For those of you who played the newly released demo for the upcoming Final Fantasy VII Remake, you may have noticed the expansion of Midgar, the city where the game takes place. That’s right, for those of us who couldn’t attend PAX East or couldn’t snag a ticket to the demo (that was me), Square Enix released it online for PlayStation 4 right after the convention. Even if you never played the original, you may have noticed the sprawling nature of the city in the opening cinematic. This intro differs from the original, showcasing a bird’s eye view of Midgar after introducing us to Aerith, one of our main heroes in the journey.
In an interview on PlayStation Blog, Final Fantasy VII Remake producer Yoshinori Kitase and co-director Naoki Hamaguchi outlined the major changes they made to the city for the remake and how they expanded it. They spoke about how they mapped out the whole city, drew inspiration from the 2005 movie Advent Children, and drew more attention to the lives of the everyday people living in Midgar. How will these decisions impact the game? By mapping out the city, players can get a real sense of scale and placement. In the demo, the goal is to blow up a reactor. By showing which neighborhoods are near it, players get a sense of what will be affected. The developers used Advent Children for inspiration as it provides a much more realistic version of the city than in the original 1997 game. Kitase explained that similar to the placement of the city, showcasing the lives of its inhabitants will give players a sense of who lives in this city and how they’re affected:
“The original version went straight into the bombing mission. We wanted that feeling that things were already underway, you were in the middle of the action. Yet if you immediately went from there into the panic caused by the bombing mission afterwards, you wouldn’t understand the impact it had on the inhabitants’ everyday lives before that event interrupted them.”
Of course, the remake will blend the old with the new. As some things change, others will stay the same. A perfect example is the Shinra headquarters in the middle of the city. While the inside will see major changes, players will note that the outside remains untouched. Hamaguchi explained the reason for this, as they changing too much “could really affect people’s memories of what Midgar should look like.”
If you don’t have access to the demo, you can check out our playthrough of it, as well as the expansive detail of the city of Midgar right here. And for those of you who have seen it, you’ll be able to explore more of the city’s changes when the Final Fantasy VII Remake releases on April 10th.