2020 is almost here, so we’ve asked GameSpot’s staff to share which games they’re looking forward to most in the new year. New consoles are going to dominate the headlines, but at the end of the day it’s all about the games, and there are a ton of exciting ones to look forward to. When you’re done reading this entry, follow along with all of our other end-of-the-year coverage collected in our Best of 2019 hub.
While far from the only game deserving of such credit, Final Fantasy 7 was a key factor in Sony’s first-at-bat home run with the original PlayStation, not to mention its gross dominance over its former business partner’s console, the Nintendo 64. FF7 possessed all the ingredients Sony needed to tell the world that playing games on PlayStation was unlike anything else, and it worked. For the game it is, and the impact it had, few games carry the notoriety of FF7. The first chapter of the long-awaited remake will arrive on PS4 next year, and even though it will be confined to the first major location in the story, it’s still my most-anticipated game of 2020.
Square Enix has made it clear that the remake won’t be a carbon copy of the original game in a 4K costume, which sounds like the right move. Slightly upgraded ports of the ’97 release are readily available on modern platforms, and despite how innovative it was at the time and how much of it still holds up today, its heart and soul are clearly of a bygone era. The remake is an opportunity to introduce a more believable world, flesh out the main characters after decades of examination (and numerous spin-off games), and transform the turn-based combat system into something more engaging and dynamic than before.
Having played a 20-minute demo during E3, I can confidently say that I like the general direction of the new real-time battle system. Square Enix has introduced a modern, free-roaming third-person camera, and it brings you closer to Cloud, the iconic lead character who is also, thankfully, represented in much greater detail than his former rudimentary PS1 model. During battle, wielding his massive buster sword and executing special Limit Break moves feels both new and grounded in tradition. You can assign specific actions to buttons, or open the Tactical menu, which brings combat to a near-halt, affording you the opportunity to consider your options and choose the best move for the conflict at hand.
There is, of course, a lot more to FF7 than fighting. I can’t wait to see what’s become of the script, and whether or not the characters from my imagination have been changed in significant ways. I’ll admit, Barret’s over-the-top voice acting seen in trailers and demos thus far has me worried, to a degree, but I’m still looking very much forward to see the end result for him and the rest of the cast. The same goes for Midgar city, a place known for its downtrodden slums in the shadow of the towering Shinra Electric Power Company building. I’ve only seen the inside of a Shinra power reactor, which is thematically dull compared to Midgar proper, so I still have a ton of questions about Square Enix’s handling of the infamous city.
I want to believe that the years of apprehension on the development side was because the creators’ expressed reverence for the original game is paramount. When they say they don’t want to screw it up, I hope “it” refers to the creative opportunity, rather than FF7’s brand value. So far, I’m admittedly giving them the benefit of the doubt because I want to see what they’ll come up with, and because my early demo did a lot to convince me of the new battle system. Next year’s release will be the first step in a long journey to recreate one of the most iconic games of all time, and I’m admittedly counting down the months until its March 2020 debut to see what’s become of it after all these years. But if you’re curious to pick up the game when it launches, head to our Final Fantasy 7 Remake pre-order guide for more details and links.