final fantasy vii rebirth

We Spoke To Final Fantasy VII Rebirth’s Lead Developers About Character Bonds, Player Choice And Card Games

A quick chat with Producer Yoshinori Kitase and Game Director Naoki Hamaguchi.

Recently I was lucky enough to spend the day checking out Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, playing around four hours of the game across the first two chapters and even spending time with producer Yoshinori Kitase, who helmed the original Final Fantasy VII, and Naoki Hamaguchi, who came up through the company starting with 2009’s Final Fantasy XIII.

Although time was short, and is always cut down further by the need for a translator, I was able to sit down with the pair and fire off some of my burning questions around this middle entry in the ambitious Final Fantasy VII Remake Project. Here’s what they had to say:

[Note: The below transcriptions have been edited slightly for clarity and readability.]

I was very happy to see that Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth was named the Most Anticipated Game at The Game Awards. Would you say that knowing that gives you more confidence or more anxiety about the impending launch?

Naoki Hamaguchi: So, yeah, given that Rebirth in itself, is the seventh title within the mainline Final Fantasy series, and then a remake of that, and then the second title within the Remake series. You know, there’s a lot of complexities going on there. But the fact that this kind of title was nominated as the most anticipated game and won this award gives me great happiness. And I do believe this is due to the contents of the game and what has been shown so far, for it to have really looked very appealing and fun to play and bring about a lot of excitement for players. So I feel very pleased about this.

final fantasy vii rebirth

Remake offered fans a deeper look into the characters they know and love. Having played opening chapter of Rebirth just now and re-witnessing those pivotal events it almost felt like I was re-discovering some aspects of Sephiroth. Do you think the opportunity to add more nuance to these well-known characters can change how fans perceive them?

Naoki Hamaguchi: I don’t think I’d say perceived differently per se, because the characters themselves are not changed from the original setting. But what I do think is different is that we are now able to convey what could not be expressed or what was not expressed in the original. And so in that sense, I do think, you know, we can dive in much deeper to portray the characters in in much more detail as they were intended.

And you just mentioned, you know, having played Chapter 1 and that you made this, sort of, new connection to Sephiroth. I’m really happy to hear this because from PR I’ve heard a lot about, like, “Can Chapter 1 be condensed more?” and such but, for me, this chapter is such an important and really memorable one that I love.

 

The Rebirth team is composed of both some of the original creators as well as newer members who grew up with or were influenced by the original. When looking at how you either keep or update certain elements of the game, how did that dynamic play out?

Yoshinori Kitase: So for me, as someone that has worked on and developed the original title, I was actually very open to let Hamaguchi-san take the reins and change many of the elements. So for me, I had that sort of perspective. However, for Hamaguchi-san and members of the team who were fans and players of the original, I felt that there was very much a deep respect towards the original title and maintaining some of the elements that they felt were core to the game that they loved. And so ultimately, I believe we were able to achieve this wonderful balance between the two of them, respecting and keeping the wonderful elements of the original, but then introducing and elevating it to this new form.

final fantasy vii rebirth

Speaking to new elements, as a Triple Triad and Tetra Master fan I was also very excited to be able to play a bit of the new card game, Queen’s Blood, just now. What went into designing this and how does it fit into the lore and the world of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth?

Naoki Hamaguchi: Speaking on how the card game relates to the world of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, there are so many various minigames that are included in the title. Some are one-off, and others are more long term games where one can continue to play until the end of the game such as Queen’s Blood. And this is a game where it does tie into the story as well. There’s an incident that originates, or is kind of focused around this, that starts from this card game. And from there, we meet new characters. And there’s a whole story that sort of expands from that. And so I think this will be a major appeal and point of enjoyment for Queen’s Blood.

