temporal exclusive for PS4, and then it's free for all. So it's not a great issue after all.
The third consideration is about the episodic nature of Final Fantasy VII Remake. Square Enix said they needed to split the game up because it's too big - actually we all remember the game is huge but, man, it's going to release in 2016 and once upon a time you wouldn't have to pay additional royalties to platform holders up to three discs. And let's be clear, is there a game out there requiring three Blu-ray discs? It's hard to believe.
From a practical perspective, we'll have to see how things shape up but it's great to hear from Square Enix each release will have enough content such as a complete game, and it's good as well to see this digital release will help both the publisher and the developer to fasten the process. What we don't like, or, at least, we fear we won't like, is the story been split up into more pieces.
It is yet another thing we don't believe it was necessary in terms of development. But it's ok, Square Enix wants to test how this episodical thing actually works - they published Life Is Strange and probably saw it as a great success - and why don't start with a game which is going to be a great commercial success not depending on the final quality because hey it's Final Fantasy VII and you want it.
We will have to see how Square Enix is going to put all of the Final Fantasy VII contents into more episodes: is it going to be something chronological? Are they going to explore one character per episode? How many episodes the entire series is going to include? Is there going to be Midgar as a central hub which you can visit no matter what's the episode you are playing? These are just a few of the questions Square will have to answer in the next months. We only hope they can do it right.