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Tetsuya Nomura talks FF7 Remake Intergrade, Ever Crisis, & The First Soldier in Famitsu

A few weeks ago we got a slew of new Final Fantasy VII universe announcements including Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade for PS5, and new mobile titles The First Soldier and Ever Crisis. Now, in the latest issue of Japanese gaming magazine Weekly Famitsu, Tetsuya Nomura provides more information on these three projects.

In the interview, Nomura confirms some key new information about all three projects, commenting on things such as the new content featured in FF7 Remake Intergrade’s new Yuffie chapter, the battle royale nature of The First Soldier, and exactly how the free-to-play, episodic Ever Crisis will be structured. Below are translated highlights from the Famitsu interview, broken up by game:

Nomura on Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade

Nomura first discusses the new Yuffie-focused chapter added to Intergrade, as well as some details about new character Sonon Kusakabe

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Yuffie’s partner, Sonon Kusakabe, is not playable but can help with combination attacks.
While Yuffie is the only playable character in this new chapter, Sonon will be often fighting right alongside her. Instead of switching control like can be done in the main game with Barret, Tifa, or Aerith, Sonon will instead act on his own. Sometimes, opportunities to perform combination attacks will arise. 

“You can also choose between two different control modes, one where Sonon acts independently and one where he follows Yuffie’s commands to act in unison with what she is doing,” says Nomura, which is done by pressing the L2 button.

Sonon’s Design Concept
Nomura explains that Sonon is from Wutai and is working with Avalanche, which explains his ‘military-style’ appearance. In order to differentiate Sonon’s fighting style from Yuffie’s ninja-like ways, Nomura decided to have Sonon use martial arts and a quarterstaff, which also led to his outfit design. 

“Originally he was designed with finer features for a softer ‘pretty boy’ look,” Nomura admits, “but I thought that him being paired with Yuffie would add a new dynamic that differed from what you got with Cloud or Vincent, so I changed him to the more masculine character you see now.”

No Future DLC plans for Final Fantasy VII Remake; moving onto the sequel
Nomura states that, originally, the intent was to create a PlayStation 5 version of Final Fantasy VII Remake and not necessarily DLC. However, due to the nature of the upgrade, the Yuffie sections were given the ‘DLC’ label. 

That said, Nomura explains that players should not expect any more DLC for the game, and instead development focus will shift to the upcoming sequel. “Sorting out the development environment on PS5 for Intergrade meant that moving on to developing the sequel was much smoother,” Nomura says. “We are now prioritizing the roadmap for completing the next game, so if we do need to think about more DLC then it will probably come after that is finished.”

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FF7 Remake streaming restrictions will be relaxed once Intergrade releases
At the very end of the Famitsu interview, Nomura takes the time to mention those who stream FF7 Remake, noting he enjoys watching gameplay commentary videos himself. He notes that on June 10th, when Intergrade releases, Square Enix will be “unlocking a lot of the broadcast-prohibited areas of FF7 Remake”, meaning fans can more openly stream some of its more spoilerific areas.

New Materia and Summons
Nomura also quickly confirms that the Yuffie episode will have some new materia and summons.

Nomura on The First Soldier

The First Solider was likely the most unexpected announcement from Square Enix regarding Final Fantasy VII. Nomura touches on why the developer is making a battle royale game and some details about it.

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Why make a Final Fantasy VII Battle Royale game?
Famitsu’s interviewer asks a question that perhaps a number of us were wondering. The First Soldier is a surprising announcement of a Final Fantasy VII battle royale game, and what sort of audience is Nomura targeting with its announcement?

Nomura makes an observant point that “fan demographics for long-running IP series do tend to become quite fixed, making it something of a challenge for us to appeal outside of that existing fan group”. He claims that there is a sizable audience of players that will not know much about Final Fantasy VII or maybe even have never played a Final Fantasy game at all. He admits that battle royales are ‘the hottest gaming genre right now’ and wanted to create a challenger in that space. He also notes that the genre is also one that Final Fantasy fans might not have tried before, and he hopes they can see the franchise in a new way with The First Soldier.

“I do want people to discover an interest in the world of FFVII from this game, but it goes without saying that if we are going to do it properly then there can be no half measures, and we are putting everything we have into getting the content of the game right too,” states Nomura.

The First Soldier has a Job System
While it might be a Battle Royale game designed to meet a new audience, The First Soldier will feature some traditional FF elements - including a Job System, an FF staple that the original FF7 actually lacks.

