Final Fantasy

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 math, that’s a (calculates furiously) 100% reduction on the standard upfront cost of $19.99.

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 26, 2020, 9.00am PDT 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 26, 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 $2,499.99 each.
By Square Enix Team

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 dramatization 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 type of 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 specialized 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 Square Enix Team

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 pull out 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 goes on sale on the PlayStation Store today, and is also discounted on 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 XIV: Shadowbringers Patch 5.25 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 5.25 - Save the Queen quests added

The most recent update - Patch 5.25 - is available now. It brings 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’s 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, titled Echoes of a Fallen Star, added new adventures, challenging trials, and much more to the critically-acclaimed expansion pack.

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 arrived for the Blue Mage job - the first since it launched earlier this year. This limited job got 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:

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 40% off (until April 29, 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 40% 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 favorite 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 favor 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).

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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

The FFTCG Tin Gift Set is available now on the Square Enix Store:


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:

10 things you may have missed in the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE demo

Easter Eggs, secret endings and more. How many of these have you discovered?
By Duncan Heaney

The FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE demo’s been out for a few days now - hopefully you’re all enjoying it.

Now that many of you have gone hands-on with this exciting new RPG, we wanted to dive in and point out some of the things you may not have noticed.

Truth be told, we were going to do seven of these because… ha ha FINAL FANTASY VII, but even this relatively brief section of the game overflows with small details, Easter Eggs and more.

So here are 10 cool things you may have missed in the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE demo. How many did you spot?


1. You can see materia in weapon slots

Look closely at Cloud’s sword and Barret’s gun arm and you’ll notice the green materia embedded into it.

For those new to FINAL FANTASY VII’s world, characters equip these glowing orbs to gain spells and special abilities. Unlike the original game, in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE each character’s materia setup is accurately reflected in their appearance.

You can see this in the demo - Cloud only has access to Fire materia, so only has a single orb visible on his sword. Barret has both Thunder and Cure magic - and both materia can be seen on his weapon.


2. Posters contain some refreshing Easter Eggs

When Cloud and co first enter the train station at the start of the demo, you’ll notice a few posters stuck to walls. Take a moment to look closely at them, because you’ll spot some fun Easter Eggs.

For example, a couple of posters promote Banora White Apple Juice. Banora White is a type of fruit that’s referenced throughout classic PSP game Crisis Core: FINAL FANTASY VII.


3. Jessie has a lot to say about Cloud’s laser-dodging abilities

At one point in the demo, Cloud has to dodge lasers, cutting through the beams when they cycle off.

If he gets zapped, Jessie has something to say about it - you may have heard a few comments yourself if you mistimed the section. But if you keep getting hit, Jessie will continue to comment on your performance - and she has a fair amount to say.

Her attitude also changes, from initial concern, to admiration for Cloud’s resilience, to a growing suspicion that he’s doing it on purpose.

Which, in fairness, he probably is if it gets to that point.


4. Stamp the Shinra dog

Throughout the demo, Barrett calls Cloud “Stamp”, and asks if “Stamp can bite the hand that feeds him”.

His intention is clearly to suggest that the former SOLDIER still has loyalty to his former employer, Shinra - but did you notice that he’s referring to a specific dog?

If you look around you’ll see a few posters of the Shinra mascot Stamp. Don’t worry though - he’s still a good dog. Because they’re all good dogs, right?


5. You can toggle between radar, mini-map or neither with L2

The demo doesn’t really make this clear, so consider this more of a PSA: you can toggle a radar or mini-map with a press of L2.

The mini-map is useful for exploration - a trail shows where you’ve recently been, helping you remember which corners of the facility you’ve peered into.

Alternatively, you can toggle to a radar, which is helpful for keeping track of your objective. Or if you prefer a clear HUD, you can also turn them off entirely.


6. You can press the touchpad for more information about your foes

Have you tried pressing the PS4’s touchpad while in a fight? It’ll open up an information panel that tells you a little about your current target.

In the full game, you’ll need to equip Assess materia and use the associated ability to see more detailed data. It’s almost always worth it though - knowing enemy weaknesses is crucial for some tougher fights.

Plus it gives you a brief description of the foe - those are always fun to read.


7. The clock outside the train station matches the train arrival boards inside

If you’re looking for an example of just how much attention to detail there is in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, look no further than the clock outside the train station.

If you compare the time to the boards inside the station, you’ll notice that it’s around the same time. It’s these little touches that add up and help create something special.


8. Barret sings the FINAL FANTASY victory fanfare

No new FINAL FANTASY game would be complete without the famous victory fanfare, and this one is no different.

Combat and exploration are seamlessly integrated in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, but don’t worry - Barret’s still got you covered.

After a successful battle, he may sing the fanfare in his own inimitable style. Listen out for it!


9. The music changes dynamically

If you’ve played the demo, you don’t need us to tell you that the music in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is incredible. But did you know that it changes dynamically depending on what’s going on in the game?

For example, when you enter combat inside the reactor, the soundtrack will subtly switch to a faster-paced, more action-oriented version of that theme. When combat’s done, it returns to the more sedate, menacing piece.

Or when you’re dodging lasers (or not - see #3) there’s an additional layer added onto the track just for this small section.

If you want a good way to hear the dynamic soundtrack, try temporarily turning the volume for voice and sound effects to zero. You’ll quickly hear how elegantly the music shifts and builds throughout the bombing mission.


10. There’s a secret ending scene

Cloud and Barret are out to bomb Shinra’s planet-harming reactor - but how long did you set the timer on the explosives?

You get a choice of a risky 20 minute countdown, or a more relaxed 30 minute escape window. Whichever you pick, you’ll get a tantalizing bit of footage at the end of the game, but if you go for the shorter option, you’ll see a bit extra, featuring a glimpse at an iconic character…


Those were just a few noteworthy things tucked away in the demo - but it’s far from all of them.

Did you notice anything worth pointing out to fellow fans? Let us know on social media:

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE releases on PS4 April 10, 2020, and you can preorder it now:

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE screenshots: Wall Market, Honeybee Inn and more

Meet old and new residents of Midgar, the Leviathan Summon and much more
By Duncan Heaney

We have some new FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE screenshots to show you. We think you’re going to like them - they’re pretty glamorous.

Read on and we’ll show you how fan-favorite locations like Wall Market and the Honeybee Inn have been reimagined, showcase Barret in Battle and highlight some very special materia.

First though, we’ll take a look at some characters in the game, starting with one that fans of the original game will know very well…


Tseng

This is Tseng - the leader of the Turks.

The Turks are a small, elite organization with Shinra that does everything the company needs it to - be it scouting out candidates for SOLDIER, protecting VIPs, or even assassination.

Their cool-headed leader has a knack for managing his eccentric subordinates. He’s an old acquaintance of Aerith's, and has been keeping watch over her since she moved to the slums.


Don Corneo

This lecherous scumbag is the true ruler of Wall Market. He hosts nightly auditions for the "next Mrs. Corneo" and although his mouth is as foul as his face, he has an uncanny way with people - even the dregs of society are securely under his thumb.


Andrea Rhodea

The owner of - and dancer at - the Honeybee Inn is a man of influence within the quarter, with the authority to approve women for Corneo's auditions. Each night, he dazzles his crowd with performances that defy description. Always seeking perfection, he rigorously trains both his mind and body.


Leslie Kyle

Don Corneo's lackey may look young, but he has the heart of an old curmudgeon. His dead-eyed stare and general apathy have earned him pride of place among the don's men.


Madam M

Madam M is the proprietress of a hand-massage parlor in Wall Market. Like Andrea, she has a great deal of influence within the quarter - that includes the authority to approve women for Corneo's auditions. Be warned that she’s a prideful sort, and only as courteous as her customers are deep-pocketed.


Chocobo Sam

A Chocobo handler in Wall Market, Chocobo Sam is another prominent figure with the authority to approve women for Corneo's auditions. He runs a delivery service called Sam's Delivery. He also happens to be an avid gambler - though he’s hooked more on the rush than any money he may win.


Barret in Battle

Next up, let’s take a look at one of the core party members - and how he works in battle.

If you’ve played the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE demo, you’ll have experienced how Barret fights.

His gun arm makes him an ideal long-ranged fighter. Push the square button, and Barret will fire a volley from his machine gun. You can also hold down the button for an extended salvo.

If you press the triangle button, you can use Barret’s “Overcharge” attack. Not only is it more powerful than standard shots, it fills a large portion of his ATB gauge.

Bear in mind that once used, it takes a long time to recharge this attack - but you can speed up the reload process by pressing triangle again.

Barret’s battle abilities

When Barret fills his ATB gauge, he can use one of his special abilities. Here are just a couple of the things he can do.

Focused Shot: this ability uses up all available ATB charges to deliver a powerful attack. Not only does it do good damage, it also fills up an enemy’s stagger gauge - get that to max and they’ll be susceptible to even more damage!

Lifesaver: This ability definitely lives up to its name! After activating it, Barret will share some of his HP with allies when they take damage.


Command Materia - Enemy Skill

Materia is vitally important in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE - equipping these orbs allows your characters to use magic, special abilities and more.

The next screenshot shows you the Enemy Skill materia:

When a party member has this equipped, they have a chance to learn certain enemy attacks that are used on them. Note that the character can only use these skills while the materia is equipped.


Wall Market

Built on the ruins of the collapsed Sector 6 plate, Wall Market is Midgar’s biggest - and most infamous - entertainment quarter.

It’s run by Don Corneo (see above) and is almost entirely free of Shinra’s influence.

It’s an incredibly lively area that offers plenty of… let’s say ‘intriguing’ ways to pass the lonely nights.

Corneo Colosseum

Located beneath the bustling streets of Wall Market, the Corneo Colosseum gives brave fighters the chance to engage in brutal battles against both man and monster.

Winners of a colosseum bout receive glory, fame, and a substantial reward.


The Honeybee Inn

Situated in Wall Market, the Honeybee Inn is the area’s premier nightclub, and offers nights few will ever forget- as its staff frequently remind its patrons.

Every night, audiences are dazzled by the Honeybee Inn’s gorgeous cast of honeygirls and boys.

This unique venue also provides private rooms for its more discerning customers, allowing them to enjoy time in private with the performers of their choice.

At one point in the story, Tifa and Aerith glam themselves up to infiltrate Don Corneo’s mansion. Cloud is left with no choice but to dress to impress as well.

Each character has multiple costumes too!


Beginner’s Hall

This is Beginner’s Hall - a location where you can learn the basics of weapon enhancement.

There’s a weapon shop on the ground floor.

The second floor is used as the base of operations for the neighborhood watch.


New feature: Jukebox

While you wander around town, you may come across areas playing special music. You can get these songs as music discs from shops or citizens.

When you can acquire a disc, an icon will appear in the top left of the screen.

Once collected, you can play a disc on any jukebox. This one can be found in Tifa’s bar - Seventh Heaven.


Summon: Leviathan

Summons are a particularly powerful type of Materia. Equip one to a character, and they’ll be able to bring a powerful ally into battle.

Today we’re introducing a summon that will make quite a splash - Leviathan.

Worshipped as a deity in the Wutai region, this non-elemental summon takes the form of a water serpent.

Leviathan evokes a savage beauty as it rises from the briny depths, generating tidal waves that wash foes away.


We hope you enjoyed this latest look at FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. The game releases for PS4 on April 10, 2020 - it’s mere weeks away!

