I’ve mentioned Final Fantasy a few times over the last few months, either about the incredible news of a Final Fantasy VII remake or my cautious optimism concerning Final Fantasy XV. One opinion I had was, as it turns out, a rather silly one – I believed a return to a turn based battle system in both games would be for the best.
I now appreciate that I’m wrong.
In my defence I didn’t mean a direct cut and paste of most 90’s RPGs with prettier graphics; more like turn based with a few added features thrown in – a little like Final Fantasy XIII’s battle mode, which was about the only thing that game did right. After watching gameplay footage of Final Fantasy VII recently I was starting to think maybe a more action-oriented approach was the right decision (especially armed with the knowledge that the game is a ‘re-imagining’ rather than a straight up remake), but after seeing the following footage from Final Fantasy XV I now appreciate that this way of fighting is the only way forward.
This just looks incredible, and we’re hopefully approaching a release date too – rumours are rampant for a Summer 2016 release, with the announcement hopefully being made at the end of March.
Pete: It’s coming. Finally. After a decade of rumours, hearsay and a statement denying it would ever happen until sales and quality surpassed the original a remake to Final Fantasy VII is finally happening. We all know that now of course, but what could this all possibly mean for the industry, us gamers and Square Enix as a company?
Let’s start with the latter. Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada went on record about three years ago to say that a Final Fantasy VII remake would never happen until the company had made a Final Fantasy title – or possibly even any title – that surpassed VII in terms of sales and quality, which made sense in a way, despite gamers’ frustration at the decision. Around that time the company had just released Final Fantasy XIII-2, the sequel nobody wanted for the game very few people liked, and were about the release Sleeping Dogs which they were very confident of being a big seller; despite good reviews it’s only sold around 2 million copies, way below the expectations of Square Enix. Hitman: Absolution and the Tomb Raider reboot followed the same formula, so it looked like while they were developing games that maybe matched Final Fantasy VII in terms of quality (certainly regarding review scores, all three games have aggregates of 80+) they were not matching the sales. Final Fantasy VII has sold more than 10 million copies since 1997 across a variety of platforms, and no game they’ve made since has come close to matching that figure.
What were Square Enix to do? By that point they’d released the relatively unpopular Final Fantasy XIII and ultimately two unnecessary sequels, two top quality games that few (by their lofty standards) wanted to play and a game that has until recently been in development hell for nearly ten years, and the company were struggling. It seemed like their was no way Square Enix would please their fans by making a Final Fantasy VII remake, and the fans in turn generally weren’t interested in anything the company were throwing at them.