Square Enix released an avalanche of new information on its remake of stone-cold JRPG classic Final Fantasy VII, punctuating its E3 press conference from the start with news that the game will span at least two Blu-ray discs; that it’ll sport a never-before-seen battle system, and that the first installment is arriving early next year.
Debuting a new story trailer that spurred huge cheers from the rowdy FFVII fan crowd for finally showing Tifa Lockhart and Sephiroth in all their HD glory, Square Enix also reeled off a lengthy battle trailer (which starts around the 13-minute mark in the second clip below) in which Cloud and Barret Wallace teamed up against one of the game’s most memorable early bosses.
The new battle system combines recent Final Fantasy games’ real-time action and stagger mechanics with a slowed-down, turn-based command menu that opens up classic moves like Cloud’s “Braver” limit break, with the option to switch characters at any time. You can also turn off the old-school menu-based commands to speed up the action, depending on how traditional you like your RPG gameplay.
As you might expect of an update for a game that’s two decades old, the liberties Square Enix is taking to expand both the gameplay and the exploration qualify, in the studio’s own words, as “a reimagining” of the original; one that’ll delve “deeper into the world and its characters than ever before.” Releasing next March, the game’s first installment will unfold entirely inside the cyberpunk city of Midgar, leaving a ton of the larger game’s story (and world map) untouched for the followup disc, which Square Enix won’t tackle until part one is out the door.
Square Enix says the remake will be “available first” exclusively on PlayStation 4, though it’s easy to envision a game with this broad an appeal showing up, sooner or later, on other platforms. And because this game is so near and dear to fans who played the PlayStation 1 version, of course there’re special editions out the wazoo, including the $330 “1st Class Edition,” which packs in a bananas number of goodies — including Play Arts Kai action figures of Cloud and his Hardy Daytona motorcycle.
Pre-orders already are live via the official website, and E3 guests will have access to a playable demo of the game at Square Enix’s floor booth. Now that the clouds have finally parted on what this new version truly looks like, there’s nothing to do but sit back and wait: Final Fantasy VII Remake is speeding like a meteor toward its March 3, 2020 release.