And in terms of the concept of developing Queen’s Blood, since Square Enix is an entertainment company, I was able to find other staff members that were huge card game enthusiasts. And so with five or six of these people, we were able to discuss amongst each other on how we can go about developing Queen’s Blood and also one rule that we felt would be essential to Queen’s Blood. Taking into account that there are other Final Fantasy mainline titles that have these existing card games, as you mentioned, having a rule that brings about this familiarity, of the Final Fantasy brand, was imperative for Queen’s Blood. So for this, making it that there’s an effect that arises from having two cards next to each other, or sort of having two cards create a new effect was this rule from from other FF card games that we definitely wanted to have for Queen’s Blood. But after that, you know, we were sort of deep in discussion on how else to we can develop Queen’s Blood as this all-new card game.

RELATED:  Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Video Preview

final fantasy vii rebirth

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth seems to continue the same incredible fidelity and visual detail of Remake but on a much larger scale, how did establishing the groundwork with Remake help you expand the scope in Rebirth?

Naoki Hamaguchi: A focus for us in creating Remake was to deliver the cinematic game experience. And our thinking behind that was, you know, taking the storyline of Final Fantasy VII and being able to realise it graphics akin to Advent Children, and the HD visual quality of such a title. I believe we were able to achieve this and gained positive feedback from players in being able to do so. So for Remake, we were able to realise this very fulfilling and deep storyline as well. But I am also aware that for for Remake, some players may have felt that while the storyline was very much developed and deep, there may not have been as much freedom for them to kind of go and choose to do things their own way.

And so now, when players kind of think about themselves, exploring and venturing out outside of Midgar and into the world map, of course, I imagine that they’re expecting this new degree of freedom and exploration. So this was a big challenge that we wanted to, really, meet players’ expectations and to deliver this truly fulfilling story at the same time as introducing this vast world filled with varied game content, allowing players to have that freedom of choice of playing in the way that they choose to. And in that way I believe we were able to deliver a new type of Final Fantasy experience for this title.

final fantasy vii rebirth

When adding in this game’s new playable characters, what were the major considerations you had in deciding how they play and behave in combat?

Naoki Hamaguchi: I discussed deeply with the Battle Director, Endo-san [Teruki Endo] on this, and we really wanted in Rebirth for players are able to choose freely among the many characters in deciding how and where to use each character in battle. So in that sense, we really had a clear, like, positioning of each character, and a way that you can use them strategically in battle. For example, Cait Sith, in the original there were these luck-based elements that really stood out for the character. And we wanted to reflect this for his battles. But then, if you rely too much on this idea of luck in battle, he might end up being quite, I guess, luck-based in that sense. And you might have to then decide strategically to use another character to cover for those weaknesses as well.

So we really thought deeply on how we can make that happen for each character, and I feel that we were able to reach this point where every character can be enjoyed in its own unique way. And of course, for the next title, we’ll also be introducing Cid and Vincent to the mix. So those are more characters that we’ll have to consider for the battles.

final fantasy vii rebirth

One new idea in combat in Rebirth that stands out is the Synergy system. When designing these systems were you working more from simply wanting to expand on combat, or are there thematic inspirations that led you to it?

Naoki Hamaguchi: In terms of the game concept, the Synergy system was, of course, implemented from a battle perspective and making the battles more fun and appealing to play. But on top of that, I guess the major concept behind it was that in Rebirth, following the characters’ journeys to the Forgotten capital, to Aerith’s fate from leaving Midgar and escaping into the world, we’re showing the characters’ bonds and relationships develop throughout this journey. Taking that as a theme in battle as well, I felt it was necessary to show the characters’ relationships to Cloud as well as among each other in different pairings. And so being able to tell this part of the story through the battles as well was a major point for us.

And when I originally presented my concept of Rebirth to Kitase-san, there were two main keywords that I mentioned. One was Bond. And the other was Choice. And so I think both of these elements have been really expressed in Rebirth.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth launches exclusively on PlayStation 5 on February 29th. You can pre-order it now on Amazon for $99 with free shipping and pre-order price guarantee.