Final Fantasy

5 of the best Square Enix Co-op games

The friends that play together stay together. Here are some of best co-operative games that you can play now, or in the near future.
By Duncan Heaney

There’s a school of thought that everything is better with a friend - and that’s particularly true for games.

There are few things as fundamentally satisfying as overcoming enemies and obstacles with the help of a pal, and when the game’s been specifically designed to support that type of cooperative play, it’s even better.

What’s interesting is that we’ve entered a sort of golden era for co-op here at Square Enix. We have multiple games out or coming very soon, all great, all unique, and all specifically designed to be played with others.

We wanted to highlight what we think are some of our best. If you regularly play with others, you don’t want to miss these:


Marvel’s Avengers

Teaming up with a friend is cool, but teaming up with a friend who’s playing as Captain America? That’s even cooler.

Marvel’s Avengers lets you and up to three amazing friends play as six of Marvel’s most well-known heroes: Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Captain America, Hulk and Ms. Marvel. You’ll embark together on missions all over the world, from the verdant woods of the Pacific Northwest, to the frozen tundra of Scandinavia.

Combat is fast, fluid and satisfyingly deep. There are few experiences as thrilling as seeing a team of icons join take down supervillains and giant foes… except maybe being part of that team.

What makes it so enjoyable is that every characters feel unique - for example, Black Widow is fast and agile, Iron Man can fly and excels at range, and Hulk… well, Hulk smashes. And as you gain experience and develop your characters, these differences only become more pronounced - there a lot to dig into.

Not only that, but additional characters are coming and they’re all free. You’ll be playing this one for a loooong time.


BALAN WONDERWORLD

This upcoming 3D platformer takes two protagonists - Emma and Leo - into a weird, wacky world where people have become trapped by their own negativity.

And yes - two protagonists means two players. The game supports local co-op, allowing you to platform and puzzle your way through all 12 worlds as a team. Not only is it fun to leap, bounce and punch your way through this vibrant world with a friend, it also opens up new ways to play.

As you explore, you’ll collect more than 80 costumes. These don’t just make you look good (and every now and then a bit silly), they also give you abilities that you can use to overcome the obstacles in your path, such as ranged punches or the ability to walk in the air. In co-op, you can even combine these abilities open up entirely new paths!

In short, this is one of those games that just leaves you feeling happy. It’s cute, optimistic and radiates pure joy out of every pixel.

There's a new demo out on January 28, 2021, and the full game releases March 26, 2021. You won’t find a happier experience this year.


Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris

This four player archaeological adventure taxes your brain as much as your reflexes. When Lara Croft is beaten to an artifact by a careless rival, the evil deity Set is released from imprisonment. Suffice to say, he’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder about it.

Now Lara, fellow adventurer Carter Bell and the newly revived gods Isis and Horus must join journey through a series of deadly tombs and temples to stop Set and fend off an incoming apocalypse. So, basically a typical Wednesday for Lara.

What’s great about this game - and its predecessor Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light - is that players each have different skills that they have to use together to solve puzzles. For example, Isis could use her staff to raise a platform to get Lara up high, and then Lara can use her grappling hook to pull her partner up with her.

Of course, things are generally more complicated than that - Crystal Dynamics’ incredible puzzle pedigree is on full display here. The various conundrums will make you think hard - but when you finally find the solution, it’s as satisfying an ‘aha’ moment as you’ll ever find in games.


FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition

A multiplayer FINAL FANTASY is already an exciting prospect, but what puts it over the top is just how cooperative it is. Every element of the game has been designed to accommodate multiple players - and inspire them to work together.

Let’s say, for example, that your group runs into a tough monster. You could all charge into the fray, waving swords and spells around willy-nilly - but that approach is far from effective. Instead, you should co-ordinate your attacks, and execute them at the same time as your comrades -that way, the effect will be magnified and the enemy will be put down a lot faster.

That’s just a very simple example - the game regularly puts you in positions where teamwork makes the dream work. Even the tribe you play as makes a difference. It’s a truly collaborative game.

The other thing that’s really great about FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition is how easy it is to start playing. The Lite edition of the game is available for free, and lets you play through the opening three dungeons online with other players.

What’s more, if only one of you upgrades to the full version, everyone can play through up to 13 dungeons together, regardless of their edition. And it’s cross-play to boot, so whichever platform you have, you can play with your friends online.


Outriders

This is a very different type of RPG, but it makes for an equally good co-op experience.

It’s a game built for co-op, and the action feels genuinely incredible - in fact, it’s some of the most satisfying combat I’ve experienced in a game for a years.

Guns hit hard, with a profound sense of impact and skills are imaginative as they are flashy. Which is to say… exceedingly. There’s a phenomenal sense of flow as you dance between guns and abilities seamlessly in the heat of combat.

But what makes it particularly fun is the way you and your friends can combine and combo your skills. For example, pyromancer can immobilize (and immolate) a group of enemies, letting the Trickster gets in close for a powerful - and probably fatal - melee slash.

And that’s just the tip of the super-sized iceberg - there’s obviously far more you can do. But rest assured that whenever you team up with a friend, the results will be brutal, gory and gloriously gratifying.

Add an RPG structure with tons of side quests and secrets, and you have a really satisfying experience that you and a friend can play for hours. Make sure this is on your radar.


Those were just five of our pics for the best co-op experiences from Square Enix. To stay up to date about all of these games - and to share your own picks - make sure you join the team on social media:

FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers Patch 5.4 out now

Read on for information about the latest FINAL FANTASY XIV Online update
By Duncan Heaney

FINAL FANTASY XIV Online regularly receives patches that expand gameplay, add new story and much more.

Read on for information about the latest updates.


Patch 5.4: Futures Rewritten

The latest patch for FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers has arrived. It adds a wealth of new content to the game, including new main scenario quests, a brand new raid dungeon featuring a boss designed by the legendary Tetsuya Nomura, and some challenging new foes. Let’s just say it’s not easy beating green.

Here’s some of what you can expect from the update.

New Main Scenario Quests: Futures Rewritten

The epic story continues. Now that Elidibus has been defeated and the fate of the First secured, the Scions make their return to the Source. But in the new future they now look towards, will that which is written upon the pages of history be an anthem of hope...or a dirge of despair?

New Raid Dungeon: Eden’s Promise

Patch 5.4 brings the third chapter of this 8-player raid series. It returns to the story of Ryne and her mysterious counterpart Gaia, who have successfully restored balance to the elements of the Empty (with the help of the Warrior of Light, of course).

The raid is packed with exciting new challenges - including a new boss designed by KINGDOM HEARTS director and FINAL FANTASY series veteran, Tetsuya Nomura. It’s available in normal and savage difficulties.

New Dungeon: Matoya's Relict

Once home to some of the finest crafters in Eorzea, the Makers’ Quarter now lies forgotten and in ruins. That won’t be the case for long though - you can explore the former workshop of the Archon Matoya alongside fellow players, or with a party of NPCS through the Trust system.


Chronicles of a New Era: The Sorrow of Werlyt

Previously, you and Gaius managed to defeat the Sapphire Weapon, and in doing so are one step closer towards ending the Empire’s warmachina development project. However, information points to a new threat lurking in the shadows… the Emerald Weapon.

New Trial: Castrum Marinum

The information was correct - the Emerald Weapon is real and about to be unleashed on the world. Spearhead a pre-emptive strike on this green-hued menace in this trial that can be played in both normal and extreme difficulties.


New Unreal Trial: The Navel (Unreal)

Titan has been powered up, and is about to be unleashed upon level 80 adventurers. This primal battle provides a tougher challenge and a chance to earn unique prizes.

New “Explorer Mode”

This new feature lets you revisit previously completed Shadowbringers dungeons to explore and take screenshots without having to worry about enemies distracting and photobombing you. You can even summon mounts and minions to further enhance your screenshots! Live out your dreams of spamming the Limit Break wherever you’d like in this new mode and have a blast!

Additional dungeons beyond Shadowbringers are planned for future updates too.


Ocean Fishing Update

Two new fishing routes have been added, the Black Shroud and Dravania, as well as new mission objectives players can complete to earn bonus points and aim for even higher scores!

Performance Update

New playable instruments are coming for bards across the land to enjoy, including violins! Unleash your inner musician solo or alongside a group of other performers.

The Manderville Gold Saucer: Triple Triad and Doman Mahjong updates

Triple Triad is now better than ever, thanks to a variety of updates and improvements. The card list and deckbuilding user interface have been revamped, card rarity restrictions have been eased for new players, and new tournament modes have been added. You can now even create your own tournaments featuring up to eight players!

Doman Mahjong has also been updated, with improvements to the user interface, and a new Quick Match option.

Future updates

Even more content is coming in future updates. Here's what you can expect.


Patch 5.41 - Ishgardian Restoration Update

The final stage of the Restoration of the Holy See of Ishgard is set to arrive in Patch 5.41. Work together with other players to construct a cultural district, where nobles and commoners alike can enrich their lives through aesthetic pursuits.


Patch 5.45 - Save the Queen: Past to Rest

The latest chapter in the Save the Queen series, written by renowned game creator Yasumi Matsuno (FINAL FANTASY Tactics, FINAL FANTASY XII), continues the battle for the southern front in Patch 5.45.

Having failed to secure Castrum Cacus Litore, things aren’t looking good for the Resistance. Will you be able to stop the IVth Imperial Legion from unleashing their full might?

Patch 5.45 - Resistance Weapon Updates

If you complete the Save the Queen questline, you’ll be able to upgrade your Resistance Weapons an additional two tiers. The second upgrade tier let you alter certain parameters on the weapon to match your playstyle.


Patch 5.45 - Blue Mage Update

The level cap for the Blue Mage limited job will be raised to 70. Not only that, but you’ll be able to learn new blue magic from enemies, use new job-specific equipment, and find updates to your blue mage log that feature Stormblood-related content.


Patch 5.45 - Skysteel Tool Update

Disciples of the Land and Hand can upgrade their Skysteel Tools even more, to allow for more effective crafting and gathering.

Patch 5.3: Reflections in Crystal

The next update for FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers is a very big one - not just for current fans of the game, but new players too.

Not only does it continue the adventure with brand new story content, challenges, gear and more, it updates and streamlines the original A Realm Reborn questline too!

But what’s new? Read on and find out.

Patch 5.3: Reflections in Crystal

Patch 5.3 continued the Shadowbringers adventure with brand new story content, challenges, gear and more. It also updated and streamlined the original A Realm Reborn questline too!

Here's what was added:


New Main Scenario Quests: Reflections in Crystal

The dramatic story of FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers roars to its conclusion. The Scions have confirmed their suspicions regarding a mysterious new arrival and must try to shed light on the Ascian's dark plot… and quickly, for the time of their departure—or demise—fast approaches.

Main Scenario Questline Update: A Realm Reborn

The main questline of A Realm Reborn has been reworked to give players a more streamlined experience leading up to the first expansion, Heavensward. Whether you’re starting a new character or playing the game for the first time, the update will make the early adventure a more focused and satisfying experience.

What’s more, you can now use flying mounts in areas of A Realm Reborn (upon completion of The Ultimate Weapon quest at level 50). It’s one of the most requested additions from fans, and now it’s a reality!


Expanded Free Trial

FINAL FANTASY XIV Online’s Free Trial has been dramatically expanded. It now gives players unlimited playtime up through level 60, includes access to the full A Realm Reborn experience, Heavensward expansion (including updates through Patch 3.56), adds an additional playable race (Au Ra), and three extra playable jobs (Dark Knight, Astrologian, and Machinist).

You can sign up for the free trial and start your adventure here:

New Dungeon: The Heroes’ Gauntlet

This challenging new dungeon lives up to its name, as the Warriors of Darkness must fight their way across the whole of Norvrandt. You can play this dungeon with fellow adventurers or with NPCs using the Trust System.


New Trial: Mystery Trial

The Warriors of Darkness will face a new foe of incredible power in this new trial. Available in both Normal and Extreme difficulties, this one will test even experienced players.

New Raid: YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse - The Puppets’ Bunker

The NieR raid series from guest creators Yosuke Saito and YOKO TARO continues. The android 2P awakens, as does a new threat. The Warrior of Darkness heads towards the core of the Puppets’ Bunker - but will they find answers or more questions?


New Battle Content: Unreal Trials

Level 80 heroes will be able to challenge powered-up versions of existing primals. Unreal Trials will shine a spotlight on one primal per patch and change in every major update. The 5.3 update challenges adventurers to face off against a more-powerful version of Shiva.

Defeat the primal each week, and you’ll have a chance to compete in a new mini-game to earn tokens that you can exchange for awesome prizes.

New Tribe Quests

Experience a brand new crafter-focused questline that features the dwarves.


Crafter and Gatherer Updates

The Patch 5.3 series adds a host of crafter and gatherer additions. For example, there are new custom deliveries, updates to Rowena's House of Splendors, and an update to the Skysteel Tools questline headline several crafter and gatherer updates. Recipe search functionality has also been improved to help you find what you need much faster!


New Game+ Updates

The A Realm Reborn class and job quests have been introduced to New Game+, and allow adventurers to relive their past conquests while keeping their current character and level. The updated A Realm Reborn main scenario will be introduced to New Game+ in Patch 5.35 and will allow players to relieve their first steps towards becoming the Warrior of Light.

New mounts and minions

Patch 5.3 adds a new mounts into the game, as well as wind-up minions that will make you the envy of your fellow adventurers. At least until they get one too.


Ishgard Restoration Update (Patch 5.31)

Coming in Patch 5.31, the third phase of Ishgard’s restoration will begin! Skybuilder Rankings will return, and there will be new items for players to craft and new achievements for top contributors to earn.


New Resistance Weapon Quest: Save the Queen: Blades of Gunnhildr (Patch 5.35)

Enhance your weapons and get more insight into the Hrothgar in this new quest, coming in a future update. The renowned guard of Queen Gunnhildr has been reborn, and the flames of rebellion burn brightly. The push to reclaim Bozja has begun.

Patch 5.25

Patch 5.25 brought with it a host of new additions to FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers, including a brand new quest series: Save the Queen.

It’s written by Yasumi Matsuno (FINAL FANTASY Tactics, FINAL FANTASY XII), who also created the narrative for the wildly popular Return to Ivalice raid series, and provides you with a fascinating new insight into the Hrothgar Race.

Here’s what was included with Patch 5.25:


New “Resistance Weapon” Enhancement Quest Series: “Save the Queen: Blades of Gunnhildr”

This new quest series starts here, with regular updates coming in future patches.

Bozja, the homeland of the Hrothgar, has been controlled by Garlean rulers for many years. But with the Empire falling into disarray, the people of Doma and Ala Mhigo have risen up to challenge their authority.

Unfortunately, the Bozjans lack the means to join the rebellion. They need a standard to rally under - a weapon of legend.

Players can undertake new Resistance Weapon Quest Battles, which will see you take on multiple boss fights, with progress saved as you advance.


Crafter and Gatherer Content: “Skysteel Tools”

A new questline that will allow Disciples of the Land and Hand to upgrade their Skysteel Tools into even more powerful versions.

It’s not one and done either - the questline will see updates in future patches, so you’ll be able to further upgrade these tools.


New “Extreme” Difficulty Trial

Parties of eight players can undertake this challenging new trial battle. As to what said battle is… well, we’ll leave you to find out that one for yourselves.


New Items, Recipes, Furnishings, and more

The new patch adds brand new items, customization items and more to the game.

Patch 5.2 - Echoes of a Fallen Star

Patch 5.2 is titled Echoes of a Fallen Star and adds new adventures, challenging trials, and much more to the critically-acclaimed expansion pack.

Read on and we’ll reveal some of the things included in the update, but you can get a taste of them in the trailer:

New Main Scenario Quests

After all the dramatic events of Shadowbringers, the city of Eulmore is on the path to a brighter future. The Scions wait for a time when the Exarch might return them home, but fate will not let them be idle for long…


New Raid Dungeon: Eden’s Verse

The second chapter in the Eden raid series introduces the character of Gaia - created by the famed FINAL FANTASY developer Tetsuya Nomura. You can play in both normal and savage difficulties.

New Dungeon: Anamnesis Anyder

This beautiful new dungeon takes you deep in the Tempest - to the remains of Anyder's ancient edifices. What slumbers forgotten in this bed of knowledge? You can find out with fellow adventurers - or with NPCs using the Trust system.


New Trial: Cinder Drift

Ruby Weapon has arrived in FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers! Clad in crimson and heavily armed, it represents the pinnacle of Garlean military technology. You can take it on in both normal and extreme difficulties.


New Beast Tribe Quests

The Qitari will offer up brand new quests geared towards Disciples of the Land classes.


New Chronicles of a New Era Quest: “The Sorrow of Werlyt”

Learn the lore behind the new Weapon series. The Garlean Empire seeks to break the stalemate with Eorzean forces with these terrifying and twisted creations.


Ocean Fishing

This is exclusive to Fishers. Players can board a ship at different times to enjoy fishing on the high seas. They’ll even get experience and scrips based off the fish caught - and meeting certain conditions while aboard will grant all passengers the chance of a big haul!


Ishgardian Restoration Update (Patch 5.21)

The next update for Disciples of the Hand and Land will include gatherer-specific content in the Diadem, high-level crafting challenges, a new ranking system and more.


The Gold Saucer: A Leap of Faith

Players’ acrobatic abilities will be tested to the limit with this new course on the Floating City of Nym. Are you brave enough to take it on?


In-Game Adjustments

Patch 5.2 adds several tweaks to Jobs, PvP Actions and New Game+ as well as multiple Crafter and Gatherer updates.


New Mounts, Minions, Hairystyle, Emote, Crafting Recipes, and more:

You’ll be able to update your look with a parasols, new hair options, new emotes and more. Plus there are new mounts, new minions and new recipes to acquire.

For more details about Patch 5.2, check out the official FINAL FANTASY XIV Online website:

Patch 5.1 - Vows of Virtue, Deeds of Cruelty

Patch 5.1 launched on October 29, 2019.

It added a huge amount of content, including new main scenario quests, new crafter and gatherer content, and the first chapter of the YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse alliance raid - inspired by the NieR series and featuring the work of guest creators Yosuke Saito and YOKO TARO.

Read on and we’ll go into more detail about the new features and areas, but you can get a glimpse in the latest trailer:

Here’s a brief rundown of what’s included in the patch:

New Main Scenario Quests

Shadowbringers’ excellent story continues in Patch 5.1, with new main scenario quests adding hours of additional gameplay, and we promise fans won’t be disappointed to see what happens next.


New 24-Player Alliance Raid: “The Copied Factory”

The worlds of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online and NieR come together in the first instalment of the much-anticipated YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse raid series.

You and 23 other players will battle against machine lifeforms in a brand new raid dungeon based on the world of NieR.

The creative minds behind NieR:Automata - Producer Yosuke Saito and Director YOKO TARO - are guest developing this raid series, so expect an experience like no other.

New Game+

A much-requested feature, the addition of New Game+ means you’ll be able to replay previously completed quests, cutscenes, dialogue and battles while retaining your current progression and job level.

All the main scenario quests for Heavensward, Stormblood and Shadowbringers are included, so it’s a perfect opportunity to revisit some of your favorite memories.


New Dungeon: The Grand Cosmos

Vows of Virtue, Deeds of Cruelty adds an entirely new dungeon for you to navigate - either with fellow players or with a party of AI-controlled non-player characters with the new Trust system.


New Extreme Trial: Hades

Only the most prepared adventurers will be able to survive a rematch with this fearless foe. If you want to take on this high-difficulty challenge, you’d better be ready to think fast and use all your skills.

New Beast Tribe Quests

Want more of the mischief-loving pixies? Then head into a brand new area - the Garden of Dreams, Lyhe Mheg.


New PvP Frontline map: Onsal Hakai

Patch 5.1 introduces a new Frontline map and ruleset to go with it. Grand Companies will join forces with the tribes of the Azim Steppe to demonstrate their battle prowess.


Crafting and gathering overhaul

Lots of changes are coming to crafting and gathering - various adjustments to actions, removal of additional actions, improvements to the user interface and more. It’ll improve the gathering and crafting experience for both new and veteran players.


New Gold Saucer GATE: “The Slice is Right”

Feeling fortunate? How’s your luck holding out? Yojimbo makes his debut at the Gold Saucer in this new mini game that will test your reflexes… and your luck.


Blue Mage Job Updates

A major update has arrived for the Blue Mage job - the first since it launched earlier this year. This limited job is getting an increased level cap, new job quests, as well as new blue mage-specific battle challenges and content.

Performance Action Updates

A new ensemble feature allows players to make beautiful music with fellow players.


Various other improvements

In addition to all the exciting new features above, the patch also features adjustments to jobs, updates to the Gold Saucer, system updates and more.

Patch 5.11

We also have some information about additions in Patch 5.11:

Restoration of the Holy See of Ishgard (Patch 5.11)

Crafting and gathering classes are encouraged to come together to help rebuild The Firmament in Ishgard. They’ll have to collaborate to complete various tasks, including delivering goods.


Ultimate Raid: The Epic of Alexander

Think you’re pretty good at the whole FINAL FANTASY XIV Online thing, huh? Even the most experienced players will be tested by this new raid.


You can stay up to date with all the latest news about Shadowbringers and FINAL FANTASY XIV Online as a whole on social media:

6 more Square Enix friendships that will warm your heart

Let’s celebrate some of the greatest friendships in Square Enix history, from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, Tomb Raider and beyond!
By Duncan Heaney

Forget things like Summons or Limit Breaks - friendship is the most powerful force in the universe. It lifts our spirits when we’re down, fills us with laughter and happiness, and makes us all feel like better people. We’re grateful to have it.

Good friendships are a wonderful thing to witness in games too - as we’ve talked about before. So in that spirit, we wanted to celebrate some of the most memorable BFFs of all.

Only the sternest-hearted could fail to be uplifted by the likes of…


Hawkeye and Niccolo - Trials of Mana

There’s friendship and then there’s ‘break you out of prison’ friendship.

We should all be so lucky to have someone like Niccolo in our lives. He’s loyal, reliable and affectionate. He’s also a cat - which makes those traits all the more surprising.

He and Hawkeye live together in the desert fortress of Nevarl, where they operate as skilled members of the thieves guild. Between the two of them, no item is safe and no chest goes unplundered. At least until the sinister Belladonna arrives.

Thanks to her manipulative machinations, Hawkeye is locked in the dungeons for a crime he didn’t commit - and his adoptive sister Jessica is placed in mortal danger. All looks bleak for the hero… so thank goodness for Niccolo.

The feline friend breaks through the walls of Hawkeye’s cage, and gives the young rogue a way to escape. Not only that, he promises to stay behind and watch over his family - a decision that doesn’t work out all that well, but hey, it’s the thought that counts.


Wei Shen and Jackie Ma - Sleeping Dogs

Infiltrating the underworld is hard enough, but it’s so much worse when you have to lie to someone you care about.

That’s the awkward situation for undercover cop Wei Shen in Sleeping Dogs. Tasked with working his way into the Hong Kong Triad, he uses his childhood friendship with Jackie Ma to get the job done.

The two have a long history together, and their friendship only grows when they reunite. Thanks to Wei’s influence, Jackie grows in confidence and eventually even get accepted into the organization.

And despite his deceit, Wei Shen feels genuine affection for his comrade, even using his influence to get him released from prison and encouraging him to leave his life as a criminal behind.

Sadly, Jackie’s story doesn’t have a happy ending, but Wei sticks with him until the end - and beyond. Because while their relationship was partly built on lies, the friendship was very real.


The Warrior of Light and Haurchefant - FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

As the Warrior of Light, you’ll make many friends in your adventures across Hydaelyn and beyond. But Lord Haurchefant Greystone has earned a special place in many players’ hearts for one simple reason: he’s awesome.

Unlike a number of his peers, this noble Elezen is friendly and welcoming towards adventurers. He’s always ready with a smile, will do whatever he can to help his friends. Haurchefant forms a close bond with the Warrior of Light, who finds an encouraging and reliable companion in him.

You first meet in FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn, where Haurchefant enlists your aid to unravel a conspiracy and help him save an innocent man from execution. That early quest shows you what type of man he is and provides a firm foundation for your friendship.

But that relationship really blossoms in Heavensward, the game’s first expansion. You’ll get much more insight into Haurchefant’s unique family situation and discover what he’s willing to do to aid those he believes in.

He’s as steadfast a friend as a hero could ever meet and one that no Warrior of Light will ever forget.


Jonah and Uchu - Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Lara Croft may be unmatched when it comes to death-defying acts of derring do, but her steadfast companion Jonah brings a very particular - and useful - trait to their partnership: he’s irresistibly likeable.

The brave adventurer has the ability to make friends with almost anybody he meets. This is particularly apparent in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and his budding bromance with the warrior Uchu.

When Lara and Jonah first discover the lost city of Paititi, they are treated with degree of suspicion - that sort of thing will happen when your city’s under the control of a murderous cult. Although the rebels give Lara is permission to run off and hunt for an important artefact, Jonah’s forced to stay behind as a captive, under the watchful gaze of the warrior Uchu.

Uchu’s initially maintains a professional distance, standing guard and preventing his prisoner from speaking. But anyone who knows Jonah is aware that won’t last - and sure enough, by the time Lara returns from her expedition the two have become friends and allies.

It just goes to show, if there’s one thing that transcends nations and borders, it’s that ol’ Jonah charm. How appropriate for International Friendship Day.


Sora and Riku - KINGDOM HEARTS series

Of course, when it comes to making friends with… well, basically anyone, Sora’s the true master.

This big-hearted hero travels to many Disney and Pixar worlds, becoming best buds with almost everyone he meets, from street rats like Aladdin to heroes like Hercules. But few of his many, many pals mean as much to him - and vice versa - as Riku.

As friends and rivals living together on the Destiny Islands, the two dreamed off setting off to search for new lands. That wish comes true in the most traumatic way, when the Heartless attack their home and tear the young buddies apart.

A stranded Sora sets out on a search for Riku, while his friend takes… a darker path. But despite everything, Sora never gives up on their bond - and helps bring his buddy back to the light.

Since then, the two friends have fought together, laughed together and saved each other time and time again. As Sora says, his friends are his power and thanks to Riku, he’s very powerful indeed.


Biggs, Wedge and Jessie - FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

Biggs, Wedge and Jessie: three very different personalities united by their opposition to the Shinra Electric Power Company. Also a love for Jessie’s Mom’s pizza.

Together, they’re core members of the anti-Shira group Avalanche, and their skills complement each other to form a pillar of strength that will never crumble. Biggs is the brains of the cell, with keen strategic insight that helps keeps plans on track even when they’re violently derailed.

Jessie is the tech specialist, building bombs and fake IDs to get the group through Shinra’s security and take down their Mako reactors, and Wedge is the organization’s heart - and stomach. His strong resolve and unwavering commitment to his friends pulls them out of trouble more than once.

But they’re so much more than colleagues, they’re also close friends. You can see this in their mission to the upper plate in Chapter 4, where you get to spend an extended period of time just hanging out with the trio.

You learn how intimately they know each other - and their foibles. You get insight into how much they care about each other and support them unquestioningly. Most importantly, you get the sense that they genuinely love being around each other - and that sense of joy is infectious.


Those were just some of the friendships that warmed our hearts in Square Enix games, but do you agree? Can you think of other examples? Let us know on social media:

Celebrate Halloween with a Square Enix Costume Party

We highlight some impressive cosplay from Tomb Raider, FINAL FANTASY XIV Online, NieR and more - and speak to the fans who brought it all to life.
By The Square Enix Team

It’s Halloween, that special season when many of us like to don a flashy costume and slip into a whole new persona.

But if you’re a cosplayer, you know that there’s no need to wait a full year to express yourself. We’re extraordinarily fortunate to have an endlessly creative community of fans, who bring our characters to life in ways we couldn’t even dream of.

Your imaginative ensembles impress and inspire us - and often leave us open-mouthed in amazement! These are not mere costumes - they’re art, and this year, we wanted to pay tribute to the people that make them happen.

We’ve picked out a handful of cosplayers to highlight - a group of incredibly smart and talented people from around the world who have touched us with their efforts.

But we’re aware that there are thousands more - and we’d love to honor your artistic endeavors more often. So if you’d like your cosplay to be highlighted by Square Enix, please do send it to us - either tweet @Square Enix or tag us on Instagram with @Square Enix.


Life is Strange

The Life is Strange series has inspired some absolutely mind-blowing cosplay. Fans have taken the likes of Max, Chloe, Rachel, and the Diaz brothers into their hearts, and you can see that reflected in the attention to detail and sheer quality of these costumes.

Olivia Nightingale - Max Caulfield (and Chloe Price), Life is Strange

Photographer - thelenaco.weebly.com

Why Max Caulfield?

I wasn’t originally drawn to cosplaying Max actually!

I started out cosplaying Chloe Price, stuck with her for a while, and then tried out Rachel Amber before I even considered Max. As my two other cosplays gained popularity, I decided I was practically obligated to give the main protagonist, Miss Caulfield, a go.

I never expected her to gain as much popularity as my Chloe and Rachel, but I have been pleasantly surprised with how much support and praise I’ve gotten since. Now, I’m very proud to say I’ve successfully captured one of the characters I relate to the most personally, and I think that’s pretty awesome.

What attracts you to cosplay?

Cosplaying allows me to take on a persona I otherwise wouldn’t be bold enough to try in real life. I’m very reserved and not super adventurous 90% of the time, so when I throw on a cosplay like Chloe Price, I feel like it breaks me out of my shell a little bit!

Also, you can never go wrong with a hobby that allows you to meet so many wonderful people and make so many friends from around the globe. My cosplay friends and fans of my work are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met!

Follow Olivia:

Instagram: @pricevibes | Tumblr: @pricevibes


SMZeldaRules - Rachel Amber, Life is Strange Before the Storm

Photographer - Magical Ani | Instagram @magicalani

Why Rachel Amber?

What drew me to cosplay Rachel Amber was mainly her caring personality and her love of art; she is much more like me than Max or Chloe.

I used to cosplay Chloe for the heck of it, since I mainly had friends who cosplayed Max and needed a Chloe. But once Before the Storm came out and graced us with that sweet Rachel lore, I immediately felt a desire to personify her.

I never really found myself overly emotional for Chloe or Max during Life is Strange. But seeing first hand just how incredible a person Rachel was, and knowing what was going to happen to her in between Before the Storm & Life is Strange - that drew me to empathize with her more than I ever could with Max and Chloe.

What attracts you to cosplay?

Cosplaying has been a passionate craft in my life since 2006. I love becoming characters I’m emotional about, and re-enacting scenes from the medium they are from.