“Each player on a team can select a job-like play style called a “style” for a match and these icons represent the styles chosen,” Nomura reveals. “Each style has its own unique skills and abilities, and you can change the one you set for each battle. There are advantages to continuously using the same style, but we will reveal exactly what exactly those are at a later date.”

Beta Testing and Battle Royale Expertise
During the interview, Nomura confirms that there will be a closed beta test for The First Solider - though details on that won’t be announced just yet. 

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He also notes that much attention has been paid to balance - and he cites the battle royale playing chops of the game’s producer as part of why the game should end up having a fun and fair balance. 

“The game’s producer, Mr. [Shoichi] Ichikawa, was also the one of those who proposed the original idea and he himself is a big battle royale player. He will really be the voice of the player base on the team and provide expert opinions on what needs focus and where the fine tuning needs to be,” Nomura says.

“I am also giving my own, inexpert feedback, but Mr. Ichikawa is really knowledgeable, and he will always respond to my ideas in terms of how they would affect the balancing of a battle royal game, so I can safely make my reckless proposals, knowing that he is there to keep them in check. “

Nomura on Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis

Ever Crisis was perhaps the most exciting new FF7 universe announcement for hardcore fans of the original game, as it features a ‘different vision’ of a remake that in many ways more closely resembles the more graphically simplistic style of the original game. Notably, Ever Crisis won’t just retell the story of the original game, but also the rest of the compilation: Advent Children, Before Crisis, Crisis Core, and Dirge of Cerberus. 

In the Famitsu interview, Nomura confirms a range of things about FF7: Ever Crisis…

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Story Chapters are free-to-play, but the game will feature gacha for obtaining weapons.
“You will be able to play the chapters released for free,” says Nomura. “The monetized element is basically loot boxes containing random weapons. Some of the special weapons also come as a set that includes new costumes that were not in the original games, adding in a new way to enjoy the story that you won’t have seen before.”

The original FF7 storyline will take up around 10 chapters
Nomura explains that as an example, the original FF7’s story will wrap up in ten chapters, and he says that should “give you an idea of how much the other titles will uncover as well.” Within that original FF7 story, the team will escape from Midgar in chapter 3. 

All-new stories will be told inside Ever Crisis
As well as retelling the FF7 stories that we all already know and love, there will be chapters of Ever Crisis that cover new events, Nomura reveals. 

“The first one will be a new episode we are working on that covers the story behind FF7 The First Soldier,” he says. 

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“The First Soldier takes place around 30 years before the FF7 main story, and goes into the founding of SOLDIER, so it goes without saying that you will see some of the legendary heroes in their younger days, as well as younger versions of the future Shinra executives and other characters who will appear in the FF7 Remake sequels. I think that it will really add depth to some of the characters who we do not have room to show fully in the main games.”

There’s a reason Aerith is shown battling the Guard Scorpion in the trailer
In the first trailer for Ever Crisis, Aerith can be seen battling the Guard Scorpion - which is the first boss in FF7, well before Aerith joins the party. This isn’t Ever Crisis breaking with canon, however - it’s from a new mode that allows you to go into special dungeons and battles to have non-canon scraps.

“These [battles] will allow players to enjoy taking on the mightiest enemies from the series using their dream party, in ways that the story battles do not allow,” Nomura explains.

Square Enix knows you want to play the FF7 Compilation games on current consoles
While Ever Crisis includes chapters that will be based on compilation titles like Crisis Core and Dirge of Cerberus, Nomura takes time in the Famitsu interview to acknowledge that this mobile game doesn’t make up for or replace those original games - and he knows that fans want other ways to replay them.

“We have also seen that people want to be able to play the various different series titles on the current console hardware,” Nomura says, “So the design concept behind FFVII EC is not intended to be a replacement for that, but a convenient and casual way to touch on these games.”

That doesn’t mean that every care hasn’t been taken to represent those games properly, however. 

“The compilation titles outside of the original FF7 were not structured with these rules and have completely different battle systems, but I wanted to unify them all in one format for FF7 EC, while not losing the individual character of the different games. Making the battles interesting was also something that we couldn’t overlook, so I was quite cutting in my feedback about them,” says Nomura. 

Music, Presentation, and more
Elsewhere in the interview, Nomura confirms that the music used in FF7 Ever Crisis will be all-new arrangements, but “based on the originals”. 

He also reveals that for him, the greatest focus in Ever Crisis was to align the visual presentation with the original FF7, “with the exploration sections done in a stylised, super-deformed style and the proportions of the characters increased in battle.”

Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade is set to release for PlayStation 5 on June 10. We've also learned that Tetsuya Nomura is not directing the next installment of Final Fantasy VII Remake, and is instead acting as Creative Director.

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