Former Kotaku reporter and editor Jason Schreier joined The Washington Post shortly after the game’s release to make some educated guesses. Here’s a rundown of what we believe might happen in the next installment of Final Fantasy VII.
Keep in mind that these are educated guesses. So if I’m wrong after however long it takes to make the next game, feel free to bookmark this piece and throw it back in my face.
It won’t be called Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 2
Remakes have existed before, but this one was bizarre in how it just straight up awkwardly called itself a “Remake” in the official title. Now we know why they weren’t shy about it. It was meant to throw us off what they were doing.
This is no Resident Evil 2-style remake, as great as that game was. This wasn’t a simple retelling or rerelease, but a new story about the characters changing their well-established fates. It wouldn’t surprise us at all if the next game has a different subtitle, probably with the same prefix. It’ll likely reflect the intent of the second game. Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. Final Fantasy VII Returns. Or, heaven forbid, Final Fantasy VII Re-Verse.
It probably won’t be open world
The first Remake’s setting in Midgar still leaves the biggest gameplay question left: How will these folks address the open world map, which was introduced at this point in time in the original story?
Schreier believes that they won’t, and that this game was basically a template for how the rest of the story will go. I’m inclined to agree. Final Fantasy XV had a rather massive map, and Square Enix struggled to fill it with interesting things to do. While Remake’s side missions have caught flak for being uninteresting, the 15th installment’s missions were bottom of the barrel when it came to creativity.
The Remake seemed like a practice run for showcasing how much ground the story can cover while still keeping the player within the guardrails of the story. The original game, for all of the exploration it allowed, wasn’t exactly a Grand Theft Auto-like roaming experience anyway. Redesigning the structure will allow the writers to do things like our next prediction.
Some places might be written out entirely
The next location in the story is a small village named Kalm, where very little of consequence actually happens. The area only serves as a resting spot for Cloud to tell the rest of the party his past with their new villain, Sephiroth.
Given that the tale is about as familiar as Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi’s mentorship, Remake seems to presume that the player already knows this backstory. It won’t take much for the next game to fill out the rest. This would basically write out any need for Kalm, saving the developers some time. Another later location, Fort Condor, doesn’t serve much purpose either other than to house a quest item. That item could easily be moved elsewhere and rewritten with a tie to a better, more relevant location.
Yuffie and Vincent Valentine will have expanded, necessary roles
These two were optional characters in the original game, but you wouldn’t have known if you were just familiar with Final Fantasy VII as a cultural phenomenon. They’ve been included in several pieces of work in this universe, and each have a dedicated fan base.
Also, the Wutai clan, which got a small role in the original game, has been elevated to become victims of a trumped-up war by Shinra Electric Company. Yuffie’s ties to the Wutai will likely take center stage. And it’d be a crime if they didn’t flesh out Valentine’s past with Sephiroth’s true parents, which would add more mysterious layers and connections to the iconic villain.
Zack will be playable, if not outright alive
Zack Fair’s debut in the Remake also represents the biggest mystery and debate about the ending. Zack is literally the foundation of Cloud’s character, and his death served as the snare beat that kicks off the entire saga. However, the ending shows him surviving the fight he was meant to die in. It even showed a cutscene framed in the exact same way as the original scene in the PSP prequel Crisis Core.
The game still doesn’t show his fate, and it could still be implied that he is staying dead. But his introduction so early in the story can only make us guess that he will be playable somehow. His similarities with Cloud will make him easy to translate into the new fighting system. Regardless of his status, director Tetsuya Nomura and Co. clearly want us to remember him, and letting us play as him is the easiest way to achieve this.
It might still have great writing
I get the concern that Square Enix is dragging Final Fantasy into Kingdom Hearts territory, a series known for incomprehensible story lines about fighting heady concepts like “fate,” particularly since Nomura helms both projects.
But here’s the thing: Final Fantasy XV was a narrative mess for sure. There’s only poor excuses to explain why it released in 2016 with such a disjointed narrative. But the Royal Edition story fixes and additions were so good, it elevated that mess of characters into one of the more expressive, most emotionally-mined casts in franchise history. It honed in on themes of male intimacy and personal responsibility.
And most critics agree Remake’s writing elicits strong emotions and reactions, all the while being thoroughly entertaining. It seems the writers at Square Enix are beginning to learn to rein in their excesses. If the Remake is any indication, older fans are in for a wild, surreal and heart-wrenching ride for the next few years.