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

Take a look at these new FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE PS4 dynamic themes

See the new themes in action - and find out how to get them!
By Duncan Heaney

If you read the Square Enix Blog regularly, you’ll notice we often urge you to follow the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE social media accounts. Today is a great example of why.

The game’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts have just previewed a number of dynamic themes for PS4. These beautiful backgrounds feature sights and sounds from the highly-anticipated RPG - out April 10, 2020.

You can take a look at these fantastic themes below. More are on the way, so make sure you follow FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE to see them first.


You can get the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE demo on the PlayStation Store. And why not check out our top tips to help you become a better SOLDIER?

You should expect more themes and information about FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE as we get ever-closer to the game’s release on April 10.

So once again, here’s the PSA: make sure you follow on social media to keep up to date with the news.

How FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE expands and adds to the original story

Warning: this article contains story spoilers for the game.
By Duncan Heaney

Previously we looked at the combat of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE - today we’re going to talk about the story.

So consider this your warning: here be spoilers.

One of the most fascinating things about FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is how it takes familiar scenes from the original game, but expands and reinterprets them to add richness and depth to the story. It also smartly sprinkles in new elements that keeps things surprising.

To illustrate how it does this, I’m going to discuss a very specific sequence from very early in the game - the aftermath of the opening bombing mission.

So if you want to go into the game as blind as possible, now’s the time to tap out. Go read this article about FINAL FANTASY love stories or something instead.


Final spoiler warning: Story details start below Barret:

After the bombing

If you want to know about the dramatic events of the game’s opening bombing mission, you can experience it for yourself in the demo (cough - download link - cough).

For the most part though, that opening part skews close to what fans will expect - Cloud and company get in, fight their way to the reactor, beat the bolts off a giant robot scorpion and get out in the nick of time, as the reactor explodes around them.

But what happens after that? Well, as in the original game, the team splits up to reunite later, and Cloud wanders alone through the Upper Plate streets of Midgar.

And what streets they are - this area drives home just how richly-reimagined this iconic location really is. The streets are densely-packed with detail - buildings tower around you, streetlights illuminate the scene with vivid color, every NPC is unique, and most have something to say as you get near. Despite the devastation around you, the place feels alive.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably take this section very slow, taking the time to really soak in the scale and atmosphere of the place.

But then Cloud has an unexpected reunion with a figure that fans of the original FINAL FANTASY VII will instantly recognize…

Suddenly, we’re in exciting territory - this is new! And there’s no dawdling now, as a startled Cloud pursues the elusive figure through the streets and alleys. Although he loses sight of his target, he does eventually encounter a very familiar flower-seller: Aerith.

But she has problems of her own - she’s surrounded by black wisps of… something, which cause her to stumble and fall. Cloud’s presence seems to drive them away, and they strike up a conversation - much as it did in the original game.

Rest assured that, yes, Cloud can still has an option whether or not to buy a flower - and here’s a fun fact: a grateful Aerith will now give it to him for free, rather than charge him a gil!

Unfortunately, the interaction is cut short by a double-whammy of interruptions. First Shinra forces identify Cloud, and Aeirth’s mysterious harassers return. And while she flees, Cloud… well, let’s just say he resists arrest.

Here’s yet another example of how the game redefines a classic moment. In the original game, Cloud is confronted by Shinra security but very quickly escapes onto a moving train. It all takes place in the same area, and lasts only a few minutes at most.

But in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, the confrontation sparks an exhilarating chase up, over and around the streets of Midgar. The scene still ends with Cloud jumping for the train, but how he gets there is much more intense.


Story Spoilers end here

The game’s co-director Naoki Hamaguchi recently described their team’s approach to the story of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE:

“I’ve considered the following phrase important: respect for the original,” he said. "FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE takes on the challenge of creating something… that matches the current generation, while treating the captivating elements of the original game with respect.”

That’s apparent from what we played - all the major events of the game are there just as you’d hope. But there’s another important element too - as Hamaguchi-san himself says:

“For those who’ve played it: new but familiar.”

Ultimately, I think that’s the perfect way to describe it. After extended time with the game, I suspect that fans will be very happy with how they’ve adapted the key beats of the story. But they’ll also be surprised too.

And as a fan myself, that’s very exciting indeed.


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE releases for PS4 on April 10, 2020. It’s available to preorder now from most retailers, including the Square Enix Store:

To stay up to date with all the news about the game, make sure you follow FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE on social media:

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE preview: a closer look at combat

We go beyond the demo to look at the battle system in the full version of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE
By Duncan Heaney

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is now just a few weeks away. Many of you will already be digging into the recently-released demo. If not, what are you waiting for: go download it now!

But the demo, while exciting, is just a small sample from the very beginning of the game. Some of you may be wondering - how does the combat expand from there?

The Square Enix Blog team recently played through more of the game - we experienced three meaty sections: the opening bombing mission and subsequent escape; the assault on Reactor #5, and a boss battle in the Midgar sewers.

With many hours of gameplay under my belt, I wanted to share some of my own impressions of how combat’s shaping up.

Combat beyond the demo

I’ve seen a lot of fans ponder about FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE’s combat system - how does it feel to play?

Honestly, it feels completely unique - to the point where I can’t really think of a reference point to compare it to. What I can say for sure is that it’s enormously satisfying.

It all revolves around ‘ATB’. As you battle, two ATB bars underneath the character’s HP indicator will fill. When one is complete, you can spend it to use a special attack, spell or item.

We’ve written about this before, and you can experience this for yourself in the demo, but having played much further into the game, combat opens up dramatically. Your options get deeper, battle strategy becomes even more important, and fights feel fantastically rewarding as a result.

To try to explain what I mean, here are some observations:

Each party member is unique

Every playable character in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE feels distinct. While they all share the same basic controls, the way they fight is markedly different.

You can switch between party members in battle, or just give them orders via the Command Menu. Either way, understanding how best to leverage their strengths will give you a massive edge in battle.

Here’s a brief summation of the core party:

  • Cloud - an effective fighter in almost all combat scenarios. His abilities are wide-ranging, from stagger-filling assaults to flurries of attacks that increase in power with subsequent hits. His Punisher stance (activated by pressing triangle), lets him counter foes after a block - not only useful, but so, so satisfying to pull off.

  • Barret - his signature gun-arm makes him a logical choice to take out enemies that are high up or far away, but he has far more utility than that. For example, his Steelskin ability means that he can’t be interrupted by foes when using magic or abilities - that saved my life more than once!

  • Tifa - capable of delivering astonishing amounts of damage and doing so very quickly - though she’s in serious trouble if she gets overwhelmed. Her speed and ability to pressure enemies means that I found her to be something of a wrecking ball against Shinra’s various minions.

  • Aerith - when it comes to magic there is no equal. She casts noticeably more potent spells than her allies, and many of her abilities play into that strength. For example, she can steal MP from opponents or drop a Holy Circle that allows the party to multi-cast (amazingly useful in the battle against Abzu). You’ll want to keep her far away from the center of the action though.

ATB is essential

Standard attacks exist primarily to add to the ATB gauge - they only inflict minor damage. So if you expect to win a battle by spamming the square button, you will die. Probably very quickly.

True, the standard Shinra security forces you face at the start of the game can be put down without much trouble, but for most enemies and bosses you’ll have to rely on abilities and spells.

I tested this out against a Riot Trooper. These shield-wielding foes shrugged off Cloud’s basic combos, and responded with brutal attacks of their own. Before long, SOLDIER-boy was down for the count.

But by spending ATB on fire magic, I was able to take these foes out in mere seconds.


Combat requires thought

Combat may be real-time in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, but I’d argue that the scraps are as much a test of the mind as they are of reflexes.

The game constantly mixes up its encounters - just when you think you’ve developed a foolproof plan, a new enemy type or composition of foes turns up to completely wrong-foot you.

I found that I constantly had to adjust my strategy on the fly - should I use attacks like Cloud’s Braver to inflict maximum damage? Should I focus on abilities to stagger the enemy so it’ll take more damage? Would it be more efficient to focus purely on elemental weaknesses?

A good strategy and a thorough understanding of your various options makes a significant difference to your effectiveness in combat, and it makes every encounter feel meaningful - and fun!

Bosses are brilliant - but they’re no pushovers

That depth carries over to the bosses, which are fantastic.

We fought against three overpowered foes: the Scorpion Sentinel, Air Buster and Abzu - every single one presented a unique battle that required different strategies to overcome.

And strategy is important because if you approach these fights without proper consideration, it’s likely you won’t make it out. These guys are tough!

You meet the Scorpion Sentinel during the opening bombing mission. Since it’s in the demo, we won’t dwell much on it, except to say electricity is your friend. Also, attack while its tail is up.

No wait - don’t do that!

The Air Buster is encountered during the game’s second bombing mission and it steps things up a notch. In this battle positioning is everything - the mechanized menace is surprisingly fast, and has vicious attacks that should be avoided at all costs.

For example, at points in the fight it can detach its hands, so they can attack independently. In you’re in the path of these flying fists (which I was far too often), you’d best be ready to whip out a Hi-Potion or Phoenix Down.

Fortunately, these attacks tend to follow a predictable path - if you’re paying attention, you can maneuver to a safe space on the battlefield. Not only have you negated the attack, you’re well-positioned to follow up with a coordinated counter-assault.

Finally, we faced off against Abzu in the sewers beneath Midgar. The slobbering beast tests everything you’ve learned so far. It charges quickly, it’s incredibly strong and it can use the environment itself against you - getting smothered by sludge from a sewer pipe is probably not how Cloud imagined he’d go out.

It’s a tricky fight but fortunately Cloud’s equipped with the Assess Materia, which provides valuable information about Abzu’s primary weakness (which I won’t reveal so you can work it out for yourselves in the full game).

This provides the first piece of the puzzle - but it’s actually Abzu’s reactions to these attacks that let you see the full picture. Using this knowledge, it’s possible to execute a plan that keeps the monster on the back-foot, and your party conscious.

That was just a brief look at the combat in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. It’s a genuinely enjoyable system that captures the essence of the original game, while still feeling fresh and unique in its own right.

But now that the demo’s out, what do you think? Let us know in the comments, and on social media:

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE launches April 10, 2020 for PS4, and is available to preorder right now:

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE demo now available

Experience an epic bombing mission and battle the Scorpion Sentinel… right now!
By Duncan Heaney

Let’s dispense with the usual preamble - the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE demo is out now on PS4.

Go play it.

That’s it. That’s the blog post - what else are you waiting for?

Okay, maybe we could actually give you a little information about what to expect from this exciting sample of the game. Got to do something while it downloads, right?

What’s in the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE demo?

The new demo lets you play through the opening section of the game - the bombing of Mako Reactor 1.

You’ll initially control Cloud Strife, a mercenary who has been hired to infiltrate and destroy a facility owned by the Shinra Electric Power Company - a sinister organization that is draining the planet’s lifeforce as mako energy.

You’ll help the team make their way through the vast complex, battling hordes of Shinra security forces along the way - rest assured, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get to grips with the game’s uniquely satisfying combat system.

Later on in the demo, Barret Wallace will join the party as a playable character. The leader of the anti-Shinra group Avalanche, Barret comes equipped with his signature gun arm - perfect for taking out enemies that Cloud’s Buster Sword can’t reach.

Eventually, you’ll make your way to your target, and face off against the game’s first boss: the Scorpion Sentinel. Don’t expect it to go easy on you - this mechanized menace has a real sting in the tail.

