The first part of Final Fantasy 7 Remake will take place exclusively in its biggest, most populous city, Midgar. Even though we're caged in by Midgar's grimy walls, Square Enix assures us Remake part one will be a full game experience. We'll have to wait until April 10 to see if that's the case, but a PlayStation blog entry offers assurance that the Remake team is putting its all into making Midgar huge, lively, and awful.
The official PlayStation blog published the interview earlier today. Remake's producer, Yoshinori Kitase, and its co-director, Naoki Hamaguchi, discuss Midgar's construction, the people who live in it, and how it's important for players to "get to know" the innocents on the streets. Spoiler: It's to make you feel conflicted about being an explosives-fondling merc.
First, the team had to consider scale when they assembled modern Midgar. "The original wasn't that realistic if you consider the size of the individual buildings and how big they were in comparison to the overall city," says Hamaguchi. "It was quite condensed; we really set out to make Midgar realistic. The size between the buildings, the density… that's one of the big things we set out to change."
When Square Enix revealed the full Final Fantasy 7 Remake intro, I made some of my own observations about the obvious decline of Midgar and the people living in it. Kitase confirms the intro's focus on people going about their day-to-day lives is indeed intentional. "We really wanted to show the everyday lives of Midgar's citizens. [Partly] to show how they lived in this massive city powered by Mako energy, how and when they'd be using it, to tell that aspect of the story," he says.
The sight of Midgar's citizens depleting the planet's Mako to live their lives leaves an impact in a society where most humans have little choice but to exploit the planet for their own survival. But there's another reason why Midgar's citizens are very visible in Remake: to make you second-guess Avalanche's eco-terrorism.
"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," Kitase says. "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. That's why we started with this domestic kind of scene."
There's a bit of panic after the bombing in Final Fantasy 7 vanilla, which is illustrated by a few polygonal people running around after the explosion. But the bombing scene is already more complicated in Remake: though Cloud sets the bomb that's supposed to blow up the reactor, a stray shot from the dying Scorpion Boss robot is what sets it off. Moreover, at the end of the Remake demo, Shinra itself contributes to the chaos by ordering its robot guards to attack the reactor. It's hard to say who's actually responsible for the bombing, because several factions have a hand in the act.
Regardless of who's responsible, innocent people suffer. The Final Fantasy 7 Remake team seemingly wants to remind people that actions of rebellion, however necessary they are (or however necessary people think they are), can come with a huge human cost.
The interview with Kitase and Hamaguchi confirms that exploring Midgar really is going to be much more involved in Remake. There are more streets to travel down, more tunnels to slither through, more of Midgar to see—and more moral quandaries to struggle with.