Since I’m a professional graphic designer, it’s also wonderful to be able to have someone take my photos with my direction, and then I can edit them to my liking, to match the emotions from whatever scene I wish to portray. And being able to depict scenes alongside friends who are as passionate about a series as I am is a huge bonus!

Follow @SMZeldaRules:

Twitter: @SMZeldaRules | Instagram: @SMZeldaRules


Fiona Klenzner - Daniel Diaz, Life is Strange 2

Photographer - Instagram: @aleahime

Why Daniel Diaz?

Mainly his relationship with his big brother. I truly love the bond those two have, even if Daniel was a little difficult sometimes. At the end of the day he is just a child. I believe no one at his age would act 100% reasonable with the kind of power he has.

I'm so happy I was able to cosplay Daniel with my good friend junllo, who’s just an incredible Sean! I truly hope we can do a few more versions of the Diaz brothers - they mean so much to us.

What attracts you to cosplay?

I started cosplaying 12 years ago, so at this point it's a big part of my life that I wouldn't want to miss. I love the way you can get creative with it - and no matter how many skills you've already achieved, there is always more to learn!

Working with my hands is what I love the most, but even if the crafty side of cosplay isn't someone’s favorite part, there are still many ways of putting yourself in your work (for example makeup, shooting concepts, photography). There is basically no limit.

Follow Fiona:

Instagram: @appathic | Instagram: @junllo


FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

We’ll say this for the residents of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online’s world - they sure know how to dress! The fashion of Hydaelyn is beautiful, ornate and incredibly detailed - and presumably quite a challenge for cosplayers.

Mind you, it’s one that they’ve more than risen to. The imagination and craftsmanship demonstrated by FINAL FANTASY XIV Online fans regularly leaves us reeling. I mean, just look at these (/bow in respect).

Malinda Chan - Bard, FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

Photographer - Joseph Chi Lin

Why a Bard?

I became a Bard in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online because I have a strong connection to music, and I love the job class aesthetic.

The Storyteller set has many fine details, which made it one of the most complex projects I've tackled thus far. There was a lot of pattern draping, keyhole designs, and custom applique work. The Suzaku Bow was the largest prop I had ever attempted - I put my fine arts skills for sculpting and painting to good use!

What attracts you to cosplay?

I've always been a crafty individual since I was very young, and cosplay is a creative outlet where I can use a variety of techniques to create wearable art.

Additionally, Cosplay helps connect people with similar interests, and I don't think I'd be where I am today if it wasn't for the friends I've made along this journey.

Follow Malinda:

Twitter: @malindachan | Instagram @malinda_chan

Svetlana - Summoner, FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

Photographer - Benni

Why a Summoner?

I always prefer to play casters in MMOs and I think the Summoner with all its cool Egis and spells is just a really fun class.

The costume itself, the Summoner Artifact Armor, was quite challenging since my sewing skills are pretty limited. Even though I was able to figure out the dress and even was quite happy with the shape, the gravity defying coat was a completely different story. I actually added some metal wire to give it this stiff, kind of floating look and am happy that I got quite close to the original design in the final photos.

In addition, I obviously needed a Summoner book, which my husband Benni mainly made. He learned book binding for this project and made the book completely from scratch! I did the decorations and ornaments on top then.

What attracts you to cosplay?

I think cosplay is a very creative and passionate way to express your love for a specific fandom, no matter whether it’s a video game, anime and manga, comic or movie.

It's a hobby, that teaches you not only plenty of crafting skills, but also gives you a boost of self-confidence, new friends and even might teach you a new language. At least in my case!

So cosplay for me is not just a hobby. It also became my full time job, helped me to find the love of my life, my husband Benni, gave me a new way to spend my time and made me a better and more open person in general.

Follow Svetlana:

Twitter: @KamuiCosplay | Instagram: @KamuiCosplay

Website: https://www.kamuicosplay.com/

Jessica Landowski - Emet-Selch, FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers

Why Emet-Selch?

First of all, I decided to challenge myself and recreate the FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers poster with my cosplays. Emet-Selch is also one of the best written characters in the game, which was another reason why I had to cosplay him.

Since I was working on several other costumes at the time I decided to order the base costume and then worked on all the details. The hardest part was definitely the makeup and getting his eyebrows right.

What attracts you to cosplay?

I always loved to dress up as a child and play video games - that was definitely a big part of getting me into cosplay.

I love to challenge myself with every costume I make and have a lot of fun crafting. The crafting part is also very relaxing - and satisfying once the costume is completely done and you wear it for the first time. It makes me happy.

Follow Jessica:

Twitter: @chezahde | Instagram: @cheezaah


Just Cause

The Just Cause series has inspired cosplay that’s just as explosive as the games themselves. Take this exceptional cosplay by Ben Bergmann for example - it captures both Rico’s signature style and penchant for daredevil acts of derring-do.

Ben Bergmann - Rico Rodriguez, Just Cause 3

Why Rico Rodriguez?

I wanted to cosplay Rico because I loved Just Cause 3 and wanted to combine my experience in stunts with my daily job as a cosplayer.

If not Rico, who else could be the perfect character for this idea?

What attracts you to cosplay?

Cosplay is my life and my livelihood. It combines crafting, acting and games - the three biggest passions I have. It has become my job and my 24/7 passion. There just is nothing better for me!

Follow Ben:

Twitter: @maul_cosplay | Instagram: @maul_cosplay/


The NieR series

2B or not 2B a cosplayer?

2B obviously. There’s something about the NieR series that brings out the best in our fans - they’re constantly finding new ways to impress and energize us. The following are some examples that we found particularly inspiring.

Anarkee - YoRHa No.2 Type B, NieR:Automata

Photographer@celestimages

Why 2B?

I had been playing NieR:Automata with a friend and fell in love with 2B’s design.

I actually didn’t make this costume from scratch, I purchased it and added details like a lining on the skirt to add movement and volume, fill to the puff sleeves and feathers on the sleeves.

What attracts you to cosplay?

I love cosplaying for a few reasons. The first is that I love fashion, makeup and pop culture, and cosplay is the perfect intersection of that. The second is that I love presenting my own versions / interpretations of characters that I love.

Follow Anarkee:

Twitter: @itsanarkee I Instagram: @anarkee | YouTube: Anarkee | TikTok: @itsanarkee

Christine Choi - Simone, NieR:Automata

Photographer – A.R.Cosphoto & White Specs Photography

Why Simone?

I was already a NieR Replicant/Gestalt fan as well as Drakengard, so I was absolutely thrilled to see more content for the series and wanted to cosplay someone from NieR:Automata.

But what really drew me to Simone was when I first saw her in one of the game’s trailers around 2016. It blew me away -her design, the fight, and especially the music… everything was spectacular and it was just etched into my memory.

After playing the game, learning her backstory, and watching analytical videos about the game, it reinforced me to cosplay Simone.

It was pretty intimidating to start. Her head and skirt seemed tricky since I needed to figure out a way to have the poles stay firm on the head at a certain angle, her skirt needed to be light and portable, and the costume had to be manageable to pack to conventions, as well as being relatively comfortable.

After testing out samples, making trips to the craft and hardware stores, and thinking about the materials to use, I figured the best way to make the skirt was using a crinoline underneath different cut-sized foam board panels in sections with craft foam detailing.

Then with some patience and perseverance, I was finally able to finish the build in 5-6 months, which was a very rewarding moment.

What attracts you to cosplay?

Cosplaying is a passionate craft in my life since it encompasses everything I love: anime, videogames, fashion, art, and creating.

Personally, I think the one of the most satisfying things about cosplay is the making stage. It’s really fun figuring out how to create challenging looking designs work and make these characters come to life and be wearable. Not to mention it’s a great way to connect with some awesome people, artists, and friends with similar interests!

But cosplaying really has driven my life. I think it started when I went to my first anime convention as a kid. I was already interested in anime/videogames, but seeing people’s incredible elaborate costumes were very intriguing and it sparked my interest.

From then on, I tried my best in learning how to craft and sew costumes. It was hard since I never sewed before or knew how to do pattern making for clothing, but I worked pretty hard trying to make it work.

It paid off since later on I was able to get a scholarship and attend Parsons School of Design in New York as a fashion major. The skills I learned from cosplay really helped my skills during that time as well. And now I am steering my career towards cosplay and the craft of costume making.

Follow Christine:

Twitter: @mokunachoi | Instagram: @mokuna.choi

Website – http://www.mokunachoi.com/

Svetlana Zemlianskaia – YoRHa No.2 Type B, NieR:Automata

Why 2B?

I really like sci-fi movies and futuristic games. NieR:Automata seemed like a fun sci-fi game with strong and female characters.

It was not really complex to create the costume because it doesn't have a lot to craft except for katana. Yet I always try to create a total duplicate to keep my costume closer to original. I had to remake the wig a couple of times.

What attracts you to cosplay?

I am passionate about cosplay because it lets me become someone else. It’s my way to get away from reality for a while, and I think we all need that sometimes.

The fun part is that you don’t know how photo shot is going to turn out, until you actually see the results with 3D effects added. So, it's kind of like acting and movies.

Follow Svetlana:

Instagram: @itsclaire.sea

Website: https://www.claireseacosplay.com

Linda Blacker – YoRHa No.2 Type B, NieR:Automata

Photographer – Linda Blacker

Why 2B?

I love 2B and how badass she is - and just knew I had to cosplay as her.

Characters with swords will always be my favorite, because they are always so cool. Cosplaying powerful characters always gives me more confidence and makes me feel unstoppable. Also in the game 2B’s costume was the one I was drawn to the most.

In terms of the costume, I actually had a lot of help crafting it as my skills with sewing are at a basic level. This costume isn’t easy so I needed someone with much more experience than me - thankfully my sister is a seamstress and helped make it come to life.

What attracts you to cosplay?

The joy cosplaying brings me is just such a great feeling. I can escape for a few hours into my own world and become whoever I want to be!

I love creating and the whole process from makeup to the costume is always so interesting and fun because once you see the final result you can’t believe you’ve actually turned yourself into a whole character.

Follow Linda Blacker:

Twitter: @mimithenerd_ | Instagram: @mimithenerd

Lilou Chann - Nier, NieR Replicant

Photographer - @Lama.Studio

Why Nier?

I choose to cosplay Nier because I love the game and his costume too. It was a big dream of mine to make and I'm super proud of it.

What attracts you to cosplay?

Cosplay helped me to gain confidence in myself and fulfil my love for works. Being able to make stuff with my hands and let my creativity talk when I craft or take pictures is really satisfying.

I have learned a lot from cosplay - I think it's a really versatile hobby to have!

Follow Lilou:

Twitter: @lilouchann | Instagram: @lilouchann


Tomb Raider

Lara Coft is a videogame icon, winning legions of fans with her sharp wits, impressive skills and unbreakable spirit. That inner strength is skillfully represented by cosplayers like Aline Caldeira, who has also perfectly captured that ‘just avoided being ended by centuries-old deathtrap’ look.

Aline Caldeira - Lara Croft, Tomb Raider

Photographer@valrophotography

Why Lara Croft?

Lara Croft is one kind of a hero that I always admired since I was a child. She inspires me because she's a strong, intelligent, independent and adventurous woman. She's a renowned and famous archaeologist, which even made me study history at university.

Her athletic physique was also a motivation for me, to keep a healthier life through diet and exercise. I definitely wanted to be like her.

What attracts you to cosplay?

Cosplaying is a very important hobby in my life because it’s given me the opportunity to meet several talented people and make new friends. I've even developed some skills, like crafting, acting and also got better with makeup.

Cosplaying is also a passion, that offers an incredible and accessible experience to anyone. Just choose your favorite character, dress up and have a lot of fun!

Follow Aline:

Instagram @norabrave I Twitch: norabrave_


A heartfelt thank you to all the amazing cosplayers who contributed to this spotlight. Your talent, passion and commitment mean the world to us - we’re grateful for all you do and we get a genuine thrill from seeing you bring our characters to life.

Also, you all look amazing! That probably goes without saying, but we’re saying it anyway.

If you’re a member of the cosplay community who would like to potentially be featured in the future, please get in touch with by tweeting @SquareEnix or tagging @SquareEnix on Instagram.

Introducing the world and characters of Final Fantasy XVI

How do Mothercrystals, Dominants, and Eikons fit into the world of Valisthea?
By Naoki Yoshida

Hello everyone! This is Naoki Yoshida, producer for FINAL FANTASY XVI. Everyone here in the development team is currently working together on a massive scale to bring you an all-new game worthy of the FINAL FANTASY name. Our next major announcement is planned to take place in 2021, but ahead of that, we revealed the FINAL FANTASY XVI teaser website today.

In the teaser website, we’ve included a lot of new information and artwork to introduce you to the world in which the story takes place, and also some of the main characters of the game. So, let me briefly introduce the content of the site!

A Land Blessed in the Light of the Mothercrystals

Final Fantasy XVI’s adventure takes place in a land called Valisthea, which is studded with colossal mountains of glittering crystal called Mothercrystals. These Mothercrystals have towered over the realms around them for generations, blessing them with aether. This blessing of the Mothercrystals has allowed these realms to thrive, and their people to live in comfort.

Countless wars have been fought over the Mothercrystals all around the land, leading to the rise of nations such as the Grand Duchy of Rosaria, the Holy Empire of Sanbreque, the Kingdom of Waloed, the Dhalmekian Republic, and the Iron Kingdom, each with their own culture and ideology. Ongoing skirmishes have forged an uneasy peace between these nations, but with the emergence of the ruinous Blight, that fragile peace is starting to deteriorate.

Three characters swept up by the winds of fate

There was a lot of speculation, but yes, the young knight and the tattooed man in the “Awakening” trailer are one and the same. His name is Clive Rosfield, and he’s the main protagonist of this game. The firstborn son of the Archduke of Rosaria, Clive is a Shield who protects his younger brother Joshua, the Dominant of the Phoenix. Joshua bestowed the Blessing of the Phoenix upon him, giving Clive the ability to wield a part of the Eikon’s fire. However, as the story unfolds, he is swept up into a great tragedy.

Joshua Rosfield is Clive’s younger brother and also the Dominant of the Phoenix—Eikon of Fire. Dominants are special beings who have the power of an Eikon residing within them. As a Dominant, Joshua transforms into the Phoenix and fights to protect his nation. Even though he was born into royalty, Joshua treats everyone with kindness, but he does have his childlike side, too, with a particular dislike of carrots.

The two brothers find a confidant in Jill Warrick, who was raised alongside them. At an early age, Jill was taken from her homeland in the Northern Territories—a nation that swore loyalty to the Grand Duchy of Rosaria—to become a ward of the duchy, securing peace between the two realms. She spends her childhood years with Clive and Joshua as a member of the Rosfield household.

The Eikons and the Dominants that threaten the world

For those familiar with the Final Fantasy series, you may know Eikons as “Summons”, and they are without a doubt the most destructive and lethal creatures in Valisthea. Wielding powers that can level nations, Eikons reside within special beings called Dominants. How Dominants are treated depends on the realm—in some they are revered as royalty, while in others they are sent to the frontlines as weapons of war.

In the “Awakening” trailer, Eikons such as the Phoenix, Titan, Shiva, and Ifrit make an appearance. As for questions about how many other Eikons there are in Valisthea, who they are, and what will happen when they come to blows, well…you’ll just have to wait for a future reveal to find out!

I hope you get a chance to visit the newly launched Final Fantasy XVI teaser website, as you’ll find plenty more information and artwork there: https://eu.finalfantasyxvi.com/

Our next big announcement will be in 2021, so please look forward to it, and please keep looking forward to Final Fantasy XVI!

Which characters in Square Enix games have the best smiles?

In honor of World Smile Day, we take a look at some of the best grins in all of gaming. Who’s your favorite?
By Duncan Heaney

A smile is a powerful thing. Not only does it make you feel good, it makes everyone around you feel great too. That’s equally true in games - some of the greatest characters in Square Enix titles face their problems head-on with a grin, and it’s a joy to help them do it.

In honor of World Smile Day, we wanted to highlight some characters who can light up a room when they turn their frown upside down. Their kindness, positivity and beaming visages help make their worlds a better place.

Also Kefka’s in there.

So without further ado, let’s get started:

Kamala Khan - Marvel's Avengers

This budding Avenger possesses potent polymorphic powers that let her stretch her limbs at will… but that’s not where her true strength comes from.

Instead, it’s her passion, positivity and compassion that makes her such an important addition to the Avengers’ roster. Her sunny outlook and unshakable belief in what’s right is exactly what the team needs to help them through their darkest hour.

From talking costumes with Tony Stark…

…to breaking down the barriers of the Avengers’… let’s say ‘grumpiest’ member…

… her glee at being part of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is infectious and puts a smile on our face.


Zell - FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered

Of all the students in Balamb Garden, few have as much pure energy as Zell Dincht. Whether he’s punching robots to pieces or simply riding in the car, he’s loud and excitable to a fault.

At first, the game’s lead Squall Leonhart, doesn’t think much of his classmate. For the introverted hero, Zell’s big personality, and bigger volume level, are as much an annoyance as an asset.

But over the course of the game, he proves himself to be a loyal and brave companion - someone who always has his teammates’ backs, no matter how dire the situation. And some of those situations are pretty dire indeed…

Ultimately though, Zell’s greatest strength is his resilience. You can lock him up, knock him down or - worst of all - call him ‘chickenwuss’, and Zell’s will always bounce back with a grin.

Well, unless the school cafeteria runs out of hot dogs again. There are some traumas you don’t recover from.


Daniel Diaz - Life is Strange 2

In most respects, Daniel Diaz is a typical 9-year old. He’s excitable, mischievous and curious about the world. But unlike most kids, Daniel also has telekinetic powers, and when a horrifying incident tears he and his brother Sean from their home, they’re forced into a dangerous life on the road.

As things get darker in the story, and the brothers’ situation becomes more severe, Daniel provides Sean with a reason to endure. His happiness, and his innocence are something for Sean and the player to cling on to - it’s amazing how a simple smile can help in the bleakest times.

But will he retain his naivete and innocence, or embrace the destructive potential of his powers to protect his family? That’s largely up to you - the decisions you make as Sean will have a profound effect on Daniel’s personality and outlook. So choose wisely…


Slime - DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition

What would the DRAGON QUEST series be without these smiley little guys?

Designed by the legendary artist Akira Toriyama, the slime has become the de facto icon of the DRAGON QUEST series. These wibbly-wobbly monsters have not only appeared in every game in the series, they’ve starred in movies, inspired merchandise and even headlined their own titles!

A large part of their appeal is that ever-charming grin - it’s so jolly it almost makes you feel bad about casting a well-timed Zap spell at them. Almost.


Kefka - FINAL FANTASY VI and DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY NT

Not all smiles are nice. Some are Kefka’s.

This monstrous jester has more than earned his place as one of the greatest villains of all time. Not just because he’s a unique combination of charming, sadistic and terrifyingly competent but also because he really enjoys his work.

Kefka’s demonic laugh will be burned into many a FINAL FANTASY fan’s mind. As he commits acts of increasing depravity, his glee only gets more pronounced. How many other villains have essentially destroyed a world with a smile on their face?

If you want an up-close look at how disturbing Kefka’s grin can be, check out DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY NT.

This 3v3 fighting game presents him as a tricky, technical opponent that can frustrate his opponent as much as hurt them, but it’s oh-so satisfying to finally smack that smirk off his face.


Hildibrand Manderville

This self-proclaimed inspector extraordinaire is a fan favorite character in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online, and for good reason. With his positive attitude, unflinching self-belief and a smile as broad as a goobbue’s, Hildibrand is always a pleasure to be around.

True, he may not be the best detective in Hydaelyn (and that’s putting it politely), but he approaches his cases with such verve and enthusiasm, it’s hard to feel anything other than affection. (Even though he inevitably causes chaos and disaster, usually on himself.)

But the real reason Hildibrand Manderville is such a treasure is that he genuinely wants to help those less fortunate than him. While his head may not always be in the right place, his heart definitely is.


Emil - NieR Automata

Emil is a welcome sight in the ruined Earth of NieR Automata - and not just because of his iconic grin.

This grinning moon-faced merchant has some valuable goods, from plug-in chips that improve our heroes’ combat abilities, to valuable materials that you can use to upgrade weapons.

If you’re so inclined, and you know how, you can even fight him a couple of times - but for a disembodied head, he sure can put up a fight. Only the best of the best will be able to - ahem - get ahead in this battle.

Emil is a beloved part of NieR Automata - but did you know he also has ties to the original NieR game too? You’ll be able to find out what that is in NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…. This new and enhanced version of the original title releases April 23, 2021 for PS4, Xbox One and Steam.


Aerith - FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

It doesn’t matter whether she’s selling flowers on the streets of Midgar, or whacking a hoodlum with a chair, Aerith approaches life with a positive attitude and a smile.

She lights up the screen in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, and provides a perfect counterpoint to Cloud’s more detached and self-serious persona.

Aerith’s total refusal to take any of the mercenary’s nonsense is a constant source of humor in the game - when she finally gets him to achieve a successful high five, it’s as much a victory as making it through the monster infested Midgar underground.

Of course, Aerith’s life is no picnic - she’s watched and hunted relentlessly by the sinister Shinra Electric Power Company. But she never lets her troubles get her down - it’s just one of the reasons she’s won many a fan’s heart.


Sora - KINGDOM HEARTS series

Speaking of hearts, how could we not mention Sora? Look at that smile:

I mean, just look at it.

Few smiles dazzle quite like Sora’s. This friendly hero wears his heart on his sleeve - his welcoming and open personality have helped him win the trust of everyone from Buzz and Woody from Disney and Pixar's Toy Story, to King Mickey himself.

But as Sora often says - his friends are his power, and there’s nothing that makes him light up quite like Donald and Goofy, or Riku and Kairi. So long as he’s surrounded by those he loves, Sora will always have a big grin on his face… and so will we.


Those were just some of our favorite smiles we’ve seen in Square Enix games - but what about yours?

Is there a character who you think we’ve missed? Whose face brings a smile to yours? Let the team know on social media:

Introducing FINAL FANTASY XVI – Coming to PlayStation 5

An all-new title in the legendary FINAL FANTASY series.
By Square Enix Team

Today we are proud to reveal FINAL FANTASY XVI, the newest entry in the FINAL FANTASY series, is coming to the PlayStation 5 (PS5) system. FINAL FANTASY XVI is an all-new standalone single player action RPG produced by Naoki Yoshida (FINAL FANTASY XIV, DRAGON QUEST X) and directed by Hiroshi Takai (FINAL FANTASY XIV, THE LAST REMNANT).

Comment from Producer Naoki Yoshida

FINAL FANTASY XVI producer (that’s right, just producer) Naoki Yoshida here. How did you enjoy the trailer? The exclusive footage, comprised of both battles and cutscenes running in real time, represents but a fraction of what our team has accomplished since the start of development on this, an all-new FINAL FANTASY game. In that span, the team’s size has grown from a handful of core members to a full-fledged unit that continues to polish and build upon what they have created so far, all to provide players an experience unmatched in terms of story and gameplay.

Our next big information reveal is scheduled for 2021, so in the meantime, I expect everyone to have fun speculating, as we have a lot in store—not only for FINAL FANTASY XVI, but for FINAL FANTASY XIV, too. Needless to say, I’ll be working hard on both!

Comment from Director Hiroshi Takai

When FINAL FANTASY I was released, I was just another player─a young student with big dreams. By the time FINAL FANTASY V was in the works, I had earned myself a seat at the developers’ table... albeit at the very end. From there, I moved “online” leaving my mark on both FINAL FANTASY XI and XIV.

And now...XVI.

From the establishment of an all new development environment, to learning the ins-and-outs of the PlayStation 5, the team and I have taken on countless challenges during our journey to bring you the sixteenth chapter in the storied FINAL FANTASY franchise. And though we’re pouring our hearts and souls into this project each and every day, it may still be some time before we can get it into your hands. However, I promise it will be worth the wait!

To stay engaged with the team on everything FINAL FANTASY XVI, please drop in our channels:

Tips and tricks for FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition

Setting off on your adventures in the multiplayer world of FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES? Let us help you get started with these handy hints.
By Duncan Heaney

So you’ve joined a caravan and are about to venture out into the world in search of Myrrh.

The world of FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition is vast and dangerous, so we thought you budding adventurers may benefit from a few tips and explainers about the game.

From the differences between the tribes to mastering magic, here are some of the key things to know:

Choose your tribe carefully

FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition features four tribes, each with different strengths and weaknesses. Think of them as ‘classes’ - the one you choose will have a big effect on how you play the game.

That means it’s helpful to understand the ins and outs of each one:


Clavats

In many ways, Clavats are the consummate all-rounders. They don’t excel in any particular area, but nor do they have any major weaknesses - and that makes them supremely flexible.

For example, they’re adept at both magic and physical attacks, so you can take either an offensive or support role depending on the situation. I’d argue that it’s also a great starter class for learning the fundamentals of the game as there aren’t many scenarios where a Clavat won’t be able to hold their own.


Lilties

Don’t be fooled by their lack of stature - these little heroes are the most resilient in the game. Their high defense and attack power makes them capable of dealing out major damage up close with physical attacks - while soaking up the inevitable hits from the enemy.

That beefiness comes with a cost though - they’re undoubtedly the weakest tribe when it comes to magic, so prospective black mages should steer clear…


Yukes

…and instead look to the Yukes.

These armor-clad heroes are expert magic users, but this mystical mastery comes at the expense of strength and defense. You can do incredible spell damage with a Yuke, and when you have one equipped with high level magic, you can dominate the battlefield.

Even so, playing as a Yuke means you have to watch your position because they can’t take a lot of hits. If you’re playing with a team, make sure you keep back and let the tougher tribes act as your protection. Or as meat shields if you’re feeling uncharitable.


Selkies

At first glance, the strengths of the Selkie may not be immediately obvious. But when you start playing as one, you’ll soon see where the tribe excels: speed. For example, they can launch their focus attacks faster than other tribes - properly utilized this alone can make them capable of taking out enemies in a very short time frame.

Although they have high strength, they also have relatively low defense stats, so it may take some practice to utilize them to their full potential.


Knowing how each tribe behaves can help you devise the most effective ways to play them. And remember - the game doesn’t force you to stick to a single character. If you don’t get on with one tribe, you can always try another.

Stay in touch with the folks at home

When you start a game, you’ll be asked to choose what profession your parents have. These Home Jobs offer features and advantages that can help you greatly during your adventure.

For example, the Merchant will let you buy items on the cheap, while the Blacksmith lets you craft powerful gear.

All these jobs are useful, but whichever you pick, make sure that you improve your relationship over the course of the game. This will improve the bonuses they offer or features they offer to you.

After each dungeon, you’ll have the opportunity to send a letter home, and include a present within. Try to match the gift to the particular trade of the recipient - they’ll like it a lot more.

Another pro tip: FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition lets you create up to eight characters on a save file. When you create a new hero, you’ll choose a different job - once created, all those trades will be accessible in your home village. So making a few different caravanners can be helpful.

Team composition matters

If you’re playing with fellow caravanners, it’s worth thinking about the makeup of your team. While it’s possible to play and complete dungeons with any party, it will be a lot easier if you create a balanced team that can use both physical and magical attacks.

There’s an element of resource management in FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition - for example, you’ll have to collect magicite in each dungeon to equip and fuse spells. That means that a team entirely composed of Yukes, for instance, would find their abilities spread a little thin - it’d take a while to get everyone up to fighting strength.

But a balanced team of both melee specialists and spell casters means that you have a lot more options in how you tackle challenges. Fewer magic users means that you can get them up to maximum strength more quickly and some frontline fighters mean your team is deadly at up close as well as at range.

All that said, that there’s no one perfect set-up - you and your pals should be able to play how you want to. But if you find you’re struggling on a particular dungeon, consider changing up the party to see if it makes a difference.

Listen to Stiltzkin!

In the very first area of the game, you’ll encounter a very well-travelled (and super-cute) moogle called Stiltzkin. Take a moment to listen to the fluffy fellow because he knows his stuff.

He essentially acts as a tutorial - and yes, I know ‘do the tutorial’ isn’t the most profound tip in the world. But seriously - do the tutorial!

It might be tempting to skip through and rush ahead to the action - particularly if you’ve played the game before - but there’s a lot of information to learn here that will help you make the most of the game’s mechanics.

You’ll be walked through everything, from moving the Crystal Chalice and basic combat, to how to fuse and maximize your magic potential. If you want to truly master the ins and outs of the game, you’ll need to have a clear understanding of the fundamentals.

Also, it means more time spent with Stiltzkin - possibly the wisest and most awesome Moogle in the entire FINAL FANTASY series (although Dungeon Hero X from Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY! might have a thing or two to say about that).

Develop a chalice strategy

The Crystal Chalice protects your team from the murderous effects of Miasma - the noxious, and presumably quite smelly, gas that permeates the world of FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES.

It’s a big ol’ cup though, which means that someone has to carry it. If you’re playing with friends, it’s worth discussing how you go about that.

Whoever carries the Chalice is vulnerable - they won’t be able to fight back against enemies without dropping it. That means it’s on the rest of the team to protect them. For that reason, it’s often a good idea for the physically weaker characters, such as Yukes, to pick up the cup - the more resilient members can crowd around to keep them safe from unexpected dangers.

That’s only a suggestion - different teams will find their own ways to manage the Chalice, so try different things out. As a general rule though, it can be helpful - or at least more efficient - for everyone to know their roles when in a dungeon.

Don’t button mash

If you’re playing as a melee character, don’t just spam the attack button to attack enemies. Button timing actually plays a role in the game - pressing attack in time with the animations can lead to a three hit combo, which is a much more efficient way of taking down enemies.

Also, don’t forget to utilize your Focus Attacks. The effects and timings of these will vary depending on the tribe and weapon you have, but they’re generally great for getting in close for a big hit.

Practice spell fusion and magic strikes

Fusing spells with those of your friends is one of the most effective battle techniques in FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition. By casting certain spells on top of each other, or Focus Attacks and spells, a team can create a much stronger effect.

This is easier said than done of course. To start, you must lay your target rings on top of each other. Once one player releases the spell, the others must release when the bar on-screen timer hits the colored segment. If everyone successfully lets go at the right time, you’ll get a massively powerful spell or attack. It also feels wonderful.

Getting the hang of this mechanic is invaluable, particularly in some of the more difficult dungeons that have been added for this Remastered Edition. The timing requires precision, so if you’re playing with a team of friends, practice. You’ll likely fail more than once, but persevere because the pay-off is so worth it.

Choose artifacts carefully

Artifacts can be found throughout the world and give your characters permanent upgrades - if it helps, think of them as a way to level up.

At the end of a dungeon, your team will be awarded with a number of artifacts to choose from.

