In an interview with Nova Crystallis, Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata confirmed at Gamescom that the Final Fantasy VII Remake will not utilize the Square Enix developed Luminous Game Engine. This is not the first upcoming title to do so, as it has been confirmed already that Kingdom Hearts 3 will run on the Unreal Engine 4 for “various reasons.” Thus, it doesn’t seem too surprising that Square Enix made the same decision regarding the remake.
Interestingly, this may shed more light on the story behind Final Fantasy XV than VII Remake. Take into account, building a game engine can take years and is usually the most time (and money) consuming part of game development. Even licensing an already existing engine can be prohibitively costly (although, one would think this wouldn’t be as much of an issue for a larger company like Square Enix).
Thus, the natural question to ask is why not use an engine you already own and have invested so much in creating and spend the money licensing another?
Perhaps technical issues have become exceedingly prohibitive in the development process of Final Fantasy XV (and may have contributed to the length of development). We have already seen a full gameplay demo for the game, and we still hear Tabata talking about developing the engine further. For example, last week, Tabata announced that he was in talks with Just Cause 3 developer Avalanche about utilizing some of their tech, specifically regarding the vertical nature of their game. When asked about airships earlier, Siliconera reported that “Square Enix is still exploring the tech needed to make it happen.”
While we know that the game won’t be coming until next year, and that the final version of the game will run on Luminous 2.0 (the demo ran on version 1.5), it still seems like they are building the base of the game rather than adding, polishing and finalizing content. Granted, this is speculation, so take it with a grain of salt. But when you start putting together all of the little one-liners from each interview, it starts to look a little dubious. Remember, this game used to be Final Fantasy XIII Versus.
The good news is that the choice to forego the Luminous Engine may help Square Enix push VII Remake and Kingdom Hearts 3 out more quickly. The bad news is that the development of the next mainline Final Fantasy may be messier than we thought.