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Final Fantasy 7 Remake release date, trailer and editions

As far as video games go, there's nothing bigger than Final Fantasy 7. In 1997, the original PlayStation title propelled Japanese role-playing games into the American mainstream and helped found the cinematic storytelling style that games still use today. Today, publisher Square Enix is hoping that Ramuh's lightning will strike twice. In 2020, Final Fantasy 7 Remake will complete its long journey to PlayStation 4 consoles, finishing off a five-year wait.

It's been a long time coming, but we have a release date. We have a couple of new trailers. We know what's included in the Final Fantasy 7 Remake collectors' editions, and we have a good idea how combat will work, what Final Fantasy 7's classic characters will look like on modern consoles, and how much material Remake's first installment covers. In fact, we know quite a bit. For your education, we collected everything that we've learned about Final Fantasy 7 Remake so far.

At long last, a release date emerges

Final Fantasy 7 Remake was first announced at E3 2015 with a teaser trailer that had both fans and press on their feet. Over the next four years? Almost nothing. A screenshot here. A vague status update there. Before long, fans began to wonder if Final Fantasy 7 Remake was ever coming out — and, if it was, if we'd all be too old by then to actually play it.

Well, put your fears to rest. At E3 2019, Square Enix finally gave Final Fantasy 7 Remake a release date. Even better, it's coming right up. Final Fantasy 7 Remake will hit the PlayStation 4 on March 3, 2020, during a very busy gaming season. Watch Dogs: Legion arrives on March 6, while Animal Crossing: New Horizons will set out to gobble up all of our time on March 20. Another Square Enix remake,Trials of Mana, is expected to hit in early 2020, too.

Final Fantasy fans will make the time. Final Fantasy 7 Remake has already reached legendary status, and many players will probably tear through it as quickly as possible. That's okay. There's much more Final Fantasy 7 on the way.

The trailers deliver the goods

Final Fantasy 7 Remake's trailers make a bold statement: this is still Final Fantasy 7, but it's not the same Final Fantasy 7. Sure, you'll recognize some things. The E3 2019 trailer opens with an HD remake of Final Fantasy 7's opening scene. Cloud, Tifa, Barrett, Sephiroth, and Aerith are all still there. The Guard Scorpion is still the game's first big boss fight.

According to Final Fantasy 7 Remake's TGS 2019 trailer, the game hasn't lost any of its quirkiness in the remake process, either. Weight-lifting and motorcycle-riding mini-games? Comically lecherous pimp Don Cornero? The way-too-cool SHINRA operatives, the Turks? All still around.

But look at how detailed Midgar's city streets are. Look at how fast and action-packed the new combat system is. Marvel at Ifrit and Shiva's new looks. Listen to the new, fully orchestrated score. Final Fantasy 7 Remake captures the epic, cinematic Final Fantasy experience that you remember from 1997, and not the odd, dated game that Final Fantasy 7 is. All of Final Fantasy 7's spirit is here, the trailers say — but now, the game itself finally lives up to its potential.

It's only part one of many

So far, all of the Final Fantasy 7 Remake footage has featured Midgar, which comprises less than 20% of the original game. That's not because Square Enix is playing coy about the other locations. Final Fantasy 7 Remake only covers the first part of the original story. Once Cloud and company leave Midgar, the game ends.

Don't worry. FF7 Remake has always been planned as a multi-part project. You will get the whole story eventually. Co-directors Tetsuya Nomura and Naoki Hamaguchi and producer Yoshinori Kitase simply had too many ideas to fit them all in one game. They could either cut things, or they could opt for an episodic release structure.

They chose the latter, but that doesn't mean that Final Fantasy 7 Remake will be short. Every installment, including the first one, will be as long as a regular Final Fantasy game. Expect a 30- to 40-hour adventure at a minimum. Final Fantasy 7 Remake may not finish the tale, but it will absolutely give you your money's worth.

The same old story, but with a modern twist

Despite only covering Final Fantasy 7's opening scenes, the remake will span two Blu-ray discs when it comes out in March. In the original game, Midgar only takes about five hours to get through. Anyone who's played Final Fantasy 7 before should recognize all of the big plot beats in the new title, but there's more story now, including deeper looks at many of the characters.

As Testuya Nomura explains, Final Fantasy 7 Remake will have branching dialogue options. They won't affect the plot in major ways, but they will change how supporting characters interact with Cloud as the game progresses. All of the dialogue in the remake is fully voiced, and there will be more subplots to explore, too.

In addition, some of the existing plot beats will receive a makeover to fit better with modern times. For example, the Honey Bee Inn sequence, in which Cloud dresses up as a woman and infiltrates a brothel, hasn't aged well. It's still in the remake, but it's been updated accordingly.

New villains to hate and fight

In the original Final Fantasy 7, Sephiroth doesn't show up until after the party leaves Midgar, although his presence looms large over the proceedings. That seems to be changing in the remake, which features Sephiroth in its trailers. That's for the best. Sephiroth is one of the most iconic JRPG villains ever. It wouldn't be the same without him.