If you manage to beat it, the demo’s not over yet. You still have to escape from the rapidly collapsing structure. If you successfully escape… well, okay then the demo is over. But you can always play it again. And again. And again.

If you like what you play - and we’re pretty sure you will - you won’t have to wait long to play more. FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE launches for PS4 on April 10, 2020.

To stay up to date with the latest news and information about FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE as we get closer to release, make sure you follow us on social media:

FINAL FANTASY III patch adds new features to the game

Update for Steam, iOS and Android versions of the game includes auto battle, speed-up mode and more.
By Duncan Heaney

A new patch for FINAL FANTASY III has arrived, and it enhances the game with some fantastic new features, from the ability to speed up battles, to a Gallery mode.

The update is available on Steam, iOS and Android - you can see some of the changes in this new trailer:

When it originally launched in 1990, FINAL FANTASY III was a major hit - the first title in the series to become a million-seller. It’s legacy continues to influence the series to this day - this was game that introduced powerful Summons, including Ifrit and Shiva, for example.

The PC, iOS and Android versions updated the classic game with improved 3D visuals and new story sequences, and this new patch enhances them further with brand new features, including:

  • Gallery Mode

  • Auto battle function

  • 2x speed mode in battle

  • User interface changes (Steam version only)

  • Support for 21:9 ratio (Steam version only)

  • New languages: Traditional Chinese (Steam version), Simplified Chinese (Steam version), Thai and Japanese.

The patch is available now for all owners of the game.

To stay up to date with more news about FINAL FANTASY, make sure you check back on the Square Enix Blog regularly, and follow on social media:

Best Bits: Cosmo Canyon - FINAL FANTASY VII

Caution: This article contains spoilers for FINAL FANTASY VII.
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 stand out. So don’t get cross at us if you disagree, okay?

With Red XIII front and center in the latest FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE screenshots, we thought we'd take a look at one of his greatest moments from the original game...


FINAL FANTASY VII’s story really moves.

It’s something that jumped out at me on my most recent playthrough. Cloud and company are almost always pushing forward, both metaphorically and literally - there’s always a new location to explore, a new threat to deal with or a new vehicle to steal, and it’s what gives the game such a memorable energy.

But every now and then, FINAL FANTASY VII does take its foot off the gas, and let the pace, and the central narrative, slow down a bit. When it does, the effect can be remarkable - and nowhere is that more apparent than in Cosmo Canyon.

What happens at Cosmo Canyon?

Still on the trail of Sephiroth, Cloud and the rest of the party stop off at Cosmo Canyon to drop off Red XIII who hails from the town. It’s also a chance to take a break in a distinctly more relaxed environment than the previous Gold Saucer.

When they arrive, Red XIII explains a little of his backstory - he’s from a line of warriors that protect the Canyon - and introduces the gang to his ‘grandfather’, Bugenhagen.

The floaty sage explains to the team the role that the lifestream plays in the cycle of life and death - and drives home the dangers that Shinra’s energy-sucking machines pose to the natural order.

After that (and possibly a spending spree at the weapons shop), the party gathers round the campfire to take a break and process what they’ve learned. Red XIII bitterly reveals some serious daddy issues - his father was a coward who brought dishonor to his family.

Bugenhagen hears this (was the nosey old man eavesdropping?) and won’t let this stand. There’s more to the story and it’s time our hairy hero learned the truth.

He leads Red XIII and a couple of friends into a sealed cave. As for what happens next… well, if you’ve played it you know, and if you haven’t I don’t want to spoil it. I will say this though - if you don’t get a little moist around the tear ducts, you’re a stronger fan than I.

So that’s what happens, but why is it such an affecting section? Here are a few of the reasons:

It’s a welcome shift in focus

Most of FINAL FANTASY VII features on the central conflict between Cloud and Sephiroth. But as compelling as that is, some of FINAL FANTASY VII’s finest moments come when the game takes a long look at some of the other party members. Cosmo Canyon is Red XIII’s time in the spotlight - and it’s one that’s welcome.

Until this point in the game, Red XIII is something of a mystery. He’s intelligent, articulate, and extremely likeable but we don’t know all that much about him.

Cosmo Canyon changes that. We finally get insight into the character, his conflicts and his backstory. We see the place who grew up and the people he loves. We see the lingering resentment he has for his father and the fusion of pride and sorrow he feels when he discovers the what really happened to him.

When the party finally departs Cosmo Canyon, we know exactly who Red XIII is, where he comes from, and what makes him tick. He has become a fully-formed character and a key party member for the remainder of the adventure.


Read more:


It adds thematic depth

All through the game, we’ve been told that Shinra’s power-sucking machines are bad. We believe it - we see some evidence to support it, and if nothing else, everyone on the executive board seems to be utterly despicable.

But Bugenhagen and his unnecessarily extravagant planetarium drive home why harvesting Mako energy is bad. Once of the central themes of the game - mankind vs the natural order - comes sharply into focus, and it makes the continuing conflicts with the nefarious energy company even richer as a result.

The Cave of the Gi is excellent

When our heroes enter the Cave of the Gi to find out what happened to Red XIII’s father, they don’t realize they’re stepping into a nightmare.

The cave is infested with the restless spirits of the Gi tribe, who launched a failed offensive against Cosmo Canyon many years before. Those enemies are dangerous, casting spells that can KO a party member within a minute, or taking off three quarters of their HP in a single attack.

To navigate the cave, the team has to use switches to open paths, navigate treacherous spider webs - it truly feels like a hostile environment. Heck - even the floor can hurt you in some spots. Not helping matters, the music has turned full-on sinister, giving the location a truly unsettling vibe.

Eventually, the party makes their way through the cave, where they’re ambushed by a particularly nasty boss. It’s a tough fight (although the experienced will know there’s a trick to it), and a satisfying capper to a grueling journey.

Not as satisfying as the story beat that follows, of course… but as mentioned, that’s best left unspoiled.


FINAL FANTASY VII is a game with so many amazing moments, we could easily fill 20 ‘Best Bits’ articles. Cosmo Canyon is definitely a standout though - it’s full of great character moments, fascinating plot developments and satisfying battles. Plus the music for the area is fantastic.

But that’s just my opinion. Do you agree, or is there another part of the game you’d highlight instead? Share your thoughts in the comments and on social media:

It’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air. Even the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE crew’s getting into the spirit of things.

Some beautiful new Valentine’s Day cards have been released on the game’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Take a look:

Pretty heart-warming. Although personally speaking, I’m not sure whether I love or hate ‘You mean Aerith-ing to me’. I think I hate myself for loving it.

But what do you think? Share the love on social media, and follow FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE for news, screenshots, and other fun stuff from the game:

Watch the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE opening movie here

Get a glimpse at the introduction ahead of the April 10 release of the game.
By Duncan Heaney

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here’s something you’ll really love: the opening movie to FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE!

The soaring introduction combines both new and familiar visuals, incredible graphics, amazing music… okay, you don’t need us describe it - just watch it for yourself:

Look good, right? If you’re hungry for more, yesterday we shared a host of new screenshots and information about the reimagined classic - take a look:


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE launches for PS4 on April 10, 2020, and is available to preorder now:

To stay up to date with all the news from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, make sure you follow on social media:

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE screenshots: Red XIII, Hojo and more

Also find out about Tifa’s battle abilities, new summons and meet a new character - Chadley.
By Square Enix Team

We’ve just released a host of new screenshots for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, due for release on April 10, 2020.

We’ll start with a look at two characters who fans of the original game will know very well. For anyone new to the game, let’s just say that both of these figures is a big deal…


Red XIII

He has red fur, sharp claws and a flaming tail - but Red XIII is no mindless beast. In fact, he’s as intelligent and well-spoken as any human.

In FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE he’s in… well, let’s just call it a tough spot. He’s been captured and used as a test subject by Shinra scientist Hojo.


Hojo

The Director of Shinra’s Research and Development Division is not a man bound by common ethics or morality. If his experiments require him to take a life, he will do so without hesitation.

His scientific acumen is undeniably impressive - in a previous collaborative role, he performed special surgery on soldiers to increase their physical strength. In doing so, he helped birth Shinra’s elite SOLDIER unit.


Tifa enters the fight!

Tifa Lockhart - she’s a brave member of the anti-Shinra group Avalanche, a loyal friend and the owner of the best bar in the Sector 7 slums (just ask Wedge).

She’s also a powerful warrior who takes down opponents with fast strikes with just her fists and feet. In battle, Tifa is a swift fighter - repeated presses of the square button will let her perform quick combos.

She also has a powerful unique ability - press the Triangle button after a combo, and she’ll release some powerful moves.

Whirling Uppercut: A powerful upwards strike that will send a foe soaring

Omnistrike: Tifa slams into the enemy with a brutal shoulder barge.

Rise and Fall: After waves of kicks, Tifa finishes with a powerful blow from her fist.


Tifa’s Battle Abilities

In FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, attacking enemies will fill your ATB bar. When it is full, you can use it to launch a special ability.

We’ve previously seen some of Aerith's moves, but what does Tifa bring to the party?

Tifa’s True Strike hits an enemy directly in front of her.

She can then finish them off with a devastating dive kick!


Materia and Weapons

These next screenshots reveal some of the Materia and weapons in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

Healing Materia lets you use healing spells like Cure and Cura. In the shot above, Aerith’s using Regen - a spell that gradually heals a target for a set time.

Deadly Dodge Materia lets you turn any attack after evading into a powerful melee strike. We can see Cloud using it above - although any character can equip it too.

NAIL BAT! One of the most fondly-remembered weapons from the original game is reimagined in glorious style. As the screenshot shows, when you equip a new weapon, your character’s appearance will change in and out of battle.


Mercenary Quests

Citizens and merchants across Midgar will ask Cloud for help. As a jack of all trades, Cloud will help them with these quests, which could be anything from taking down some troublesome monsters to helping find lost cats.

This quest tasks Cloud with taking care of some Drakes. If he completes it, he’ll be well rewarded.


Battle Report

This young chap is Chadley - a 15 year-old research trainee who works under Professor Hojo. You’ll find him in the Sector 7 slums, where he researches new types of Materia - if Cloud helps out, he’ll develop and sell Materia for the team.

Battle Report quests are available from Chadley. He’ll request that you complete various requirements, such as using Assess Materia a certain number of times, or defeating enemies in a specific way. Complete these tasks, and he’ll develop more Materia that you can purchase.


Summons

Summons are a powerful type of Materia. Equip one to a character, and they’ll be able to bring a powerful ally into battle.

Here’s a new look at some of these Summons:

This is Chocobo Chick. We know what you’re thinking: d’awww, adorable, right? How could something so cute and fluffy be dangerous?

Don’t be fooled - Chocobo Chick is plenty powerful, and will assault your foes with powerful attacks. It’s included when you preorder any edition of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

Carbuncle is a mystical creature with a ruby attached to its forehead. It gives power to allies with the shining gem. This summon is included with preorders of the Digital Deluxe Edition from the PlayStation Store.

Cactuar is a true icon of the FINAL FANTASY series. In FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, this summon uses incredibly powerful needle attacks while always keeping that trademark vacant expression. You’ll get Cactuar when you preorder the Deluxe Edition, Digital Deluxe Edition, or 1st Class Editions of the game.


Environments

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE reimagines iconic Midgar locations, but also expands them to feature brand new areas that weren’t in the original game.

Let’s take a look at a couple:

This Mako Reactor sucks out Mako from the core of the planet. The Shinra Electric Power Company turns it into electricity or liquid gas for cities, to produce Materia and for other scientific research.

