Things that original Final Fantasy VII fans should know going into Final Fantasy VII Remake

Last Updated February 14th, 2022

There are a lot of expectations for the Final Fantasy VII Remake, and some of those expectations are honestly a bit off base. Square certainly showed us a lot of this game during their marketing blitz, but they didn’t quite describe what the scope of it was. As a result, many fans of the original Final Fantasy VII probably have an image of this game in their head and I’m here to tell you that image is wrong.

That doesn’t make Final Fantasy VII Remake a bad game, it just means that we all have to adjust our expectations a little bit. So here are a few facts to know before you start, just so that you don’t end up disappointed.

Yes, the game only covers Midgar

This is well-known at this point, but despite being called Final Fantasy VII Remake you aren’t actually getting the whole of Final Fantasy VII here. In fact, if that’s what you want I’d suggest to abandon all hope right now because it does not look like that’s what Square is going to give us, based on certain events that transpire during the game. All in all, the game ends right after the Shinra Tower escape sequence, but it is worth noting that this doesn’t mean the game is short. You are still in for 30 to 40 hours of gameplay with a ton of post-game content afterwards still in store.

Yes, the story is changed quite dramatically

If what you want is a one-to-one remake of the original FFVII then you are completely out of luck. Many new story elements are integrated into FFVIIR including new characters, new bits of lore, and major changed events. In fact, changing the timeline is one of the major themes of the game. You’ll end up meeting Sephiroth before you are meant to, certain characters will die who aren’t supposed to, certain characters will live that aren’t supposed to, and in general things just won’t be as you remembered them. Keep your mind open, because this isn’t really a “remake” so to speak. It’s a new game in the Final Fantasy VII chronology with the theme of “remake.” In other words, you aren’t playing the Final Fantasy VII Remake. You are playing Final Fantasy VII: Remake.

You get more materia than you normally would in Midgar, but far fewer than you would in the full game

I have a surprising amount I need to warn you about regarding materia. For the most part the materia system is completely intact, and that’s good. It works the same way it did in the original FFVII in that you socket them into your weapons and armor to gain access to spells and abilities as well as major stat increases.

However, you are going to encounter far less materia than you would expect. Some materia, like the gravity materia, just doesn’t exist. Some, like the all materia, has been reworked into something more balanced like the “magnify” materia. You’ll only find exactly one copy of certain materia, like the Enemy Skill materia, of which only four enemy skills can be learned.

Summon materia in particular has been greatly limited. It doesn’t level up and you only find about five throughout the whole game, and four of them are optional. Yes, you can get through the whole game with only Ifrit if you don’t search hard enough.

If you are thinking that you can just get new copies of materia after they spawn, think again. Materia doesn’t spawn when it maxes in this game. So you’ll have to end up buying or finding new copies of the materia you want, which you can’t do until you beat the game for most of them.

And just to warn you right now, a lot of your favorite materia probably don’t exist. The 4X strike materia for example, gone. Materia like transform or ultima? Also gone. Important stat-up materia like the long range materia, gone. Just get used to the idea that this system, though it works the same way, was basically gutted and rebalanced from the ground up.

MP is very low and restrictive

Speaking of materia and magic in general, magic is far more restrictive in FFVIIR. Even characters at max level only end up with about maybe 100 MP tops, and a single charge of an -aga spell costs 20+ MP. Yes, characters now have innate MP regen, but it regenerates very slowly. While you can restore MP with items, you can’t even use items on hard mode. In general, you are only going to use a limited amount of spells in any given combat, so make them count.

Levels are capped at 50

Now this is an interesting development. You actually aren’t able to level to 99. Instead, the game caps your progress at level 50. Is that because you will be able to import your stats into the next episode? If so, does that mean we only have one other episode to go? It’s curious, that’s all I’m saying.

You can’t switch characters

You might have forgotten that the ability to switch characters only unlocks in the original FFVII after you escape from Midgar. But that’s where this game ends! So, essentially, you won’t be able to switch characters for the whole game. In a way, FFVIIR is a bit like FFIV in that it keeps finding ways to swap characters in and out of your party.

It’s also worth noting that Red XIII isn’t playable at all. He does join your party and he does even appear to have materia, equipment, and abilities. However, you cannot change any of these. You can’t even see him in the menu. He’s just computer controlled. I have a feeling that Square originally planned on him being a full party member, but couldn’t finish him up by the time the game shipped.

Equipment is limited but expanded

You aren’t going to find many pieces of equipment. You’ll find maybe six weapons for each character over the course of the whole game, for example. However, the new weapon upgrade system makes this a bit more tolerable. You see, you can now spend SP (which you earn on level up) to alter the stats and properties for your weapons. This allows every weapon in the game to retain use straight through the endgame. You’ll find yourself switching up weapons fairly often, as opposed to the original, since each weapon has its own specific use.

There is a depressing amount of content locked behind DLC

You know how I said that there wasn’t a whole lot of equipment and limited materia in the game? Well, that all changes if you buy DLC. Buying the limited edition gives you access to three additional summon materia, each with vastly different properties than the ones you have access to in the game. There’s a Butterfinger tie-in promotion that allows you to get brand new pieces of equipment, far better than much of what you can get in the game. It… feels a little crappy to be honest. Yes, you can get through the whole game without unlocking Corneo’s Bangle or the Carbuncle Summon, but they do give you a lot more options than normal, yet they still feel too small to be worth spending money on.

Your sense of time is going to be totally screwed

There are many points in your playthrough where you will think to yourself “Oh I’ll just play until this happens and then stop.” Don’t do that! There is so much more content than you originally realize. There will always be two or three dungeons between you and wherever you think you are going to go next. It’s a bit of a head trip.

That’s all the advice I have for you as an original FFVII fan myself. Just keep this in mind and you’ll have a pretty good FFVIIR experience.