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This article contains major spoilers for Final Fantasy VII Remake and Rebirth

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Ultimania, which was released on 12 April 2024, includes interviews with the developers who worked on the game. Due to the length of the interviews, this article is split into multiple parts.

This is part 4 of the article: Read part 3 here:

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Post-Release Interview (Part 3) – Devs Discuss the World Map and Minigames

 

In this part of the interview, Sato Masanori (world design director), Hamaguchi Naoki (director) and Endo Teruki (battle director) discuss the battle system, enemies, and summons of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.

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The interviewer asks how they planned on changing the battle system from Remake’s, and Endo says that while Remake’s battle system ended up being able to express everything he wanted to, he felt that by keeping the number of actions the player could do too low it ended up with less freedom than he expected. Rebirth’s battle system was thus designed with that regret in mind, while also being made to be adaptable to different types of players, namely those who want to unlock all sorts of actions and do them in combat, those who want to focus on using ATB commands, and those in between the other two types. They went through everything, including characters’ moves and dodge mechanics again, meaning that the characters who appeared in the first game were also greatly adjusted.

FF7 Rebirth interview chain attack

Regarding the new characters, Endo says that he likes it when games with multiple playable characters have it so that each character feels like they’re from a completely different game, and had this in mind when working on Red XIII, Yuffie and Cait Sith. Action games commonly have conventional and unconventional types of characters, and while it is usually relatively easy to create a conventional character, one has to exercise a great deal of caution for them to not end up too strange when working on an unconventional character. Due to Cait Sith’s appearance, Endo felt that he should be an unconventional character, and Endo ended up having to make adjustments to him till the end of development.

The interviewer asks if the world map affected battles in any way, and Endo says the greatest effect it had was on monster spawn points. The staff in charge of the world map placed the monsters first, and then they actually played the game and made adjustments. Sato says that in the end, Endo came up with the optimal solution of placing most enemies around the roads and where main story events occur, and placing the stronger ones further away in corners and on top of mountains.

They did initially decide that strong enemies could show up on the world map from the start, but then they adjusted the game so that players would not have too much trouble with combat. Hamaguchi says that they wanted to avoid situations where the player would enter a new area only to get instantly killed by an enemy, and took care to place them with this in mind. In general, the game is balanced so that the player can have the satisfaction of being able to defeat all of the enemies in an area. Some secret bosses may be hard to defeat without the player first moving on a bit and getting stronger first, but this is because they are a sort of spice and thus an exception. Sato brings up the Corel area’s Tonberry King as an example of an enemy that can be tough if one is not prepared, and stresses the importance of the Assess materia.

https://youtu.be/JxYERRCd1S8 – “Test 0” is a monster that can be encountered at the bottom of the well in Corel Prison, which looks like a Shinra guard hound but speaks in an odd fashion

On the topic of enemies, the interviewer brings up how the monster Test 0 from the original Japanese release of FF7, which has been speculated to be a bug by fans, made a real appearance in Rebirth, and Hamaguchi says that the original FF7’s developers actually do not know if it actually is a bug, or an eater egg that someone put in on purpose. In any case, however, the monster ended up widely known amongst players of the original game, and so they added it to Rebirth. He adds that Toriyama did things to make it even better during voice recording, resulting in the voiced lines ending up the way they did, and he thinks that it should bring a smile to players who knew the original.

FF7 Rebirth interview chain attack

Synergy (“cooperative” in Japanese) Skills and Abilities are discussed next, with Endo saying that FF7 was always a game with popular characters, and since Rebirth focused on the relationships between them, they thought about how they could approach that in battles, and came up with “cooperation” as a keyword. They then mixed that in when approaching the desire to add more moves to the combat from Remake, resulting in the Synergy Skills and Abilities.