Shinra has a total monopoly on the resource, and has built several reactors around the world. That said, the safety of these structures has been questioned, as there have been confirmed accidents in remote locations.

The Corkscrew Tunnel connects the streets of the slums beneath Midgar’s plate, to the living areas on top.

The tunnel coils upwards in a giant corkscrew through the centre of Midgar, and anyone who rides the train are is ID checked.

If an unauthorised intruder is discovered, they are dealt with harshly and quickly.


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE releases for PlayStation 4 on April 10, 2020.

To stay up to date with more FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE news, make sure you follow on social media:

6 more great FINAL FANTASY love stories

We remember some of the FINAL FANTASY relationships that will warm your heart… and belly.
By Duncan Heaney

Warning: spoilers for FINAL FANTASY VIII, FINAL FANTASY IX, FINAL FANTASY X-2 and FINAL FANTASY XIII.


Romance is big deal in FINAL FANTASY – these epic games tell tales of the heart as much as they do high adventure.

Since it’s nearly Valentine’s Day, we thought it a good time for another look at some of the most memorable love stories in the series.

If you missed last year’s article, you can check it out here:

Or read on, as we start with a relationship that could best be described as… eventful.


Serah Farron and Snow Villiers in FINAL FANTASY XIII

Shakespeare once wrote “the course of true love never did run smooth”. While I’m fairly sure he wasn’t talking about FINAL FANTASY XIII, he may as well have been.

For poor Serah and Snow, the course of true love is an assault course – a sadistically designed one at that.

Their troubles start when Serah is branded by a fal’Cie – a powerful creature that assigns humans with a task that they must complete. Being marked in this way is one of the greatest taboos on the world of Cocoon, so to try to protect her beloved Snow, she tries to break things off.

But the Snow man says no ma’am – instead he doubles down asks Serah to marry him. And it’s all very lovely. Until she’s then taken prisoner by a fal’Cie. And turned into crystal. And shot out of the sky.

Add the extra complication of a sister-in-law who most certainly does not approve of the union, and it’s a whole lot for two people to go through. But when all is said and done, the two do manage find each other once more, and live happily ever after.

Or at least until the events of FINAL FANTASY XIII-2, but that’s a whole other story…


Garnet Til Alexandros XVII and Zidane Tribal in FINAL FANTASY IX

Garnet and Zidane come from very different worlds.

One’s a refined princess from one of the most powerful countries on the planet, the other’s a quick-witted rogue from the streets. Yet through adversity, tragedy and more than a little banter, the two conflicting personalities find a connection.

They first meet when Zidane enacts a daring plan to kidnap Princess Garnet. What he doesn’t expect is that the she wants to be kidnapped, and before long the couple are swept along on a daring escape through sky, field and dangerous forest.

It’s fair to say that their early relationship has some… friction. Zidane considers himself a ladies man and his constant flirting rubs Garnet the wrong way – after all, she’s dealing with a lot of problems and all of his shenanigans aren’t helping.

But over time, the two learn to rely on each other and Zidane realises that his feelings for the troubled royal are far deeper than he realised. It all adds up to one of the most charming, and uplifting love stories in the series to date.


Read more:


Lulu and Wakka in FINAL FANTASY X-2

One of the many joys of FINAL FANTASY X-2 is revisiting the characters people came to know and love in the previous game. Time has passed, the world has changed and the heroes have moved on to a different stage of their lives.

One of the most dramatic developments is that former party members Wakka and Lulu are now a couple. Not only that, but Lulu is pregnant with Wakka’s child.

It’s an interesting turn of events, because there’s a lot of history there. Lulu once dated Wakka’s brother, who sadly died in a battle with the aquatic menace Sin – a tragedy that’s still fresh in the mind for them both in FINAL FANTASY X.

But it’s also a coupling that makes sense. There’s an obvious familiarity and respect between the two all the way through that first game. They’re comfortable with each other and even when they disagree, which is fairly often, there’s no malice behind it.

What’s more, they complement each other perfectly. Wakka’s optimism and energy is perfectly balanced by Lulu’s more measured, realistic outlook. And let’s not forget – both of them are tough as nails too.

They’re Spira’s real power couple.


Rinoa and Squall in FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered

The perennial favorite. How can we talk about Valentine’s Day and not at least mention Squall and Rinoa once again?

It’s a real case of opposites attract, this one - Rinoa’s energetic and passionate, while Squall is cynical and withdrawn. But as they spend time together, their defences crumble and they grow closer, resulting in probably the most romantic spaceship ride in gaming history.

Plus, with the release of FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered, the two heroes are prettier than ever – now Squall really is the best-looking guy here.


Quina and Vivi in FINAL FANTASY IX

…what? I mean, they can get married.

Oh all right then. How about…


Quina and Frogs in general

I hope one day you can find someone who looks at you the way Quina looks at frogs.

You see, Quina adores our amphibious amigos. If s/he so much as catches a glimpse of green skin, s/he’ll be racing after it faster than you can say ‘ribbit’.

The excitable qu just loves them, craves them – s/he just wants to grab hold of a frog and lick it all over. And then guzzle it down because frogs are the character’s favorite food.

Okay, so this isn’t romantic, but this a level of affection for a particular meal must still represent some type of love, right?

…right? Okay, maybe this one is a bit tenuous. But at least we can all agree that we should probably keep Quina away from a certain Chrono Trigger hero.


As you can probably tell, love is always in the air in the FINAL FANTASY series. For example, even now the Valentione’s Day event is underway in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online.

Over the last few weeks, players have voted for the character they want to become the land’s new emissary of love. The results should be in now, so go check it out if you haven’t already.

That’s enough of our thoughts though – do you agree with our picks? What are your favorite FINAL FANTASY love stories?

Share your thoughts on social media:

The heroes gather in new FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE key art

A beautiful group shot, and an iconic Midgar location too!
By Duncan Heaney

Want a little something for the weekend? How about some brand new FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE art?

This stunning piece features the game’s iconic cast standing side by side at the edge of a stretch of Midgar highway - from left to right we have Red XIII, Aerith Gainsborough, Cloud Strife, Barret Wallace and Tifa Lockhart.

Take a look (and click the image if you want to expand):

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE launches for PS4 on April 10, 2020, and is available to preorder now.

What’s more, anyone who preorders FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE from the Square Enix Store will be entered into the sweepstakes to win one of two beautiful Chronograph watches, inspired by Cloud and Sephiroth from the game. Find more information about that here.

To stay up to date with the latest FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE news, see more images, or just share your thoughts with fellow fans, make sure you follow on social media:

Love is in the air in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

A special Valentione’s Day event is underway. But are you Team Astrid, Rodrigault or Bert?
By Duncan Heaney

A new seasonal event is underway in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online - House Valentione needs your help with matters of the heart.

Three characters are currently competing to become Hydaelyn’s emissary of love at this year’s Valentione’s Day festival – Astrid, Rodrigault and Bert.

Each believes that they are perfectly suited to offer insight and advice for the land’s lovelorn, but which will win the role? Well, that’s largely up to you. All of you.

As part of this most romantic of events, you’ll have an opportunity to vote on which of the three you think is most deserving. Not only that, you’ll get special rewards based on who you pick.

Be aware that you’ve only got a limited time to start the quest and cast your vote – you can do so from now until February 9, 2020.

Then, the results of the competition will be announced and players can enjoy the remainder of the event until February 17, 2020. You can still start the quest and earn rewards once the voting has completed, but you’ll want to take part at the start if you want to help influence the decision!

For full event timings and reward details, please take a look at the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Lodestone:

About FINAL FANTASY XIV Online events

Valentione’s Day is but one of the many seasonal events that occur in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online throughout the year.

For example, just a few weeks ago Heavensturn marked the birth of a New Year with a new quest, new gear and some fun surprises. Or, right now, Moogle Treasure Trove - The Hunt for Soldiery event is live. It tasks players with completing various duties to earn rewards, including some items that are unique to the event.

So it’s worth taking time to visit the world of Hydaelyn regularly – there’s always something new to see and do.

If you’ve yet to experience one of these events, or indeed the world of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online at all, then now is the perfect time to jump in.

The game is designed to be one of the most accessible MMORPGs available, and the quality of life improvements introduced since launch have only made it easier to get started.

If you’re thinking of joining, you have a few options available.

  • FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Complete Edition: Get this if you want the full FINAL FANTASY XIV Online experience. It gives you the original game, as well as all expansion packs, including the most recent, Shadowbringers – that’s hundreds of hours-worth of story, quests, dungeons and more.

  • FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Starter Edition: This edition is perfect for newcomers. It gives you the original A Realm Reborn experience (including all its content updates), and lets you play all the way up to level 50.

  • FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Free Trial: If you just want to dip your toe in the game, here’s a cost-free way to do so. The Free Trial lets you play through a portion of A Realm Reborn’s story and level all classes and jobs up to level 35. It’s a great way of getting a taste for the game before you spend any money.

Get FINAL FANTASY XIV Online now

DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY OPERA OMNIA Anniversary Celebration has begun

It’s a big birthday blowout, with new story, new characters, double rewards and more
By Duncan Heaney

Happy birthday to DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY OPERA OMNIA!

It’s the hit mobile game’s second anniversary, and we’re celebrating in style – we’re talking special celebratory rewards and limited-time events, including a global-first character, new story missions and more.

Since its launch, the game has received regular updates, with players getting additional quests, costumes and characters. Over a hundred legendary FINAL FANTASY characters are now playable, and for the second anniversary, even more are coming to the game.

The celebration runs from now until 2 March 2020 – here’s a brief look at some of the things you can get:

New Global-First Character: Aranea

The lance-wielding mercenary is one of the standout characters of FINAL FANTASY XV, and she’s coming to DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY OPERA OMNIA.

You can obtain the character – and her armor and weapon – starting from 17 February by playing through her character event stages. You’ll also be able to purchase new stickers featuring Aranea with Dissidia Points. Here’s a look at the commodore in action:

New Story – and Ignis too!

On 12 February 2020, brand new story quests will be added to the game. Through playing these quests, you’ll be able to add FINAL FANTASY XV’s Ignis to the game.

This level-headed hero is one of the most important characters in that game, acting as protector, driver, chef and confidant to Prince Noctis. He’s trustworthy, strategic and his top-notch fighting skills make him an excellent addition to anyone’s roster.


Anniversary Free Draw Campaign

Every player’s first Multi Draw will be free on ten select banners throughout the campaign period. For example, right now, players can redeem their first two free draws on banners that feature weapons for iconic characters such as Sephiroth, Eiko and Layle, as well as Auron, Maria and Jecht, with more to come!


Anniversary Login Bonus

Throughout the campaign period, you can get premium rewards on top of the usual login bonuses. These include Artifacts of All Knowledge, Power Stones, Draw Tickets and more.


Double Rewards

You’ll also get double Cycle Quest rewards and double the appearance rate for Kactuars, meaning you’ve got more chances for tons of extra rewards and EXP! Not only that, you’ll also earn double Radiant Artifact Tokens from World of Illusions quests and get triple the standard daily mission rewards.


Anniversary Panel Missions

Here’s another way to get useful items – during the celebration, Anniversary Panel Missions are available that offer additional rewards including gems, bloom materials, EX Orbs and more.


Anniversary Daily Missions and Token Shop

Looking to improve your weapons? During the celebration, you’ll have access to extra daily missions. Complete them to earn Anniversary Tokens, which you can exchange for valuable weapon upgrade materials.


