After four years of waiting, Square Enix finally revealed new information concerning the highly-anticipated Final Fantasy VII Remake during its E3 2019 press conference, so fans now know the release date for the first part of the game, what kind of story length to expect, and how the battle system works.
Final Fantasy VII Remake has moved away from the turn-based combat of the original Final Fantasy VII and has taken on a hybrid system that combines an action RPG with turn-based commands. In Final Fantasy VII Remake, characters can attack and dodge freely, while the player can switch between different characters with the press of a button and use their unique attributes when needed, such as the long-range of Barret's gun arm.
The characters in Final Fantasy VII Remake retain their ATB bars from the original game, which fill up over the course of the battle. If the player uses an ATB bar, the gameplay will slow down to a crawl and characters can then perform a special action, such as casting a spell or using an item.
The battle system in Final Fantasy VII Remake combines the swift action of the Kingdom Hearts series with the ability to pause in the middle of a battle that was used in earlier Square Enix titles, like Parasite Eve and Vagrant Story. The new battle system will keep things exciting, while also allowing players to plan and strategize.
Final Fantasy VII Remake isn't the first Final Fantasy title to make the shift towards the action RPG genre, as Final Fantasy XV did the same thing when it was released in 2016. It seems that Square Enix learned its lesson with Final Fantasy XV, as many of the missteps in the combat system of that game have been avoided in Final Fantasy VII Remake.
It's clear that the developers of Final Fantasy XV wanted the player to focus on Noctis as the main playable character, with his three friends intended to be computer-controlled. The ability to switch between party members took a year to be added to the game in an update and it felt more like an unnecessary addition created by the character-exclusive DLC episodes than anything else.
Noctis' special powers also made combat tricky in Final Fantasy XV, as his ability to teleport could make things confusing. Noctis' could easily warp out of battle into safety or could teleport straight to an enemy, which meant that the player was constantly zipping around the battlefield with no fear of being surrounded by foes. The fact that Cloud and his allies are grounded means that they can't rely on teleporting in order to escape from tricky situations.
The addition of the ATB meter in Final Fantasy VII Remake also removes an aspect of Final Fantasy XV that made the game too easy. In Final Fantasy XV, players could easily spam healing items in battle in order to survive, as there was no penalty for doing so (other than using up the item) because Noctis becomes invincible when using the item. The game even pauses to allow Noctis time to select the correct item, meaning that the enemy can't shank him while the player is searching through menus. The same is true for the team attacks used by the party, especially Ignis' "Regroup" technique, which quickly heals almost all of the party's health in a single move and that can be used repeatedly over the course of a battle.
The battle system in Final Fantasy XV had its issues but it could still be fun and frantic in a way that Final Fantasy battles seldom were. It seems that the battle system used in Final Fantasy VII Remake will improve upon the groundwork laid down by Noctis and his friends and will make for an even better gaming experience.
Final Fantasy VII Remake will be released for the PlayStation 4 on March 3, 2020.