In multiplayer, whoever has the highest score within that dungeon gets to pick first. Remember though that FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition is a team game. You don’t always have to take the strongest artifact for yourself - if you know another member of the caravan could benefit from it more than you, leave it for them. It’ll strengthen your team overall - and make them like you a lot more too!

If you’re playing solo, work around Mog’s limitations

If you’re playing the game solo, you’ll be accompanied by a Moogle helper called Mog.

Mog is the best - not only is your fluffy friend heart-achingly adorable, he’ll also carry the Crystal Chalice, boost your spell power and more. You couldn’t ask for a better friend - at least not without playing with real life chums online.

Unfortunately though, Mog has some limitations. For example, if you make him carry for chalice for too long, he’ll get tired and start moving really slowly. If that happens, you’ll have to take over for a while - at least it’s good for the biceps.

There are ways around this though. Firstly, make sure you get Mog to drop the chalice every now and then. A short break does him the world of good, and he’ll soon recover his energy.

You can also increase his energy at a Moogle Nest by playing Moogle Paint. Giving Mog a haircut increases his endurance and makes him able to carry the chalice for longer.

Remember: a tidy Moogle is a happy Moogle.


Those were just some general tips for getting started with FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition. We’re sure that as you play, you’ll learn many more of your own - feel free to share them with the team on social media:

If you’ve yet to try the game, FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition is out now for PS4, Switch, iOS and Android devices:

A message from the developers of FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition

Director Araki Ryoma addresses your feedback and details plans for upcoming updates and fixes for the game.
By Araki Ryoma

This is FINAL FANTASY CHRYSTAL CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition Director Araki Ryoma. Thank you so much for playing our game.

We have received a lot of feedback from our players since the game was released and are moving to address all the issues raised as quickly as we can, but I must apologize for the delay in making an announcement about the situation.

I also make my sincerest apologies for the inconvenience caused during play.

First of all, the situation where players were unable to play immediately after launch was caused by our servers going over capacity. We ran maintenance to increase that server capacity on August 29, which has led to comparatively stable running thereafter. Going forward, we will move to address any further server issues as required.

We would also like to release rapid updates to address the bugs that are getting in the way of players’ experiences with the game and are working on the update schedule announced below.

We are also looking into making further updates in addition to those detailed below, once we have reviewed player feedback, and will make further announcements once the update content has been finalized.

I must again apologize for the inconvenience caused to our customers and beg your understanding as we try to put things right.

Thank you for your continued support of FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition.

Upcoming plans for updates to FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition

We would like to announce our upcoming update plans for FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition on PlayStation®4, Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android platforms.

The following updates are planned:

All platforms

  • Fixes for the issue where players will count as already having spawned an unknown element hotspot after being matched with a player who has spawned one and completed a dungeon in multiplayer.

  • Fixes for the issue where items can be obtained infinitely.

iOS and Android versions

  • Improvements to the frequency of freezes during loading.

In addition, the following new feature is also scheduled:

All platforms

  • Ability for the hosting player to skip boss introduction cut scenes and myrrh drop scenes in multiplayer.

iOS and Android versions*

  • Ability to skip boss introduction cut scenes and myrrh drop scenes in single play.

These updates are scheduled for release between mid and late September. The specific release date will be announced once all details have been finalized, so please watch out for further information/future updates.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused for our players.

Enquiries

Please send all enquiries regarding FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition to the Square Enix support centre.

https://support.eu.square-enix.com/

What’s so good about… FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition?

From the fascinating world and incredible soundtrack, to the super-accessible multiplayer features, here are 10 reasons you don’t want to miss this new and improved RPG.
By Duncan Heaney

FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES is one of the most unique - and fondly remembered - games in the entire FINAL FANTASY series. Now, it’s back, enhanced and expanded with FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition.

The new release takes the 2003 Gamecube original and updates it with beautiful HD visuals, online multiplayer, new voiceovers, improved audio options, and even entirely new content to play through. It’s going to get fans of the game very excited.

But those of you who missed the game the first time around might be wondering… what’s the big deal? What makes this game stand out so much from other FINAL FANTASY games?

Well allow us to shine a crystal’s light on the answer.

1. It’s a FINAL FANTASY game that’s designed to be played with others

FINAL FANTASY games typically feature parties of heroes who band together on a grand adventure. Think Cloud, Tifa, Barret and Aerith in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, or Noctis and his chums in FINAL FANTASY XV. That feeling of camaraderie is amazing, but you’re still playing the game solo.

FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES is different. You’ll still be accompanied on your journey by allies, but in this game, they’re your actual, real life friends because this FINAL FANTASY game is designed from the ground up for co-operative multiplayer.

You create a character from one of four very different tribes, and join your pals as part of a caravan that travels the world in search of valuable artifacts and the mysterious substance known as Mrryh.

This world is dangerous - and every part of it forces you to work together. For example, one player needs to carry a special item called the Crystal Chalice to fend off the noxious miasma, but carrying this bulky tool makes you vulnerable to attack. You’ll have to rely on your team to keep that person safe. In other areas, you’ll encounter tough foes that can only be defeated by a precisely coordinated battle strategy.

In other words, it’s a genuinely co-operative experience - as the old saying goes: the team that works together doesn’t die a horrible, painful death due to hordes of vicious monsters or poison gas.

...well, it’s something like that.

2. …but it’s fun in single player, too

That said, if you are more of a solo adventurer, no problem – the journey is yours to take completely in single player mode.

In fact, the cooperative elements remain and are adjusted for solo play. The game has lots of features specifically for single player, including AI companions and slightly altered combat mechanics that ensure that the game remains a fun, memorable adventure however you play it.

3. The world - and its inhabitants - are fascinating to explore

FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition takes place in a wonderfully intriguing setting.

It’s set in a world that’s been ravaged by a noxious gas called Miasma. These deadly fumes can kill any living thing unlucky enough to be caught in them - plus they probably smell pretty bad, too.

The cities are protected by crystal fragments, but they must be maintained with drops of Myrrh - a substance that is worryingly rare. Civilization’s only hope for survival lies with caravans of brave travelers who tour the world in search of this precious commodity.

It’s quite the setup, right? Things only get more interesting when you consider the diversity of this world. Society is made up of four very different (and playable) tribes:

  • Clavat: Skilled and reliable defenders who’ll bravely take on any foe.
  • Lilty - What these diminutive caravanners lack in stature, they more than make up for in strength.
  • Yuke: Masters of magic who conceal their faces with eye-catching armor.
  • Selkie: A fast and agile tribe that’s known for its carefree nature.

These four tribes each have their own strengths and weaknesses - they all complement each other in a fascinating way. Add in a menagerie of monsters and you have an incredibly memorable world that’s quite unlike anything else in the FINAL FANTASY series.

4. The combat system is fast, flashy and mechanically deep

One thing the world does have in common with other FINAL FANTASY games is that it’s full of creatures eager to chow down on an unsuspecting adventurer. Sooner or later, you’ll have to fight.

FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES uses an action-based battle system that combines timing, reflexes and strategy.

Everyone moves freely around in combat, and uses their attacks and spells in real time. Those spells are a particularly effective tool in the arsenal, but your character only has a fixed number of ability slots in which to assign them, so you’ll need to think about what to equip.

Some moves and spells can be charged and released at the perfect time for maximum effect. But if you’re playing with a team, you can unleash your spells at the same time as your compatriots to fuse them and increase their power. In that respect, it’s a good idea to co-ordinate your builds and attacks for maximum effectiveness in battle.

It’s a system that’s full of choice - not just what move or spell to use, but when to use it - and how to combine it with those of your party. And when create that perfect game plan for the fight - and nail the execution perfectly, it feels absolutely wonderful.

5. The Remastered Edition adds dungeons that will really test your mettle

The new version of FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES doesn’t just enhance what was already there - it adds new content into the game.

One particularly exciting addition is a range of new, super-challenging versions of dungeons. These are specifically designed to test everything you’ve learned about the game so far. Only players who have mastered the combat system, developed efficient strategies and learned to work as an effective team will have a chocobo’s chance of making it through these ultra-satisfying gauntlets unscathed.

6. There are new cosmetic options exclusive to the Remastered Edition

The Mimic feature is brand new to FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition, and it allows for even more player expression that the original.

By collecting stamps and visiting Moogle Houses, or completing certain dungeons, you’ll earn special crystals (well, it is CRYSTAL CHRONICLES, right?). These let you change your character’s appearance to that of the many characters you’ll meet on your journey.

This gives you even more options on how to customize your character, and make your character stand out from your friends’!

7. Kumi Tanioka’s soundtrack is incredible

Another way FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES stands out from the mainline games in the series is its soundtrack.

Primarily composed by Kumi Tanioka, it uses the sounds of traditional instruments to create a vibe that’s almost medieval… and entirely its own. It’s extremely distinctive and memorable - listen to just a few seconds of one of the many tracks from the game, and you’ll know immediately where it comes from.

Don’t take our word for it though - you can listen to the original soundtrack now on streaming services like Spotify.

The new Remastered Edition sounds better than ever. Select tracks have been reworked, and some new tunes have even been added to the game, making what was already an audio feast even more fulfilling.

What’s more - shameless plug alert - if you want to hear the enhanced tracks that feature in the new Remastered Edition, you can pre-order the CD from the Square Enix Store:

8. It’s crossplay so anyone can play with anyone

The development team of FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES wanted to make it as straightforward as possible for players to team up with each other. That’s why they ensured that all versions support online crossplay.

The game’s available for PS4, Switch, iOS and Android devices, and whichever platform you have, you can play with the others.

For example, you could have one player on the Switch, another on PS4 and two smartphones users, and they could all form a caravan and go on an adventure together.

9. There’s a free Lite version available now

Speaking of no barriers to entry, there’s a Lite version of the game available that lets you play a substantial chunk of the game absolutely free (though please note that you’ll need the standard PlayStation Plus and Nintendo Online memberships to play those versions online).

Much more than a simple demo, it’s a hefty slice of the full game. It lets you play up through up to three dungeons in single player, or, if a friend with the full version of the game hosts you online, you can play through up to 13 dungeons. Not only that, but the progress you make is saved and can be transferred when you upgrade to the full game.

FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition Lite is available to download now for PS4 and Switch. On mobile, the game is free to play as standard, with exactly the same features and functionality as the console Lite versions - you can upgrade to the full game via an in-app purchase.

10. One full game is all that’s needed for a team of four to play through 13 dungeons

If one player has the full game, they can invite up to three friends to play through the full 13 dungeons with them - even if those other players only have the Lite Edition.

All players’ progress will be saved too - so even if you haven’t got the full game, when you reconnect, you can continue where you left off. It’s another feature that highlights the team’s approach to the Remastered Edition - making it as easy and convenient as possible to get a multiplayer session going.

Do bear in mind though that if you want to continue your adventure without that player (or someone else with the full game), you’ll need to upgrade to the full version yourself.


Those were just 10 reasons we’re excited to play FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition - available to download now for PS4, Switch, iOS and Android.

But what about you? What parts of the game are you most excited to experience? Share your thoughts with fellow fans and the team on social media:

5 of the most shocking moments in Square Enix games

We take a look at some of those amazing twists that left us gasping in surprise. Spoilers… obviously.
By Duncan Heaney

Warning: This article contains spoilers for FINAL FANTASY VI, DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age, Life is Strange, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE and FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered. Scroll beneath the spoiler-Barret at your own risk.

We expect games to be full of twists and turns, but sometimes a title does something so unexpected that it leaves us literally open-mouthed.

These magical moments can be tragic, amusing or just plain awesome, but they all have one thing in common: they’re utterly unforgettable.

So without further ado, here are just a few of the times Square Enix games shocked us to our cores.

Kefka’s betrayal - FINAL FANTASY VI

The true genius of Kefka is that you don’t really see him coming. Yes, he commits terrible acts of brutality throughout the story, but in the hierarchy of villains, he appears to sit securely at the ‘henchman’ level.

Until suddenly he doesn’t.

For much of the adventure, Emperor Gestahl’s the big bad. He’s the one who’s out to conquer the world and gain ultimate power - his court mage Kefka’s seemingly just along for the ride. But just when it seems like the Emperor’s plans are about to come to fruition, Kefka kills him and takes the power for himself.

Now Kefka’s essentially a god, which you have to admit is quite the promotion from high-ranking minion.

Not only that, his actions plunge the world into a year of darkness and ruin, sends the heroes into an emotional spiral they can barely recover from… and leaves players in disbelief

A tragic tail - DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is a story full of stories.

The grand narrative is supported by lots of smaller scale adventures and quests along the way. One of the most shocking of these is the tale of a love-struck mermaid, Michelle.

The hero and his companions meet Michelle on a small rocky outcropping in the middle of the ocean. They need her help to gain access to the underwater kingdom of Nautica, so she makes them a deal.

She’s waiting for the return of her love, a sailor called Kainoa, and asks the group to find him. The sun’s shining, and like all mermaids in the game, Michelle speaks entirely in charming rhyme. It seems we’re in for a jolly time.

Then we find out the truth. Mermaids live much longer than humans, and Kainoa is long gone. Not only that, mermaids are feared and hated by the populace, figures of superstition, and this has had big implications on his life, and his descendants.

So the heroes are faced with a choice - tell Michelle the painful truth, or lie and leave her waiting for a love that will never come. If you choose the path of honesty, Michelle sets out to verify your story, and when she does… well, let’s just say that it’s a scene you’ll never forget.

Despite our best intentions, we couldn’t help Michelle. So with a very heavy heart, we bade a sad farewell.

Mushroom - Life is Strange 2

Torn from their comfortable life in Seattle into a life on the road, it’s clear that Sean and Daniel Diaz are not going to have an easy time in Life is Strange 2.

True enough, their long journey towards Mexico is fraught with hardship and adversity, but amid all the struggle there are some bright spots. Mushroom for example.

Daniel ‘adopts’ this adorable little puppy in the first episode, and it accompanies them on their long trek across America. At least, she does for a while - very early in the second episode, Mushroom goes missing. The brothers find her lifeless body - gored by a wild cougar.

What makes the moment so shocking is how understated it is. There’s no drama or ceremony to the event - it just… happens. That quiet sense of horror is only emphasized by Daniel’s angry unleashing of his hidden powers - and how far you decide to let him go.

Fun fact: I was so shocked by this moment, I directly confronted the writers about it, essentially wailing: “How could you do this?” at the poor guys.

Michel Koch told me: “We wanted to establish the ground rules for Daniel’s powers, and then present a situation where those rules are tested.

“It’s basically a battle between heart and mind, right? You’re telling Daniel not to use those powers, but then we hit the player with an emotional scene that challenges the very rules they set.”

Well mission accomplished - you can’t deny it’s an effective moment. Still hurts though.

Seifer kills a Guardian Force - FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered

Guardian Forces - or GFs - are hugely important in FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered. These powerful supernatural beings can be equipped to characters, and summoned into battle to deliver brutal attacks.

Odin is an optional GF that acts a little differently to most. Rather than being manually summoned, he randomly appears at the start of fights to take down all your enemies in one go.

He doesn’t typically show up for climactic boss battles though, so it’s a surprise when he appears to take on Seifer. But what happens next is the real mind-messer: Seifer fights back. He uses his limit break Zantetsuken to turn the tables and cleave Odin in two.

You’re left reeling - what the heck? This isn’t how things are meant to go! GFs appear, do their thing and get out - that’s how it’s always worked. Seifer’s suddenly broken all the rules - anything could happen now.

And the biggest surprise is yet to come…

Shinra pushes the button - FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE starts with a bang. Literally.

The opening bombing mission is an exciting assault on the Shinra Electric Power Company’s Mako Reactor 1 - a power plant that’s sucking the planet of life-giving energy.

Cloud, Barret and the rest of the team battle their way past Shinra security, wall mounted lasers, and a boss with a real sting in its tail, set the bomb and make their escape. As planned, the explosive detonates, damaging the reactor - mission accomplished, right?

And that’s when it happens. It turns out Shinra’s executives have been watching the whole assault play out. With a nod, President Shinra gives authorization for a sinister plan - the Reactor’s army of bots and turrets activate and lay waste to the reactor, causing a massive explosion that takes out the entire complex - and part of the streets outside.

It’s a moment that left many a fan on the back foot - why would Shinra obliterate one of their own reactors? That feeling of deep unease is only increased by an extended tour of the aftermath - with its many burning buildings and ruined lives.

In short, it’s a shocking turn of events acts an early warning of just how far Shinra is willing to go to achieve its goals - and how little it cares about collateral damage.


Those were just a few of the shocking moments that left us flabbergasted - but do you agree? Let us know by following the team on social media:

6 Reasons FINAL FANTASY XIV: Heavensward being added to the Free Trial makes a great thing even better

It’s awesome… and it’s now available to all FINAL FANTASY XIV Online players at no additional cost!
By Duncan Heaney

Who doesn’t love free stuff?

In case you missed it, FINAL FANTASY XIV: Heavensward is now included as part of the expanded Free Trial. What’s more, all existing and future A Realm Reborn owners will also have access to this beloved expansion and all of its benefits!

That means anyone who signs up for the Free Trial, or owns or purchases the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Starter Edition, now gets two whole RPGs-worth of content at no additional cost.

The expansion is a must-play for old and new players alike, and considering the price (or lack thereof), this is the perfect opportunity. But you may be wondering: why? What makes Heavensward so good?

Here are six reasons:

1. It has dragons and snow… wait, why does that sound familiar?

2019 seems like a long time ago, but for a while there we were all obsessed with a certain TV show about dragons. To be honest, we kinda miss it.

Fortunately, Heavensward scratches that itch because it’s all about dragons. Also snow. There are big walls too, if you want to stretch this already tenuous connection.

The main crux of the expansion’s story concerns the Dragonsong War. This conflict between Ishgard and the scaly Dravanian Horde has continued for over a thousand years, with no end in sight.

The Warrior of Light (that’s you by the way) gets drawn into the conflict, and starts to work towards peace - even if that involves taking on a few old, powerful (and very angry) dragons.

So you have snow, dragons and conflict with a strange and ancient enemy. Oh, and just putting this out there for no particular reason… Heavensward’s story has a satisfying ending.

2. It adds a whole new race - the Au Ra

One of the joys of the first FINAL FANTASY XIV Online expansion is that it adds a new playable race, the Au Ra - and now they’re available in the Free Trial! Their curved horns and beautifully patterned scales often give rise to speculation that this race is the progeny of dragons (a long since disputed claim)!

Not only does this new race add tons of new customization options for players, they also bring further richness and diversity to the world of Hydaelyn.

Players can choose between two clans: the conflict-focused Xaela and the more tranquil Raen. Each has a distinct look and culture that’s well worth digging into for lore fiends.

3. It adds new jobs too

Heavensward opens up your gameplay options in a big way. The expansion adds three new jobs: Dark Knight, Astrologian and Machinist (also now playable in the expanded Free Trial!).

If you want to check out these jobs in action, you should check out the Heavensward trailer:

Dark Knights act as tanks, using a greatsword to inflict high levels of damage on their foes. They have the ability to draw on the powers of darkness to enhance their weapons, using their skills to dish out damage and drain HP from enemies.

Astrologians specialize in healing and are also masters of divination and arcana. They use their knowledge of the constellations to draw cards and support their allies by bestowing them with beneficial effects.

Machinists are masters of advanced armaments, and utilize a variety of mechanical gizmos to help them in battle—anything from drills and crossbows to flamethrowers and, of course, their very own Automaton Queen robot.

To access these jobs, players must have completed the A Realm Reborn main scenario and achieved level 50 with at least one job.

4. Haurchefant is just the coolest dude

Haurchefant Greystone is the true definition of a fan-favorite character.

Although he first appeared in A Realm Reborn, it’s in Heavensward where he truly comes into his own.

Despite being the illegitimate son of Count Edmont de Fortemps, Haurchefant has the respect and advantages that come with being part of a noble family. He separates himself from his noble peers in Ishgard in one way though - he’s friendly, and welcoming to player characters.

He’s helpful too, even joining the party at one point in the story. He’s a regular presence throughout the main Heavensward storyline, and offers both practical support and words of encouragement to the heroes.

Long story short, Haurchefant is the man, and being in his company is time well-spent.

5. You can fly! High up in the sky!

One of the most popular new features added in Heavensward was the ability to fly… and now this has been added to A Realm Reborn areas too!

That means that you can now take to the skies and enjoy the sights of Eorzea from above. Okay, so you need a mount, and to have completed The Ultimate Weapon quest, but when you’ve done that, the sky’s the limit.

After hours of adventuring on land, launching into the air feels liberating. It’s fast and fun… not to mention a good way to escape from a fight if you get in over your head.

6. Everyone can play it!

Worth reiterating - Heavensward is available as standard in the Free Trial, which means that you can play the whole thing without spending a penny, cent or gil.

Both the Free Trial and Starter Editions of the game now include all the content from the expansion, including the new jobs, the Au Ra race, and of course, my bro Haurchefant.

If you’re a returning player who owns A Realm Reborn, don’t worry because you get it all too! All you have to do is renew your subscription to the game, and once you’ve progressed far enough in the story and gained enough levels, you’ll have access to all Heavensward has to offer.

How to get FINAL FANTASY XIV: Heavensward

Heavensward is available for new and returning players in all editions of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online. Yes, all of them.

There are three ways for new players to get FINAL FANTASY XIV Online:

FINAL FANTASY XIV Free Trial: Gives you the all the content from A Realm Reborn (which has recently been streamlined to make it even more welcoming to new players), and Heavensward expansion. Play any or all A Realm Reborn and Heavensward jobs up to level 60 without the need for a subscription and no limit on play time.

FINAL FANTASY XIV: Starter Edition: Includes all the content from A Realm Reborn (including the revamped main questline) and Heavensward. Play with no restrictions up to level 60 (includes 30 days of free game time, after which a subscription is required).

FINAL FANTASY XIV: Complete Edition: Gives you the full FINAL FANTASY XIV Online experience - including A Realm Reborn and Heavensward scenarios, as well as the other expansions: Stormblood and Shadowbringers.

If you already own the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Starter Edition, you will get Heavensward and its associated content automatically. Simply renew your subscription to the game and log in to resume your adventure!

FINAL FANTASY XIV Online has been reborn for new and returning players

A streamlined A Realm Reborn scenario and massively expanded Free Trial have thrown wide the gates for new players. Here’s why you should join them.
By Duncan Heaney

Some big and exciting changes have come to FINAL FANTASY XIV Online. The latest update for the game, Patch 5.3, has arrived, and not only does it add a wealth of new content for existing players, but it essentially kicks the door wide open for newcomers as well.

The development team has revisited the base game - FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn - and made some serious revisions to make it more welcoming. Not only that, the Free Trial has been dramatically expanded and it now features a massive amount of content to play through!

But what exactly does all that mean? We thought we’d take a closer look at what’s been done to explain exactly why it’s the perfect time to jump into the game.

A Realm Reborn has been… erm, reborn

Okay, let’s lay our (Triple Triad) cards on the table: FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn in its original form was a big game. Some might say it was a bit too big…

The development team set out with the goal of ensuring a smoother journey through main scenario for newer players, and took steps to streamline that original main scenario, including all story content through Patch 2.5.

Some quests have been altered, others have been removed entirely, but it essentially means you spend less time to-ing and fro-ing between different quest-givers, and more time doing the fun stuff like battling fearsome foes, exploring the varied locales of Eorzea and experiencing the game’s fascinating story.

Not only that, but elements like experience and quest rewards have also been adjusted to account for the new changes. Again, it makes the progression faster and more rewarding than ever before.

Let’s be clear though, A Realm Reborn’s campaign still offers an exciting adventure. This is still as rich and deep as you’d expect from a FINAL FANTASY game - just streamlined so you can continue your adventure in Heavensward and beyond a bit more quickly, and a more welcoming experience to new players than ever before.

Flying mounts are now in A Realm Reborn

There are other additions to A Realm Reborn that can benefit both new and experienced players. After you’ve completed “The Ultimate Weapon” quest (you’ll need to be at least level 50), you’ll be able to explore ARR areas on a flying mount.

As long-time players will tell you: this is a big deal. Until the most recent patch, players have been grounded in A Realm Reborn’s varied locales, but now they have the freedom to soar through the sky like a majestic chocobo. Or dragon. Or something more wacky - there are plenty of mounts to choose from.

Not only is this remarkably freeing, it makes it even more fast and convenient to explore Eorzea - and perfect for anyone coming to the game for the first time.

Heavensward is included in the Free Trial and Starter Edition

To date, FINAL FANTASY XIV Online has seen three expansions: Heavensward, Stormblood and - most recently - Shadowbringers.

Fans will debate endlessly about which of these expansions has the best story - even here in Square Enix HQ you’ll hear that particular discussion play out! Some adore the political shenanigans of Stormblood, while others can’t stop singing the praises of Shadowbringers’ tale of light and darkness.

But Heavensward’s stirring tale of war and dragons is a particular favorite among fans. Not only did it expand the world of Hydaelyn in some pretty dramatic ways, it presented an emotional adventure that stands up alongside the best stories in the FINAL FANTASY series - yes, it’s that good.

And now it’s included in both the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Free Trial and Starter Edition as standard - with all the content up to Patch 3.56. Suffice to say, that’s a lot of quests, dungeons, and content to enjoy.

Three additional jobs are now also included as standard

The updates to the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Free Trial and Starter Edition add three new jobs for players of those versions of the game: Dark Knight, Astrologian, and Machinist. Previously, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy these jobs unless you purchased the Heavensward expansion, but now that it is included in the Free Trial and Starter Edition, you can dive into any of these jobs as soon as you reach level 50 with a Disciple of War or Magic job and complete the A Realm Reborn scenario.

This is fantastic, because they’re super-fun to play. For example, Dark Knights are tough armor-clad warriors that can take plenty of hits from enemies as they restore HP and MP with attacks from their massive greatswords - perfect for those of us who like to confront their enemies head on.

Astrologians are a great option for anyone who likes to lend a helping hand - they’re healers who use their mastery of the arcana to assist their allies and help turn the tide of battles.

Machinists are gear-heads who can bring all sorts of fun gizmos into battle - a really unique job that offers a different experience—and robots (once you’re experienced enough!).

Of course, these are on top of all the jobs that were included in A Realm Reborn. There’s now so many different ways to play - and as you can switch jobs at any time, there’s hundreds of hours of gameplay to be had just experimenting with the different jobs and roles.

The Free Trial is now MASSIVE

As mentioned, everything we’ve talked about so far is also in the expanded Free Trial. That means that you can now essentially play two full RPGs-worth of content for free - no additional payment, and no obligation.

Along with this additional content, the Free Trial’s level cap has also been increased. You can now play every job from A Realm Reborn and Heavensward – a total of thirteen – up to level 60.

There’s no time limit on the Free Trial either, so don’t worry about rushing through. Take your time, explore the world, experiment with the different jobs, hang out with Haurchefant (he’s the best) and you’ll soon know if it’s for you.

We’re pretty sure it will be.

The new content has been automatically added to existing players’ accounts

It’s not just new players who get access to all of this additional content—anyone who’s played FINAL FANTASY XIV Online before, whether you bought the original A Realm Reborn or the Starter Edition - will also have Heavensward and its content and benefits added to their accounts.

To start playing, all you need to do is re-subscribe to the game. Once you log on, you’ll find the full Heavensward experience is already there ready to play (as soon as you finish A Realm Reborn, of course). It couldn’t be simpler!


FINAL FANTASY XIV Online was always designed to be a welcoming game - one that’s easy to get to grips with, and that offers a fun experience for groups and solo players alike.

The reworked A Realm Reborn scenario makes it even easier to get into - or back into - and the addition of Heavensward for all players will give you even more of a great game … and ridiculously good value.

The game is available now - hopefully we’ll see you all in Eorzea soon!

The Architects of Midgar: how we rebuilt FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE’s City of Mako

How do you recreate a place as iconic as Midgar? FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Co-Director Naoki Hamaguchi explains how the team approached this difficult task.
By Naoki Hamaguchi, Co-Director for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

Hello - my name is Naoki Hamaguchi and I am the Co-Director of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

When we started development of the game, we were faced with a daunting task: rebuild and expand upon the city of Midgar. It’s one of the most famous videogame locations of all time, and we had to remake it without ruining the atmosphere that makes it so beloved.

It’s fair to say that the team felt the pressure!

So how did we do it? Let me share a little about how we approached this challenge, and the various elements we had to consider.

Why did we reimagine Midgar?

Before we talk about how we did reimagined Midgar, we should probably answer a question many fans may have: why do it at all? After all, the original backgrounds of FINAL FANTASY VII are burned into our collective memories - why not simply remake them in 3D?

The short answer is: we couldn’t. Converting the 2D backgrounds of the original game into 3D actually revealed a lot of structural contradictions. Even in a fantasy world, the buildings and environments have to hang together believably, and that simply wasn’t the case with the old environments.

We realized that we couldn’t create a convincingly realistic Midgar without resolving these contradictions - and that was the main driving force behind our decision to reimagine so much of the city.

Of course, making the decision to recreate and expand the city is one thing: actually doing it is quite another!

Drawing up plans

Our first step for designing FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE’s Midgar was to look at the scale of the city. We needed to convey the idea of realistic proportions, so an early priority was to establish things like the height and depth of the buildings.

To do this, we tried out an interesting idea: we took an aerial photograph with the rooftop of Square Enix's office building in Shinjuku, Tokyo, at the very centre. We overlaid this with diagrams of Midgar, with the Square Enix roof taking the place of the Shinra building.

This let the development staff imagine the scale of Midgar compared to real life, and they were able to use this aerial image as a point of comparison for how densely we should fit buildings together, while keeping the proportions as realistic as possible.

Taking inspiration from the real world

That wasn’t the only time we used the real world to influence the look and feel of Midgar. We took inspiration from many cities all over the world that we felt captured the spirit of FINAL FANTASY VII.

We wanted Midgar - and FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE as a whole - to have a kind of jumbled together, eclectic, and fun atmosphere. For that, we took particular inspiration from Tokyo. For example, some people may already know this, but the game’s Wall Market is heavily influenced by Shinjuku’s Kabukicho area.

Additionally, the team explored Tokyo looking for odd cityscapes, strange architecture and interesting scenery. You know - the kind of thing where you have no idea how it even ended up that way. These then got compiled into reference documents - that was a pretty fun part of development!


How we made each sector feel unique

Once we had an understanding of the scale, we started work on designing the different sectors of the city. Midgar is split into the areas above and below the plate and each of these contains different regions that all have their own distinct identity - and we wanted that to be clearly expressed by the game,

At the start of development, the game designers and scenario writers created documents that detailed the setting and the world, including the economic status of the different regions.