Co-Op First Meet Rewards Reset

If you participate in multiplayer quests, you can earn up to 4,000 Gems when you meet new players.


World of Illusion: Carbuncle

A renewed map that features three new paths that players can play through to earn Guard Orbs, Power Orbs and crystals.


Stickers

You can now purchase the second set of 3D stickers, which features characters like Noctis, Rinoa and Sephiroth, with Dissidia Points at a lower rate.


New App Icon and Title Screen

Even DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY OPERA OMNIA’s app icon and title screen are getting in on the celebration. Each has been updated with beautiful new art to commemorate the second anniversary.


Special Gem Sale

During the campaign period, there will be various limited-time sales available. If you want to take advantage of these special deals, you should check into the in-game store regularly.


Get Extra EX+ Gear Upgrade Materials

There’s an easy way to earn valuable EX+ gear upgrade materials – simply share or retweet the Aranea Highwind teaser post on the official DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY OPERA OMNIA social channels. For example, this one:

DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY OPERA OMNIA is available to download now on iOS and Android devices.

This is just the beginning of a very exciting year for the game. To stay up to date with all the news, events and more, make sure you follow on social media:

The music of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE - comments from the composers

Music maestros Nobuo Uematsu, Masashi Hamauzu and Mitsuto Suzuki discuss their work on the upcoming RPG’s soundtrack
By FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Team

Music plays a big role in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE – just as it did in the original game.

Fortunately, it features an immensely talented team of composers, including Masashi Hamauzu and Mitsuto Suzuki, who have developed a soundtrack that will surprise and delight both fans, both old and new.

What’s more, FINAL FANTASY VII’s original composer, Nobuo Uematsu, has created an original theme song for the game. It’s called ‘Hollow’ and you can listen to it here.

The three composers have shared their thoughts about working on FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. Read them here:

Nobuo Uematsu

Whichever game you pick from the FINAL FANTASY series, they all have many powerful memories for me. However, if you limit things to just the music, then you could say that VII left the biggest impression on me in the sense that it represents the point at which I was able to start challenging the boundaries and being more experimental.

Nobody has seen music like this in the FINAL FANTASY series before, whether you look at the symphonic “Opening - Bombing Mission”, the numerous different vistas evoked within a single track in “Main Theme of FINAL FANTASY VII” or “One-Winged Angel”, that was made by arranging different sequences of phrases every few bars.

I think that perhaps it was the perfect time to take on these new challenges, what with changing platforms after the previous game, FINAL FANTASY VI, and with the expressive power of the hardware increasing dramatically.

However, looking back in hindsight, I think that it was not simply a case of the hardware evolving, but that the changing times also demanded a revolution in game music. That was the moment when video games, a medium that started out as a plaything for children, were making the transformation into a form of entertainment that adults could enjoy too. But even though things were changing around us, we had no idea what to do or which direction we should be heading in.

Nobody could have possibly known what the right answers were back then. I just sat alone in my room each day and wordlessly took on musical challenge after new musical challenge, setting no final goal for the finished game, and without even listening to the opinions of others. And the result of that was the soundtrack to FINAL FANTASY VII.

This time round I was given the honour of writing “Hollow” that plays during the game, and this track is also in a style that has never been seen in FINAL FANTASY before. To me, it is very much a continuation of my experimental challenges in the field of music.

Masashi Hamauzu

The first FINAL FANTASY game that I worked on at Square Enix was FINAL FANTASY VII. I sorted out the chorus and actually sung in it myself, as well as putting in the short extracts from Haydn 's "the Creation" that play during the story and directing the singing on them.

After FINAL FANTASY VII, I went on to compose and edit the music for FINAL FANTASY X, FINAL FANTASY XIII and related titles, and when I look around I notice that twenty years have passed since then!

This time round I got to work with many of the original team again, such as Mr. Kitase, Mr. Toriyama and Mr. Uematsu, and it really feels like time has started to flow backwards!

On the surface we are working together as developers now, but for me, these were the people who were my inscrutable seniors in the company and who checked and approved my pay.

After many moons have passed and I announced my resignation, I still sent them letters and they were a source of inspiration to me simply by being who they are. I never spoke to any of them outside of a work context, but those things stick strongly in your memory over such long development periods.

When Mr. Kitase and Mr. Toriyama contacted me about FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, and with Mr. Uematsu even recommending me for the job, there was no way I could turn it down!

I was exhausted and even felt that I had enough of making games, possibly because of my increasing age and feeling very limited by the new system, but in the end I think it was those feelings that let me push myself back.

It is the same every time, but I feel that I have managed to somehow write music that very much has the "Final" ethos of FINAL FANTASY behind it.

Mitsuto Suzuki

"Would you like to create this scene from the music up?"

This very happy question was how I was asked to join the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE development team.

Thinking back to around the time that the original FINAL FANTASY VII was released, I was already working in the music world and there were always recruitment ads from the SQUARE’s Sound team in the music magazines that I read avidly, alongside adverts for FINAL FANTASY VII itself.

Time has passed since then and it is now 10 years since I became involved in games. Working on the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE feels very strange, but at the same time it also brings back vivid memories of the sounds, surprises and emotions I experienced at the time.

It did not take long for me to come together with the original project staff and grasp my position on the team. My role here was to work on the new elements that a remake allows and breathe new life into it.

I have created a huge number of tracks and put great care into how they are presented, in order to create something that will delight both people who played the original game and those who are experiencing it for the first time with the remake. I strove to always put a sense of playfulness into the music, not just for the new pieces but also with new arrangements and samplings of older tracks that respect the originals and full re-makes of some of them.

Working on places like Wall Market, the Honeybee Inn and Midgar Highway was one thrill after another! I brought back the surprise and enjoyment that I felt as a consumer of the original game, but the biggest change this time round is that I am now on the side providing those experiences.

Myself and the large sound team came together to remake the sound of this world. There is a lot to look forward to and not long to wait now!


Thanks to these amazing composers for their comments. You’ll be able to hear their incredible work when FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE launches for PlayStation 4 on April 10, 2020.

If you want to stay up to date with the latest news and information about the game, make sure you follow FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE on social media:

Introducing the FINAL FANTASY VII theme song by Nobuo Uematsu

Legendary composer returns with original track ‘Hollow’ - listen to it here. Plus see new footage from the game!
By FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Team

Four words that will thrill any FINAL FANTASY fan: Nobuo Uematsu is back!

The revered composer has created a brand new track for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. Called ‘Hollow’ it also features vocals from Singer-Songwriter, Yosh – from Japanese Rock band, Survive Said The Prophet.

The new track debuts in the latest trailer for the game, which features some memorable moments and familiar faces from the original game:

It’s a great song, right?

The title may be ‘Hollow’, but Uematsu-san and Yosh are happy to fill you in on how they created it. This fascinating video goes behind the scenes on the track - it’s a must-watch for any fans of FINAL FANTASY music:

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE concerts announced!

The music of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is set to be every bit as breath-taking as the original game - and you’ll soon be able to experience it live.

A new Orchestra World Tour will take place, in over 10 cities around the world, starting in Los Angeles this June.

The concerts will feature music from the game’s soundtrack - including Hollow - performed by a full orchestra, chorus and conducted by GRAMMY-Award winner Arnie Roth, known for his work on Distant Worlds: music from FINAL FANTASY.

For more concert and ticketing information, visit: http://ffvii-remakeconcerts.com/


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE launches for PS4 on April 10, 2020. You can preorder the game here:

To stay up to date with news about the game, make sure you follow FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE on social media:

5 of the best thieves in Square Enix games

They’re sketchy at the best of times… but we love them anyway
By Duncan Heaney

Not every hero is a brave and noble warrior - games portray people in all walks of life. Including some that are a little… let’s say ‘morally flexible’.

Square Enix games feature their fair share of these rogues. They may technically have committed crimes, but we forgive them anyway. Because they’ve also stolen the most important thing of all… our hearts.

…okay ugh - that one’s too cheesy even for us. Let’s just get one with it.

Balthier - FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE

Balthier lives a life of freedom. The debonair pirate sails the skies of FINAL FANTASY XII’s Ivalice in his airship The Strahl, getting up to sneaky shenanigans pretty much wherever he goes.

True to form, when we encounter him for the first time he’s raiding the Royal Palace of Rabanastre’s treasury along with his beloved partner Fran. He sticks with the party for the rest of the adventure, but only with the promise of reward and profit.

At first, Balthier seems to be hard and cynical - he cheats in contests of luck, and demands party members’ treasured items as payment for his company. But we forgive him - partly because he’s disarmingly charming, but also because it becomes clear that Balthier uses his piratical persona as a mask for his true nature.

Beneath all the cynicism and bluster, the pirate’s actually a bit of a softie at heart. He takes Vaan under his wing, opening the naive urchin’s eyes to the wider world, and the dangers therein, and protects the party far more than his ‘fee’ would justify.

He’s a character who combines cunning, quips and an unmatched sense of style - no wonder he’s such a fan favorite.

Adam Jensen - Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Some of you may be thinking “hold on a sec - Adam Jensen’s not a criminal”. Well he is the way I play him.

One of the joys of the Deus Ex series is the freedom to approach the game how you want. For many people, that means finding clever ways to investigate the sinister conspiracy that threatens to tear the world apart. But for me, it’s about sneaking into people’s homes and stealing all the food out of their cupboards.

… look - crime is hungry work, alright?

Fortunately, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’s Prague is dense with apartments, clubs and shops, just begging to be broken into. You can hack the front door, sneak in through a window, even blow a hole in the front door if you think subtlety’s for chumps - it’s the ability to find your own way that really makes you feel like a master burglar.

The ultimate target for any would-be thief though, is the Palisade Property Bank. This high-security fortress contains hundreds of credits-worth of valuable loot and secret conspiracy-revealing documents… but also lasers, turrets, mechs, alarms and a platoon of heavily armed guards with itchy trigger fingers.

…yeah, you know what? I’m just going to stick to stealing beer from my boss’s kitchen.

Therion - OCTOPATH TRAVELER

OCTOPATH TRAVELER features eight very different heroes, each with their own stories, class and abilities. Therion is the team’s thief, and he’s very, very good at his job.

We first meet Therion in the town of Bolderfall. He’s already a legend among the criminal community, but attempts by fellow thieves to collaborate with him are firmly rebuffed - he’s been betrayed before and trust comes hard.

A solo heist on the other hand… that’s his bread and butter. Rumors of a treasure in an impregnable mansion are all too enticing, and in mere minutes, Therion’s managed to find his way in - he’s just that good.

Not only is he an adept breaker and enterer, Therion’s also a first rate pickpocket. If you don’t believe us, ask… well, pretty much every NPC in the game.

So long as this brooding bad boy’s in your party, you can attempt to pickpocket most townsfolk, and take their beloved items for yourself. That can be something as simple as a healing grape, but he can also nab powerful weapons, armor and more.

In short, Therion is a thief through and through. Wherever he goes, he leaves a path of empty pockets in his wake and although his moral compass may not always point north, he’s an undeniably useful member of the OCTOPATH TRAVELER crew.

Plus his theme music is incredible.

Garrett - THIEF

Garrett’s not just a thief. He’s the Master Thief.

This hooded figure sneaks across the rooftops and the alleys of the City - getting into any building he wants and leaving with any items that catch his eye, all without a trace…

Although Garrett once stole to live, now he lives to steal. His exploits are is less about the gold and more about the lure of the impenetrable, the impossible, the secret and the unknown. The challenge is what keeps his body and mind alive and sharp.