He's not coming alone, either. Final Fantasy 7 Remake is going to be full of new monsters and other enemies. As Nomura notes, Final Fantasy 7 Remake is so much bigger than the original that fighting Midgar's couple dozen monsters over and over would get old quickly, so Square Enix is adding new foes "for the sake of level design."

In addition, "mysterious beings" called "the watchmen of fate ... that appear before the party wherever they go" are a brand new addition that Nomura thinks fans will enjoy. You can actually see the watchmen in the latest trailers. See those plumes of smoke that surround Cloud and Aerith during their initial meeting? Yeah, that's them.

Combat that honors the past, but isn't beholden to it

At E3 2019, Square Enix detailed Final Fantasy 7 Remake's revamped battle system and answered one of fans' biggest questions: It's not turn-based. It's not pure action. It's a mixture of both that captures the feeling of '90s JRPGs while keeping combat fast and lively for modern audiences.

At the most basic level, you press a button to attack. Simple attacks don't perform much damage, but they do fill your new, revamped Active Time Battle gauge. Once one of the ATB meter has enough juice, you can freeze time and enter Tactical Mode, in which you can pull up a menu to  cast spells, use items, or unleash special moves.

If you'd rather not use menus, Square Enix says that you'll also be able to map individual spells and other actions to buttons. That's how Final Fantasy 7 Remake caters to everyone: Tactical Mode is there for old-school fans, while action aficionados can fight at a faster pace. Everybody wins.

Bigger battles mean more complex battles

Final Fantasy 7 Remake's combat system is full of subtleties. Like before, Cloud doesn't fight alone. You can give your allies orders in Tactical Mode, and if you want to take direct control of a different character, a simple button press will do it. Every character excels at different tasks during combat — Barret is better at fighting from a distance, for example, while Cloud is your melee-based heavy hitter — so you'll want to switch it up often. Dodging and blocking attacks is important too, as is targeting weak enemy spots. When you deal enough damage to foes you'll "stagger" them, leaving them vulnerable to extra damage.

In addition, Limit Breaks are back, letting you retaliate against monsters with special attacks. We don't know how ability-granting Materia fits in yet, but that's going to play a role as well. Final Fantasy 7 Remake's combat has a lot going on, but everyone who's tried it says that it comes together surprisingly well. Hopefully, it won't be too long before you get to experience it for yourself.

Some old favorites get some new looks

Let's face it: Cloud's purple jumpsuit might be iconic, but it would look awfully silly in full HD. As you'd expect, all of Final Fantasy 7's main characters are getting a makeover for Remake, and if you think that Square Enix is just going to reuse everyone's Advent Children designs, think again. Like Remake's combat system, these new takes honor what came before while adding a number of modern flourishes.

Polygon has a good rundown of the changes, which include a level of detail that simply wasn't possible back in the original PlayStation days. Aerith sports stylish new bracelets, for example, instead of thick bangles, and her massive shoulder pads have been replaced by a cute military-themed jacket. Tifa's gauntlets are decorated with runes and charms. Cloud's hair is still spiky, but much more subdued.

Forget everything that you heard about Square Enix's ethics department making Tifa's boobs smaller. That was a mistranslation. Square Enix just made sure that Tifa wore clothing that supported her athletic lifestyle. As a hand-to-hand combat specialist, Tifa is very active, and she needs to wear the right kind of bra. Now she does.

With fresh designs comes a fresh voice cast

Final Fantasy 7 didn't have voiced dialogue, but its characters have appeared in other games and multimedia spinoffs, often in speaking roles. Actor Steve Burton played Cloud all the way back in Kingdom Hearts, which debuted in 2002, up through 2018. Lance Bass — yeah, the NSYNC guy — voiced Sephiroth in Kingdom Hearts, but Scandal's George Newbern took over for Advent Children in 2006, and has stuck around ever since. Same goes for Advent Children's Beau Billingslea, who came on board at the same time.

Well, for Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Burton, Newbern, and Billingslea are out. They've been replaced by All American star Cody Christian, Supergirl's Superman Tyler Hoechlin, and veteran TV and voice actor John Eric Bentley, respectively. Britt Baron, who plays Justine on Netflix's GLOW, joins them as Tifa, as does Breaking Bad's Badger, Matt Jones, as Wedge and Briana White as Aerith.

That's a very talented line-up of actors. For his part, Burton has been extremely gracious about the change, and losing the gig doesn't seem to have made him any less of a fan. "The remake is probably going to kick some major butt," Burton says.

Even Square Enix doesn't know how long it'll take to complete Final Fantasy 7 Remake

It doesn't matter if you're an experienced Final Fantasy player or a newcomer to the series. If you're reading this, you're probably going to play Final Fantasy 7 Remake. That doesn't wrap up the story, however. It doesn't even cover Final Fantasy 7's most famous scene. It's been a long wait for March 2020, but if you want to know how it all ends, you're going to have to wait even longer.

How much longer? Nobody knows, not even Square Enix. Right now, the Final Fantasy 7 Remake team is focused on the first episode, Yoshinori Kitase explains: "We really are still fleshing out ... what we're going to do for the second game in the project."