Next, the interviewer asks who came up with the idea to include the skill tree system, and Endo says it was mainly Hamaguchi, but that he and another person handling the battle system also worked on it. Hamaguchi adds that they wanted the player to be able to make adjustments to their skill tree at any time and so included the feature that lets you reset it with no demerits, and Endo elaborates on this decision, saying that there are people who are afraid that a new skill that they actually want might pop up making them regret spending their points on other things before, who thus horde their points in anticipation of such a situation, and adding the reset function was a way to make it so that players would be able to freely spend their points to get abilities.

Next, they discuss the summons, with the interviewer asking how they were chosen. Endo says it was the same as with Remake: They made a list of summons they wanted to include, and then chose them from there while considering the order they appeared in in the original FF7. Hamaguchi says that since story-wise some of them are tied to the areas they appear in, they also tried to fit them into areas like pieces in a puzzle. He points out that only four summons from the original FF7 remain, and that since the fans are looking forward to the Knights of Round, they will do their best to live up to those expectations.

The interviewer also points out how Rebirth includes a lot of auto materia, and asks why this was the case. Endo says that the reason for this was the desire to have the player be able to have freedom in how they want to play. Remake already catered to players who wanted to focus on the action and players who wanted to focus on the ATB commands, and they thought it would be interesting to make it possible for players to win battles without even controlling the game if they set their materia right. Another reason for them was the existence of Synergy Abilities: Activating them requires both participating characters to have built up their gauge by using ATB commands, but some players might not be able to pay attention to building up the gauge for multiple characters, and equipping auto materia to have characters automatically build up the gauge was a way to handle that. The ultimate goal was to make it so that players who are not so good at action games can play the game just as well as players who are as long as they set their materia right.

The final battles in the game are discussed next, with the interviewer pointing out how the place and participants keep changing, and asking how this was planned. Hamaguchi says that it was mostly based on Nojima’s script, but in the first proposal there were actually two more fights, which were cut because the sequence was too long and thus tiring for the player. To make things worse, getting a game over would mean starting from the beginning of the entire sequence at first, and they made a feature to allow the player to continue from the current phase just because of this.

Regarding the point in the game where Zack and Sephiroth are playable, Endo says that because of how important they are, even though the player does not have many chances to use them, they put as much work into them as they did into the other characters, and Hamaguchi adds that they felt that it was important to do so as the two represent surprises at the start and end of the game.

To conclude the interview with the three, the interviewer asks them what they want to try doing in the third game.

Sato says that he feels that they have done all they could at this point in time, but at the same time he is also sure that the fans have a lot of requests, and he hopes to be able to live up to those expectations. Additionally, it will be some time before the next game is released, and he hopes that they will be able to make a game that fits the time it is released in.

Endo says that Rebirth still mostly had the next destination determined by the story, with the story progressing at each destination point, and he personally wants the third game to have a more open structure, pointing out that having the player can freely choose their next destination and how to get there is a currently a common style in video games, but he is still unsure if that would be appropriate for the last game in the Remake Project, and says that they will consider it based on feedback from players of Rebirth. He also says that they intend to put more freedom in battles as well, emphasizing trying out a lot of different things rather than focus on balance, and hopes that fans will look forward to it.

Finally, Hamaguchi says that if the next game was to follow the original FF7, we would go to the Icicle Lodge, then the North Crater, see the Weapons, get the airship, and so on, but they are currently thinking over how to actually start it. He does say, however, that once the airship is available, they want to make it so that the player can advance in multiple areas at the same time. He thinks that figuring out how to make it interesting that the player can fly around and go into any part of the world will be key to making it a great game. Also, Hamaguchi believes that the last game will decide how the entire Remake Project trilogy will be valued, that unless it turns out to be great in a different way from the first two games there will have been no point to remaking FF7. As such, they want to make it not something that is just an extension of Rebirth, but something filled with new surprises and experiences.

In the next and last interview, producer Kitase Yoshinori and creative director Nomura Tetsuya discuss what the last game in the Final Fantasy VII Remake Project trilogy has in store for fans: Read it here!

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Post-Release Interview (Part 5) – Devs Discuss Rebirth and the Next Game

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