For him, larceny’s more than a job - it’s a way of life. He spends most of his time planning and executing heists - finding targets to grab and ways to get in and out as cleanly as possible.

And that’s actually an important point - while Garrett’s no angel, he does show himself to be a little more noble than many others in his line of work. He considers murder in particular unacceptable - it’s messy, and it draws attention. This is clear from his annoyance at his apprentice Erin, when she gets a bit stab-happy with a guard early on in the game.

This dedication to professionalism means that Garrett tends to come off as cold or distant to all but his closest friends.

But spend some time in the Master Thief’s shoes and you’ll find that he’s actually equipped with a wry, occasionally caustic, sense of humor - something that’s welcome considering the brutal world he inhabits.

Zidane Tribal - FINAL FANTASY IX

You know how some videogame thieves are tortured souls who live lives of isolation and avoid forming close bonds? Zidane is the complete opposite.

The hero of FINAL FANTASY IX is cheerful, enthusiastic and social - he loves meeting people and making new friends.

This extrovert element to his personality may come from his time with the Tantalus Theater Troupe - a traveling company who use their plays to cover their less-than-legal activities. After all, what could be a better distraction than a good production of ‘I Want to Be Your Canary’?

Though seemingly content as a thief, Zidane’s life takes an unexpected turn when he attempts to steal a person - Princess Garnet of Alexandria. But unexpectedly, the princess wants to be kidnapped, and in the chaos that follows Zidane is thrust into an increasingly heroic role.

But even when fighting for the fate of the world, he’ll still find time to tease the straight-laced Steiner, or pick a pocket or two. In fact, his ability to steal from his foes is a vital skill - especially against bosses who often carry incredibly useful and valuable armor, weapons and accessories.

It’s clear that he’ll never fully give up his roguish ways - and why would we want him to?


Those were just five of our favorite videogame thieves, but what about yours? Which rogues did we miss? Share your thoughts in the comments and on social media:

8 ways to celebrate friendships in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

Inviting a friend back to FINAL FANTASY XIV Online? Here’s some of the more… off-beat things you could do together.
By Duncan Heaney

You may have noticed a few old faces back in the world of Hydaelyn. There’s a reason for that – the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Callback Campaign has begun!

Here’s how it works: if you invite someone who’s been offline for a while back into the game, you’ll both have access to amazing rewards, including special items. More importantly, you can reconnect with some old friends you might not have gamed with for a while.

You can get all the information about how to take part here:

So hopefully you’re seeing some much-missed mates back once again… but what should you do together? Obviously, you’ll be able to take on quests, level up jobs, and tackle raids and trials. Also, if either of you haven’t played Shadowbringers yet.. oh boy, are you in for a treat!

But beyond all the duties and the hero-ing, there are all kinds of ways to have fun with a friend in the game. For example, you could…


Start a band

Imagine becoming Hydaelyn’s next music superstars – a Miqo’te Jagger or Lalafell Rey if you will.

It’s possible – you and your friends must be level 30 bards (spoonyness is not compulsory) and have completed the quest to unlock performance actions in Old Gridania first. Then you’ll be able to work together to create magical melodies that will draw a crowd and warm the hearts of all around you.

Or you could bash notes at random and make a load of horrible noise. I mean, it’s not your fault if those old fogies don’t get your art, right?


Race to the top of Kugane Tower

Climbing Kugane Tower is a challenge at the best of times, but you know how to make it even more intense? Turn it into a race.

For those who haven’t braved the journey, ascending Kugane Tower requires you to complete a surprisingly tricky series of jumps – you’ll need concentration and a mastery of character control to reach the top.

Now try doing it while a friend tries their best to get ahead of you – with less time to consider each move, you’ll make mistakes, miss jumps and chaos will inevitably ensure. Also laughter, shouting and possibly a bit of naughty language (tut tut).

Just remember – if you get ahead of your pal, make sure you give them a smug little wave before you forge ahead.


Become card sharks

The life of an adventurer is a busy one, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a break from all that strenuous questing. And what better way to relax than to kick back with a game of Triple Triad at the Manderville Gold Saucer?

If you’re in a friendly mood, you and your friends can challenge each other to a few hands of this endlessly compelling card game. There are no major stakes, though you can earn some MGP (the Gold Saucer’s special currency) in the process. More importantly, it’s a fun way to spend time with a pal.

But perhaps you both take your cards more seriously. In that case, a tournament may be your scene. Look out for one taking place at the Gold Saucer, and you could win big.


Makeover!

If you’re reuniting with an old friend, why not mark the occasion with a new you?

Summon the aesthetician, and you’ll be able to change up your style. Why not get some new tattoos, add a Squall Leonhart-esque scar or make that head of hair even more glorious?

Your friends can feedback on your appearance, suggest changes… true BFFs could even get matching looks. Twinsies!

Sure, you’ll have to pay, but what price can you put on friendship and beauty? Y’know, other than the 2,000 gil fee.


Take the best screenshots ever

When you call old friends back to FINAL FANTASY XIV Online – or when you’re called back – you have a perfect opportunity to make some wonderful new memories. You should capture such a moment with a lovely group shot.

You might think it would be tricky to get everyone to perform an emote at just the right moment, but don’t worry about that. Use the /gpose command in chat (you can bind it if that’s easier) and everyone in your party will face the camera and perform their most recently used emote.

Cue some glorious snaps you will look at with delight for years to come. Unless your chums sabotage it with ridiculous poses, of course - but they wouldn’t do that… would they?


Throw a house party

If you have a house, then you should invite your friends over to check it out. This is your chance to show off your innate interior design acumen. Deck your house out with decorations, food, drink and other party paraphernalia, put on some music (or bring in your band), and get ready party the night away.

But perhaps you prefer something a bit more sedate? Well, you could turn your humble Hydaelyn home into an inn, a restaurant… the only limit is your imagination!


Play hide and seek

Looking for something a bit different to do with friends? You could create your very own game of hide and seek. Simply choose an area (don’t make it too big), pick one of your party to act as seeker, and get the rest to hide. Then, the seeker must search the area and find then… look, it’s hide and seek. You know how it works.

But here is a pro tip: Shadowbringers’ Rak'tika Greatwood is a great area for these type of shenanigans. So long as you don’t mind having the words ‘La-Hee’ stuck in your head for the next few days that is - the music’s kinda catchy

And here’s pro tip #2 – make sure you turn off player names before playing. You want to make sure there’s some challenge.


8. Beat them up

You’ve hidden, raced, played some tunes, and even maybe had a party. You might have even done some actual questing. But what next? Why, beat each other up of course! But in a friendly way obviously.

If you head over to the Wolves’ Den, you and a friend can face off in a 1v1 duel – a way to find out which of you is the toughest once and for all.

Or, if you’ve invited a few friends, you could split into teams for a custom battle against each other - a true test of strategy and communication.

When the dust has cleared, one team will have earned victory… and the right to gloat about it for at least an hour.


As you can see there’s loads of stuff you could do when you invite old friends back to FINAL FANTASY XIV Online. One of the great things about the game is that there’s always something new to see and do, plus plenty of ways to find your own fun in the game.

Those were just some ideas from us – but what do you think? How will you welcome an old friend back to the game? Share your thoughts with the team on social media:

Friends reunite with the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Callback Campaign

Reforge friendships… and get cool rewards in the process. Here’s how it works.
By Duncan Heaney

You can collect all kinds of valuable loot in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online… but as we all know, the real treasure is the friends you made along the way.

Well, that and an ultra-rare armor set. But companions are pretty cool too, and now’s a perfect time to reconnect with some of those old pals… and get some rewards in the process.

The FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Callback Campaign is now up and running. If you have an old chum who’s currently taking a break from the game, you can invite them to return so you can play together.

What’s more, if you meet the basic campaign requirements, you’ll both get special rewards – valuable items for you and free playtime for your friend! Also, hopefully, some new memories.

…you mainly care about the items, don’t you?

It’s really easy to participate in the campaign – you don’t even have to leave the game.

Simply click on the name of an offline friend from your in-game friends list, or free company member list, and choose ‘Invite Friend to Return’ from the menu.

Now you may be thinking: who to invite? There are a few conditions to consider.

Firstly, the friend you send an invitation to must have a registered account that has been inactive for at least 90 days (including the free play period). Anyone who’s played the game within the last 90 days won’t get an email to join – even if you invite them. So don’t bother.

And obviously, they need to own a copy of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online to play. That probably goes without saying, but we said it anyway.

Each character on your account can invite up to five friends back to the game. To see the more details about the Callback Campaign, you should head over to the FINAL FANTASY XIV Lodestone website:

What can you get from the FINAL FANTASY XIV Callback Campaign?

If one of your friends rejoins the game – and they meet the criteria above – then both of you will be eligible for some awesome in-game rewards.

You’ll get 5 Gold Chocobo feathers via the Moogle delivery service. These can be exchanged for special items from the Calamity Salvager in Limsa Lominsa, Gridania, or Ul’dah.

The people you invite get some pretty cool rewards of their own. Each will receive 7 days of Free Play, starting the moment they log back in. That means they can start questing, battling, adventuring, or simply hanging out with you at absolutely no cost.

They’ll also get 10 Silver Chocobo feathers, which can be exchanged with the Calamity Salvager for some awesome gear. For example, they can trade Silver Feathers for level 70 Scaevan Magitek weapons – perfect for anyone about to start the epic Shadowbringers story.


The FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Callback Campaign runs from now until Monday, February 17, 2020. Hopefully you’ll see some familiar faces return in the next few weeks to join in your adventures. Or, if you haven’t played for a while, it’s a perfect opportunity to jump back in and experience some of the fresh content in the game.

To stay up to date with all the news from the game, make sure you follow FINAL FANTASY XIV Online on social media:

SQUARE ENIX announced today that the global release date for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE will be April 10, 2020.

Below is a message from the development team:


“We know that so many of you are looking forward to the release of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE and have been waiting patiently to experience what we have been working on. In order to ensure we deliver a game that is in-line with our vision, and the quality that our fans who have been waiting for deserve, we have decided to move the release date to April 10, 2020.

We are making this tough decision in order to give ourselves a few extra weeks to apply final polish to the game and to deliver you with the best possible experience. I, on behalf of the whole team, want to apologize to everyone, as I know this means waiting for the game just a little bit longer.

Thank you for your patience and continued support”

Yoshinori Kitase, Producer of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE will be available for the PS4 on April 10, 2020.


5 super-satisfying moments in Square Enix games

We celebrate those parts of games that exist purely to make us feel happy
By Duncan Heaney

The little things matter.

Amid all the epic stories and high-flying action of Square Enix games, it’s worth taking a few seconds to appreciate the simple things that exist to just make us feel… good.

From fulfilling fanfares to memorable mechanics, games are full of moments that we find super-satisfying - here are just a few examples:

SaGa Scarlet Grace AMBITIONS - Unison Attacks

The most recent entry in the acclaimed SaGa series features one of the most tactically rich and enjoyable battle systems of any RPG.

But one mechanic in particular proves to be consistently rewarding - the unison attack.

Here’s how it works: during battles, a line of character portraits at the bottom of the screen indicates the turn order for both allies and enemies. If you eliminate a foe whose portrait is sandwiched between party members’, those allies will pile on the next enemy at the same time, in a brutal assault.