This information was invaluable in helping us define which elements of the environment could be shared across areas, and which should be region-specific - right down to the ratio of text on the posters!

We also realised that the lighting would play a vital role in helping to differentiate the areas. For example, Mako Reactor 1 is the oldest of the Mako Reactors. Most of the lighting here was made to look like mercury-vapor lamps, which have been around for a long time.

In contrast, Mako Reactor 5 is comparatively new. Most of the lighting here was made to look kind of blue-ish, like LEDs.

Mako is still the energy source for both, but by using real-life lighting as a reference like this we were able to represent the unique characteristics of the different regions, and their own identities within Midgar.


The importance of the little details

Another way we helped give the locations their personality was to add lots of small environmental details to each place you visit. Every place is packed with these little touches - they’re easy to miss, but they add realism and atmosphere to each area.

That said, I hope some of you did notice them, because a huge amount of effort went into their creation. Take the posters for example. The team got really into this part of the process and were resubmitting new designs all the way through development - even after we finished the game!

The graffiti got the team similarly excited - including our Localisation team. We asked them to write us some playful phrases from the perspective of the inhabitants of Midgar, which we then used in the game.

The stuff they came up with was brilliant. Some of my favorites include:

I once came to Midgar in search of riches,

But now I wallow alone in its ditches.

It no longer matters what words I utter,

Because none will get me out of the gutter.

And…

Life can still get you down even after you've grown up.

You can see some more examples here:

Those are just a fraction of what’s in the final game - I hope you enjoy discovering them all!


Designing the upper plate residential zone

As well as reimagining areas of Midgar from the original game, we wanted to add entirely new parts of the city - partly to connect the different areas but also to give players more insight into this world.

One of the new areas was the Sector 7 Upper Plate residential zone. Early on we knew that we wanted to focus on the members of Avalanche to a much greater extent to the original game, and featuring Jessie’s family home was a great way to explore her history - and give players more information about the city itself.

This new area was developed as employee housing for workers at the Shinra Electric Power Company, so we took inspiration from real life residential areas that have a lot of identical buildings crammed together.

We were very careful to get the feeling of this area right because the collapse of the Sector 7 plate is a hugely important part in the story. By having a memorable location that the player has actually visited be the one to collapse, it gives the event more of an impact and makes it feel even more real.

A city is its people

Of course, to create a truly believable Midgar we needed to do more than just design things like the buildings and scenery - the people matter too. In fact, this element of the city was considered just as important as the others.

Right from the start, we created information about each part of the city, including the economic status of its residents. This helped us create a consistent look and feel for the inhabitants in those areas.

In addition, it was important to me that the inhabitants didn’t just stand around passively - if you look closely, the people actually interact with different elements of their environment.

This in particular was difficult for the team and it took a lot of repeated adjustments. But in the end I think it was worth it, as it really breathes life into the city.

The importance of the Shinra Building

The final element of designing Midgar I want to talk about is the Shinra Building. You’ll notice that this imposing structure is visible from all over the city - and we paid special attention to the layout to make sure that was the case.

That building is so important to the climax of the game that we wanted it to always be there as a kind of cinematic foreshadowing, so we designed each area to ensure players always had an eyeline to it.

As well as the building, we also created the entire plaza around it… but players never got to visit it!

Early on in development, the plan was that Cloud and the others would enter the Shinra Building from the main entrance, like in the original, so we actually made all the assets for the plaza. However, since we planned that section around stealth, it was difficult to make the story flow naturally.

Considering it was an infiltration mission, we decided that it made more sense to reimagine it and have them enter from the underground car park instead. I think this was ultimately a good decision, as it allowed us to focus on representing the Shinra Building in ways it hadn’t been shown in the original.

At least we didn’t completely lose all that work - you can see the plaza in the distance when sneaking into the building!

Final Thoughts

I hope that gave you an interesting insight into how we rebuilt Midgar for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

When I look back over the development, I’m proud that we were able to portray areas of the city that had been ‘off-screen’ in the original FINAL FANTASY VII - such as the underside of the plate and more in-depth portrayals of the city and its residents.

I imagine that a lot of people had their own ideas about what these parts of the city were like, so in a sense it was quite nerve-wracking to explicitly show them. But since we put so much thought into the scale and making the city feel realistic, I think that we were ultimately successful in bringing it to life in the way we wanted.

Thanks for reading - and I hope you have fun exploring the City of Mako!


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is out now for PlayStation 4. It's currently on sale from PlayStation Store and select retailers, with up to 34% off, so if you've yet to play it, now's the time:

More than 5 million copies of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE shipped and sold worldwide

Critically-acclaimed RPG has seen Midgar-sized success - and now it’s on sale too!
By Square Enix Team

We’re excited to announce a major milestone for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE - more than 5 million copies of the game have been sold or shipped to date. Digital sales were particularly strong - in fact. it’s our highest selling digital game on the PlayStation platform ever.

That’s a big number, and what is there to say about it other than… thank you!

This game really is a labor of love, and everyone on the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE team deeply appreciate the millions of players who have chosen to step into the mean streets of Midgar and embark on this iconic adventure.

If you’ve yet to take the plunge, then here’s some more highly relevant news: the game is on sale from select retailers, and on the PlayStation Store until August 19, 2020, with a 34% discount!

If you want to learn a bit more about the game, or just want to wallow in more FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE goodness, you should make sure you check out some of the content on the Square Enix Blog.

For example, we recently talked about one of our favorite sections from the game: a thrilling mission into a mako reactor full of dangerous robots, difficult choices and some of the best music in any game this year!

Speaking of music, we recently took an audio tour through the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE soundtrack, to highlight some of the amazing tracks and explore what they have to say about the game itself. Read it here:

We also spoke to the game’s Co-Director Naoki Hamaguchi and Producer Yoshinori Kitase about their vision for the game, some of their creative decisions, and how they feel it’s now been released. It’s a fascinating interview - check it out:

Finally, there’s an excellent multi-part video documentary series Inside FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, which takes you behind the scenes with the creators themselves. Featuring interviews with key staff, it reveals everything from the conception of the game, to designing the combat. It’s a must watch:


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is out now for PlayStation 4. It’s on sale on the PlayStation Store until August 19, 2020, with 34% off:

To stay up to date with news about the game, make sure you follow the team on social media:

FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition’s multiplayer explained

We explain why multiplayer - and convenience - matters in the enhanced co-op classic.
By Duncan Heaney

FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES offers up a very different kind of RPG. While most games in the FINAL FANTASY series are single player epics, this adventure can be enjoyed with friends.

In FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition, which releases for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android* on August 27, 2020, this co-operative gameplay has been enhanced further, with new high-level dungeons, entirely new features and more.

The team has also focused on making it as simple as possible to actually experience it - something that wasn’t necessarily the case with the 2003 GameCube original.

Ahead of the game’s launch in just a few weeks, we thought we’d go take a look at the game’s multiplayer - and what we’ve done to make it hassle-free - and affordable - to start playing.

How does multiplayer work in the game?

Almost every aspect of FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES, from the story to the gameplay systems, have been designed to accommodate multiple players.

For example, while many RPGs cast you as the Most Important Person In The World™, CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition takes a more collaborative angle.

You and your friends are members of a caravan that travels the world in search of drops of myrrh - a rare and precious resource that helps protect towns and cities from a deadly gas called the Miasma.

It’s the perfect premise for some co-op adventuring, and your journey will send you and your friends into multiple dungeons to find secrets and battle dangerous enemies. The four tribes you can choose to play as each have different strengths and weaknesses, so you’ll have to rely on each other and combine your skills carefully to survive the toughest battles.

In fact, the game goes out of its way to reward you for working collaboratively with your colleagues. For example, if you synchronise your attacks and spells, you’ll do much more damage. It also regularly throws in sections where teaming up is a necessity - such as making one player carry a vital object while relying on the others for protection.

The Remastered Edition expands on the multiplayer potential, with some new high difficulty dungeons that will test even the most experienced players. Trust us - having friends along will help.

In short, it’s a truly co-operative experience… though if you do have a competitive streak you’ll be pleased to know you can compete with each other to claim the most points per dungeon. There’s a good prize for the winner too - you get first dibs on choosing which artifact you take home.

How did we develop the multiplayer in FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition?

When the team was developing the new Remastered Edition, they were laser-focused on one thing in particular: convenience.

They wanted to make it as quick and easy as possible for people to join up with friends and journey through this classic world - and the new game is packed with features added specifically for this reason.

To understand why that is, you should first cast your mind back to the original game, in the long, long ago of 2003…

The original game’s multiplayer required some setup

The GameCube release of FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES offered genuinely awesome multiplayer… provided you could gather everything you needed to actually do it.

To team up with friends, each player needed their own Game Boy Advance handheld, and a special link cable to connect it to the GameCube console - and you had to get everything together in the same place.

If you were fortunate enough to achieve the setup, the game was incredible - but it was a big ask for players, particularly in the West.

So, when working on the new FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition, the team asked themselves a simple question: how do we protect the gameplay experience, but make it much easier to get into?

Online multiplayer

The first step was to ensure it could be played online. That means that four people can jump on at any time and start adventuring together very easily.

Ryoma Araki, the Director of FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition explains: “We understand that offline co-operative play was a feature in the original game many fans look back at fondly, so we hope both returning and new fans alike will be able to enjoy the game again by teaming up together across different consoles and smartphones and create new memories as they adventure together again.”

Full crossplay

The team wanted to go even further than that though. Gamers have access to lots of different systems, from PS4s and Nintendo Switches to Apple and Android phones, and to limit multiplayer to those players on the same platform would be directly at odds with the social spirit of the game - not to mention the team’s goal of eliminating any barriers to multiplayer.

That’s why the team put a lot of emphasis on crossplay. According to Araki-san, “we wanted to ensure as many players as possible were able to team up and enjoy the adventure together, regardless of which platform they play on, or even if they’re using the free Lite version of the game.

To this end, all versions of the game can be played online together so anyone can play with anyone else. That means your caravan could consist of a PS4 user, Switch user, Android user and iOS user, and it will all still work seamlessly.

This approach has another benefit, too. As Araki-san says: “Three of the four platforms that this game will be released on are portable, so even if all four players play on different hardware, they can play together in the same location, or even if they’re physically far apart.

A free ‘Lite’ version so everyone can try it

It’s also fair to say that the original CRYSTAL CHRONICLES required investment to enjoy - up to two separate pieces of hardware, and specialised cables, for example. But for this updated version, no investment is required at all.

We wanted every player who was interested in the game to be able to try it and experience it together at no cost (outside of the standard PS+ and Nintendo Online subscriptions for online play on consoles) - enter FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition Lite.

This free edition of the game for consoles launches alongside the full version and lets you play through the start of the game, including the first three dungeons, in single player and multiplayer. On mobile, the game is free-to-play as standard - it contains the same content and functionality as the console Lite edition, with the option to upgrade to the full version in-game.

Regardless of your platform, you’ll be pleased to know that yes, four Lite or mobile users can indeed play together, and crossplay is supported!

That said, if one of the party members does own the full game, things get even more exciting… and convenient.

Only one copy of the game is needed for extended multiplayer

As long as one player has the full game, anyone can join them on their adventures - even if they only have the free Lite version. Once you connect with that player, you can play through 13 large, intricate dungeons instead of just three.

Not only that, but your progress on the Lite version can be transferred to the full game, so should you upgrade, you can pick up where you left off - both in single player and with others.


Hopefully that’s given you some insight into the multiplayer in FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition.

As you can tell, the team has thought very carefully about how to make it easy and convenient to team up with your friends - no hassle, no faff and no big bundle of purple link cables to untangle at the end of it.

We urge you to give it a go, whether you dive into the full game or try the free Lite version first, because in our (admittedly biased) opinion, FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition is one of the most satisfying co-operative games ever created.

You can try for yourself on August 27, 2020 when the game releases on PS4, Nintendo Switch, Android and iOS*.

*Mobile release date subject to change

5 brutal bosses that wrecked fans in FINAL FANTASY games

Here are some of the battles that you say gave you nightmares…
By Duncan Heaney

Earlier this year, we published a list of some of the most challenging boss battles in the FINAL FANTASY games, and posed a question on Facebook and Twitter: which do you guys think are the toughest?

The responses were wide-ranging and varied, but there were some names that came up time and time again.

So without further delay, here are five of the FINAL FANTASY boss battles that you love to hate:


Ruby Weapon – FINAL FANTASY VII

The weapons in FINAL FANTASY VII are some of the most famous optional bosses in RPGs. In a previous article, we featured Emerald Weapon, but not its crimson counterpart, Ruby Weapon. A lot of you had… opinions about that.

And, in fairness, you made a valid point – Ruby Weapon is considered by many to be the toughest opponent in the game. Take an insanely high defence stat, the ability to remove characters from the fight, and two particularly troublesome tentacles, and you have a ridiculously difficult fight that’s left many players seeing red in more ways than one.

It’s one of those battles that at first seems insurmountable, but as with anything in FINAL FANTASY VII, imaginative use of materia and a well-considered strategy will see you through. And maybe just a bit of luck too.


Seymour Flux – FINAL FANTASY X

When fans told us about the boss fights that caused them the most pain, this one came up a lot. It’s easy to understand why – he has a super-powerful attack, unprepared characters can be insta-killed, and unlike a lot of encounters on this list he’s not optional.

This bruising battle takes place after a long climb up Mount Gagazet. All seems relatively calm, but suddenly Seymour is standing beside you… and he’s brought a friend: the Mortiorchis.

They say that teamwork makes the dream work, and these two definitely subscribe to that philosophy. Unfortunately, their dream is to ruin your day.

One will cast Zombie status on a character, so that healing magic hurts, the other immediately follows up with Full-Life for an instant KO. One will cast reflect, and the other will bounce devastating magic attacks off them to bypass your defences.

And don’t get me started on the Total Annihilation move. Yeesh!

It’s no wonder that so many people have opinions on this fight. I’ll say this for the Seymour Flux fight though – it’s really satisfying when you beat it.


Penance – FINAL FANTASY X

Another one from FINAL FANTASY X that appears to have humbled many a fan. Penance is the ultimate superboss in the game – even earning the right to fight it is an achievement!

This boss of bosses only appears after you’ve managed to defeat all of the Dark Aeons - eight optional opponents, each equipped with damaging attacks, oodles of HP, and a very bad attitude.

If you manage to take down these powerful foes – many of which could easily fit on this list – Penance will appear. And true to its name, it’s there to punish you.

Not only does it have an eye-watering 12 million HP, it also has two arms that are pretty strong in their own right. Pro tip - take out at least one of those arms fast, because not only do they bombard your party with strategy-ruining status effects, they also allow Penance to use the most powerful attack of all - Judgement Day.

And you’re not walking away from that.


Pandemonium Warden – FINAL FANTASY XI

Oh man… this jerk.

Pandemonium Warden, much like Absolute Virtue, is one of those bosses that became famous for its brutal challenge.

You know that terrifying moment in a boss fight where you think you’ve beaten your foe, only for them to reveal another form? Well, Pandemonium Warden has 10 of them, each one just as brutal.

And as if that’s not bad enough, it also brings in backup from other monsters, who can hassle and disrupt players.

When it was first released, the Pandemonium Warden was considered almost impossible to defeat – players spent hours in battle with no success. Fortunately, it’s not quite that extreme anymore, but it remains a formidable foe that requires thought, focus and co-ordination to beat.


Ozma – FINAL FANTASY IX

This rainbow-coloured pain sphere is another superboss that requires some effort to get to.

You’ll have to have mastered the Chocobo Hot & Cold minigame to find it, and it’s strongly recommended that you also complete the friendly monsters side quest before you even attempt it – it’ll make the fight easier.

Mind you, easier is not the same thing as easy. Ozma is a violently malicious monster, who can adapt to your strategy, pre-empt your attacks and even cure itself. Everything about it is designed to push you to your limits.

Take its Curse move for example – Ozma will inflict lots of status effects, including Mini, Confuse, Poison and Slow… but don’t even think about trying to return the favor because it’ll just remove them. Or Meteor, which will cause unpredictable amounts of damage to your entire party.

In other words, it’s a gruelling battle, but make it through and you’ll be rewarded with a powerful new Eidolon and – if you have the PS4, Xbox One or Steam version – a trophy or achievement that you can gaze upon as a badge of honor.


These big bad bosses are five very different fights, but they do have one thing in common – they give you an amazing sense of achievement when you finally beat them.

For more articles and news about FINAL FANTASY, make sure you check the blog regularly – and join the discussion on social media too!

What games other than FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE has Cloud Strife appeared in?

The hero of FINAL FANTASY VII has had a very successful career as a cameo and guest star in other games. We take a tour through his greatest moments.
By Duncan Heaney

Cloud Strife, the spiky-haired hero of FINAL FANTASY VII and FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, has had quite the career.

The original 1997 RPG may have given him his big (Limit) break, but the spiky haired Buster Sword-wielder has gone on to appear in all sorts of other titles in the last 23 years - fighting games, RPGs… and even a racing game.

With FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE bringing a host of new Cloud fans into the fold (One of us! One of us!) we thought it would be fun to take a very quick tour through the diverse history of the iconic character.


Let the disclaimers begin!

But first let’s get some quick disclaimers out of the way. We’ll only be looking at a selection of games, and only those by Square Enix. So if you’re expecting a certain big-name fighting game on here, sorry to disappoint. Even if it is rather smashing.

What’s more, to keep this article from becoming longer than War and Peace, we’ll only focus on titles where Cloud appears as a character - costumes and references don’t count.

And now we’ve (hopefully) covered our rears, on with the list!

Compilation of FINAL FANTASY VII

This series of projects expanded the world of the original FINAL FANTASY VII, offering prequels and sequels that offered new insight into the game’s incredible world.

Unlike the original game, Cloud stepped out of the spotlight to let other heroes (and villains) take center stage. That said, he was still a significant presence in most of them in some way.


Before Crisis: FINAL FANTASY VII

In this Japan-exclusive mobile game, set before the events of the original FINAL FANTASY VII, players took the role of one of Shinra’s special ops unit the Turks. Cloud played a small supporting role, encountering the player character on a few occasions.

Crisis Core: FINAL FANTASY VII

This acclaimed action RPG prequel, released for the PlayStation Portable, focused on a SOLDIER: Zack Fair. While Cloud wasn’t playable, he had a very important role in the story. …look, I’m dancing round some serious spoilers here, so let’s just move on.


Dirge of Cerberus: FINAL FANTASY VII

Vincent Valentine - one of the party in the original FINAL FANTASY VII - stepped into the shoes of main hero in this RPG shooter for PlayStation 2. While primarily Vincent’s story, Cloud steps up to help his pal out at key points in the adventure.

Cloud on consoles

In addition to those titles directly related to FINAL FANTASY VII, Cloud has made appearances in plenty of other games over the years. Not just a SOLDIER - he’s a cameo First Class too.

Here are some of the highlights:


FINAL FANTASY TACTICS

This tactical RPG takes place in the world of Ivalice, but a little dimensional difference can’t hold back Cloud Strife. He’s in the game as an optional character, and can be recruited to take to the field in battle.


Chocobo Racing

Cloud took to the track in this super-cute racing game. Released in 1999 for the original PlayStation, characters and creatures from across the FINAL FANTASY series jumped into vehicles to race and battle across multiple tracks. Cloud was an unlockable character, and rode his famous Hardy Daytona motorcycle.


EHRGEIZ: God Bless the Ring

Originally released in arcades, and later on PlayStation, Ehrgeiz was Cloud’s first foray into the fighting genre. It wouldn’t be his last. The game featured original characters, but also included a selection of fighters from FINAL FANTASY VII.

KINGDOM HEARTS / KINGDOM HEARTS 1.5

KINGDOM HEARTS’ ever-upbeat hero Sora encounters Cloud in the Olympus Coliseum. This Cloud is a darker figure than you might expect, even willing to make a bargain with Hades in order to find what he seeks.

Excitingly, the first KINGDOM HEARTS lets you face off against Cloud in battle - and it’s a challenging bout that demands both focus and attention. Mind you, it’s a walk in the park compared to Sephiroth.

This is one game you can actually play right now - KINGDOM HEARTS 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX is out now on PS4 and Xbox One.


KINGDOM HEARTS Chain of Memories / KINGDOM HEARTS Re:Chain of Memories

Cloud appears in KINGDOM HEARTS Chain of Memories, again working with Hades. Events play out a little differently in this card battling adventure, but the hero’s appearance remains just as effective.

The game was originally released for the Gameboy Advance and later remade in full 3D as KINGDOM HEARTS Re:Chain of Memories. That version is included in KINGDOM HEARTS 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX.


KINGDOM HEARTS II / KINGDOM HEARTS II.5

Sora, Donald and Goofy encounter Cloud again in KINGDOM HEARTS II. The young warrior seeks to destroy his own darkness, and asks Sora for his help.

You don’t fight Cloud in this entry in the series. Instead, he fights alongside the heroes, helping them defend the world of Hollow Bastion from the encroaching Heartless.

DISSIDA FINAL FANTASY NT

The most recent entry in the DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY series features thrilling 3-v-3 battles, with FINAL FANTASY characters, including Cloud, facing off in iconic locations from across the series. Rest assured that Midgar is one of them.

If you want to give it a go, a free version is available to try now. The available characters cycle, so you may not get Cloud straight away, but you will get a chance to see if the game’s for you.


WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY

This fantastic RPG is a love letter to the FINAL FANTASY series, as well as a richly rewarding game in its own right.

That love is on full display when it comes to the Champions - classic FINAL FANTASY heroes that you can bring into battle to help you out.

There’s a twist though. These are super-adorable chibi versions of the characters - we feel fairly confident in saying this is probably the cutest version of Cloud you’ll see in any game.

Cloud on handhelds

Cloud Strife can’t be constrained to the big screen - he’s had quite a few outings for portable consoles too.


DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY

Take some of the greatest FINAL FANTASY characters of all time, make them battle each other in fast-paced, and surprisingly tactical combat, and slather on a generous helping of spectacle, and you have DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY.

The first entry in this fan-favorite fighting series released for PSP in 2008, and naturally Cloud was available as a playable fighter.


DISSIDA 012 FINAL FANTASY

Cloud returned in the sequel DISSIDIA 012 FINAL FANTASY, also released for the PSP. This follow-up expanded on the single player, added new characters, and included new mechanics that allowed for even more exciting and tactical battles.


THEATRHYTHM FINAL FANTASY CURTAIN CALL

This fantastic rhythm game for 3DS - like it’s predecessor THEATRHYTHM FINAL FANTASY - lets you run, ride and battle your way across different music tracks from all over the series.

To do so, you must create a party comprised of super-adorable versions of FINAL FANTASY characters, including Cloud. You remember when we said World of FINAL FANTASY Cloud was the cutest? This version could definitely give him a run for his money.


FINAL FANTASY EXPLORERS

How’d you fancy joining your friends to hunt and battle some of FINAL FANTASY’s greatest monsters? This 3DS game delivered exactly that - and lots of fan service to boot!

Not only can you dress as your favorite characters, you can even become them with the trance command. Under the right conditions, you can literally turn your character into Cloud Strife himself.

Not only that, you get access to some of his signature moves, including the flashily effective Omnistrike!

Cloud on Mobile

FINAL FANTASY has a rich history of mobile titles, and Cloud has appeared in quite a few of them. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but some of the highlights of Mr Strife’s mobile career include:


FINAL FANTASY VII: Snowboarding

If you played the original FINAL FANTASY VII, you’ll no doubt remember the snowboarding minigame near Icicle Inn. In 2005, an expanded version of that game was released for mobile phones, letting Cloud shred the slopes on the go.


FINAL FANTASY RECORD KEEPER

FINAL FANTASY RECORD KEEPER lets you experience memories of previous FINAL FANTASY games on mobile. The gameplay revolves around exploring classic FINAL FANTASY moments, collecting characters from those games, and using them in battle.

Cloud’s present and correct of course - considering the premise it would be weird if he wasn’t!


FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS

FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS is a mobile RPG in which you recruit and summon FINAL FANTASY characters from all over the series - and in some cases beyond it.

A few versions of Cloud have appeared in this mobile RPG as optional characters and summonable ‘visions’.


DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY OPERA OMNIA

You can recruit Cloud quite early on in this excellent mobile adventure. Players explore various maps, building a fighting team of FINAL FANTASY characters, collecting materials to upgrade gear and engaging in excitingly strategic battles.

That was a whistle-stop tour of Cloud Strife’s life of guest spots and cameos.

If you’ve finished FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE and are eager for more Cloud-y action, I’d heartily recommend World of FINAL FANTASY or DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY NT - both are easily available both digitally and physically and feature the character in a fairly prominent way.

And if you haven’t played FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE yet, what are you waiting for? It’s arguably the best way to see this iconic hero in his native habitat.

To stay up to date with news about Cloud Strife - and FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE as a whole - make sure you follow us on social media:

5 enemies in Square Enix games that we’ve learned to fear

From FINAL FANTASY's tonberries to Tomb Raider's Stormguard, here are five fiendish foes that make us break out into a cold sweat.
By Duncan Heaney

We recently showcased some of the lovable parts of Square Enix games that make us grin from ear to ear - but what about the other side of the coin? The things we fear.

There are some enemies in Square Enix games that make us feel more than a little nervous. Some are ruthlessly difficult, others are just kinda unpleasant, and a few are a heady combination of the two.

Here are just five examples:


PLEASE NOTE: Mild spoilers for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered, Tomb Raider, and Life is Strange


X-ATM092 - FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered

Here’s the horrifying thing about the mechanical X-ATM092. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

…oh wait no, that’s Terminator. Still, the X-ATM092 is equally persistent. Also known as Black Widow, this massive spider-shaped robot pursues Squall and his fellow mercenary trainees around the town of Dollet during their very hands-on exam.

Making things worse is the ticking timer - you only have a few minutes to get back to your transport and escape. That’s not easy when you’re constantly being drawn into battles with this powerful mech. Even if you can win those fights, X-ATM092 will bounce back in seconds and you’re back to square one.

Stay on the run, and you’ll eventually lead it to the beach, where instructor Quistis will blast it apart with a mounted machine gun. It’s a blessed relief.

Experienced players may know a few coping strategies for this boss, as well as a few tips and tricks to avoid it - but the first time you play, it’s pure panic.


The Stormguard - Tomb Raider (2013

The first entry in the recent Tomb Raider trilogy takes Lara Croft from terrified survivor to a capable hero that can overcome any challenge.

Trapped on the island of Yamatai, Lara’s besieged by vicious beasts, deadly traps and a horde of murderous cultists. We help her take on the odds, build her skills and ultimately turn her hunters into the hunted.

So as we enter the latter stages of the game, we’re feeling pretty confident about our ability to deal with any situation. Enter the Stormguard.

Also known as the Oni, these ancient warriors have guarded Yamatai for centuries - and they look it. Not only are these new threats unsettling to look at, they’re faster, stronger and far more resilient than anything Lara’s run into so far.

Suddenly, she (and us) are on the back foot once again. The old tactics aren’t going to work - we have to dig deeper than ever into Lara’s skill set, make creative use of the environment and stay on the move if we don’t want the fledgling Tomb Raider’s career to be suddenly cut short.

All said, the Stormguard deliver an entertaining challenge, but it’s an intimidating one too. Whenever we think of these fearsome guardians, we definitely start to feel a little nervous.


Malboros - the FINAL FANTASY series

A giant plant with a serious halitosis problem, malboros have been ruining people’s day since 1988’s FINAL FANTASY II.

Whenever you run into one of these big mouthed monsters, you know you’re in trouble. They’re often very tough, high level foes that can dish out massive damage on a whim - but that’s not what makes them such a sweat-inducer.

No, undoubtedly the scariest thing about malboros is their signature ‘Bad Breath’ attack. This rancid cloud inflicts pretty much every debilitating status ailment in the FINAL FANTASY handbook onto your party.

The exact combination of Bad Breath effects differs depending on the game, but you can expect the likes of Poison, Silence and Slow at a minimum. Plus you have to assume it smells really bad.

A special shout out for the Great Malboros in FINAL FANTASY X-2 and their particularly noxious (and obnoxious) Really Bad Breath attack. Trust me - it ain’t that great.


Nathan Prescott - Life is Strange

Nathan Prescott is not a nice person.

He’s cruel, aggressive, condescending… and dangerous. We see that in the very first moments of the game, when student Max Caulfield witnesses him lose control and accidentally kill her former (and future) BFF Chloe Price.

She’s able to reverse time with her newly manifested powers, but subsequent interactions with Nathan are knuckle-whitening. He’ll shout, he’ll insult and even resort to violence - and the worst thing is that Max, as a fundamentally decent person, doesn’t really have a good way to deal with that unpredictability.

Nathan also treats Blackwell Academy as if he owns it - which in a way his does. His wealthy family is a major financial donor to the school, and the powers that be seem willing to overlook much of his behavior for the sake of that cash.

Of course. Nathan’s as much a victim as he is a villain. He struggles with drugs and mental illness, and his family situation is dysfunctional to say the least. But that doesn’t stop Max and Chloe’s interactions with him from feeling deeply unnerving. He puts them on edge - and us too.


Tonberries - the FINAL FANTASY series

They say that good things come in small packages. Well, bloomin’ terrifying things do too, as tonberries demonstrate.

Anyone who encounters one of these knife-wielding nightmares likely goes through a phenomenon I like to call ‘The 5 Stages of Tonberry’.

1. Delight - Aw, that’s adorable. Look at its diddy widdle legs and cute hoodie.

2. Suspicion - Wh… why’s it moving so slowly? Why’s it not really doing anything? Something feels… off.

3. Dread - Um… it’s getting closer. What’s it doing? Why is it not dead yet? I’m scared.

4. Despair - AAAAARGH - help me! It’s killing EVERYONE.

5. Resolve - …well that went very badly. Next time will be different (NARRATOR: It wasn’t).

Tonberries appear throughout the FINAL FANTASY series, and though their characteristics vary from title to title, they typically have a few things in common - slow speed, high HP, and a ruthless compulsion to stab your party into oblivion.

From the majestic Tonberry King in FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered to its memorable appearance in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, every version of this gaming icon commands both respect and pants-wetting terror.

Well, all except these plushie versions perhaps. Just look at them - d’aww sooo cute!


Those were just five things that make us nervous in Square Enix games, but what do you think? Do you agree with our choices? Which enemies make you clench up? Let us know on social media:

These FINAL FANTASY VII action dolls are super adorable

Take a look at this Avalanche of cuteness from FINAL FANTASY VII… and beyond.
By Duncan Heaney

It’s time for another look at some FINAL FANTASY VII merchandise.