There are indications that part two will arrive faster than part one. Kitase notes that the basic foundations — the combat system, the art style, and the underlying tech — of the remake are all in place, so development on the next chapter should be faster. Of course, Final Fantasy 7 Remake took over half a decade to make. In this case, "faster" is relative.

The composer returns after all

If you've ever caught yourself humming "One-Winged Angel," "Cosmo Canyon," or Final Fantasy 7's majestic main theme, you're familiar with Nobuo Uematsu, the composer who penned almost all of Final Fantasy's classic tunes. You also understand why it was a huge bummer when Uematsu said that he wasn't involved in Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Uematsu's compositions are Final Fantasy 7's soul, and there are two Blu-ray discs to fill with new music. It wouldn't be the same without him.

Well, good news: Uematsu will be back after all. The musician left Square Enix in 2004 and has been working with the studio on a freelance basis ever since, leaving other people to score much of the Final Fantasy franchise, and he recently announced that he's taking a hiatus to address some health concerns. And yet, Yoshinori Kitase claims that Uematsu will return to provide Midgar's soundtrack once again.

For Final Fantasy fans, that's great news — as long as Uematsu really is healthy enough to take on the job. New music is great, but not at the expense of the man's health. Take care of yourself, Uematsu. We're rooting for you.

What took so long, anyway?

Behind the scenes, Final Fantasy 7 Remake's long road from the stuff of fans' dreams to a real, playable game has almost as many twists as Cloud Strife's backstory. While Tetsuya Nomura admits that Square Enix unveiled the game too early in order to stay ahead of the press, the real delay seems to stem from a conflict between Square Enix and one of its contractors.

In 2015, Square Enix announced that developer CyberConnect2 was handling Final Fantasy 7 Remake's development. There was friction from the beginning. Kitase noted that Square Enix had to keep a close watch on CyberConnect2, and in 2017, Square Enix decided to bring Final Fantasy 7 Remake in-house, breaking up the partnership. According to an alleged insider, CyberConnect's work wasn't up to snuff, forcing Square Enix to toss everything out and start over.

There doesn't seem to be any bad blood, though. CyberConnect2's Ryosuke Hara, who's directing Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, is still excited for Final Fantasy 7 Remake and has "very, very high expectations" for the game. On Square Enix's part, well, the game is finally coming out. Better late than never.

If the remake succeeds, the spinoffs could be next

Diehard Final Fantasy fans know that Final Fantasy 7 saga is bigger than just one game. In addition to the original PlayStation RPG, Final Fantasy 7 canon includes three spinoff games (Before Crisis, Crisis Core, and Dirge of Cerberus), one feature-length movie (Advent Children), a half-hour original anime (Last Order), a short story collection (On the Way to a Smile), and an illustrated novel (The Kids Are Alright: A Turks Side Story).

That's a lot of content that won't be covered by Final Fantasy 7 Remake no matter how many episodes end up being made, and the remake team has discussed giving the spinoffs some love. "All of us old-timers are considering various developments in regards to what accompanies the remake," Tetsuya Nomura said, replying to a request about a Crisis Core remake.

If it happens, however, don't hold your breath. Nomura notes that Final Fantasy 7 Remake itself is taking everyone's time, and remains the team's priority. Once that's done, who knows? But it'll be a while.

Sick of the old summons? Get sick of a few brand new ones!

The first time that you see Final Fantasy 7's Knights of the Round summon, it's breathtakingly cool. The 50th time that you have to sit through it? Not so much. As you work through the campaign, you'll watch the same Summon animations again and again and again. Even though they're sure to look great in Remake, we've seen these before. Too many times.

Thankfully, some new summons on the way. While the basic Final Fantasy 7 Remake package is fairly bare-bones, different special editions come with Summons based on classic Final Fantasy creatures. If you want all three of them, you're going to need to pre-order the 1st Class Edition, which includes the Chocobo Chick, Carbuncle, and Cactuar Summons.

If you don't have the money for that, there's still hope. The Summons are actually DLC, so there's a chance that they'll be sold separately at some point. We wouldn't be surprised to see some new Summons in the game itself either, with more launched as additional DLC. Start saving your gil now, though. If there's DLC, it won't come cheap.

If you really love Final Fantasy 7, prove it with your wallet

Final Fantasy 7 Remake will come in three different packages. For $60, you get the game and nothing else. That's normal. The next tier up, the Deluxe Edition, isn't too bad. It comes with the Cactuar Summon (and the Chocobo Chick Summon, if you pre-order), a fancy art book, a steelbook case with Sephiroth on the front, and a soundtrack CD. For $80, that's not bad.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake's 1st Class Edition is the real bank-breaker. It'll set you back $330, and it comes with everything in the Deluxe Edition, an in-game Carbuncle Summon, and the pièce de résistance: a Cloud action figure and a replica of his Hardy-Daytona motorcycle. Both pieces are made by Play Arts Kai, and the Hardy-Daytona model is over a foot long. It is big.

If you do splurge for the 1st Class Edition — and, honestly, we wouldn't blame you — remember one thing: Final Fantasy 7 Remake is only the first of many. If you want a complete set of collector's editions, Square Enix is going to make you pay.