Unison attacks aren’t always easy to pull off - you’ll need to watch out for opportunities and think strategically to take full advantage of them.

But it’s worth doing because watching your whole party body a baddie is always… always satisfying.

Just Cause 4 - toggling tethers for total destruction

Just Cause 4 game Rico Rodriguez some fantastic new toys to play with, from rocket boosters to explosive balloons. But for my money, nothing beats the chaotic glee of the manual tethers.

As in previous games, Rico is able to connect two objects with a cable, affording all kinds of opportunities for physics fun. Just Cause 4 adds new functionality though - the ability to connect more tethers than ever, and manually contract them with a simple button press.

If you’re after a burst of pure, undiluted satisfaction, try wing suiting into an enemy stronghold and tethering destructible objects together. Connect a fuel tank to a radio tower, a satellite dish to a generator, and an explosive barrels to… well, other explosive barrels.

Next, get a bit of distance, hold the button to retract the tethers and let the fireworks begin. Within seconds, multiple objects will fly towards each other, in a frenzy of fire, sparks and crunching metal.

And as you watch the enemy stronghold crumble into chaos in mere seconds, make sure you allow yourself a self-satisfied smirk before you fly off to cause some more property damage.

Get Just Cause 4 Complete Edition

FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers - A Fanfare Reborn

Who doesn’t love the famous FINAL FANTASY victory fanfare? However it’s used across the series - be it to mark the end of a difficult fight or simply celebrate success in a chocobo race - it’s a welcome reward for all your hard work.

But A Victory Fanfare Reborn - the version from FINAL FANTASY XIV Online… that one is particularly satisfying. I mean, just listen to it:

Imagine this: you’ve undertaken a raid (let’s say the new The Epic of Alexander Ultimate). After a strong start, your plans are now in tatters and your party scattered thanks to your foe’s relentless assault.

All seems lost, but then… a chance! Somehow you and your allies pull it together - strategies are made, plans enacted, and your battered, bruised band of adventurers scrape out a victory over their overpowered opponent.

After such a feat, you already feel great… and then the choir kicks in with this rousing fanfare - the cherry on top of this gratification sundae.

It’s just awesome.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution / Deus Ex: Mankind Divided - notifications of success

The Deus Ex series is all about giving the player choice in how they approach tasks - there’s no ‘correct’ way to play the game.

For example, some people may love to grab a shotgun and brute force their way to their objectives. Others might prefer to act as a silent predator, dispatching their enemies from the shadows as they explore a zone.

Personally, I like to become a ghost - sneaking through an area with no trace I was ever there. Well, if you don’t count all the stolen candy bars.

The point is, all are valid, and all are viable. But whichever you pick, you’ll be consistently rewarded with XP, and notifications that reveal what you’ve done to earn it.

In other words, the game explicitly rewards you for playing it in your own way - and that’s one heck of an incentive.

FINAL FANTASY XV - Gaining multiple levels at once

FINAL FANTASY XV handles leveling a little differently to most games in the series.

As you’d expect, Noctis and his chums will gain experience as they defeat enemies and complete quests, but to actually level up, they need to first take a break.

When the group hits a hotel or a campsite, all their hard-earned experience is distributed, and the characters grow stronger.

What’s great about this system is that it means that characters can gain multiple levels at once - particularly if you stay in a high-end hotel such as The Leville in Altissia or The Quayside Cradle in Galdin Quay.

These classy (and exorbitantly expensive) establishments can double or even triple your accumulated experience, almost guaranteeing a big power boost for the team.

It is supremely satisfying to watch each character’s progression bar fill over and over, and their levels shoot up dramatically, helped by some fantastically chunky sound effects that give it a sense of drama and ceremony.

In short, gaining multiple levels in FINAL FANTASY XV just feels really good. And the presence of that familiar FINAL FANTASY fanfare doesn’t hurt either!


So those were our picks, but what about you? What do you think are the most satisfying moments in games? Let us know in the comments or on social media:

5 acts of petty cruelty we’re responsible for in Square Enix games

Sometimes you just have to indulge your dark side.
By Duncan Heaney

Schadenfreude - a German word that means to take pleasure for someone else’s misfortune.

It’s something that many of us seek out in our games - the small, pointless and petty acts of cruelty that make us feel… satisfied. We attempt to ‘trick’ AI for comedic effect, find ways to make our heroes fall over, or just try to make them look silly.

Sometimes developers intentionally add opportunities into their games to accommodate these darker urges, but much of the time it’s up to the player to abuse or manipulate the mechanics in a way that was never intended. Usually for a laugh.

We’ve already talked about times games made us villains, but we thought it would be interesting to find out whether any of us at Square Enix HQ were jerks in games through choice. We quizzed the team and what we learned was… disturbing.

So here are 5 times we indulged our worst impulses in Square Enix games:


Tripping Vivi - FINAL FANTASY IX

Vivi is one of the most charming and likeable FINAL FANTASY characters. The young Black Mage is awkward, clumsy and desperately in need of a friend. Honestly, to be mean to Vivi would be akin to kicking a puppy - it’s just… wrong!

And yet, at least one person, who works for this very company, admits to torturing Vivi for his own entertainment.

In the city of Alexandria, right at the start of the game, Vivi can approach some kids and try to play jump rope. The aim is to leap over the rope as many times as possible, but this particular player, played over and over again to intentionally trip poor Vivi!

Why? Because he thought it was funny. We’re a bit scared of that person, to be honest.

Get FINAL FANTASY IX


Playing with your food - Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

In the original PlayStation-era classic, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, many of the enemies you face are vampiric in origin.

To defeat them, and absorb their souls, your character Raziel must utilize traditional vampire-offing techniques. These include stakes through the heart, immersion in water, exposure to sunlight… all the classics.

Without a finisher though, enemies eventually get up ready for round two. The most efficient way to play is to use the environment to dispatch threats as quickly as possible, but… we have a villainous streak in us.

Some of us (okay, me) found it endlessly entertaining to beat the enemies to a pulp, but not deliver the final blow. Instead, we simply wait for them to recover, before slapping them back into a stunned state. Over and over again.

It’s clearly not the intended way to play, but it’s just cruel enough to satisfy that dark need for small, pointless acts of nastiness.


Read more:


Denying Prompto’s passion - FINAL FANTASY XV

This act of petty and unnecessary cruelty sits almost entirely in the head of the individual who suggested it, but it’s so weirdly well-considered, we have to mention it.

Prompto - and his photography - is one of the many highlights of FINAL FANTASY XV. He has a rich and compelling backstory and his quirky quips and snazzy snaps make him a genuine joy to have as a traveling companion. He’s just so… nice.

So naturally, one of the more cruel in the office admitted to an attempt to crush that spirit.

According to this member of the team, on his third playthrough, he decided to run a campaign of demoralization on the put-upon Prompto. Specifically, he decided to deny him any pleasure from his true love - photography.

Throughout the game, Prompto will show the gang pictures, ask to stop the car for a photo op, and even ask the player what they want him to take pictures of. In all cases, this player either ignored the request, showed disinterest (“whatever”), or actively denied him the opportunity. He even refused to look at the day’s pictures when he rested.

Prompto never showed any sign of disappointment, outside of the occasional groan when you deny him a picture. Throughout the adventure, he’s still the same cheerful Prompto - the game doesn’t care if you photo-block your friend.

But in this particular player’s head-canon, that upbeat attitude was masking a thick, rich seam of misery and despair.

All I can say is wow man… that’s dark.


Bullying the baddies - DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

We’ve all done this one.

In the early stages of an RPG like the DRAGON QUEST series, all monsters are a threat. Until you build up your experience, you have to keep your wits about you, because any attack could be your last.

So you fight and scrape your way through, use valuable restoratives and eventually make your way to the nearest church battered and bruised.

So there’s a certain sadistic satisfaction in going back to those areas when you’ve leveled up to teach each and every Slime and Dracky a little lesson about power. Let’s see how they like it.

There’s no real advantage to doing this - the experience gain is negligible and enemies don’t drop much valuable loot - so it’s all rather petty on our part. But oh boy, it feels good.


Rico-rolling - Just Cause 4

Rico Rodriguez has fought armies, taken down dictators and saved entire countries. But there’s one threat he’ll never be able to defeat… us.

One of the best features of the recent Just Cause 4 is the ability to keep Rico in a ragdoll state indefinitely. Essentially, if he takes a tumble, we can hold down a button and he won’t try to get up until gravity stops doing its thing.

It’s really satisfying to smash a wingsuiting Rico into a mountain, and make him tumble all the way down, bouncing over and over. And over again. All while poor Rico yelps out in pain and anguish. Mwahahaha!

...ahem.

You can enhance the effect further by activating the secret laughter track, making every pratfall sound like a cheesy studio sitcom.

It’s utterly undeserved, and yet endlessly compelling - though perhaps that says more about us than the game.


That was the team here, but what about you? Have you ever indulged your dark side like this, or are you above such things? Share your memories in the comments or on social media:

5 brutal bosses who wrecked us in FINAL FANTASY games

We live in fear of these beastly baddies
By Duncan Heaney

There are few feelings quite as satisfying as laying the smackdown on a boss (notices employer looking nervous) …in video games I mean!

But every so often, we come across a foe that likes to hit back. Hard. The FINAL FANTASY series is famous for these savage superbosses - amazingly tough battles that test your skill, strategy and understanding of the battle system.

Today we want to celebrate just a few of these big buff bad boys - if you’ve defeated any of these, all we can say is… bravo!


Warmech - FINAL FANTASY

I’ve always felt that Warmech is a little underappreciated among FINAL FANTASY enemies. This mechanical monstrosity was one of the first superbosses in the series, and quite a rare fight - it’s possible that many players of the game have missed out on it entirely.

But if you are lucky (or unlucky) enough to run into Warmech you won’t soon forget it, because hoo boy - are you in for a humbling experience!

The problems start because, more often than not, the clanking combatant gets a preemptive strike. That alone can be enough to take out part of your party and put you on the back foot right from the start.

As if that’s not enough, you then have to deal with some of the most devastating attacks in the game, such as Atomize - you’ll need a well-prepared party and active White Mage to come back from that.

But if you somehow scrape your way through the fight, you’ll get a satisfying pile of gil and experience… and a palpable sense of relief.

Emerald Weapon - FINAL FANTASY VII

When I first played FINAL FANTASY VII, back in the long-long-ago of the 90s, defeating Emerald Weapon became something of an obsession.

This optional boss swims around underwater, so you’d need a submarine to even encounter it. The first time you do, you’ll realize… you’re not even nearly prepared enough.

Emerald Weapon has an obscene amount of HP and uses unbelievably powerful moves, including Emerald Beam, Emerald Laser and Emerald Shoot. It may be jerk, but at least it understands the power of a consistent personal brand.

As if that’s not bad enough, you also have to contend with the environment itself. You’re down in the depths of the sea, so you only have 20 minutes to win this battle.

I fought this moist menace time and time again… and every time my party would fall to his relentless assault of stomps and shots. Each time I failed, my desperate desire to beat the boss only increased.

It was - to use a Moby Dick reference - my white whale (except, y’know, green. And more of a biological robot thing).

Months went by. I watched my party get wiped out over and over - victory remained far out of reach. Until suddenly it wasn’t.

There are a couple of key tricks you can use to help with the fight - they don’t make it easy, but they do make it survivable. Learning these was the key to success, and with perseverance I was finally able to put Emerald Weapon out of my misery.

And oh man, it felt gooooooood.