In the recent past, we’ve given you an early look at some of the incredible FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE action figures coming out over the next 12 months, and revealed some wonderfully detailed statuettes also inspired by the new game.

Today we wanted to take a look at something… cuter - FINAL FANTASY VII Action Dolls.

You may have seen Cloud and company before, but never quite this huggable - they really put the ‘awww’ in adorable. They are also poseable so you recreate many of your favourite scenes!

Let’s take a closer look at what's available - and if you like what you see, you can use the code ACTIONDOLL at checkout for 10% off!

FINAL FANTASY VII ACTION DOLL - CLOUD STRIFE

It only makes sense to start at the main man himself - Cloud Strife. The former SOLDIER looks a little softer than his in-game counterpart, but no less likeable.

Of course, what would the merc be without his iconic Buster Sword? Cloud’s action doll comes with the famous blade included, and it can be stuck on his back or held in his hand. Yes - that means you can recreate scenes from the game in the cutest way possible.

FINAL FANTASY VII ACTION DOLL - AERITH GAINSBOROUGH

With her big smile and bigger eyes, Aerith makes for a particularly charming action doll.

Armed with her Guard Stick - which can be held or removed depending on preference - Aerith has a range of movement available so she can be posed in many different ways. What’s more, like all FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE action dolls, she can even stand up on her own - no awkward wall-leaning necessary!

FINAL FANTASY VII ACTION DOLL - TIFA LOCKHART

Tifa really puts the ‘action’ in action doll. This strong-willed martial artist packs a punch in FINAL FANTASY VII, and she’s just as energetic and powerful in action doll form. Just a bit… fuzzier.

She’s almost as limber as the real thing too - the action doll’s movable joints mean you can position her in tons of different ways. Maybe you want to recreate her distinctive run, or pose her as if about to deliver a powerful kick to her foes. It’s all up to you.

FINAL FANTASY VII ACTION DOLL - SEPHIROTH

Speaking of foes, here comes the most oddly lovable versions of Sephiroth you’ll ever see.

This wonderfully fuzzy version of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE’s big bad is impressively detailed, accurately capturing most elements of Sephiroth’s distinctive look - from his flowing hair to his intimidating ensemble.

And let us not forget his sword. How could we - the Masamune is as iconic as Cloud’s Buster Sword. Rest assured that it’s included with the Sephiroth Action Doll and can be held or removed as needed.

FINAL FANTASY VII action dolls coming soon

Two more beloved characters from FINAL FANTASY VII are becoming action dolls - and unlike the previous set, they’re already pretty fuzzy. These aren’t available yet, but are coming to the Square Enix Store very soon…

FINAL FANTASY VII ACTION DOLL - RED XIII

Red XIII is famously what you see before you, nothing more.

Fortunately, what you see before you in this case is an awesomely expressive action doll that will melt even the sternest hearts.

The level of detail on this perfect plushie is second to none. From his distinctive tattoos to his flaming tail, the personality of Red XIII is perfectly captured, making it ideal for any fans of the character.

Which, we assume, is anyone who’s played FINAL FANTASY VII.

Available: July 2020

  • Preorder now (Use the code ACTIONDOLL at checkout for 10% off!)

FINAL FANTASY VII ACTION DOLL - CAIT SITH

Finally, we have one of my personal favorites: Cait Sith.

Somehow the wizards that designed this action doll have made this crown-wearing feline even cuter than the original game. He definitely retains the same personality though, with his crown and megaphone represented in super-soft form.

Like the other dolls, Cait Sith can be posed in a myriad of different ways. Unfortunately there’s no giant moogle for him to ride - but you could have him sit atop Red XIII for some real FINAL FANTASY VII ADVENT CHILDREN vibes.

Available: October 2020

  • Preorder now (Use the code ACTIONDOLL at checkout for 10% off!)

Even more action dolls are coming soon!

That was just a quick rundown of these profoundly poseable plushies. And it’s not just FINAL FANTASY VII that has inspired action dolls - there are variants on the way from other Square Enix series that you may recognise.

For example take a look at these adorable androids from NieR:Automata:

NIER:AUTOMATA ACTION DOLL YORHA NO. 2 TYPE B

YoRHa No. 2 Type B - or 2B as you probably know her - is a rather commanding action doll.

The fine details on the doll’s clothes and body are taken directly from NieR:Automata, and this coupled with the ability to pose her in multiple ways makes for a remarkably expressive figure.

She’s due for release later this year, as is her companion 9S. Speaking of which…

Available: September 2020

NIER:AUTOMATA ACTION DOLL YORHA NO. 9 TYPE S

9S joins the action doll family later this year - and in fine form too!

From his distinctive hair to his necklace and embroidered jacket, all the charm and personality of the character is precisely captured.

His wide range of movement and ability to stand on his own two feet will make him a marvelous addition to any shelf or surface.

Available: September 2020

That was just a quick look at some of the action dolls available now or coming soon - but which one of these pieces is your favorite? Are you enticed by the adorable athleticism of Tifa, or the fluffy cheekiness of Cait Sith?

Share your thoughts with the teams on social media:

What’s so good about FINAL FANTASY IX?

In honour of the game's 20th anniversary, we look at why the Tantalus Theatre Troupe continues to draw in the crowds.
By Duncan Heaney

We’ve previously discussed what’s good about FINAL FANTASY X, but what about the game that preceded it? Many fans cite FINAL FANTASY IX as the best in the whole series, but what does it do to earn such high praise?

In honour of the game's 20th anniversary, we thought we'd take a look at why it’s so beloved.

1. Every character is memorable and unique

FINAL FANTASY IX features one of the quirkiest casts in the entire FINAL FANTASY series - maybe even in all of gaming. Every character in the game is utterly distinct - both visually and in terms of their personality.

Take the nominal lead, Zidane, for example. He’s one of the most outwardly cheerful heroes to lead a FINAL FANTASY game, and his mischievous nature is mirrored in his prehensile monkey-like tail.

Then there’s Quina, the lick-y gourmand who joins the gang - essentially to eat as much of the world’s flora and fauna as possible. As motivations go, it’s… um… one of a kind and the long-tongued character design is also unlike anything else is the series.

That’s just a tiny sample of this amazing cast - whether it’s the solemn stoicism of Amarant, or the grotesque cruelty of Queen Brahne, every character wedges themselves in the mind long after you’ve shut down the game.

2. The story is uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time

The opening of FINAL FANTASY IX is so fast, funny and entertaining, you’d be forgiven for thinking you know what to expect from the rest of the adventure.

But FINAL FANTASY IX wants to take you on an emotional journey that ranges as far as the physical one the characters undertake. There’s serious darkness in this world.


Also read:


This is particularly evident in the case of Vivi. The young Black Mage’s journey of self-discovery is shocking and heart-breaking in equal measure.

And yet despite all the pain and the tragedy the heroes endure, the game never wallows in misery. It still looks for joy and humor in the world and goes out of its way to leave you with a smile on your face. It’s actually amazing that a story with so many potentially disturbing twists can be so inspirational.

3. The ability system is fun and flexible

The genius of FINAL FANTASY IX’s ability system is that it’s incredibly easy to understand yet has incredible depth.

Here’s a very basic rundown of how it works: almost all gear and weapons contain inherent skills and support abilities.

Skills are active commands that you can use in combat, such as magic spells, or deadly physical attacks. So long as you have that item equipped, you can use it, and eventually you’ll learn the skill permanently.

Support abilities are passive bonuses that boost a character’s abilities, such as more health or extra damage against specific enemy types. You’ll need magic gems to equip them - different abilities require a different number of gems, so you’ll never have enough to use everything.

Then there are extra complications, like the fact that some characters can’t use certain skills and abilities. It all means that you have to make constant decisions about the makeup of your party.

Do you stick with an underpowered piece of kit to bank the skill for later use? Should you switch up your support abilities to help overcome a particularly bothersome boss? Smart choices can mean the difference between success and a messy end.

4. The side activities are particularly good

If you’re someone who enjoys poking away at every nook and cranny of a game, FINAL FANTASY IX must feel like a gift from the Eidolons - it’s absolutely packed full of entertaining side quests, secrets and minigames.

The most well-known is undoubtedly Tetra Master. This deceptively deep card game can be played with many of the characters across FINAL FANTASY IX’s massive world, and depending on the type of player you are, it’s either a fun diversion, or an all-consuming mega-game that will become an obsession for hours.

But there’s far more than that to do in FINAL FANTASY IX. Chocobo Hot and Cold sees you using the iconic birds to find unique treasures across the world. You can also search for Stellazzio coins, meet friendly land spirits, chase frogs, jump rope and more.

The main story is already pretty chunky, but factor in all the entertaining side activities, and FINAL FANTASY IX will keep you busy for a very long time indeed.

5. It’s one for the fans - in the best possible way

There’s a right way and a wrong way to do fan service - FINAL FANTASY IX does it the right way.

The game is a celebration of FINAL FANTASY up to that point, and it’s full of fun nods to earlier titles. For example, the Black Mage design is a direct reference to the original FINAL FANTASY, as are some of the airship designs.

Character and place names are reused from earlier titles too. You’ll notice off-hand comments about ‘spiky haired sword wielders’ and you may recognize certain ability names from prior games too. If you’re a long-term fan of the series, you’ll be amazed at the sheer volume of callbacks and Easter eggs.

And yet you don’t need to be a veteran of the series to enjoy the game. Not getting any of the many, many references won’t impact your understanding of the plot, characters or world. The game still stands up as a fun standalone adventure in its own right.


Those are just a few reasons why FINAL FANTASY IX holds up as a classic. It’s available now on all major platforms, so play it yourself and tell us what you think.

Share your opinions in the comments or with the FINAL FANTASY social media team:

A closer look at FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition Lite

How does the Lite version of the game work exactly? Can you play online? Will it let you play online with owners of the full game? Find out here.
By Duncan Heaney

Did you see the latest trailer for FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition?

It gives you the most detailed look at the action RPG yet, with lots of information about the game’s story, the tribes you can play as, how combat works and more.

But perhaps the most attention-grabbing addition is highlighted at the end of the trailer: there will be a Lite edition of the game. Take a look:

The video lays out facts quite eloquently, but we thought it might be useful to go into a little more detail here and answer some questions you may have. Starting with…


What exactly is FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition Lite?

FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES is regarded as a classic, an enchanting tale of adventure and exploration - but is it the game for you? The Lite version of the game will give you an easy way to find the answer to that question (spoilers: we’re fairly sure it is).

Essentially, the Lite version of the game lets you play through a substantial chunk of the start of the game, and try out the various enhancements that have been made for this edition, including new voiceovers, improved graphics and an updated soundtrack.

Oh - and it’s completely free. Probably should have led with that.

What’s included in FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition Lite?

We’ve created this version so you can experience exactly what the game is before you make any decisions about whether to purchase it.

To that end, you can create a character from any of the tribes in the full game, and play through the first three dungeons. These are large areas full of dangerous foes and tempting treasures, and they’ll give you ample opportunity to play with the game’s various mechanics, including the enormously satisfying real time combat system.

You’ll also be able to take the game online, which brings us to our next question…

Can I play the Lite Edition with others online?

You can! In fact, we strongly encourage you to - FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition truly excels as a multiplayer adventure and the Lite version offers a commitment-free way to experience this unique gameplay.

Up to four players with the Lite edition can form a caravan and play through the three dungeons together - again at no additional cost (although please note that for PS4 and Switch, you’ll need active subscriptions to their online services to play online).

As with the full version of the game, the Lite edition fully supports crossplay, so Switch owners can play against PS4 users, PS4 users can team up with those on smartphones and so on.

Now, if one of the group owns the full version of the game, things get even more interesting…

Can Lite users play online with owners of the full game?

They can indeed - and they can play beyond the opening three dungeons.

If one player has the full edition of FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition, they can invite anyone with the Lite version to join their caravan. While connected, that party will be able to journey through up to 13 massive dungeons.

In other words, you only need one full version of the game to play online in a party of four. That said, if those with the Lite edition want to continue their adventures offline, they will need to upgrade to the complete game. But rest assured, you can transfer your saved progress to the full game!

When will FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition Lite be available?

The Lite version of the RPG will launch on Switch and PS4 alongside the full versions of the game: August 27, 2020 (mobile release date subject to change).

There’s no specific ‘Lite’ version for iOS and Android - in these cases, the game will be available as a free download as standard, with the same content and functionality as the Lite version. You’ll be able to purchase the full game as an in-app purchase.


Hopefully that’s answered a few questions about the Lite Edition. It’s a fantastic way to try the game before buying, not to mention an easy way to get a full party together online if not all of your friends have the full game.

It’s not long now until the game’s out, so make sure you follow FINAL FANTASY on social media for news and updates about this amazing game.

Let's explore the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE OST

Join us as we take an audio tour through the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE soundtrack, and examine how it supports and enhances the RPG.
By Duncan Heaney

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE has a sublime soundtrack.

Okay, as statements go, that one’s up there with ‘water’s a bit wet’ - it goes without saying.

But we want to say it anyway, because the tracks don’t just hold up as memorable music, they also tell us a huge amount about the game itself.

You can see - or hear - what we mean for yourselves - the original FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE soundtrack is available for preorder on the Square Enix Store and can be purchased digitally now on services including iTunes, Google Play and Amazon.

The standard edition soundtrack features seven discs-worth of music, that span the entirety of the game. To celebrate the release, we thought it would be interesting to take a tour through each, and highlight a couple of the tracks that stand out to us - and why.


Disc 1

It’s impossible to talk about FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE without referencing composer Nobuo Uematsu’s soundtrack for the original game. The new game has quite a legacy to live up to, and fortunately, it more than delivers.


2 - Midgar - City of Mako

From the moment the opening cinematic of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE was released, many fans felt excited - and yes, relieved - that the game’s music was in good hands.

In many ways, this track feels like a statement of intent for the entire FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE experience. It’s faithful to the original, but layered with new elements that give it a distinct feel of its own.

The addition of choral elements add tension and mystery, and make the swell to the now-iconic opening theme feel genuinely epic. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a teensy bit emotional the first time I heard it - and I know I’m not alone.


20 - Main Theme of FFVII - Sector 7 Undercity

The music of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is lovely to listen to, even if you never played or heard the original tracks.

That said, if you have heard the originals, it’s fascinating to see how they’ve been incorporated into the newer game.

In the case of the Main Theme of FINAL FANTASY VII, which plays while Cloud explores the Sector 7 slums, it’s a remarkably faithful interpretation, evoking similar feelings of both peace and tension.

It was a stand-out piece of music in the original game, and it’s every bit as effective here.


Disc 2

As well as tracks inspired by the original game, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE features a tremendous amount of completely original music - and there are some great examples on Disc 2.


3 - Johnny’s theme

I’ve talked before about my love for Johnny - a hilariously self-defeating resident of Sector 7 that someone here at Square Enix HQ perfectly described as a ‘brash and bumbling himbo’ (a phrase I will keep stealing until they notice and tell me to stop).

Yoshinori Nakamura has written an original theme for the character and it’s a fantastically funky piece that perfectly captures the character’s unearned bravado and complete lack of self-awareness.


18 - Ignition Flame

Things get more serious with this incredibly exciting boss theme. In this part of the game, Cloud faces off against the speed-freak SOLDIER Roche, and this track masterfully heightens that drama and intensity.

It’s utterly unique among the rest of the soundtrack, but the way it incorporates familiar musical themes makes it fit in perfectly. Definitely one of the most purely exhilarating tracks in the entire game.


Disc 3

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE’s soundtrack is not merely accompaniment - it’s an integral part of the storytelling, just like the action and dialogue. Without it, the game wouldn’t be anywhere near as effective - and the following two tracks provide a perfect example of this.


14 - The Airbuster

Not only is this a blood pumping banger of a track, it also perfectly captures the sense of excitement and escalation of the fight it accompanies. It also provides a perfect example of how the composers tell a story with the music.

As the name implies, the track plays over the team’s battle with the Airbuster - the pinnacle of Shinra’s robotic weaponry. The music alone tells you everything you need to know about the structure and flow of the battle.

As the track progresses through the phases, it increases in intensity, as the bot becomes increasingly belligerent. The sound gets fuller and fuller, adding in strings and choral elements - the sense of epic scale in vividly apparent.

Finally, it takes a turn for the triumphant, as the team fights back against the metallic menace before culminating in a loud, violent climax. It just works absolutely brilliantly.


18 - Flowers Blooming in the Church

Aerith’s theme is one of the most iconic tracks in the entire FINAL FANTASY series, and the new game does it justice.

This track plays during Cloud’s unplanned visit to the Sector 5 church, and provides a full introduction to everyone’s favorite local florist.

But this track has another purpose. It appears after a sustained period of action, full of tension, dramatic plot developments and high-energy battles. It provides both Cloud and the player with a much needed sense of peace and reprieve.


Disc 4

One of the most impressive things about FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE’s soundtrack is how varied it is. The tracks encompass a myriad of musical styles - even the same basic track can be presented in wildly different ways to great effect. The following two tracks illustrate this perfectly.


4 - The Oppressed - Beck’s Badasses

I bet you weren’t expecting FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE to include any ska. And yet here we are - and somehow it works!

Beck’s Badasses are a collection of minor nuisances that you’ll encounter throughout the game. What they lack in brains, they make up for in enthusiasm and that off-beat style is reflected through this equally off-beat track.


5 - Due Recompense

This track uses the same melody, but it couldn’t be more different stylistically.

Making an electronica version of ‘The Oppressed’ from the original FINAL FANTASY VII is another unconventional decision - on paper it sounds like unhinged madness.

Yet again though, it works brilliantly creating a fantastically fun and upbeat atmosphere as Cloud and Aerith navigate some of the scummier parts of Midgar’s slums. It also reinforces just how varied and surprising this new game’s soundtrack really is.


Disc 5

Let’s talk about tone. The story of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE goes to some pretty wild places, and takes the player through the full gamut of emotions - excitement, anger, fear, stress, sadness… the list goes on. The following two pieces of tracks are perfect examples of how the music helps create very different feelings for the player.


6 - Train Graveyard

People don’t come around the Train Graveyard often. And not just because of the monsters, but… because of the stories. Everyone seems to think that the train graveyard is haunted.

This area is dark, and spooky and the music reflects that superbly. The simple repeating melody is contrasted by a deeply ominous, discordant background to create deep unease among players.


14 - Fight for Survival

In contrast, this track is all about stress and panic. Things are looking bad for our heroes, as they desperately race to avoid tragedy.

The stakes have never been higher, and those feelings of desperation and urgency come through strongly through the music.

It’s another powerful piece in a soundtrack full of them.


Disc 6

The composers clearly had a lot of fun making some of these tracks - and it shows. There’s real imagination and creativity across the whole soundtrack. To illustrate what we mean, the next two tracks feel like the composers having a particularly good time.


5 - Wild de Chocobo

We can’t talk about FINAL FANTASY music and not mention at least one chocobo theme. I mean, that would be kweh-zy.

This is a great one though. So high energy! It warks… er, we mean works brilliantly!


10 - Scarlet’s Theme

A rare vocal track, Scarlet’s Theme is a genuinely great song. It’s easy to imagine reclining in a velvet chair, drinking a glass of something strong and cold (maybe a Cosmo Canyon), and just letting the sultry melody wash over you.

And then you look at the name, and remember who it’s about - Scarlet, a dangerously ambitious Shinra executive who uses employees as footrests and cares more about results than health and safety. When you think about that, how could it not raise a smile?


Disc 7

The final collection of tracks takes us through to the story’s climax. The obvious highlight here would be One Winged Angel - it’s one of the most famous tracks from the original game after all. But that seems a bit obvious, so let’s choose some other tracks that are worth highlighting.


5 - Midgar Expressway

This amazing 10 minute track really goes places.

It accompanies a thrilling multi-stage chase scene as Cloud and his compatriots race down a Midgar highway, Shinra in hot pursuit. The shredding guitars and pounding drums drive home (pun shamelessly intended) that sense of motion.

It’s also worth highlighting for the clever way it incorporates the game’s previous themes from the reactor theme from the opening of the game, to battle and boss themes, directly into the track. It’s like a recap of the game’s major musical moments - all done at 90 miles an hour!


12 - Hollow

FINAL FANTASY VII’s original composer Nobuo Uematsu has written a new theme song for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE - and it shows that he hasn’t skipped a beat.

Performed by Yosh from Survive Said the Prophet, it’s a powerful song that really speaks to the themes of the game. It’s a rousing and emotional way to complete this exploration of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE and it’s music - but we should let the artists have the final word:

We hope you enjoyed this tour through FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE by way of its music. The soundtrack’s available to buy now digitally on music services, including iTunes, Google Play and Amazon, and can preordered physically through the Square Enix Store.

Of course, you can also experience all these tracks in the game itself. FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is out now for PS4:

And here’s another great way to listen to the music from the game: live! The FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Orchestra World Tour is coming to cities in the USA, Canada, UK, France, Spain, Thailand and more!

To see a full list of concerts, please visit: https://ffvii-remakeconcerts.com/.

Finally, what are your favorite music tracks in the game? Which pieces of music perfect say ‘FINAL FANTASY VII’ to you? Let us know on social media:

Best Bits: FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE - Mako Reactor 5

We take a in-depth look at one of the most memorable sections of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE - the mission to Mako Reactor 5 and the epic battle that follows (spoilers).
By Duncan Heaney

In Best Bits, the Square Enix Blog team looks at some of our favorite moments from Square Enix games, and why we think they stand out. To be clear, we’re not declaring them to be the pinnacle of the game, merely one of many moments that we love. So don’t get upset with us if you disagree, okay?


When we think about Best Bits, our decision often comes down to one question: if you could show a new player one section of the game to really sell them on it, which would it be?

For FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, perhaps it would be the opening bombing mission, which gets the game underway in spectacular style. Or maybe Cloud’s early trip to the upper plate residential area - a fascinating look at the lives of the wealthier citizens of Midgar.

Or I could just say the words ‘Wall Market’ and those of you who’ve played the game will nod sagely in agreement while trying to keep a straight face about what’s to come.

But for me, there’s a particular sequence that shows the game firing on all cylinders - the team’s assault on Mako Reactor 5 in Chapter 7.


BEWARE: Story details for Chapter 7 of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE follow. Scroll beneath the spoiler-Barret at your own peril

What happens in Mako Reactor 5?

Mercenary Cloud Strife has joined Barret Wallace and Tifa Lockhart on a mission to sabotage an energy reactor that’s sucking the life out of the planet. Things haven’t gone particularly smoothly so far, but they’ve finally made it in.

Everything is ominously quiet. Security is unnervingly light - a few fire-flinging bioweapons and sawblade-swinging security mechs, but nothing that gives the team much trouble. They do pass one particularly buff bot - Barret comments that it would be very bad if it were to wake up (foreshadowing!).

Before long, the team reach the reactor pump and sets their bomb. And that’s when the villainous Shinra Electric Power Company springs its trap. Not only do the executives know that our heroes are there, they’re also broadcasting the assault live on television.

Rather than freedom fighters, the team will be portrayed as terrorists working for a foreign power, and the broadcast will culminate with their messy execution by the terrifying robot they saw earlier - the Airbuster.

Fortunately, the team has other ideas. They resolve to humiliate their foe by taking down the bot, and making their daring escape.

Charting a path through the reactor, they move carefully from room to room, battling Shinra’s elite security forces and knowing that every step takes them closer to an encounter with the pinnacle of Shinra’s military hardware.

So why is this section so effective? Well, let’s start with the team itself.

It strengthens the characters

To say that Cloud and Barret get off on the wrong foot would be an understatement. The two heroes constantly butt heads - to the point where early in the story Barret tries to cut ties with the former SOLDIER completely.

So one of the great joys of the mission to Mako Reactor 5 is watching the icy relationship between Cloud and Barret thaw, and a mutual respect start to emerge. This is made clear as the dialogue moves from snippy and insulting to familiar and friendly. Cloud even makes a joke!

But aside from his developing friendships, the section also works as a showcase for Barret in general. We see him demonstrate exactly why he’s able to lead his AVALANCHE cell - his passion for the planet, his unbridled rage at Shinra and his concern for his comrades are all on full display.

He’s also hysterical. When he finds out he’s on TV his attempts to turn opinion against Shinra don’t exactly go according to plan.

Your choices in Mako Reactor 5 matter

A few weeks ago, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Co-Director Naoki Hamaguchi talked to us about the importance of giving players options.

“That’s not just important for battles, but also for all kinds of gaming mechanics,” he told us. “But what’s really important for players is that feeling that they’ve made a decision on how to play, and get the feedback that they’ve done well because of it.”

That philosophy permeates throughout FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. Some choices are subtle - for example, you must constantly evaluate your actions and battle strategy. What move is right for this situation? Should you heal or go on the attack? Which character is the best fit to take on which enemy?

Some are more formal like choosing how Cloud responds to certain characters, or what materia to equip for each party member. The choices you’re asked to make in Chapter 7 are some of the most obvious in the game - but no less meaningful.

As you escape the reactor, Shinra’s harried technicians are scrambling to get the Air Buster battle-ready for the inevitable confrontation. It’s nearly ready to go, but a few components still need to be added - and that gives our heroes an opportunity for a little industrial sabotage.

In each room are between one and four terminals. If Cloud and co can find a single-use keycard, they can use these terminals to remove modules from their incoming enemy. The problem is that there are more terminals than there are cards, and this forces you to make some difficult decisions.

For example, do you remove some of the Big Bomber shells, negating one of the enemy’s strongest attacks? Do you remove the AI cores to slow it down and reduce stun attacks? Or do you go for an M-Unit which doesn’t affect the battle, but does give you access to useful items if you can find them.

You’ll never be able to completely nullify the Airbuster entirely, but it still gives a degree of control over the battle - before it even starts. It’s such a cool idea.

The Airbuster is a battle for the ages

Finally it’s time to take on the Airbuster, and it’s more than a simple boss battle. It’s an event.

This mechanical monstrosity has been carefully built up over the course of a whole chapter. Every step, every decision has been leading to this point - and it has a lot to live up to.

Boy, does it deliver!


Read more:


In the fantastic Inside FINAL FANTASY VII video documentary series (which you can watch here), Lead Battle Designer Tomotaka Shiroichi explained how the boss battles were inspired by four frame manga. Essentially, the boss battles tell a ‘story’ over four phases. He explains:

Encounter the enemy and start the battle in phase 1. Show each other’s hand and the boss takes the lead in phase 2.

In phase 3, the boss shows you the signature attacks, and the players start fighting back. That’s when bosses start revealing their weaknesses. Phase 4 is the climax and introduces the next part of the storyline.

That structure is on full display with Airbuster and it works brilliantly. The opening phase mimics the original game with the party split up on a narrow gangway. You get a sample of what the boss can do, but it’s when you step into phase two that things really shift into gear.

Now the boss unleashes its terrifying Tankbuster attack - a solid beam of energy that will devastate anyone careless enough to stand in its path. After a beating, the boss detaches its hands so they can harass you independently. It’s all very stressful - in the best possible way.

When you do enough damage, the boss enters its final phase, and things go into overdrive. A blast from the Airbuster tears apart the walkway, creating a new environment in which to fight. It also takes to the sky, using its impressive mobility to pepper the team from long range, only flying in to unleash an even more dangerous assault.

In short, the sense of escalation is palpable and it makes for a hugely exciting and cinematic encounter. It’s also one that brilliantly plays to the strengths of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE’s combat system.

You’ll have to constantly switch characters for different scenarios - Barret to deal damage at range, and Cloud or Tifa to deliver a beating up close. You’ll likely needs someone available for healing too.

You also really need to watch your positioning - if you’re in the way of some of the more dangerous attacks, you’re going to regret it. And the constantly shifting conditions of the fight mean you must be ready to find new strategies on the fly - there are those options again.

In short, it’s a boss fight for the history books - I can’t imagine many gaming moments in 2020 will be quite this exhilarating.

Oh, and the battle music? chef’s kiss.


In case you can’t tell, I really like Chapter 7 of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. The trip to Mako Reactor 5 definitely stands as one of my favorite parts of the adventure.

If you haven’t played it the game yet, it would be worth picking up just for this section. Fortunately, the whole game is full of similarly memorable moments - you’d probably find your own Best Bit fairly soon.

Also, I’ll just drop this here:

For those of you who have played the game, you can share your own Best Bits with the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE team on social media:

More FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE merch revealed!

We take a look at some new statuettes, models and more!
By Duncan Heaney

Last week, we took a look at the upcoming range of Play Arts KAI action figures, inspired by the cast of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. Today, we turn our attention to some merchandise that’s considerably less flexible… but no less awesome.

From amazingly detailed statuettes, to collectable models, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE has inspired some truly impressive pieces of merchandise, and we wanted to highlight just a few of the coolest or most desirable - both available now and upcoming.

What’s more, if you’re in the mood for something a little more old-school, we have a couple of treats from the original FINAL FANTASY VII making their way to the Square Enix Store too.

Let’s take a look:


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE STATUETTE: Cloud Strife

This is Cloud Strife. You’ve probably heard of him.

This insanely detailed statuette has been meticulously painted to properly convey every aspect of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE’s protagonist, from his determined expression to his battle-marked Buster Sword.

It depicts him standing with his hand on his iconic weapon, ready to leap into action.

Available: August 2020


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE STATUETTE: Sephiroth

Now here’s the villain of the piece.

He may be a threat to the planet, but it’s impossible to deny that Sephiroth makes for an amazingly dynamic statuette.

This piece depicts the legendary SOLDIER standing strong with his famous Masamune sword. As with Cloud, the attention to detail is stunning despite its static nature - just look at that flowing hair!

Available: August 2020


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE STATUETTE – Aerith

Aerith’s personality really shines through in this particular statuette.

It depicts the local florist in her now famous outfit, and wielding her Guard Stick. From the detailing on that weapon, to the folds in her dress and ribbon in her hair, every effort has been taken to capture an accurate image of the figure from the game.

She, and all the statuettes, also come equipped with a display stand, so you can easily display in on your desk, shelf… any flat surface really.

Available: August 2020


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE TRADING ARTS - SET OF 5

One of the questions you may be asking yourself so far is ‘which FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE character should I get?’

That’s one of the reasons that this TRADING arts series is so cool - you can get the five central characters all in one set.

Cloud, Barret, Tifa, Aerith and Sephiroth are included, and all are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. What’s more, despite their compact size, each is wonderfully detailed right down to the texture on their clothes.

They’re available now - take a look:


FINAL FANTASY VII POLYGON FIGURE - (Blind box of 8)

Here’s a little bonus item. We’ve talked a lot about FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, but perhaps you’re a fan of the classics.

If the original FINAL FANTASY VII is close to your heart, you should take a look at these recent Polygon Figures. They recreate the characters of the game in their original polygon forms, expressive eyes and all.

