Humanity can breathe a sigh of relief; Final Fantasy VII Remake is good.
Now that the dust has settled, we must look to the game’s future. Cautious optimism is tempering fan expectations for future Remake installments, but many continue to hold their breath while they wait to see how the rest of the Remake pans out. Square Enix has already shown a propensity for playing fast and loose with the source material with some mixed results – the ending in particular rubbed a lot of folks the wrong way. We aren’t going to open that can of worms here, but I firmly believe that Remake’s potential could shine brighter with just a few changes. Here are five things Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 2 could implement to keep Remake feeling fresh and respect the original game.
I’m also well aware that there’s currently endless speculation about where Part 2’s story will end. For the purposes of this list, the cutoff point will be where disc 1 concludes in the original game. Already, that’s a bold and likely unreasonable assumption, but I gotta draw the line somewhere.
1. Please, Don’t Make the World Map a Corridor.
Right now, online message boards are flooded with opinions on how the remake will handle the world map. Some reckon we’ll see an expansive open world, a few think we’ll see interconnected zones like in Dragon Quest XI, while others believe there won’t be an explorable world map at all.
Please, Square Enix. Do not settle on the last option.
When I think back on the original FFVII, I realised that the game’s world is very much its own character. There’s something inherently ugly about the dark hue of the grass, the twisted ways trees grow, and the frightful monsters that roam there. But underneath all of that, there are slithers of natural beauty to discover. This is how the original game subtly convinced you the world was worth saving. If the remake reduces world traversal to bland hallways, or worse, quick travel menus, that sensibility is at risk of being lost. Part 2 doesn’t even need to go full open world, but players need the freedom to roam around this world to appreciate its place in the narrative.
2. Vincent Valentine Can Be So Much More than an Edgelord
Ah, Vincent Valentine. A character so thin you could get a paper cut off his dimensions. Fact is, underneath all his enigmatic brooding, he really doesn’t have a lot going for him. Even Vincent’s standalone game, Dirge of Cerberus, failed to flesh out his character since it was clearly more interested in channeling Shadow The Hedgehog’s ‘cool factor’ and fetishizing Vincent’s edgelord status.
See, ‘cool’ is a fluid term. In the late ‘90s & early 2000s all you needed to be cool was a flashy Matrix-inspired bullet time sequence and the personality of a My Chemical Romance song. In 2020, though, nothing is cooler than having the confidence to accept yourself – this is what Vincent must do in the Remake. By all means, introduce him as an angsty anime gunslinger, but give him some humility and self awareness and he’ll blossom into a hero fans can really get excited about. Otherwise he’ll stagnate as a caricature of himself.
3. Oodles More Stuff to Do at The Golden Saucer
Though some may have reservations about how Square Enix will remix chunks of the game, I think we can all agree that The Golden Saucer is the perfect place for the developers to go full cray cray.
In all but name, this place needs to be Disneyland – somewhere players could easily lose hours in as they tour the attractions. I’m talking about a bigger and better roller coaster shooting gallery, multiple Chocobo race tracks, and a revamped Wonder Square with minigames and arcade cabinets that aren’t just button mashing exercises. I can also visualize dozens of Yakuza-style side missions here. Like kids who ask you to win toys for them in crane games and cowardly guests who need help finding their partner deep inside the haunted house. Then, when you’ve had your fill of the theme park, you can cash in all your tickets for Moogle plush dolls to decorate your airship cabin with (a feature I’ve now deemed mandatory in Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 3).
Speaking of the Golden Saucer…
4. Make Everyone Dateable at The Golden Saucer
Remember how you sniggered when you first discovered you could date Barret in the original FFVII? Why not multiply the hilarity and let Cloud take everyone on a date! Just picture buying ice cream with Vincent and learning his favourite flavour. Or going on the gondola ride with Cid as Cloud impassionately asks him to stop smoking since he’s legitimately concerned about his health. We then watch as Cid begrudgingly takes one last drag and flicks his final cigarette out the gondola window, sparks mingling with the fireworks as the cigarette vanishes into the starry sky.
Jokes aside, this point is a no-brainer. Fans of Remake cherish the extended script and the new romance scenes characters share. Seriously, whose Twitter feed wasn’t littered with Aerith waifu pics back in April? Relationship mechanics also lend tons of replayablity to JRPGS and if we gotta wait literal years between these remake parts, you better believe I’m gonna be shipping Cloud with every character in the meantime.
5. Tone Down the Self-Importance Factor.
I’ve made peace with the fact that Final Fantasy VII Remake exists to be a giant piece of fan service. However, Remake is self-aggrandizing to a fault because it comes at the expense of the game’s pacing. Every cutscene lasts just a little too long, often overinflated by shots of characters looking artificially pensive. Sure, Cloud’s hair is meticulously detailed, but I don’t need another oddly voyeuristic POV shot to highlight that, especially when I’m itching for more gameplay.
All too often the game leans too heavily into our nostalgia. Every new zone you visit bombards you with an emotional and sensory onslaught as the game shouts ‘Remember this?!’ We get it: the original Final Fantasy VII is a masterpiece. I just wished Remake stopped reminding me every five minutes. Chalk it up to Tetsuya Nomura’s ‘on the nose’ direction, but future installments could afford to move at a brisker pace by sacrificing some of the navel-gazing.
Cheeky Bonus Point – Let Us Play as Red XIII
Fair enough we couldn’t control Red XIII in Part 1. In Part 2, though, he can’t continue coasting as a ‘guest character’; we need to play as him. Fans are unanimous on that point. Not only could his feral fighting style add variety to an already sublime combat system, his appearance lends some much needed visual flavour to the otherwise humanoid roster. He’s also a great character in his own right, and it’d detract from the story if he exists in a gameplay bubble.
Aside from all that, keep up the good work, Square Enix! You’ve earned a lot of good will from Part 1. Just please, don’t squander it by stumbling at the next hurdle. No pressure, but all eyes are on you now.
Writer of words for tired eyes and lover of games that make me smile. Blogger and YouTube content creator who can’t keep quiet when it comes to gaming. Don’t like my work? Fight me IRL in Smash Brothers.