Cut to 2019. The release of FINAL FANTASY VII on Switch, and its boosters, handed me an opportunity I’ve wanted for years: a way to turn the tables on my tormentor. Three words: unlimited limit breaks.

HOW DO YOU LIKE IT NOW, HUH EMMY? HOW DO YOU LIKE IT NOW??!

Ahem. Anyway, Emerald Weapon is great.

Absolute Virtue - FINAL FANTASY XI

I have never beaten Absolute Virtue. I will never beat Absolute Virtue… and I’ve made my peace with that.

This Notorious Monster is legendary among the FINAL FANTASY XI community - an almost ‘unbeatable’ boss. It’s strong, it’s tough, and it can disrupt a party’s best-laid plans with disturbing ease. Oh - and it can heal itself too. Whoopee.

Despite multiple attempts, no players managed to truly defeat this ultimate challenge for quite a while. Eventually, following… let’s say ‘strong’ feedback from players, Absolute Virtue was weakened to make victory a bit more achievable.

Well, relatively. It’s still an utterly savage fight. If you feel the urge to head back to Vana'diel, you’d better bring an experienced party with you. And your A-game.


Yiazmat - FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE

Now here’s a boss that asks more of a player than most. Yiazmat tests your mastery of FINAL FANTASY XII’s Gambit system, your ability to strategize on the fly, and - perhaps most of all - your endurance.

This powerful dragon has an absurdly high HP count - more than 50 million! Even with your most powerful attacks in play, you’ll need a long time to take it down.

You’ll also have to contend with the fact that it’s highly resistant to attacks, aggressive and armed with distressingly powerful attacks.

But in a way, that’s all as it should be - Yiazmat is meant to be the ultimate test for players. To even attempt it, you’ll have had to vanquish most of the other hunts in the game - and some of them are no slouches either!

I’ve heard that people can defeat Yiazmat in an hour. I’ve seen it done in under two. But as far as I’m concerned you’re a true hero if you’ve defeated it at all.

Ultimate Ultima Weapon - FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

As if Ultima Weapon’s powerful attacks, debilitating debuffs, and hearty health pool weren’t terrifying enough, then it has to go bring its friends along.

The Minstrel’s Ballad: The Weapon’s Refrain - the raid that houses this battle - was introduced in FINAL FANTASY XIV: Stormblood, and it’s a challenge that pushes even the most experienced group of players to the limit. The goal is to take down Ultima Weapon - but it doesn’t make come easy.

The fight takes place in phases - first you have to contend with three powerful Primals - Garuda, Titan and Ifrit - all of which are distressingly capable of causing serious trauma.

Survive those phases, and you still have to take down Ultima itself - a vicious brute of a boss whose powerful attacks can chew through your HP in mere seconds.

It all makes for a battle that’s both grueling… and intensely gratifying. If you prevail, not only will you have beaten one of the hardest challenges FINAL FANTASY XIV Online has to offer, but you’ll also get a special title to show off your achievement: <The Ultimate Legend>.

That said… the Ultimate difficulty raid, The Epic of Alexander, introduced in Shadowbringers Patch 5.1 might be an even greater challenge…


Those are just a few of the beastly bosses who have brutalized us brilliantly - but what about you? Which FINAL FANTASY foes stand out for you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments and on social media:

2019 in review: FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

A year of endings and new beginnings, as Shadowbringers ushered the game into a bright new era
By Duncan Heaney

2019 has been a good year for FINAL FANTASY XIV Online. Not only have long-time fans been rewarded with perhaps the richest, most immersive expansion yet in Shadowbringers, the tweaks and new features added to the game have made it the perfect jumping on point for new players.

Exciting jobs like Gunbreaker and Dancer gave us whole new ways to play, the Trust System provided an all new way to play, and we explored some of the most beautiful looking (and sounding) locations yet.

Oh - and I NieR-ly forgot - how could I Noctis mention some of the special guests that we’ve had this year?

So let’s take a look back some of the highlights from the last 12 months of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online and see just how far it’s come…

The beginning of the end for Stormblood

2019 was a year of endings as well as new beginnings, as FINAL FANTASY XIV: Stormblood reached it’s thrilling conclusion.

The first half of this epic wrap-up arrived in January in Patch 4.5. New main scenario quests started to wrap the main conflict with the Garlean Empire, and lay the seeds for the adventures to come in Shadowbringers.

Of course, there was much more to Patch 4.5 than that. It added a ton of new content, including (deep breath)… a new Trial that concluded the Four Lords’ quest line, new activities for crafter / gatherers, a (really good) new dungeon - the Ghimlyt Dark - updates to the gold saucer, new minions, additional emotes, some very snazzy new haircuts… the list goes on.

It also featured the end of the Return to Ivalice raid series, developed with collaboration with Yasumi Matsuno (FINAL FANTASY XII / FINAL FANTASY Tactics) and Keita Amemiya, creator of the GARO television and film series.

The Blue Mage job casts its spell

Also in January, shortly after the release of Patch 4.5, a job unlike any other was released for Stormblood: the blue mage.

This new limited job is designed for solo players, and works quite differently to other jobs in the game. The blue mage is able to mimic monster abilities, and he or she learns these actions by fighting the beasts.

The blue mage has been expanded as the year went on - just this month, it received new quests, a level cap increase and more spells to learn! All said, it’s a really fun - and fascinating - job to play around with. Give it a go if you haven’t already.

Stormblood reaches its dramatic conclusion

With March came Patch 4.56 - and the long-awaited finale to Stormblood.

We’re going to dance around spoilers, but suffice to say the climax to the tale provided a satisfactory resolution to the immediate conflict, and provided a tantalizing hint at the adventures to come in Shadowbringers.

The new scenario quests were just the tip of the iceberg though. The update added even more things to see and do around Hydaelyn including a spectacularly satisfying 8-player trial against Yojimbo, more Inspector Hildibrand adventures, new beast tribe quests and so much more.

FINAL FANTASY XIV x FINAL FANTASY XV

In April, a very familiar face found himself stranded in the world of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online… and he brought his car with him.

Noctis Lucis Caelum from FINAL FANTASY XV featured in a limited time event called ‘A Nocturne for Heroes’.

The collaboration between FINAL FANTASY XIV Online and FINAL FANTASY XV ran during April and May, and let fans team up with Noctis to take on the worst that his world has to offer - think magitek infantry, magitek armor and even his world version of Garuda.

In addition, the event added lots of FINAL FANTASY XV-themed goodies for fans to collect, including Noctis’ car, The Regalia (the first four-player mount in the game), his haircut, a new Noctis triple triad card and even some new orchestrion rolls featuring music from the game.

For a few weird and wonderful weeks, Hydaelyn was abundant with fleets of Regalias, all driven by perfectly coiffured Warriors of Light. It really was something to behold.

FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers launches!

Here we are - the big one. On 2 July (or slightly earlier for those who preordered), FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers arrived, ushering in a new era for the game.

The new expansion took players to the First and the realm of Norvrandt - a world of sights and sounds unlike any in the game so far. The surprisingly emotional storyline tasks you with becoming the Warrior of Darkness to save the world from a potential apocalypse.

The team really went all out with this expansion, bringing in an enormous amount of new content: new jobs, new quests, new dungeons, new systems, new gameplay features and more.

There was far too much added to summarize adequately here, but some of the highlights included:

  • The Gunbreaker job - A new tank role who wields a gunblade, the iconic weapon that debuted in FINAL FANTASY VIII.

  • The Dancer job - A ranged fighter who uses their slick moves to damage enemies and buff their allies

  • Two new races - The rabbit-eared Viera and the big burly Hrothgar arrived, allowing players to make new, highly customizable characters

  • New areas - Shadowbringers added some of the most beautiful locations in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online yet. From the sprawling Rak’tika Greatwood to the colorful vale of Il Mheg, every area stands out as being unique and memorable.

  • New Trust system - This brand-new feature lets players challenge dungeons with a party of non-player characters instead of other people.

  • The level cap went up - The level cap increased to 80, and a host of new actions for classes and jobs became available too

In short, it was an absolutely packed expansion. But the story of Shadowbringers was just beginning…

It’s a hit!

Shadowbringers was received positively by fans and critics alike. At the time of writing, it’s the second-highest rated PC game of 2019 on Metacritic - and one of the site’s top 50-rated games of the decade.

It goes without saying, but everybody at Square Enix who works on FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers is incredibly grateful for the response from fans and players. Here’s to making the game even better in 2020!

A savage trip to Eden’s Gate… and the Moonfire Faire

At the end of July, Patch 5.05 added even more to Shadowbringers.

The new savage difficulty version of the Eden’s Gate raid offered a tremendously fun, if intense, challenge, and the treasure hunt dungeon - ‘The Dungeons of Lyhe Ghiah’ - let up to eight players team up in search of rare loot.

The update also added new crafting recipes, mounts and minions and some balance adjustments to various jobs.

Then, in early August, the 2019 Moonfire Faire got underway. This limited time summer spectacular gave players some really fun new quests to complete, as well as new clothes and items to buy or win.

The Continental Circus returns… and things got spooky

October is traditionally the spooky season for _FINAL FANTASY XIV Onlin_e, and 2019 was no different.

The Continental Circus set up in the woods of Gridania, inviting curious adventurers to check out a somewhat… unusual Ahriman. As expected, there were plenty of in-game items to earn too, including a really cool mount.

What will next year hold we wonder…?

A new chapter and a NieR Apocalypse

At the end of October came the biggest update to Shadowbringers so far

Patch 5.1 - titled Vows of Virtue, Deeds of Cruelty, delivered a massive amount of new content, including new main scenario quests that started the next chapter in the Shadowbringers storyline.

In addition, this update included the first part of the highly-anticipated YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse raid series - developed by guest creators YOKO TARO and Yosuke Saito (the NieR series).

Titled ‘The Copied Factory’, up to 24 players battle against machine lifeforms in a brand new dungeon inspired by the world of NieR.

But even that’s only scratching the surface of what came in Patch 5.1. It also added (deep breath…) a New Game+ mode, that lets you replay previously completed quests and cutscenes, a new extreme trial, a brand new dungeon, new beast tribe quests, a new minigame for the gold saucer, balance adjustments, and loads more.

Phew! Told you it was a big one.

Crafters and Gatherers combine forces to restore glory to Ishgard

And that all brings up to the most recent significant update. Patch 5.11 released in November, and added yet more content into Shadowbringers.

Perhaps the most significant part of the update was Ishgard Restoration - a new range of tasks for Crafters and Gatherers. By working together, players are able to contribute to the rebuilding of the Holy See of Ishgard - and earn cool rewards in the process.

The patch also added a new Ultimate Difficulty raid - The Epic of Alexander. And trust me when I say, it lives up to its name - this will challenge even the most experienced players.

How to play FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers

Perhaps you’ve been reading this thinking: “Hmm… this FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers thing sounds pretty good. I should try that.”

Well, the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Complete Edition gives you everything - including the most recent Shadowbringers expansion. This is the best way to get the full FINAL FANTASY XIV Online experience.

If you’re already a registered player, the Shadowbringers expansion is out now:

For true fans, the Shadowbringers Collector’s Edition features cool extras, including an exclusive Grani mount, wind-up Fran minion, and an awesome weapon for gunbreakers - Squall’s iconic gunblade Revolver!


So that was 2019 - one of the biggest years so far for FINAL FANTASY XIV. Here’s to more adventures in 2020!

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