It’s sold as a pack of eight, and each figure comes in a blind box, so you won’t know what you’re going to get. If you’re lucky, you might receive a special ‘Chaser’ figure!


That was just another small sample of the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE merchandise available now, or in the next few months.

If you loved the game, and want to celebrate these amazing characters outside of the adventure, there’s a lot of items to choose from.

And the pieces we’ve shown are just the tip of the iceberg - there’s loads more FINAL FANTASY VII merchandise on the Square Enix Store - from wallets and watches, to posters and jigsaws.

Go take a look - and for news and information about merchandise from your favorite games, makes sure you follow on social media:

Go to Square Enix Store

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE: Tifa Lockhart dynamic theme now available for PS4

Here’s how you get it - and other FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE themes
By Duncan Heaney

Tifa Lockhart is a woman of many talents: hard-hitting martial artist, pull-up specialist and owner of the best bar in Midgar to name but a few. Now she can add one more accomplishment to the list - subject of a PS4 theme.

The FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE TiIfa Dynamic Theme is now available for free for all PS4 users. It features Tifa sitting atop a familiar Nibelheim water tower, staring up at the starry night sky.

One particularly nice touch is that the hero sits in front of the PS4’s icons, creating a real sense of depth as they scroll behind her. Another is that it also features Tifa’s theme from the new game - an absolutely beautiful piece of music.

The free theme’s available right now - so go get it.

Tifa’s theme joins the others already available on PS4. For example, if you want something a bit more pulse-pounding, you should take a look at the Cloud Theme.

Exclusively available to PS Plus members, this features the iconic image of Cloud facing the Shinra Building, hand on Buster Sword. The background music for this theme is the battle track: Let the Battles Begin.

If you have digital versions of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE and FINAL FANTASY XIV Online, you can also get access to the catchily-named FFVII REMAKE & FFXIV Purchase Bonus Theme - Prelude.

This awesome theme combines both games, switching between the stunning cityscape of Midgar and the smouldering Warrior of Darkness from the FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers trailers.

It also features FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE’s Prelude music.

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is out now on PS4.

To stay up to date with all the relevant news and information about the game, make sure you follow FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE on social media:

FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition out August 27, 2020

Enhanced Action-RPG classic features improved visuals, new content, online multiplayer with crossplay and more!
By Duncan Heaney

We know a lot of you have been waiting for more information about FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition. So how about the release date?

We’re pleased to announce that the game will release August 27, 2020 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, iOS and Android*. It also comes with a host of new and enhanced features, including an entirely new ‘Mimic’ system, online multiplayer and crossplay!

You can get a taste of what to expect in the trailer:

Looks good, right?

As the name implies, FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition is a new and improved version of the original FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES, which launched on Nintendo GameCube way back in 2003.

The action RPG is set in a land threatened by a deeply poisonous gas called Miasma. You play as a young hero who, with a Moogle companion or along with up to three other friends, travels the world in search of the rare and valuable liquid myrrh. With this precious resource, they’ll be able to cleanse and maintain a crystal that protects the land and its people.

The Remastered Edition of the game comes with enhanced features and even entirely new content. The visuals have been upgraded, bringing the game’s world and inhabitants to modern systems in glorious HD.

Audio’s been improved too, with new voiceovers that bring these memorable characters to life like never before.

The game also features online multiplayer for the first time - that’s exciting because FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition is an amazing co-op experience.

The original version of the game required four GameBoy Advances and link cables to play with a full team, which was awesome, but also required people to have all that equipment to hand. Now, you’ll be able to play online for a far more convenient and seamless session.

Speaking of convenience, FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition also features crossplay! That means you’ll able to play online with anyone who owns the game, regardless of their platform.

Whether you play with a team online, or as a solo adventurer, you’ll be able to explore dangerous dungeons and take on challenging bosses, some of which are brand-new and have been added for this edition of the game.

There’s also an entirely new ‘Mimic’ feature. It lets your character take on the form of different people you meet on your journey, so you can mix up your style. By collecting stamps, visiting Moogle Houses or completing difficult dungeons, you’ll earn special crystals, which you can use to change up your appearance. It’s a great way to mix up your style!


FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition will be available digitally for Nintendo Switch, PS4, iOS and Android* on August 27, 2020.

To stay up to date with news and information about the game - and the FINAL FANTASY series as a whole - follow the team on social media:

*iOS and Android release timing subject to change

Preview some upcoming FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE action figures

From Cloud and Sephiroth, to Rude and Reno, we take a look at some incredible FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Play Arts KAI figures - due for release later this year!
By Duncan Heaney

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE contains some of the best - and most beloved - characters in all of gaming. It’s a cast worth celebrating - and what better way than to bring them out of the virtual world into the real one?

A number of brand new FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Play Arts KAI action figures are due for release in 2020 and 2021.

These beautifully made and fully articulated pieces, capture the game’s heroes and villains with an astonishing attention to detail - to the point where they look like they just stepped out of Midgar itself.

Ahead of their release, we wanted to highlight these figures and give you a quick glimpse at what to expect.

So let’s do that.


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Play Arts KAI - Cloud Strife ver.2

Let’s start with the main man himself - Cloud Strife.

This new figure features an updated face sculpt based on the in-game 3D model. In fact, it's extremely detailed in all aspects, from Cloud’s confident expression to his shiny earring. And just look at those eyes - those are mako eyes!

As you’d expect, the SOLDIER - sorry, ex-SOLDIER - comes with upgraded iconic Buster Sword. As in the game, its covered with nicks and rust, giving the impression that the weapon has seen its fair share of combat.

It’s intensely poseable too, allowing you to contort Cloud into lots of different positions too. Want him relaxed, with his sword on his back? Not a problem. Or maybe have him hold his blade in two hands ready to bring it down - if you’re feeling braver.

Available: August 2020


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Play Arts KAI - Tifa Lockhart

As a skilled martial artist, Tifa needs to be flexible and this action figure more than delivers in that respect!

The figure has multiple points of articulation, including updated joints in her arms and knees, so whether you want her punching, kicking or just relaxing at Seventh Heaven, you can make her look just right.

For added drama, you can switch heads and hands. You can have Tifa with open or closed fists, and even switch her hair for a wind-swept look to emphasize a feeling of movement.

Available: November 2020


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Play Arts KAI – Barret Wallace Ver. 2

This passionate leader of AVALANCHE cuts an imposing figure in the game - and this action figure is no different.

All the details have been taken directly from the in-game model, from his striking tattoos to the expression of resolve on his face. To get a sense of just how detailed the model is, take a look at how intricate his signature gun arm.

The figure features different hand options to allow for different poses and removable sunglasses, which are made from translucent material so you can see his eyes.

Available: October 2020


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Play Arts KAI - Aerith Gainsborough

This strong-willed flower seller from the Sector 5 slums makes for a striking action figure.

An enormous amount of care has been taken to accurately recreate the texture of Aerith’s clothes and skin, and properly represent her character in physical form. It’s paid off because she looks like she stepped right out of the game.

This action figure comes with multiple accessories, including Aerith’s Guard Stick weapon, multiple hands to allow for different poses and even a flower basket - just in case any former SOLDIERS come wandering past.

Available: December 2020


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Play Arts KAI – Reno

Reno is one of the most skilled - and most eccentric - of Shinra’s Turks. He’s easily identifiable by his slim silhouette, distinctive red hair and slick sense of style - all of which have been perfectly captured in this action figure.

He comes equipped with his baton, multiple interchangeable hands and two head pieces that showcase his quirky personality.

Add an impressive range of articulation, and you have a figure as fun and freewheeling as the man himself.

Available: January 2021


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Play Arts KAI - Rude

Cool, composed and competent, Rude is the consummate professional. So he naturally also makes for the consummate action figure.

The fine details of the fan-favorite Turk have been painstakingly recreated from the game - his buff physique, the texture of his gloves and even the more subtle decorations like his earrings and chains.

Of course, his sunglasses are present and correct. We use translucent pieces that allow you to see his expression underneath the lens. If you want a rare glimpse at Rude without his signature shades you can have that too, with interchangeable heads!

Available: February 2021


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Play Arts KAI - Sephiroth

Sephiroth, the legendary SOLDIER, war hero and Cloud-botherer makes for an impressively expressive action figure.

That’s partly due to the detailing on his face and clothes, but also due to his multiple points of articulation. Even his hair can be posed!

Accessories include Sephiroth’s famous - and lengthy! - Masamune sword, as well as interchangeable hands to allow for different positions and poses. There’s even an additional head piece with his eyes closed for when you want the figure to be particularly enigmatic.

Available: March 2021


That was just a brief look at the amazing range of Play Arts KAI action figures that are on their way in the coming months.

For more information about these figures - and to see more awesome FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE merchandise - check out the Square Enix Store.

And finally, to stay up to date with news and information about the most exciting products from Square Enix, make sure you follow us on social media:

FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Starter Edition is free on PlayStation Store

Offer only available for a limited time - so be quick!
By Duncan Heaney

Here’s an important PSA for anyone who’s ever considered stepping into the world of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online. The Starter Edition is currently available on PlayStation Store at the best possible price: free.

According to our maths, that’s a (calculates furiously) 100% reduction on the standard upfront cost of £12.99 .

The Starter Edition also includes 30 days of free game time for new registrations (note that after 30 days a paid subscription is required).

The promotion runs from now until May 25, 2020, 23:59 BST so you’ll need to be quick to grab it.

Head over here to get your copy:

The FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Starter Edition is perfect for newcomers to begin their adventure. It includes the entire story of A Realm Reborn, including all of the updates that game received. That’s dozens of hours-worth of main scenario quests, side quests, dungeons, raids, and extra content.

You can also play as any class or job from the original release all the way up to level 50, so you can experiment with the different options to your hearts content with no restrictions to worry about.

Long story short, the Starter Edition’s a risk-free way to dip your toe into the vibrant realm of Eorzea and see if the many adventures within are for you. And considering that it’s currently free (unless you’re reading this after May 25, 2020), and includes 30 days of free game time too, there’s no reason not to try it out.

If you like what you play, and want to level up your experience with new jobs, playable races, and stories, you can purchase the critically-acclaimed FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Shadowbringers, which also includes access to both Heavensward and Stormblood expansion packs.

For full information and promotion timings, please check the details in your region’s PlayStation Store:


To stay up to date with news and information about FINAL FANTASY XIV Online, make sure you follow the team on social media:

6 Square Enix characters who can’t help but raise a smile

These hilarious characters may not be the heroes of their games, but we love them all the same.
By Duncan Heaney

WARNING: Contains mild spoilers for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, the Deus Ex series, OCTOPATH TRAVELER, and FINAL FANTASY VI


As gamers, we spend a lot of time with the fate of the world in our hands.

But while being the hero is an important job, it doesn’t have to be a grim one. In fact, too much self-seriousness can be exhausting - sometimes you just need something that lightens the mood.

Fortunately, Square Enix games are full of rich characters who do just that. They may not be the heroes, but they entertain and amuse us and we love them for it just the same.

With that in mind, here are just a few of those characters that put a big grin on our faces:


Johnny - FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

In most respects, Johnny is the polar opposite of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE’s main man Cloud Strife. While the merc is typically cool, collected and competent, Johnny is none of those things.

He appears throughout the game, but his shining moment takes place in Chapter 9. As you explore the many memorable sights and sounds of Wall Market, you’ll constantly run into Johnny.

The brash and bumbling himbo is on a parallel path to the heroes. He visits the same spots and shares the same goals, but without the benefit of common sense it doesn’t work out well for him.

He’s thrown out of the hand massage parlor for being a deadbeat, forcibly ejected from the Honeybee Inn, and his attempts to compete at the Corneo Coliseum leave him with more than a bruised ego.

Yet for all his incompetence, there’s something endearing about his sheer bone-headed enthusiasm. When he hears that his beloved Tifa’s in trouble, he throws himself whole-heartedly into a quest to save her.

it fails miserably of course, because… Johnny, but it’s hard not to like the poor sap. He may be short of brains, but he at least has heart.


Z’aanta - OCTOPATH TRAVELER

The master hunter Z’aanta is an interesting case because although he’s not in OCTOPATH TRAVELLER for long, he makes an impression.

He lives deep in the woodlands, in the town of S'warkii, where he mentors the playable character H’aanit in the ways of the hunt. From that description (and the fact that his name sounds a bit like Santa), you might assume that Z’aanta is a wise and dependable role model, but you would be wrong.

Actually, he’s a little bit unsavoury. He gambles heavily - and usually loses, and has a carefree attitude that belies his age and experience. Rather than providing H’aanit with sage advice, it’s usually his student who has to look after him.

And although H’aanit does do her best to keep her surrogate father on the straight and narrow, it’s a losing battle. Still, there’s a clear love and respect between the two all the same.


Ultros - FINAL FANTASY VI

This recurring boss from FINAL FANTASY VI is petty, belligerent… oh and a giant purple octopus. Should have probably led with that.

You first meet the tentacled terror during a raft ride - he pops up out of the water, eager to chow down on some delicious human flesh. He’s promptly defeated and flees into the depths - a resounding victory for the team (at least until Sabin decides it’s a good idea to attack a river and gets washed away).

Each subsequent encounter gets more and more ridiculous. Ultros pops up again during the famous opera scene, bitter and seeking revenge. He doesn’t succeed in disrupting proceedings - the heroes just work his appearance into the plot. After getting beaten up in front of a paying audience, Ultros is forced to flee again.

Things don’t get better for him from there. He gets distracted mid-fight by having his portrait done by a child, his friend literally sneezes him off of an airship and late into the game, he faces the ultimate humiliation - he has to get a job.

FINAL FANTASY VI can be a dark, dramatic game, but it never loses its sense of fun. ‘Uncle Ulty’ is a perfect example of that - he’s silly, crazy, and completely hilarious.


Bonanzo - DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2

This green-thumbed resident in DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 has a big beard and a bigger dream: to be mayor of an island.

Unfortunately for him, nobody else shares that dream.

You first encounter Bonanzo on Furrowfield - one of the first islands you’ll visit in the story. Like many in the game’s world, he lives in fear of the destructive Children of Hargon, and resists your quest to bring life and creativity back to the land.

But he can only hold out so long before the spirit of farming awakens within him, and he becomes one of your staunchest allies - and self-appointed father figure, whether you like it or not.

He’s a useful chap to have around, willing to chip in with building projects and even battles, but that compliment is nothing compared to his opinion of himself. He’s haughty and self-aggrandizing and assumes that his candidacy for mayor is a given.

But it’s not - particularly because his big bushy facial features make many who meet him instantly wary. Even your BFF Malroth says that he doesn’t trust anyone with a beard.

He may not achieve his dream, and he may not be loved by the other residents, but he’s won our hearts. That’s why we built a lavish private bedroom just for him.

On top of a cliff, away from the other residents though. It’s probably for the best.


Frank Pritchard - Deux Ex: Human Revolution / Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Sarif Industries’ head of cyber-security Frank Pritchard has an… interesting relationship with augmented agent Adam Jensen. At first he’s not a fan - and Frank’s not one to hide his feelings.

Throughout the game, poor Adam - and by extension you - have to deal with amusingly snarky comments from the prickly Pritchard.

Get trigger happy during a mission, and he’ll show his disdain with a quip about Atilla the Hun. Proud of yourself for doing that perfect no-kill run of a mission? Frank’s there to burst your bubble with some bruisingly sarcastic remarks about your humanitarian approach.

And woe betide you if you go into the women’s toilet.

But over time, Frank and Adam develop an understanding. A respect starts to grow, and by the time of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the two have become allies - if not exactly friends.

His comments don’t get any less snippy though. And why would we want them to?


Hildibrand Manderville - FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

As the Warrior of Light, you spend a lot of time in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online with the fate of the world on your shoulders. You’ll battle powerful creatures, explore vast dungeons, stand between warring nations... being the hero is a serious business.

At least it is until you run into Hildibrand Manderville. This… erm… unique detective calls himself an inspector extraordinaire, and in a way that’s accurate. He’s definitely not ordinary.

As a member of the affluent Manderville family, he’s noble in more ways than one. He wants to use his wealth to protect those less fortunate - he’s just not very good at it.

He lacks even basic deductive skills, his disguise skills are… misguided, he’s terrible at shadowing suspects, and he has a weird compunction to pose dramatically at every opportunity.

His naïve assistant Nashu isn’t much better - between the two of them, there’s not a case they can’t bungle. It’s a good thing you’re around to help him out.


Those were just six characters who bring us mirth and merriment, but what do you think? Which NPCs brighten your day? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter:

So you’ve finished FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE… what now?

One adventure is over… time to start some new ones.
By Duncan Heaney

I don’t know about you, but when I finish a game I really like, I’m sometimes left with a weird feeling of loss.

It’s a complex combination of satisfaction and sadness - you’ve adored this game enough to invest tons of time and emotion into it, and now that it’s all over… what next?

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE has been one of those games for me. For weeks I’ve all but lived in Midgar - I’ve finished the story multiple times, mastered the combat system and found most of the secrets. I’ve loved every second, and now that my journey is reaching a natural end, I don’t really know what to do with myself.

And if I feel like that, I’m willing to bet that a lot of you do too. With that in mind, I’ve put together some suggestions for some titles that I think will act as a perfect follow-up for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.


FINAL FANTASY XV ROYAL EDITION

If you liked one FINAL FANTASY game, it makes sense to move onto another. The 15th mainline game in the series is a sensible choice, as it also has a real-time battle system.

This adventure follows Prince Noctis Lucis Caelum and his friends Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto, on a road trip towards Altissia - where the prince will be married. But when tragedy strikes, Noctis is forced to step up and accept new responsibilities.

In truth, it’s a very different game to FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, but it shares many of the same elements that make that game so great. The characters, for example, are equally memorable. The bond and banter between the four friends is hugely enjoyable - and surprisingly affecting.

And while the combat system feels quite different - there are no menu-based commands and Noctis is more manoeuvrable than Cloud and co - it’s equally flashy and satisfying. The villain is terrific too, albeit in a very different way to the big S…. but we’ll let you discover that for yourselves.


Trials of Mana

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE wasn’t the only remake we released in April. Trials of Mana is a complete reimagining of a classic 1995 action RPG - Seiken Densetsu 3 as it was known in Japan.

You choose three characters from a choice of six, and take them on a globe-trotting adventure filled with interesting characters, secrets to find and some truly superb boss battles. What’s more, the story will play out differently depending on who you choose for your main protagonist and two companions.

The game’s another logical next step for anyone who likes real time battle systems. Trials of Mana’s combat is brisk and exciting, with a real sense of weight and power to your attacks. The other pillars of a great RPG are there too - a rewarding upgrade system and a killer soundtrack.

Perhaps the best thing of all is that you can try it for free. A demo is available on PS4, Steam and Switch that lets you play a hefty portion of the opening sections - and your progress will even carry over to the full game if you decide to buy!


DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

Much like FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is a critically acclaimed RPG set in a beautiful world full of incredible characters, satisfying combat, and surprising stories.

This game is a genuine epic that positively overflows with charm. All the things you’d want out of an RPG are present and correct: the story is exciting and goes to unexpected places, it has one of the most likeable casts of characters you’ll ever see, and the combat - turn-based in this case - is fast-paced and strategic.

In short, it’s the complete package. Heavily recommended.


Shadow of the Tomb Raider

If you haven’t played a Tomb Raider game, you may be surprised to learn that Lara Croft’s most recent adventures have a fair amount in common with FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

Take Shadow of the Tomb Raider for example. Like that game it also features beautiful, cutting-edge visuals, a focus on story and exciting set piece moments. It also features RPG elements, such as experience points which you can use to upgrade Lara’s skills and weapon upgrades.

There’s a greater emphasis on platforming and puzzles than FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, and combat is fully real-time and mostly firearm-focused, but if you want another game that delivers tons of flash and sizzle without sacrificing substance, this is well worth playing.

There’s a free trial available for PS4, Xbox One and Steam too - so give it a go!


FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

One of the best things about Midgar is how well realized the city is - and how lived-in it feels.

If getting completely absorbed in a fantasy world is what you want, few are as expansive and immersive as FINAL FANTASY XIV Online’s. Not only is overflowing with amazing sights and sounds, it’s home to some of the most compelling stories in FINAL FANTASY history.

The game is specifically designed to be welcoming to new players and suit all types of people. For example, if you want to buddy up with friends, there’s plenty of scope to do so, but it you want to stay as a mostly solo adventurer, that’s viable too.

Most quests can be completed on your own, and for group activities like dungeons, you can be automatically matched with other players or you can fight alongside NPCS instead with the recently introduced Trust system.

But perhaps the best thing about FINAL FANTASY XIV Online is that there’s always something new to do. New quests and features are released regularly throughout the year, so you’re unlikely to experience the feelings we talked about at the top of the article.


WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY MAXIMA / DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY NT

Want to see more of Cloud and co? The heroes of FINAL FANTASY VII have stepped into many other games over years.

For example, Cloud, Tifa and Sephiroth are all playable in DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY NT. This fast-paced 3v3 fighting game lets you pit characters from across the FINAL FANTASY series against each other in explosive, visually stunning brawls.

If you want to give it a go, there’s a Free Edition available on Steam and PS4. It won’t give you access to every character, but it will let you see if you like the game without spending a single gil.

Alternatively, you could check out WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY MAXIMA. It’s an adorable RPG that acts as a love letter to the FINAL FANTASY series, and features appearances from super-cute versions of popular characters - including a certain spiky-haired former SOLDIER.


The original FINAL FANTASY VII

If you want more of the world of FINAL FANTASY VII, there’s an obvious next step: play more FINAL FANTASY VII.

The original game is available on most platforms - PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Steam and even mobile phones! However you play, it’s a chance to spend more time with the characters you know and love from REMAKE.

You’ll also see familiar scenes, enemies, weapons and more in their original form and see just how painstakingly the team has reimagined them for the new game.

What’s more, FINAL FANTASY VII still stands up as a superb RPG in its own right. If you’ve never played this true icon of gaming, it’s a perfect opportunity to see why people still love it so much. And for those who have played time and time again… well, you don’t need us to give you an excuse for one more playthrough, right?


Those were just a few picks for what to play after you’re done with FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE - but we’re sure you have some ideas of your own too!

Why not share your suggestions on social media, and let us know what you’re playing next!

10 things we learned from The Creation of FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers

Which parts of the real world influenced Shadowbringers? Why are capes such a big deal? And how do you make ‘pretty vomit?’
By Duncan Heaney

The Creation of FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers video documentary provides a fascinating look behind the scenes of the critically acclaimed expansion.

Across seven episodes, the series looks at everything, from writing the story to building the battles. It’s full of fascinating insights and anecdotes direct from the developers themselves.

Here just 10 of the things it’s taught us:

1. The writers wanted to challenge basic assumptions of light and dark

Traditionally, light and darkness are presented in a particular way in fiction, and this was also true of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online. Even within the game’s development team, light equaled justice and darkness equaled evil.

For Shadowbringers, Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida wanted to challenge and subvert these assumptions.

He says: “When people think of Light, they think of something beautiful, righteous and just; something that’s pretty to look at, unstained and untainted, but that’s not necessarily true.

And if you look at Darkness, there’s beauty in it - there’s a line of dialogue that talks about how it’s the night sky that enables the stars to be beautiful.

2. The First was heavily influenced by the real world

Shadowbringers moves the action out of Hydaelyn into a whole new realm: The First. It may seem a fantastical setting, but many of the areas you explore were deeply inspired by real places.

For example, on a business trip to Saudi Arabia, the team took the opportunity to visit the desert and take some pictures while they were there. The design and textures of Amh Araeng take many direct cues from that reference material.

Elsewhere, The Rak’tika Greatwood’s Ronkan Ruins were inspired by Angkor Wat - a massive temple complex in Cambodia - while the stark cliffs of Kholusia were influenced by the Seven Sisters in the UK.


3. Making the Everlasting Light look just right took effort… and travel

How do you make light feel oppressive? This was one of the biggest visual design challenges for the Shadowbringers devs, and it took a lot of thought and time to make the light feel right.

Every element of the weather states was considered. For example, Background Artist Masato Shida worked on the clouds - and went to some lengths to get them as good as he could.

I decided I wanted to depict clouds that felt like it had some thickness to them,” he recalls. “To do this, I decided to take reference photos of different types of clouds.

I actually travelled outside of Japan to Guam to take pictures of the different clouds there, and they were really rich, thick clouds. It was these I utilized and modified to create what you see in the game.

Now that’s dedication!

4. When it comes to Shadowbringers fashion, capes are in

Due to the way FINAL FANTASY XIV Online is set up, the team isn’t really able to create cloaks and capes. They’d announced this publicly before, and also stressed it to the art team.

But you’ll notice that new gear for the Red Mage features what looks suspiciously like… a cape. That’s because Character Concept Artist Ayumi Namae came up with an idea to create something that at least looked like one.

Even though there was a chance it wouldn’t look right, Character Artist Yuji Yamazaki and team decided to roll the dice and see what they could do.

He says: “While it may not have looked very realistic compared to an actual cape, there was an idea there for us to fudge it!

I thought about the functionality we already have in our clothing designs and told Ms. Namae that while I couldn’t make any promises, I could see a way to give it a go that may work.

By borrowing from other ‘flowing’ elements like skirts or hems, Mr Yamazaki was able to create a similar effect with cloaks. They don’t move on their own like a real cape does, but it mimics the effect pretty brilliantly.

5. The monsters were designed to emphasize the game’s themes

The developers of Shadowbringers wanted the creatures of The First to play into the themes of subverting the traditional role of light vs darkness.

This was very challenging, but the results of this approach can be seen clearly in the Sin Eaters. Their stark white coloring refers back to traditional representations of light, but it also fees unnatural and visually striking, which allows the designs to have a great deal of impact.

In one of the pivotal early scenes in Shadowbringers players encounter a Sin Eater. Lead Character Concept Artist Yusuke Mogi explains how the design also intentionally subverts traditionally peaceful iconography:

She has wings evocative of a white dove, a creature that’s traditionally representative of peace.

So it makes it interesting because you have these white-winged creatures and then in comes this depraved Warrior of Darkness slashing and defeating them.


6. The Voidwalker boss was unwittingly designed as a mount

The Voidwalker boss that appears as part of the Eden’s Gate raid is one of the most striking bosses in Shadowbringers, but it wasn’t originally designed to be one.

When Mr Mogi got the request, he thought it was intended to be a mount. As a result, his initial design was like a bird, laying down so players could climb on top to ride.

So when the developers implemented it as a boss fight, and standing upright no less, it was quite a surprise for the artist!

7. Some of the sound requests were… unconventional

We’ve already mentioned figuring out how to depict the transformation of a person into a Sin Eater was a pretty tricky task, but there’s one often overlooked element that was particularly challenging.

The horror of this shocking transformation is driven home by the sound, but the developers who worked on the scene had to contend with some very unusual direction.

The instruction we received regarding the sound was basically ‘pretty vomit’, which resulted in the person assigned to applying the sound being understandably confused!” says Sound Designer Go Kinuya.

Well, in the end we were able to figure out a solution that seemed to work best for everyone, but I do remember there were quite a few tricky areas when working on it.

So if you’ve ever wondered what pretty vomit sounds like, now you know.


8. The gremlin in the opening cinematic was voiced by a man hiding in a closet

The world of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online is full of weird creatures, and many need some kind of distinctive voice. It’s up to the sound team to create them, but sometimes even they can be flummoxed.

The gremlin in the opening cinematic to Shadowbringers is one such example. Sound Director and Composer Masayoshi Soken assigned the task of creating its voice to a junior member of the team, who tried various things but nothing seemed to work.

Mr Soken recalls that: “In the end, as a last-ditch effort, he went home over the weekend, took a hand recorder and went into his closet to discreetly record what he believed a gremlin may sound like, while trying not to disturb the rest of his family at home. It was surprisingly good!

We did modify the voice quite a bit of course, but it is my colleague’s voice that we used.

9. The behavior of Trust System NPCs is defined by their personalities.

When developing the Trust system, it was important to the team that each NPC’s personalities shone through - not just in their dialogue and appearance but in their actions too.

This proved to be quite challenging, and the team has to think long and hard about how to emphasize the specific traits and quirks of each through the AI itself. Each character had to act in a way that was consistent with how they’d been portrayed in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online so far.

Lead Battle Designer Masaki Nakagawa provides an example of how this works in practice:

Though Alisae has the ability to use the Vercure healing magics, it feels like her personality would skew towards prioritizing attacks and only really have her step in with the cure spells when the healer is having a hard time.

Trying to show these nuances within the AI system was definitely a challenge.

10. How did the NieR raid series come about? Thank steak and wine

The YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse raid series is one of the highlights of Shadowbringers. It’s a collaboration with NieR series Producer Yosuke Saito and Director YOKO TARO, it but how does something like that even get started?

Steak and wine help.

Simply put, I personally wanted to do something with Saito-san and YOKO-san, so I invited them out for dinner without any sort of context,” says FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida.

We went and ate some delicious steak and after opening about two bottles of red and white wine each, I decided to ask ‘would you like to work on something with me?’”

YOKO TARO adds: “We were very drunk at the time, so I don’t have any recollection of what happened.


Those were just 10 fascinating facts about the making of FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers. The whole documentary series is full of loads more interesting things to learn, and it’s an essential watch for any fan of the game.

You can see all the episodes here or on YouTube. And make sure you follow FINAL FANTASY XIV Online on social media for videos, news, updates, discussion and more.

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE sweepstake winners revealed!

Four lucky people have won chronographs worth £1,777.77 / €1,999.99
By Duncan Heaney

Did you enter the big FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE sweepstake?

In the run-up to the launch, the Square Enix Store gave anyone who pre-ordered the game in North America or Europe the chance to win one of these amazing FINAL FANTASY VII-themed chronographs.

These stainless steel timepieces are as beautiful as they are impressive. Every piece is handcrafted, from the all-glass back to the Mako-inspired mother-of-pearl central disk, and they’re finished with details that refer back to FINAL FANTASY VII.

Two versions are available - one inspired by Cloud Strife and another by Sephiroth - and only a limited number have been made. Long story short, each one’s a premium item in every sense.

Now that the game’s released, we’re excited to announce the winners of the sweepstake.


North America

First Place: FINAL FANTASY VII Chronograph: Cloud Strife (approximate retail value $2,499.99 USD)

  • Winner: Alberto C (USA)

Second Place: FINAL FANTASY VII Chronograph: Sephiroth (approximate retail value of $2,499.99 USD)

  • Winner: Ricky P. (USA)

Europe

First Place: FINAL FANTASY VII Chronograph: Cloud Strife (approximate retail value £1,777.77 / €1,999.99)

  • Winner: Gaëtan (France)

Second Place: FINAL FANTASY VII Chronograph: Sephiroth (approximate retail value £1,777.77 / €1,999.99)

  • Winner: David (UK)

All the winners have been contacted and should be receiving their prizes soon.

