The biggest surprise about this E3’s showing of the Final Fantasy 7 Remake? That it’s matured into a gorgeous – and very much playable – game. Square Enix’s new trailer made a real mark this year in showing how modern rendering methods transform a PlayStation classic into something palatable for the modern day. Gameplay systems are laid bare, and there’s a much better idea of how the scale of Midgar is being expanded upon. From a technical perspective, it finally looks set to deliver as one of the company’s most ambitious projects.
The latest showing also demonstrates how far we’ve come across four console generations. A caveat before we begin this: the pre-rendered backdrops, video sequences, and simple polygonal modeling of the 1997 original still carry a lot of charm. Arguably there’s no way this remake can recreate the impact of playing it at a time when many of these techniques had never been seen before on consoles. Regardless, what’s clear is that Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 is more than up to the task of adding today’s state of the art rendering tech. For Square Enix the overall goal is simplified: it’s giving the big budget treatment to just an early portion of the original game in this first episode. A focus only on the initial area of Midgar narrows the scope, concentrating its focus, and letting its team ratchet up the micro-level detail.
In terms of the rendering set-up, Square Enix has so far shown the game running at a native 1920×1080, and bearing in mind UE4’s track record and the wealth of detail on show here, we may well be looking at the PlayStation 4 Pro version of the game. Where we do have is confirmation is that Square-Enix plans to roll out the remake as a cross-gen title and it’ll be fascinating to see how the developer plans to utilise the extra horsepower and revolutionary storage system.