When Final Fantasy VII Remake was first revealed years ago, two major deviations from the original game would end up would end up upsetting fans that would otherwise be wholly hyped about the concept: breaking the story into “parts,” and the removal of turn-based content.
This past week at E3 2019, I was able to gain a better understanding of how both of those commonly raised problems have actually materialized into.
The other day, it was discovered that the first game itself which runs through the events at Midgar will have two blu-ray discs worth of content and will be a game comparable to a full-length JRPG in its own right.
We kind of knew that already, but it was lip service until we got to see this week with our own eyes that yes, Final Fantasy VII Remake is incredibly ambitious, and maybe this truly is the only way to complete this project in a way that the development team would feel is worth their time.
It took hands-on time with Final Fantasy VII Remake though before I could confidently say that the removal of turn-based combat isn’t as catastrophic as it would seem at first glance for Final Fantasy VII purists.
Let me get this out of the way so you know where I’m coming from: Count me as one of the purists that lamented that the remake would have any action-RPG elements and would “do away” with the turn-based gameplay. I’m about to dive into some positive impressions, but even with that coming, if you asked me if I would prefer 100% turn-based combat I would still say yes.
OK all of that said, I was extremely impressed with how the combat of Final Fantasy VII Remake played and I feel so much better about the project after playing it and here’s why.
The combat flow works like this: you build up your ATB meter by preforming simple attacks on enemies out on the field of battle. When you have at least one ATB bar you can enter tactical mode which effectively freezes gameplay.
From here you can issue commands to your party members to attack specific enemies using powerful abilities or casting spells. You’ll also need ATB to use items while in combat.
Although you need ATB to actually do anything in Tactical mode, you can still enter it whenever you want if you need a breather to plan out your next move.
The best part of this loop though is that you gain ATB really fast as long as you’re attacking. If you’re a fan of turn-based combat, you can spend a ton of time in Tactical mode if you want.
Just think of it this way, instead of just kind of waiting around for the ATB to fill up like you used to, you’re spending that time attacking enemies in a way that’s fun and is a feast for the eyes.
The special thing about Final Fantasy VII remake’s combat though is that not only can you spend a bunch of time in Tactical mode, you can also do the reverse and spend barely any time there if you want to.
You can very quickly switch between party members on the fly and issue commands that require ATB to your current character or another party member easily without freezing gameplay using quick menus that are accessed using the L/R buttons. They pretty much function as hot bars.
So in other words, if you want a slower more tactical experience, you can play that way a lot of the time. If you want to fully embrace the new action-oriented vision for the game, you can do that too and play the game at a very intense pace that reminded me of Final Fantasy XIII’s best moments.
What I mean by that is that is there appears to a lot of room for skilled players with high APM and the ability to quickly react to their current situation to punish the AI by rapidly switching between characters, issuing commands, and getting back into the action with minimal delay or error.
If you can do that, you’ll be rewarded by being able to take down enemies a lot faster than if you’re fumbling around in a menu.
In sum, unless you’re a hardcore Final Fantasy VII purist and/or someone that will not enjoy action RPG elements or anything that’s different from what you remember under any circumstances you shouldn’t need to worry about Final Fantasy VII Remake.
As long as you’re open-minded and willing to accept something different from the original Final Fantasy VII game, there’s a lot to like about how the development team has evolved the game. It’s different, but it’s good different.
The story content we experienced is a whole other can of worms. We’ll have more about that later today, but for now, read our fact dump of everything we learned about Final Fantasy VII Remake from our closed door presentation and hands-on demo.