For everyone else, bad luck. But hey - at least you got FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. That’s pretty good right?

To stay up to date with news and information about the game, make sure you follow the team on social media:

6 Square Enix characters that we’d recruit for a heist

We’d need a burglar, a safe-cracker, a grifter, some muscle, a driver and a planner. But who to pick…
By Duncan Heaney

Warning: spoilers for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 and OCTOPATH TRAVELER.


The other day I caught the tail end of a heist movie on TV. Inevitably it got me thinking – if we were going to put together a crew, which Square Enix characters would we recruit?

What follows is a dramatisation of how this little thought experiment went.

I love a good heist.

Oh yeah - me too!

Movies, TV shows, books… it always makes for great fiction.

…fiction, right. (Quietly puts crowbar back in bag)

You know the story – a group of noble-hearted misfits team up to put a wrongdoer in his or her place, typically through means of a needlessly elaborate plan that requires their oddly specialised skillsets.

Ah, you mean some sort of hustle…

Shh! I don’t know if we’re legally allowed to use brand names!

Anyway, if we were going to do a good ol’-fashioned movie heist, who would recruit for our team? After all, there are Oceans-worth of Square Enix characters whose skills we could Leverage.

From what I understand, you really need six roles to pull it off: a cat burglar, some muscle, a safe-cracker, a grifter, a wheelman and finally a big brain to create the plan.

So with that in mind, here are the Square Enix characters I’d pick to pull off a heist.

I dunno… is this really the most productive use of your time? I mean, you haven’t even clearly articulated who you’re talking to? Am I a voice in your head, another member of the team or what?

Hey look friend – as I write this, the power’s gone out in my house and I have nothing else to do. So let me have this, okay?

Fine. Let’s hear it.


The Cat Burglar – Erik from DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

Every team needs a burglar – the kind of rascal that can slip in and out of a room without anyone noticing.

Do you mean a thief? Because there’s literally a game called… Thief.

Well yes – fair point. Garrett would be a great choice, but I’d rather utilise his skills for a more specialised role.

Instead, I’d recruit Erik from DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age to do the job. This spiky-haired hero has fast hands, a quick wit and an unerring ability to get in and out of places he shouldn’t be.

Hmm… sounds a little untrustworthy.

You’d think that, but Erik as a firm a friend as you could ever hope to find.

He’s reliable, loyal and sure he can get a bit carried away when presented with valuable treasure, but he’ll always do the right thing in the end. He’s the quintessential rogue with a heart of gold. In more ways than one actually.

Any other skills?

Like many thieves, he’d prefer to run from a fight rather than stand his ground. But if it does come to fisticuffs, he can more than hold his own. Not only is he incredibly evasive, his Critical Claim attack is one of the strongest of all the DRAGON QUEST XI crew.

Be warned though – he’ll insist on waiting for his turn to use it.


The Muscle – Tifa from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

All heist teams need some muscle – someone tough to take care of any unexpected trouble. And there’s no shortage of options here.

Ooh – like Zell from FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered!

Strong, but far too excitable. Think about it – one overexcited whoop and the whole gig’s blown.

Ok, what about Barret from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE?

See above.

No, if we’re talking FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, there’s a much more obvious choice: Tifa Lockhart.

This awesome martial artist is fast, strong and incredibly skilled. I mean, she can literally punch robots into scrap - even ex-SOLDIER Cloud has to use a Buster Sword.

And talk about upper body strength - have you seen how many pull-ups she can do?

Does she have any experience though?

Yes - as a member of Avalanche, Tifa has played a vital role in missions to sneak into dangerous reactors, infiltrate high security offices and more. She may have misgivings about some of these jobs, but she ultimately always steps up to protect her friends and teammates.

And you know there’s one more thing that she can supply to the team: her own bar!

Seventh Heaven has everything you need for a good hideout: a jukebox, plenty of cocktails (mine’s a Cosmo Canyon!) and even a secret room underneath the pinball table.

Brilliant - so after the heist, we can go back there and celebrate with a plate of something.

…yes. I can definitely guarantee you’ll get a plate.


The Safe-cracker – Garrett from Thief

If movies have taught me anything (and clearly they have not), it’s that every good heist crew needs a safe-cracker. From looked doors, to lockboxes, these nimble-fingered artisans of are capable of opening anything and everything.

In other words, it takes a skilled touch, and Garrett – the Master Thief himself - is very, very skilled indeed. When it comes to picking locks, there’s no-one better.

I’ve heard that there are some safes that are completely impregnable though. I imagine that even Garrett would have trouble with those bad boys?

And you’d be right – which is where his extensive collection of other skills comes into effect.

For example, Garrett a master of stealth - a true shadow. He could be standing right next to you and you’d never know.

Also consider that he’s incredibly thorough. He’ll scan a room carefully, look into every nook and cranny with a practiced eye. If the combination’s written somewhere he’ll find it.

But what if it’s not written down?

Look, if you’re a videogame character with a safe, you have to write down the combination. It’s, like, the rules.

Seems awfully convenient, but I’ll go with it.


The Grifter – Primrose from OCTOPATH TRAVELER

Next, we need a people person – a slick smooth-talker who can manipulate people to get exactly what they want. Primrose from OCTOPATH TRAVELER fits the bill perfectly.

Once a noble, she’s embarked on a life of subterfuge and revenge after the death of her father. As part of her quest, she assumes guises – such as taking on the guise of a dancer as she lies in wait for her target.

So she’s willing to play the long-con then?

Oh boy is she! But that’s not the only reason she’s the perfect person for this role. Primrose has the special ability to sweet-talk… well, pretty much anyone she meets.

It doesn’t matter how who they are, how old they are, or what they’re doing – a few words from Primrose and they’ll follow her to the ends of the earth.

Wow – that’s persuasive.

I know, right? They’ll even throw themselves into mortal danger if she asks them to. If we get into a fight, anyone following our silver-tongued recruit will jump into the fray – even if they seem wholly unequipped for battle.

Now that’s what I call a grifter.


The Wheelman – Ignis from FINAL FANTASY XV

The plan’s underway – now we need an escape. A good driver’s essential for a slick extraction, but who to choose…

Lots of options here. Cloud Strife from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, for example….

I think Cloud’s more of a bike person. We need someone who’s comfortable with four wheels, not just two.

In fact, if we’re talking FINAL FANTASY, there’s one obvious choice… Ignis Scientia from FINAL FANTASY XV.

This refined gentleman takes care of the bulk of the driving in FINAL FANTASY XV – set him a destination, and he’ll get you there regardless of traffic or weather conditions.

Just don’t ask him to drive at night – he’s very against that.

Ok so we have a wheelman… but still no wheels.

But that’s another great thing about Ignis - he could supply his own car! Sure, the Regalia’s only made to accommodate four people, but I reckon a few more could squidge in if necessary.

It’s not the fastest ride, but Iggy handles it with skill and grace – he won’t put a wheel wrong.

And best of all, when you get back to Seventh Heaven, he can cook the team a delicious meal. He might even have come up with a new recipe!


The Mastermind – Caius Ballad from FINAL FANTASY XIII-2

Finally, we need someone to plan the heist – a mastermind who can see all the angles, make a plan, and execute it successfully.

And here’s where things get a little tricky, because most of the master planners in Square Enix games aren’t on the side of the angels…

Wait – you want to recruit a villain?

What can I say – that’s where the talent is. There are lots of examples of villains carrying out largely successful plans in games.

For example, Garland from the original FINAL FANTASY, Kefka from FINAL FANTASY VI or Ardyn from FINAL FANTASY XV – each of them essentially completed their goals.

So why not one of them?

Well let’s be honest – anyone who’s played FINAL FANTASY VI knows that Kefka’s not exactly stable. What’s more, each was ultimately thwarted – after the fact in some cases, but all their hard work was undone.

That’s exactly why Caius Ballad from FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 is the perfect choice here. Not only is he an incredibly smart fellow, who uses time and space itself as a chessboard, he actually won. There’s nothing that can be done to stop the events he sets in motion – only adapt to them.

In other words, he’s a mastermind whose plans actually work. Exactly the type of person we’d want to plan our heist.


Perfect! Looks like we have a team.

And with this group, our unnecessarily convoluted schemes are sure to succeed.

…but hold on a sec. Now that I think about it, isn’t there already a team of RPG heroes who perform heists?

I don’t know what you mean.

Yeah, stealing heads or hearts… something like that.

I SAID I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN.

Ahem. Anyway, those were our picks – but what about yours? Which characters would you recruit for your heist crew?

Share your thoughts in the comments and social media. And check back on the Square Enix Blog regularly for news and articles that weren’t written because I was at a loose end.

A look at FINAL FANTASY merchandise: Cactuar and Tonberry

They may be dangerous, but they also make for adorable plushies... and more. We take a look at some of the best examples.
By Duncan Heaney

Of all the creatures in the FINAL FANTASY series, few are as beloved as Cactuar and Tonberry.

These two series icons have worn many hats (or hoods in Tonberry’s case) - sometimes they’ve been vicious monsters, while other times they’ve acted as powerful Summons. Either way, their incredible designs mean fans have taken them to their hearts.

They’ve also taken them into their homes - there’s a large amount of incredible Cactuar and Tonberry merchandise available in the Square Enix Store. To celebrate these two RPG legends, we wanted to take a look at some of the more adorable items available.

Cactuar

Of all the creatures in the FINAL FANTASY series, you probably don’t immediately think of Cactuar as being the most squeezably soft. After all, this prickly icon’s more likely to send 10,000 needles your way than a nice warm hug.

And yet, search the Square Enix Store, and you’ll find plenty of Cactuar plushes, as well as other themed merch. Makes sense we suppose - it is pretty adorable.

Here are some of Cactuar’s highlights:


FINAL FANTASY Mascot Cactuar

Let’s start by looking at the littlest Cactuar. This diddy little plush comes with a loop, so you can hang it in the home, on a bag… wherever you want basically.


FINAL FANTASY Plush Cactuar

This medium-sized plush perfectly captures Cactuar’s famous look. From its signature vacant expression, to its distinctive needles, it’s all there in a gloriously fuzzy form.


FINAL FANTASY Square Cushion: Cactuar

This Cactuar cushion is large and soooooo soft. The official product description says you can “keep it as a cuddle buddy or use it as a decorative accent in your room”.

Let’s be honest though - it’s cuddle buddy all the way.


PRE-ORDER: FINAL FANTASY Jumbo Cactuar

And here’s the big boy! How big? It’s 1/1 scale to the Cactuar Summon in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE!

Yep - that means there’s even more Cactuar to love!


FINAL FANTASY Mascot Coin Bank Cactuar

This is harder than the plushies, but for good reason - it’s got to guard your hard-earned cash.

Cactuar makes for an extremely lovable money box - its big base makes it extremely stable, and the high quality plastic casing is robust. And although Cactuars have a habit of running away in some FINAL FANTASY games, this one will stick with you thick and thin.

Even when you remove its base and remove its insides.


Tonberry

Here’s another FINAL FANTASY mainstay that’s not usually considered soft and cuddy. Tonberry’s typically been portrayed as having more of a ‘knife to see you’ attitude than ‘give me a hug’.

Still, we can’t deny it makes for amazing merchandise. Here are some of our favorites:


FINAL FANTASY Plush Mascot - Tonberry

It’s amazing how much personality this Tonberry has - especially when you consider it’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand!

Just like Cactuar, it has a handy strap so you can tie it to a bag and carry it with you.


FINAL FANTASY Plush Tonberry

Some plushes tend to fall down and roll over - not this one. The big tail makes Tonberry always able to stand upright.

That’s a good thing, because it’s an impressively detailed item. I mean, just look Tonberry’s stubby little knife! And its cute little lantern!

The robe is a particularly nice touch - you can even pull down the hood!


PREORDER: FINAL FANTASY Jumbo Tonberry

This super-sized Tonberry plush is as adorable as it is large.

As with the other plushes, it’s very detailed - note its distinctive brown robe and its trademark knife and lantern combo.

It’s out in July - so there’s a bit of time before it arrives. But it wouldn’t be a Tonberry if it was coming at you fast, would it?


FINAL FANTASY Mascot Coin Bank Tonberry

This may look like a typical Tonberry, but there’s a key difference - it’s full of cash.

Or at least, it can be. This high quality money box is large and strong, capable of storing hundreds of gil at a time. Or whatever your local currency may be.

Plus nobody will go near it - who wants to risk a Grudge?


That was just a small taste of FINAL FANTASY merchandise available on the Square Enix Store. From clothes, to home furnishings, to wallets and watches - if you’re a fan of the series, there’s a lot to get excited about.

Take a look for yourself:

And make sure you follow Square Enix merchandise on social media to see the latest items first!

7 things we learned from Inside FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

Why is Cloud Strife sometimes uncool? How did manga inspire the boss fights? We highlight some of the most interesting tidbits from the video documentary series.
By Duncan Heaney

Have you watched the Inside FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE video documentary series yet? It features interviews from many of the game’s developers, who talk about everything from how they developed the characters, to how they created the thrilling combat system.

The series is overflowing with fascinating facts and amusing anecdotes about the creation of the game. Here are just seven of the coolest things we learned:

1. The game was designed to be both new and nostalgic at the same time

The developers of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE didn’t want to create something purely for fans, or entirely for new players - they wanted both groups to be able to enjoy the game.

In fact, this was a fundamental design principle for Director Tetsuya Nomura:

I felt that there would be many fans who had played the original game, and with over 20 years having passed, there would be lots of new ones too,” he explains.

I really felt that I had to get the balance right and make something that could be enjoyed by both groups. That is what I took the most care with.

That philosophy is echoed by the rest of the team. Co-Director Naoki Hamaguchi recalls that the game couldn’t rely on nostalgia - it had to appeal to everyone, from those who played the original to those who were only vaguely aware of the likes of Cloud and Sephiroth.

As Producer Yoshinori Kitase told the team: “It should feel both new and nostalgic”.

2. The main character is intentionally uncool (sometimes)

Cloud Strife, the lead character of FINAL FANTASY VII, has undergone a few subtle changes for the remake. While his original personality remains intact, the main story and scenario writer Kazushige Nojima wanted to get much deeper into his inner psychology.

In the original, he wrote the aspiring mercenary as a composed and stylish character, but for this game, he depicted him as being more obviously fallible… and less cool.

Mr Nojima says: “This time, he can miss the mark and be a little cringe-worthy at times. Because he wants people to accept him and respect him, he puts on a front. So when he doesn’t know something, he just goes ‘Not interested.’

I have written him in a way that makes you think that ‘Not interested’ might not be a cool thing to say, but can sometimes be a bit lame.

This reason for this change? Mr Nojima explains that modern technology means that the characters look much better than back in 1997, so the characterization has to be more realistic to match that detail.

3. Boss battles were inspired by four frame manga

The spectacular boss battles in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE have multiple phases, with the behavior of the boss and even the setting changing over the course of the battle.

But did you know that the concept for this battle system was inspired by 4-frame manga in Japan. These comics carry a basic story structure in just four panels: introduction, middle part, development and conclusion.

In Episode 4, Lead Battle Designer Tomotaka Shiroichi explains how the team applied this to the boss battles in game:

Encounter the enemy and start the battle in phase 1, and show each other’s hand and the boss takes the lead in phase 2.

In phase 3, the boss shows you the signature attacks, and the players start fighting back. That’s when bosses start revealing their weaknesses. Phase 4 is the climax and introduces the next part of the storyline.

4. The composers approached each track as if it was a new piece of music

The original FINAL FANTASY VII has one of the most beloved soundtracks of any game. Recreating the legendary Nobuo Uematsu’s compositions for a new game is no easy feat.

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE’s sound team wanted to respect the original music, and they made sure to capture the melodies that people love so much and update them with new arrangements and technology.

At the same time, however, the composers weren’t beholden to the original game.

I made multiple arrangements of many of the iconic FINAL FANTASY VII music tracks,” recalls composer Mitsuto Suzuki

Some of them are very faithful to the originals, and there are other arrangements that only sound reminiscent in passing. But if you pay too much attention to the originals, then it is quite difficult to try and make something even better. For that reason, I try to be as natural as possible and approach them as if I was writing a completely new piece.

Those sentiments are shared by composer Masashi Hamauzu, who was recommended for the project by Mr. Uematsu. As he says:

I felt that the best way to honor that recommendation, was to make music as it comes to me, rather than trying to copy what Mr. Uematsu did.


Composer Masashi Hamauzu has a cool connection to the original game

Not only is Mr. Hamauzu one of the composers for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, he was also involved in the original game - in a particularly cool way at that.

I sang in the Sephiroth chorus,” he laughs. “I think that was my first job helping out Mr. Uematsu”.

We have to say, as initial tasks go, that’s a pretty good one.

6. Cloud’s physique was inspired by ballet dancers

Ever wondered how Cloud’s able to wave around the Buster Sword so freely? That’s just one of the things the character designers had to take into account when recreating the iconic hero.

Naturally, the team used Nomura’s original illustrations as reference, but they also took reference shots from real life people to see how bone structure and muscles should work together.

Of course, there are some aspects of the game that aren’t what you’d call realistic, and to make sure that the character looked right, the team had to make sure they found the right referencing material.

Masaaki Kazeno, Character Modelling Director, explains: “Cloud wields the Buster Sword, which is a massive and very heavy weapon, and if you design the muscle structure which realistically would be needed to wield that size of weapon, he would end up becoming a much larger, more of a body builder kind of guy.

That’s completely different from the image of Cloud. Therefore, we used a lot of reference from male ballet dancers, who may often be slim but have a lot of muscle tone.


7. Translating FINAL FANTASY VII’s odder elements took some work

If you’ve played the original FINAL FANTASY VII, you’ll know that it can be a somewhat unusual game at times. For example, when running around the Shinra Building, you may encounter an enemy that looks… well, like a big blue fish.

Which should raise questions really. As Mr. Kitase himself asks in Episode 5: “Why would you have a fish shaped monster appearing in a building?

In the original, some of those more eccentric elements of the game got a pass due to the stylized presentation, but the move to more realistic visuals meant that there was a risk that they could look odd or out of place.

At the same time, these exaggerated elements are part of what give FINAL FANTASY VII its unique identity. As a result, the team spent a lot of time and effort adapting the original monster and enemy designs so that they’d fit into the new game’s style, but remain recognizable for fans of the original.

If that sounds like a challenge, apparently it was. Or as Mr. Kitase put it: “that was hard, but also great fun to do.

That was just a sliver of the fascinating facts revealed in the Inside FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE documentary series. There’s loads more to discover and it’s a must watch for anyone who’s interested in the new game.

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is out now on PS4:

To keep up to date with all the important information about FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, make sure you also follow on social media:

FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE PC and PS4 update released

Adds the ability to reset licenses, adds Gambit sets and more.
By Duncan Heaney

Just a quick heads-up: new features have just been added to FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE on PC and PS4.

Available in a new update from today, you can now create multiple Gambit sets, reset licenses and more. Read on and we’ll explain the additions in detail:

Reset licenses

For the uninitiated, licenses in FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE are essentially jobs. Each character can be assigned up to two, and they define the role they play in battle - for example, knight, black mage, white mage, archer and so on.

Previously, once you had assigned a license to a character, that choice was locked in, but now you can reset them. So that’s good news for anyone who doesn’t like a particular character setup, wants to experiment with different combinations, or is just afraid of commitment.

To reset your license, you need to go to Rabanastre and talk to Montblanc, the leader of Clan Centurio. He’ll take it from there.


Multiple Gambit sets

Gambits sit at the heart of FINAL FANTASY XII’s battle system. They let you set simple, but precise sets of instructions that define how your party members will act in battle.

The genius of the system is that no Gambit setup will work for every fight, so you need to switch tactics as new challenges confront you.

That’s now easier than ever thanks to the new update, which adds the ability to store up to three sets of Gambits, and switch between them quickly.


FINAL FANTASY XII OST added

FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE on PC and PS4 already featured two music options as standard - the new re-orchestrated soundtrack and the original PS2 tracks.

The new patch gives everyone a third option - the original PS2 game’s OST (original soundtrack). It’s similar to the PS2 version, but with higher quality sound and slightly different arrangements for some songs.

If you have FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE on Switch or Xbox One, these features are also included in those versions of the game.

But what if you don’t have the game at all? Well here’s some more good news - it's currently on sale on the PlayStation Store and Steam.

To stay up to date with news about the FINAL FANTASY series, make sure you follow the team on social media:

More than 3.5 million copies of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE shipped and sold digitally

Hit RPG gets strong digital sales in the first three days since release - and a positive critical reception too.
By Duncan Heaney

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is out, and a lot of you have spent many hours now exploring Midgar and taking the fight to Shinra.

And when we say ‘a lot’, we mean it. More than 3.5 million copies of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE have been shipped or sold digitally in the first three days following its April 10 release. Digital sales in particular have been very strong, and continue to grow.

That’s quite the figure, and it’s not the only big number the game’s seen. The game also received a terrific critical reception, with journalists around the world scoring it highly and singing its praises.

Here’s just a sample of what they’re saying:

Gamespot’s Tamoor Hussain rated the game 10/10, stating that: “this remake takes one of the most beloved games of all time and elevates it higher.”

Gamesradar+ echoed those sentiments, awarding the game a 4.5/5. Heather Wald called it ”a spectacularly entertaining introduction to the world of Final Fantasy 7 for modern audiences.”

Techradar’s Bill Thomas scored the RPG a 5/5, stating: “This game is so good that it should be considered the standard by which modern Final Fantasy games are measured, and for that it will probably stay installed on our PS4 hard drive for a very long time.”

Easy Allies Bradley Ellis gave the game 9/10, and described it as “an excellent reimagining of a beloved classic.”

Twinfinite’s Ed McGlone handed out a 4.5/5, praising "a gorgeous, well-made, and fun RPG that successfully retells one of the best video game stories ever told with a few twists."

Empire published another 5/5 review. Matt Kamen wrote that the release was: “one of the most breathtakingly realised and staggeringly beautiful games in years.”

The Verge doesn’t do review scores, but Andrew Webster complimented FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, calling it: a "thrilling, thoughtful take on a classic".

And the list goes on, but we won’t - except to say congratulations to the entire FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE development team for this well-earned achievement.

And also a heartfelt thank you to everyone who’s picked up the game. We hope you continue to have a great time with it.


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is out now for PS4.

To stay up to date with news and information about the game, make sure you bookmark the Square Enix Blog, subscribe to the FINAL FANTASY YouTube channel or follow FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE on social media:

The making of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

Update: Episode 5 of our Inside FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE documentary is out now. Watch the full series here!
By Duncan Heaney

Here’s a question you may have had after playing the recent FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE demo: how did they do all this?

Now you can find out directly from the creators themselves in a video documentary series: Inside FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. The multi-part series features interviews with many of the key figures behind FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, including:

  • Yoshinori Kitase (Producer)
  • Tetsuya Nomura (Director & Concept Design)
  • Kazushige Nojima (Story & Scenario)
  • Naoki Hamaguchi (Co-Director – Game Design / Programming)
  • Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director – Scenario Design)

Over the course of each episode, they’ll reveal a treasure trove of behind the scenes information about the game, including the development of the story, characters, combat, action, music and much more.


Episode 1 - Introduction

Here's the first episode - watch it here:

Episode 2: Story and Characters

In the second episode, the creators of the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE talk about how they adapted the story and characters of the original RPG for this new game. Watch it here:

Episode 3: Combat and Action

The third episode looks at the exciting combat in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. Watch it now:

Episode 4: Music and Sound Effects

In this episode, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE developers and composers talk about how they made the game such an incredible audio experience:

Episode 5: Graphics and Visual Effects

In the fifth and final episode, the developers talk about how they created the distinctive look of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

We hope you enjoyed this insight into development - to stay up to date with news and information about the game, make sure you bookmark the Square Enix Blog, subscribe to the FINAL FANTASY YouTube channel or follow FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE on social media:


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is out now on PS4.

The FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE team discuss story, Sephiroth and more

The creators of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE explain their philosophy for the game, the challenge of balancing old and new, what makes a good RPG battle system and much more.
By Duncan Heaney

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is out now - we’re sure lots of you had a lovely weekend exploring the richly detailed city of Midgar.

With the game now on shelves, it seemed like the perfect time to catch up with Co-Director Naoki Hamaguchi and Producer Yoshinori Kitase to talk about their memories of developing the game.

Interestingly, Hamaguchi-san grew up a big fan of the series - that seemed a logical place to start our discussion:

Hello again Hamaguchi-san. As a fan, what’s it like to work on the thing you grew up loving?


Hamaguchi-san: (laughs) I’ve said this to Kitase-san before as well, but I strongly remember playing FINAL FANTASY VII as a child. I really love that game and was really touched by it.

It became an inspiration for me to join the games industry. I wanted to be able to make something like that - to create something that has that kind of effect on people and could get that emotional reaction.

So as an adult, I get to be involved in creating entertainment that sticks with people and touches them in some way, and that’s an amazing thing.

It makes me want to keep trying to get better and better - and get closer and closer to making that ‘ultimate’ game that changes someone’s life, as FINAL FANTASY VII did mine!

With FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, I really have put everything I have as a games creator into the project - everything I have learned up to this point. I really hope that the fans love the game, and I’m looking forward to seeing their reaction.

How did you gather the right team to work on FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE?


Hamaguchi-san: There are quite a few people like Kitase-san, who were on the original FINAL FANTASY VII development team, as well as developers within Square Enix who have worked on other FINAL FANTASY games - including some of the FINAL FANTASY VII spin-off projects.

The team is also partly made up of people who were inspired by FINAL FANTASY when they were younger - like myself obviously. It’s fitting because the series is one of the reasons a lot of us wanted to get into making games.

So we all came together to build a team that has a lot of experience - and a lot of love - for FINAL FANTASY VII.

And it’s not just Japanese developers either. We’ve had a lot of people from all around the world help too - when they heard we were making a remake of FINAL FANTASY VII, they really wanted to come and join us on this project.

It genuinely feels great to be involved with people with such a passion for the original game and this project - we wanted to make this the definitive version of FINAL FANTASY VII - and something people remember for another 20 plus years!

How difficult was it to balance old and new elements in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE?


Hamaguchi-san: To explain our philosophy, it really was a case of being respectful to the original game, and then what were the elements of the original that we had to reimagine to create a more immersive experience?

Most of the additions to the story come from us trying to fill in the gaps from the original game - content that wasn’t included in the original because we couldn’t show it fully with the technology available.

Kitase-san: For example, some of the transitions and the gaps between story beats in the original FINAL FANTASY VII felt a little uneven or didn’t flow all that smoothly. To overcome that in the remake, we put new elements in to make the story feel more continuous.

So you can’t really make a clear distinction between what’s new and what’s from the original in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. It’s all blended together to make a self-contained story for this first game in the project.

How much did the story and structure of the game change over development?


Hamaguchi-san: Quite a bit actually. We worked closely with FINAL FANTAY VII scenario writer Nojima-san - but it wasn’t like he just wrote the story and handed it over to us to base the game on!

Obviously, as game designers we have to create a nice balance, a nice rhythm throughout the game - find the tensions, the highs, the lows and take it to a good climax at the end. There are certain parts where you want to ramp up the excitement and they become focal points of the story.

When we started mapping the game out, if the scenario wasn’t supporting that as well as it could, or something just wasn’t adding up, we’d gather all the information we could and send it back to Nojima-san.

He’d then tweak and adjust the scenario, so it works really well within our envisaged framework as a game.

Through this iteration, we were able to effectively combine the story Nojima-san wanted to tell, with the structure of a really exciting, satisfying game.

Sephiroth appears in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE much earlier than he does in the original game. Why did you make the decision to introduce him here?


Kitase-san: There are two main reasons. Firstly, the way we handled Sephiroth in the original FINAL FANTASY VII was to hide him - hold him back.

You may not know this, but I was inspired by the movie Jaws which took a similar approach of teasing this powerful presence, but never fully showing you the shark until later in the story. We wanted to build him up as this really big, powerful character in people’s minds. By only referring to him indirectly, it created this feeling of fear and oppression - so when he makes his first appearance, it’s a big deal.

But for the remake, that doesn’t work so well - partly because everybody knows who Sephiroth is (laughs)! We didn’t think it would be as effective to have him held back until later on in the story.

Secondly, Sephiroth is this massively overarching presence that looms over the whole FINAL FANTASY VII saga. We wanted to make sure that aspect of him was present in this first game in the project - that’s why we have introduced him much earlier in the story now.

We’ve talked about the game’s fantastic combat system before, but as an RPG fan, what do you think makes for a good RPG battle system? What elements are important?


Hamaguchi-san: (thinks) Hmm… I think it’s about giving players options.

That’s not just important for battles, but also for all kinds of gaming mechanics - but what’s really important for players is that feeling that they’ve made a decision on how to play, and get the feedback that they’ve done well because of it.

If you only give the player one method of doing something, they don’t really get the impression that they’re playing, right? They’re just doing what they’re told.

Having multiple options available, and multiple things that a player can do, is very important. It means that when they pick the right one, they feel clever and skilful as a result.

That feedback cycle is very important. RPG combat provides lots of opportunities to make decisions - from the different abilities, to how they use them on different enemies. When you make the right one, it makes you feel good - I think that’s always important to think about when designing battles.

Now that the game's out, what’s your favorite memory of working on this project?


Hamaguchi-san: Honestly, for me it’s really just being involved in it.

I wasn’t in the games industry when the original game was released - I was just a player like so many other people. The original game - and the FINAL FANTASY series as a whole - is what made me want to get into game development.

So to work with so many of the original development team, and so many other fans and developers from around the world on this game has been very special.


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is out now and available to buy on PS4:

To stay up to date with news and information about the game, make sure you follow on social media:

Tips for playing FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

Turn yourself into a 1st Class SOLDIER with these helpful hints.
By Duncan Heaney

The combat system in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is entirely new to the series. The combination of classic menu-based commands, with real-time action makes it feel exciting, unique… and unfamiliar.

The game’s no pushover either - even on Normal difficulty, there’s a lot to think about - and enemies play for keeps. Cloud, Barret and the rest of Avalanche have their work cut out for them if they want to defend the planet.

Fortunately, we’re here to help. We’ve put together some handy hints to help you get to grips with the game - follow this advice, and you’ll be sticking it to Shinra in no time.

ATB is the key to success

Abilities and spells are the most effective way to deal damage to enemies by far. Being over-reliant on standard attacks will get you nowhere - their primary purpose is to fill your ATB bars faster so that you to use your abilities and spells more often.

