E3 2019 Hands-on: Final Fantasy VII Remake

This year, our first appointment of E3 was for what is undoubtedly, one of the most popular games at the show: Final Fantasy VII Remake.

We entered a small theater where Jessie took control of a Shinra broadcast in order to explain how the Final Fantasy VII Remake plays.

The developers have found an interesting way to walk the road between being an action RPG and being a turn based game. Each character has an ATB gauge that will fill up while executing normal attacks. Once one ATB gauge fills up, you can enter Tactical Mode where time will slow, and you can select actions from a command menu. These actions can be abilities such as Braver, spells, and items. You can also switch to other party members. In our demo, we were with Cloud and Barret. Cloud made for a great up close fighter, while Barret is the better choice for handling flying enemies. Enemies also have a stagger gauge which will fill up as you attack them, eventually staggering the enemy, and allowing attacks to deal even more damage.

In the twenty minute hands-on demo we got to play, we jumped into the middle of the games bombing mission, climbing down ladders into the reactor and taking out multiple waves of Shinra guards before getting to the Scorpion Sentinel boss.

While exploring the area, some small crates were destructible, one provided us with a mako crystal that replenished a small amount of MP. We would climb down a ladder, take out a group of enemies, and repeat the process a few times before getting to the boss.

What was once a fairly simple encounter in the original Final Fantasy VII is now an incredible set piece, with the Scorpion Sentinel boss jumping around the arena. Occasionally, when his tail laser attack begins to charge up, debris will fall and Cloud and Barret will have to make sure to run over behind it in order to avoid taking damage.

During the fight, the enemy becomes shielded, with its weak point appearing behind it. Maneuvering around the boss to attack the weak point and remove it’s shield provided a fun variant to the fight.

Overall, we were impressed with the way that the Final Fantasy VII Remake finds a nice bridge between old and new combat. Visually the game looks good, however we were unsure what type of console we were playing on- we were told most of the demo units were PlayStation 4 Pros, with some also being PlayStation 4 units.

We can’t wait to see more of Final Fantasy VII Remake, and are eagerly awaiting the March 3rd 2020 release.