While you may be able to beat the first few Shinra troopers by spamming the square button, that’s not going to last. Tougher enemies will easily withstand these attacks, and hit back much harder.

Get into the habit of using combos to fill your ATB, and relying on abilities and spells to cause damage and stagger states. Characters under your direct control will generate ATB more effectively, so also get comfortable switching between party members mid-fight.


Make sure you block

In FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, offence isn’t always the best defense. Sometimes the best defense is… y’know, defense.

If you press R1, your controlled character will block and take less damage from enemy attacks. They can also roll out of the way to avoid taking a hit completely with a tap of the circle button.

You might think it’s better to focus on evasion over blocking - why take a bit of damage when you can take none, right? But blocking is a more reliable way to mitigate damage - a mistimed roll can leave you very vulnerable. Not only that, it’s more useful in some situations.

For example, blocking attacks fills ATB, allowing you to launch powerful attacks more quickly than if you’d avoided the attack.

What’s more, many enemies have area of effect (AOE) attacks that knock characters off their feet - the Scorpion Sentinel’s EM Field in the opening mission, for example. If you block these, you’ll take a little bit of damage, but you won’t be knocked down, leaving you close to your foe for the counter-attack.

Take advantage of enemy weaknesses whenever possible

Many enemies are weak against different types of magic. For example, Shinra’s troops tend to dislike being hit with Fire (which, in fairness, we would too), while its machinery is susceptible to electrical attacks like Thunder.

As you explore the slums and streets of Midgar, you’ll encounter foes that have lots of other weaknesses, such as ice or wind, and you should take advantage of those Achilles heels as much as you can.

Of course, it’s not always easy to know what an enemy is weak to, which brings us to our next point...


The Assess Materia is your best friend

Early on in the game, you’ll receive the Assess Materia. This is one of the most useful tools you’ll get in the game.

When equipped, you’ll be able to spend a bar of ATB to assess enemies and reveal their weaknesses and resistances. Not only that, it will often provide battle tips to help you interrupt their attacks or build their stagger gauge.

Assess everything you encounter. To make things easier, the upgraded Assess Materia will analyze every enemy in an encounter at once. Once scanned, you can check an enemy’s information at any time in the menu, or by pressing the touchpad while highlighting that enemy.

In short, it’s a game-changer and we strongly recommend always having at least one character with Assess equipped at all times.

Try to complete Battle Intel missions

Early on in the game, you’ll encounter Chadley - a young man who works for Shinra’s science division. He’ll ask Cloud to complete various tasks in battle - for example using Assess a certain number of times, or attacking staggered enemies in different ways.

It is well worth your time to complete these requests because they unlock new types of Materia - some of which are extremely powerful. The First Strike Materia, for example, lets you start fights with a chunk of ATB already filled - that’s indescribably useful in some tougher areas.

Check your battle intel regularly, and consider their completion requirements when in a fight to see if you can work them into the encounter. Because not only are the rewards worth it, they may also help you discover new battle techniques and strategies.


Heal between fights

Enemies can dish out some serious damage in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, so you need to make sure you keep your HP topped up.

You can use healing magic and potions mid-combat, but it uses a bar of ATB. But in-between battles, you can use as many items as you like as often as you like.

So it’s sensible to take the time to heal your party when you have a moment of downtime - that way, they’ll be ready for the next round and you won’t have to sacrifice a chance to dish out damage.

Also look out for benches. These are usually situated next to vending machines - if you sit and take a load off, you’ll refill your HP and MP completely.

Browse at every shop and vending machine

Whenever you pass a shop, go in and have a look at their stock. Different vendors hold different items, so you may be able to buy some new materia, a useful accessory or even a new music track to play on the jukebox.

Similarly, make sure you check vending machines whenever you can. They often offer sales on items, so you’ll be able to get a hi-potion or a tuft of phoenix down at a fraction of the usual asking price.


Add materia slots to weapons when you can

As you level up in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, you’ll be able to upgrade your weapons too. You’ll be able to improve their attack power, increase defense, make magic more potent and more.

It’s entirely up to you what you prioritize, but we found it useful to add more materia slots whenever we could. This upgrade lets you equip more spells and commands onto a character - and the more they can do, the more prepared you’ll be for the tougher fights.

Plan ahead for future battles

It’s not just the heroes and their weapons that improve over time - equipped materia does too. Many will unlock new spells or abilities, or their effects will become more pronounced.

You can see the upgrade path of your materia when equipping them, and we advise you take a look. Don’t just think about what you need now, consider what might be useful in the future - and if you have a spare materia slot, equip it.

For example, the Steadfast Block materia fills ATB faster when characters block attacks. Initially you’ll get just a small boost - handy, but not exactly game-changing. But if that materia grows a few times, that effect will become much more pronounced and useful.

That’s not to say you need to invest in that particular materia - different people will find different playstyles and strategies so find what works for you. The point is that even if a piece of materia doesn’t seem particularly useful now, it probably will be later.


Take your time and explore

You may be on a mission to save the planet, but that doesn’t mean you have to rush. Take your time and look around.

The areas in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE are full of things to find - and they’re all incredibly useful. Keep your eyes open for chests because they contain recovery items, new equipment and more.

Midgar is also strewn with Shinra crates. If you see that familiar logo on a pile of boxes, smash them up because there may be something good inside. For example, you may find an MP-restoring mako shard or a potion - it’s worth taking the time to find out. Even if you come up empty, smashing up crates with a giant sword is endlessly satisfying.

Finally, as per the unofficial rules of all videogames, if the objective marker is sending you one way, go another direction and poke around. You just might find something.


There you have it - some top tips to help turn you into a true SOLDIER (1st Class). Hopefully they prove useful - but have you discovered any tips and tricks of your own? Share the knowledge with the team on social media:

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is out now on PS4:

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is out now on PS4

Step up to the plate and get ready to explore Midgar in this epic RPG.
By Square Enix Team

Sometimes we write a blog post that we know is largely superfluous. We can’t imagine that there are many of you who don’t know that FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is out today.

But just in case… hey everyone - FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is out today on PS4!

This epic new RPG reimagines the iconic original FINAL FANTASY VII for the modern era. This first game in the project is a full standalone title set in Midgar - a sprawling steel metropolis that’s under the control of the sinister Shinra Electric Power Company.

Cloud Strife, a mercenary and former member of the elite SOLDIER unit, lends his aid to the underground resistance group Avalanche, unaware that the consequences will change his life forever.

The game features beautiful visuals and a thrilling hybrid battle system that combines real-time action with command-based combat. It makes for fast-paced and strategic battles that really get the blood pumping - you can find out more about it here.

If you want to know more about the game, we’ve shared a lot of interesting information about game over the last few weeks, including hands-on previews, screenshot showcases, and more.

One of the true highlights has been the ongoing video documentary series Inside FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

It gives you unprecedented access behind the scenes of development, and features interviews with the creators of the game themselves, including Producer Yoshinori Kitase, Director and Concept Designer Tetsuya Nomura and many more.

Watch part one below:

To see all the episodes released so far, click here:


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is available to buy now on PS4.

To stay up to date with all the latest news and information about the game, make sure you follow FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE on social media.

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE: meet Rufus Shinra and the Executive Board

New screenshots and information highlight the upper echelons of the Shinra Electric Power Company. Plus… what are Moogle Medals?
By Duncan Heaney

We’re just mere days away from the official release of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE - the game launches on PS4 on April 10, 2020.

Before that though, we wanted to share one last preview at some of the people that you’ll encounter in your adventures across Midgar.

Also, if you’ve played the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE demo, you may be wondering: what exactly are Moogle Medals? Read on, and we’ll explain:


Rufus Shinra

President Shinra's son and the current Vice President of the Shinra Electric Power Company. He’s recently been away from Midgar on an extended business trip.

He is an immensely prideful man, with a strong rebellious streak towards his father. Despite being vice president, he sometimes enters the battlefield himself, armed with a custom-made shotgun and protected by Darkstar, a military canine.


Palmer

The Director of Shinra's Space and Aeronautics Division. Palmer is the eldest of the company’s executives but has no real power or influence - his division, originally founded with the latest technology at Shinra’s disposal, has all but folded since it failed to launch a rocket.

Because division activities have been suspended indefinitely, Palmer finds himself with lots of time on his hands. He’s fond of butter in his tea and chortles in a distinctive manner.


Scarlet

Shinra's Director of Advanced Weaponry. During the war, her innovative, high-end armaments brought in a sizable chunk of change for the company.

Her wartime efforts, and the resulting profits, saw Scarlet quickly promoted to executive officer. She is highly capable, as one would expect from someone placed in charge of Shinra’s weapons development.


Kyrie Canaan

A girl from the Sector 5 slums who makes a living by pulling off scams on unsuspecting victims. Although fearless, she often finds herself in trouble.


Moogle Medals

A new item that didn’t appear in the original FINAL FANTASY VII. Moogle Medals can be found inside treasure boxes and Shinra Company crates - you’ll have to search high and low to get your hands on them.

There seems to be someone in Midgar who collects Moogle Medals - and if you have some, you may be rewarded…


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is out April 10, 2020 for PS4.

To stay up to date with news and updates about the game, make sure you follow on social media:

The Creation of FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers

Go behind-the-scenes of the latest expansion with our multi-part video documentary. Watch the whole series here!
By Duncan Heaney

If you’ve played FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers, you may have found yourself wondering: how in Norvrandt did they make all this?

It’s the biggest expansion to the game yet, filled with new areas, new battles, new races, new music and one of the most acclaimed stories in the FINAL FANTASY series to date. Now you can find out how it all came to be.

In our video documentary series - The Creation of FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers - the developers take you behind the scenes. Over the course of six episodes, they talk about every aspect of the game, from the story and sound, to the monsters and battle design.

It’s a fascinating look behind the scenes and a must watch for any fan:


Episode One: Telling a Tale

The first episode of the series looks at the incredible story of Shadowbringers.

The expansion is packed full of richly detailed lore and an acclaimed narrative - but how did it come together? Find out from the creators themselves, including:

  • Naoki Yoshida (Producer and Director)
  • Banri Oda (World Lore Creator and Main Scenario Writer)
  • Natsuko Ishikawa (Main Scenario Writer)

Episode Two: Forging the First

The region of Norvrandt provides the main setting for Shadowbringers. It’s a large, diverse area, packed with memorable sights unlike anything else in the series.

The second episode looks at how the artists and designers approached the creation of this new world, and features interviews with:

  • Takeo Suzuki (Art Team Lead)
  • Masato Shida (Background Artist)
  • Arata Takahashi (Lead Level Designer)

Episode Three: Shaping the Styles

Things get fashionable in Episode Three, with a look at the creation of the Hrothgar and Viera races, designs for the gear and how the team approached key character redesigns including Y’shtola and Urianger.

It has interviews with some of the top artistic talent in the game, including:

  • Ayumi Namae (Character Concept Artist)
  • Yuji Yamazaki (Character Artist)

Episode Four: Making the Monsters

What would a FINAL FANTASY game be without its menagerie of menacing monsters? Shadowbringers features some of the most visually stunning enemies in the series to date - particularly bosses like Titania and the Voidwalker.

Episode Four delves deep into the design of these creatures, with the help of:

  • Shinya Ichida (Art Team Lead)
  • Yusuke Mogi (Lead Character Concept Artist)

Episode Five: Spawning the Sounds

If you’re a fan of the Shadowbringers soundtrack (and to be honest, who isn’t?) then Episode Five will be music to your ears.

It focuses on every element of the sound design, with comments from:

  • Masayoshi Soken (Sound Director and Composer)
  • Go Kinuya (Sound Designer)

Episode Six: Building the Battles

Ever wondered how to design a combat encounter in an RPG? That’s one of the subjects discussed in Episode Six.

The team talks about how to keep combat interesting on repeated playthroughs, designing key battles, including the NieR raid series, and how to make Ultimate difficulty… ultimate.

The devs also discuss the Trust System, which lets NPCs join you in dungeons to help out in battle. The episode features interviews with:

  • Masaki Nakagawa (Lead Battle Content Designer)
  • Tsuyoshi Yokozawa (Lead Battle System Designer)

We hope you enjoyed this fascinating look inside the development process. If you've yet to experience Shadowbringers - or perhaps FINAL FANTASY XIV Online as a whole - the game is currently on sale with 50% off (until April 17, 2020).

For the full experience, you should choose the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Complete Edition, which includes the original campaign and all expansion packs, including Shadowbringers.

If you've already played the base game, you can purchase the Shadowbringers expansion alone - it's also currently 50% off.

To stay up to date with the latest news about the game, make sure you follow FINAL FANTASY XIV Online on social media:

Free FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Zoom backgrounds available here

Make your video conferencing a bit more interesting with these custom backgrounds of iconic characters and Midgar locations.
By Square Enix Team

Like us, many of you may be working or studying from home at the moment. Also like us, you may have found yourself reliant on video conferencing tools like Zoom.

Unfortunately, some homes make for boring backdrops - we’re talking a lot of white walls and beige bedrooms. So why not add a bit of flair to your video calls with a custom background?

We’ve created some free backgrounds to use on Zoom, based on the upcoming FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. They cover many of the iconic locations from the game, such the glitzy Wall Market or Tifa’s bar Seventh Heaven (sadly you can’t nip in there for a quick game of darts).

Alternatively, you could pay respect to your favourite characters with backgrounds featuring the likes of Cloud, Barret and Aerith.

Or, if you want to be a dutiful corporate employee, set your background as the inside of the Shinra Building. There are a few interior shots available - personally, I favour the area around the cafeteria.

There’s plenty more to choose from and the choice is yours - you can view and save all the images below (Please note that the images on page are compressed, so click the download link beneath each for a higher quality version).

Download

Download

Download

Download

Download

Download

Download

Download

Download

Download

Download

Download

Download

Download

Download

Download

Download


We hope these backgrounds add a bit of Midgar charm to your video conferencing. Sure, you’ll still be trapped in a meeting, but at least your friends or co-workers will have something interesting to look at!

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE launches April 10, 2020. To stay up to date with the latest news, images and more, check the Square Enix Blog regularly, and follow the game on social media:

The FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE team have worked extremely hard to make this game and we are incredibly proud of what you are about to play. Our biggest motivator during the development was that so many of you were willing us on, and we felt your enthusiasm and passion every step of the way.

We had some hard decisions to make during the final few weeks before launch due to disruption to distribution channels caused by the spread of the COVID-19 virus. These unique circumstances have made it very difficult to align timing of our global shipping. Our highest priority is that all of you, including those who live in countries currently facing the biggest disruption, can play the game at launch, so we made the decision to ship the game far earlier than usual to Europe and Australia.

As a result, there is a greater chance that some of you in these regions will now get a copy of the game prior to the worldwide release date of April 10. For other western regions, including the Americas, copies will be shipped this week and we feel optimistic that most of you will receive the game for launch day. However, due to the challenging situation we cannot provide delivery dates for each country and each retailer.

We really want all of you looking forward to FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE to play the game on April 10 and experience everything we have been working on, together.

To everyone we would like to ask one big favour.

If you get the game early, please think of others and don’t spoil it for them. We know there are potential spoilers that have been out there for over two decades as the original FINAL FANTASY VII was released in 1997. But FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is a new game that still has many surprises for everyone. All our fans and players deserve to experience the game for themselves, and we ask for the support of our dedicated community around the world to ensure that.

On behalf of the entire development team, and everyone around the world that has worked on getting FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE to you all, thanks again for your support, and most importantly, please stay safe.


Yoshinori Kitase (Producer) and Tetsuya Nomura (Director)

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

New FINAL FANTASY TRADING CARD GAME sets out now, featuring FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE and more

FINAL FANTASY VII-themed starter set, and FFTCG Tin Gift Set also available. Here’s everything you need to know.
By Duncan Heaney

Whether you’re a fan of the FINAL FANTASY TRADING CARD GAME (FFTCG) - or if you want to dip your toes into the game for the first time - we have some good news.

For existing players, the latest card set is available now. Opus XI: Soldier’s Return features all-new cards, including stunning art from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

It also features completely original illustrations from some of the best artists in the videogames industry, including:

  • Ryoma Ito (FINAL FANTASY TACTICS ADVANCE)
  • Yasuhisa Izumisawa (FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES MY LIFE AS A DARKLORD)
  • Akira Oguro (FINAL FANTASY IV COMPLETE COLLECTION)
  • Kumiko Koike (FFTCG Original)
  • Toshitaka Matsuda (FINAL FANTASY I, FINAL FANTASY VI)

This set also features a new ‘counter’ mechanic, which opens up all kinds of new strategic possibilities if used wisely.


Sets for new players available

If you’ve yet to try the game, then now’s the perfect time - we recently released a brand new two-player starter set to celebrate the upcoming FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

The Cloud vs Sephiroth Two Player Starter Set can be used by both beginners and seasoned players and includes two decks. That means you can share with a friend or a family member and get playing straight away - you have everything you need!

Alternatively, you can pick up the new, first ever FFTCG Tin Gift Set. This beautiful collection features gorgeous artwork of Tifa, as she appears in FINAL FANTASY VII: ADVENT CHILDREN, on the tin. It even features three exclusive promo cards and additional booster packs.

Here’s what’s included:

  • (3) OPUS I Boosters
  • (3) OPUS II Boosters
  • (3) OPUS III Boosters
  • OPUS X Booster
  • Tifa Alternate Art Full Art Card
  • Y’shtola Full Art Card
  • Hraesvelgr Full Art Card

For more information on FFTCG, organized play and stores please check out the official website:

March 27 update on FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

By FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE team

As we prepare for the release of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE on April 10, we wanted to keep you updated on how the proactive measures being taken to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus are likely to affect the distribution and retail landscape in western regions at launch.

As you will be aware, many countries are limiting entry or closing their national and state borders and restricting the distribution and delivery of non-essential items. Understandably these restrictions are being implemented so that essential items can reach their destination as fast as possible.

This does not mean that box copies of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE will not be dispatched, it just means that we cannot control the date the game may arrive.

In many countries and states, retail stores are closing to help with social distancing measures. If you placed a pre-order with one of these retailers, we advise you to check their websites for the latest information about the status of pre-orders, as well as pick-up and/or delivery information. Please ensure your mailing address and contact details are up to date, as some retailers have begun contacting customers with delivery updates.

Finally, we are currently making arrangements to ensure that pre-orders from the SQUARE ENIX STORE reach you by April 10.

We are working hard to ensure as many of you as possible can play the game on April 10 and will update further when we have more information.

Thank you for your continued support and most importantly, stay safe.

Meet the English voice cast for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

An Avalanche of talent is bringing some of the most iconic characters in videogames to life. Find out who’s voicing your favorite here.
By Square Enix Team

Did you catch the recent FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE trailer?

It showcases a lot of characters from the upcoming game - a complete reimagining of the classic RPG that debuted on the original PlayStation in 1997.

That game didn’t have any voice acting, so, excitingly, this is the first time that many of these characters have had a voice.

If you’ve watched the trailer - or any of the others - you may think to yourself: "I recognize that voice!"

You’re probably right - here’s the full list of voice actors for all the characters you’ve heard in our trailers so far, and where you might have seen or heard them in the past:

  • Cloud Strife: Cody Christian (All American, Teen Wolf)
  • Barret Wallace: John Eric Bentley (Hart of Dixie, Lab Rats, Fear of the Walking Dead)
  • Aerith Gainsborough: Briana White (Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Occupants)
  • Tifa Lockhart: Britt Baron (GLOW, The Thing About Harry, My Valentine)
  • Red XIII: Max Mittelman (Persona 5, One-Punch Man)
  • Jessie: Erica Lindbeck (Spider-Man PS4, Mortal Kombat 11)
  • Biggs: Gideon Emery (Dash & Lily, Teen Wolf, Dragon Age II)
  • Wedge: Matt Jones (Bob Hearts Abishola, Breaking Bad)
  • Sephiroth: Tyler Hoechlin
  • Reno: Arnie Pantoja (Konosuba, Trolls, Sydney White)
  • Rude: William Christopher Stephens (The Avengers, Spies in Disguise, Mortal Kombat 11)
  • Tseng: Vic Chao (Seis Manos, Mortal Kombat X, Ben 10)
  • President Shinra: James Horan (Metal Gear Solid V, Fallout: New Vegas, Love, Death & Robots)
  • Heidegger: John DiMaggio (Futurama, Adventure Time)
  • Scarlet: Erin Cottrell (Love’s Long Journey, The Identical)
  • Palmer: William Salyers (Regular Show, Spider-Man PS4, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders)
  • Reeve: Jon Root (Call of Duty: Ghosts, Fallout 76)
  • Professor Hojo: James Sie (Jackie Chan Adventures, Uncharted)
  • Marlene Wallace: Brielle Milla (The Ellen Show, T.O.T.S.)
  • Roche: Austin Lee Matthews (Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon, Trails of Cold Steel III)
  • Don Corneo: Fred Tatasciore (Overwatch, Fortnite, Gears of War)

It’s an impressive list of actors - we first announced some of the cast during E3 2019, and a few of them got to meet up at our E3 live event:

Fans also got a chance to meet some of the stars at PAX EAST, including Britt Baron (Tifa), John Eric Bentley (Barret), Briana White (Aerith), Erica Lindbeck (Jessie) and Gideon Emery (Biggs).

About FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

You’ll be able to hear them bring the story of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE to life, when it releases April 10, 2020 for PS4.

The game reimagines the iconic RPG for a modern age. It’s set in Midgar - a city that has fallen under the thumb of the Shinra Electric Power Company, which controls the planet's life force as mako energy.

Cloud Strife, a mercenary and former member of Shinra's elite SOLDIER unit, lends his aid to anti-Shinra group Avalanche, unaware of the consequences that await him.

Whether you’re brand new to the series or a long-time fan, there’s lots to enjoy in this epic adventure. It features beautifully detailed visuals, an exciting hybrid battle system that combines real-time action with strategic command-based combat, and - yes - one supremely talented voice cast.

It’s available to preorder now:

To find out more about the game - or share your thoughts on the cast - make sure you follow FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE on social media.

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE developers talk Midgar, Red XIII and more

How exactly does Red XIII work in the game? What endgame content can people expect? Producer Yoshinori Kitase and Co-Director Naoki Hamaguchi answer our burning questions
By Duncan Heaney

The developers of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE faced a daunting task: how do you reimagine a game as famous - and beloved - as the original FINAL FANTASY VII?

Ahead of the game’s April 10 release, we sat down with two of its creators - Producer Yoshinori Kitase and Co-Director Naoki Hamaguchi - to discuss how they approached this unique challenge.


SPOILER WARNING: Please be aware that this interview contains mild spoilers for the game. Scroll below the image to continue


Why did you feel that now was a good time to return to the world of FINAL FANTASY VII?


Kitase-san: Ever since FINAL FANTASY VII came out in 1997, fans and the media have repeatedly called for a remake like this.

Unfortunately, we haven’t really had a chance to get a team together to work on it during the last 23 years. I’ve always felt that for such a big, important project we had to have our best developers on it. It had to be a team that had a lot of experience of working on FINAL FANTASY games too.

But we finally managed to find a point where everybody’s schedules aligned - that’s when we started the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE project.

The biggest reason though, is how much time has passed and how technology and the world has changed since the original was released. Modern players may have seen the characters Cloud and Sephiroth over the years as they have appeared in other games, but they may not have played the game where the characters originated from.

I felt that if we want to show people where these characters came from then, truthfully, if the original game was the only way to experience it, new players - especially anyone that wasn’t playing games in the original’s era - probably wouldn’t be so impressed with the original game compared to the latest titles they could be playing.

So that felt like an exciting challenge and opportunity - let’s take everything great from the original, and create something new and surprising for both the original fans, and those that never played FINAL FANTASY VII before.

Hello Hamaguchi-san. In comments you made for the Square Enix Blog, you stated one of the guiding ethos for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE was ‘new but familiar’ - what exactly did you mean by that?


Hamaguchi-san: When we started this project, I had to think very, very hard about what form we wanted any new experiences in this remake to take.

From the start, I felt that FINAL FANTASY VII’s characters, world and story are so beloved that we couldn’t start playing with those or changing them in a reckless manner. But the style and presentation - the way they’re shown - that we can work with.

Obviously, the capabilities of technology are much better now than they were 23 years ago. What we can show, and what we can do as a piece of entertainment, has become so much wider.

So taking all those core aspects and elements that people loved from the original FINAL FANTASY VII, and translating those into a new, modern style of game, can bring it to a new audience of players

Even if they’ve never seen FINAL FANTASY VII before, it has that same goodness in its heart - but it’s shown in a way that will resonate with a new audience.

For people who have played the original game, that’s where this whole idea of feeling of nostalgic but also fresh at the same time comes in.

They’ll see the stuff they know and love from the original but presented in a new and exciting way.

Why did you make the decision to set this game entirely in the city of Midgar?


Kitase-san: When we first started the Remake project we had to make a decision on what elements from the original we absolutely had to keep in order for it to still be considered FINAL FANTASY VII.

In other words, what were the essential parts of the original, what were the parts that we knew fans absolutely had to see and therefore we needed to retain?

We quickly decided that there were so many essential parts that fans would be upset if we had to cut out anything from the original.

At the beginning of the project we had two directions we could go. The first was to make the project with the highest possible level of graphics, visual quality and detail, and not remove anything that fans wanted to see. Instead, it would expand upon the original game, to make it something even more immersive.

The other option was to include the entire scope of the original game in a single release. But in order to make that work as a modern game, we wouldn’t be able to go for the highest visual quality and we’d also have to cut back on areas and scenes from the original.

Essentially, to make a single release viable the resulting game would have ended up being a digest of the original story, and we didn’t think that fans would be pleased with that.

Ultimately, we decided the best option for the project was to go for the highest level possible, with an expanded story. Having more than one game in the project allowed us to focus on keeping everything people loved from the original, but go into greater detail and more story depth than before.

Midgar is iconic to FINAL FANTASY VII, so we had to start the game here, and follow the story up to the main party’s escape from the city.

As you say, Midgar is one of the most recognisable and iconic settings in videogame history. Why do you think that is? What have you done to make sure you capture that essence in this new game?


Hamaguchi-san: When creating the city we broke the concepts of the original down to three key words. Those were: Dark, Modern Steampunk and Eclectic.

I think those elements all really shine through and make the city both believable and memorable. It’s a location full of variety, with different zones, and different groups of characters inhabiting each of them.

It’s a very imaginative setting, full of different influences and surprises. I think this is why people remember it, because while being a fantasy world, it feels like it could be real.

In FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, we have paid very close attention to every single part of it and tried to make it feel really alive for players.

How have you expanded the city? Can fans expect to see new areas of Midgar?


Kitase-san: In the original game there were a lot of breaks in the game, where the screen went black, and then the game continues in a different location.

In other words, there were a lot of parts in between sections of Midgar that were implied, but never seen. That was something that we wanted to address with remake - to fill in all those gaps, show how the different parts of the city are connected, and make it a continuous experience.

Hamaguchi-san: We focused on giving each section of Midgar its own feel, complete with its own culture and community. There is a large amount of variety within the city, and you really get a sense who people are and how they live in this place.

Some fans have expressed disappointment that Red XIII is not a playable character. Can you specify the role of Red XIII in the game?


Hamaguchi-san: I answered a question about Red XIII while we were going around Europe talking to media, but there was a bigger response from fans than I had expected! I got a renewed sense of how much love there is out there for the characters in FINAL FANTASY VII.

To explain more about why we did not make Red XIII a playable character in this game, we felt that because he only joins the team during the latter stages, having him as a playable ally with full character growth potential would not be a satisfying experience for the player. So we decided to have him join for now, as a guest character instead.

However, the development team feel the same way that the fans do when it comes to seeing Red XIII as an important character, and we designed his gameplay in a special way to offset him not being playable in battle.

I won’t reveal exactly what that entails, because I want people to enjoy it when they actually play the game, but I will say that FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE has added a new upper floor to the Shinra Building to present a climax that was not in the original.

The key to navigating this floor lies in using Red XIII’s unique physical abilities to overcome environmental obstacles. Letting the player experience his heroics in this way is something that I’m confident will please the fans.

I hope everyone enjoys seeing Red XIII in action in the build-up to the climax of the story.

How did you approach the design of the combat system in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE? How much inspiration did you take from the original game?


Hamaguchi-san: At its heart, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE has the same battle system as the original game: you wait for your ATB bar to fill up and choose what to do from your list of commands.

But action elements are also layered on top - by skilfully using these mechanics, you can open up the enemy, knock them down, and create a chance to do big damage. You can also much more efficiently charge your ATB gauge.

The combat system was intentionally designed to bring those two things together - I think it’s a really effective hybrid of action and turn-based combat, and I hope players will enjoy it.

You also created Classic Mode - what was the intention behind that?


Hamaguchi-san: We’re aware that there are some people who are not so keen on action games. From our point of view, we would be very sad if people avoided our game because of that - especially if they already love the world of FINAL FANTASY VII, and its characters.

We want to show everyone this amazing world and all the effort that’s gone into creating its depth, so we created Classic Mode. This lets you automate the action elements and just focus purely on issuing commands in the style of the original game.

So if you think: “I really love the look of that game, but I’m put off by the action,” don’t worry. We made Classic Mode specifically so you can enjoy the game in just the way you want to!

This will be many people’s first time playing FINAL FANTASY VII - perhaps even FINAL FANTASY. What have you done to make sure the game is welcoming to new players?


Kitase-san: We made FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE not just for fans of the original, but specifically for new players too.

Something that we repeated to ourselves throughout the development was “what are the essential parts of the original” and “why did people respond to the original the way they did?”

Our goal was to capture everything that made the original game so special, but bring it up to date with the latest technology so that new players could be just as excited as players of the original game were when that released.

For new players, this is where the story of FINAL FANTASY VII begins. If you’ve seen characters such as Cloud or Sephiroth in other games, and wondered where their story began, this is the game.

We’ve also intentionally designed the game to be welcoming to all players - if you’re a fan of action games, or prefer something more tactical, there are different control modes that allow the game to be played to your preference.

Fans expect a lot from FINAL FANTASY, such as secrets or hidden bosses. Is this the case in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE?


Hamaguchi-san: We can’t say exactly how much there is - we want to keep some surprises for players!

I will say, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE has been designed as if it were a standalone game, and comparable in size to other mainline FINAL FANTASY games.

The content you mentioned from other FINAL FANTASY games… I don’t want to say precisely what’s in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, but if you’re expecting endgame content, you won’t be disappointed.


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE launches April 10, 2020 for PS4.

If you want a taste of what to expect from the game, the demo is now available on the PlayStation Store:

To stay up to date with all the important news about FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, follow the team on social media: