Final Fantasy VII: What An Increased Focus on Midgar Means For the Story

If you've watched any of the Final Fantasy VII Remake trailers, you've probably noticed it's all Midgar-related scenes. In June, during E3, Square announced that each of the episodes released for the game would be composed of two full Blu-ray discs' worth of content. Although the the company has yet to reveal how many episodes the game will encompass, it has announced the opening Midgar portion will span the entirety of the first episode.

Considering that Midgar is only about 10 percent of the actual game, that means the scope is absolutely massive. Here's how that could potentially affect the story.

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Final Fantasy 7

More time in Midgar means more world-building for this integral part of the game. Final Fantasy VII's world is expansive, and with a focus on saving the entire planet, giving more time to those characters and that world could only benefit the story. One way they could do this is by expanding on the Wutai/Shinra war, explaining the conflict both in the Midgar section and in the eventual Wutai section.

Based on the 2019 Tokyo Game Show trailer, it's clear the conflict exists. The footage reveals a holographic President Shinra taunting the AVALANCHE crew, declaring, "Henceforth, the Wutai are our sworn enemy!" That is a clear reference to the Wutai/Shinra war, something that took place for several years, and shortly after Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core starts.

In the original Final Fantasy VII, the conflict isn't touched upon much, especially on the Midgar side. The most that was revealed was done through the eyes of the townspeople, more specifically, by Aerith's mother. After Aerith is captured by Shinra in the opening portion of the game, her adopted mother, Elmyra reveals how she came to adopt Aerith. A flashback ensues, showing soldiers getting off a train and reuniting with their families while Elmyra waits lonesome. She recalls seeing Aerith as a child, lying by her dying mother and crying. "You used to see this sort of thing a lot during the war," she says, telling the story of how Aerith came into her care.

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The Wutai conflict is not mentioned in the 1997 game again until the optional "Wutai Sidequest." The Wutai townspeople reveal that tourism is the only way the city is able to get by after the war, causing many people to abandon their beliefs. Yuffie says this key piece of dialogue: "... I've been hearing that ever since I was little. Before I was born, Wutai was a lot more crowded and more important...You saw what it looks like now, right? Just a resort town...After we lost the war, we got peace, but with that, we lost something else. Now look at Wutai..."

Crisis Core shows the conflict from the SOLDIER's point of view, although briefly. The initial dispute was over a Mako Reactor that Shinra wanted to place in Wutai, assuming control over the independent nation as they have over countless other towns. The Wutai's leader, Godo Kisaragi (who is also Yuffie's father) refused, causing a battle to ensue. Sephiroth became known as a hero of the war, Cloud was inspired to join the ranks to be just like him, and Zack Fair made huge strides in assuring Shinra's victory.

By showing the Shinra conflict through the eyes of more townspeople like Elmyra, Final Fantasy VII could tap into some very real, emotional pull. Contrasting the President's ruthless reaction with that of the families who have lost their loved ones wouldn't just illustrate how heartless and manipulative Shinra is, but it would hit the nail on the head for one of FF7's key themes: no war is victimless.

An increased focus on Wutai through the eyes of the surviving soldiers, Yuffie, and the townspeople would also hammer home this point effectively, further illustrating what Shinra's greed has done to the world at large.


Final Fantasy 7

Based on the trailer's released, there seems to be an increased focus on the AVALANCHE crew from the opening sequences, Jessie, Biggs and Wedge. This would only serve the story well, letting players see more into who these characters are before their lives are snuffed out by Shinra. They could also provide great storyline potential for the other characters involved.

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In the first E3 trailer, Jesse asks, "You think he's a keeper?" iIn the recently released Tokyo Game Show trailer, Biggs and Jessie have a conversation midair, during which Biggs states, "He's a keeper all right." It's safe to assume they are talking about Cloud, the most recent recruit to the AVALANCHE team (although by that point in the game, he's not fond of saying so). Jessie, Biggs, and Wedge were always fond of Cloud, and it'd be great character development for everyone involved to see how their relationship progressed. Watching just how Cloud goes from apathetic mercenary to someone who genuinely cares about these people would be the perfect springboard for the trajectory of his overall character arc in the game.

Tifa and Barrett also take the deaths of Jessie, Biggs and Wedge very hard. By expanding on their content, audiences will get to see in-depth just what they brought to the team and how they interacted with the protagonists. As Tifa and Barrett mourn their friends, the audience too will be able to feel that loss, having had more time to get to know these characters. For both Tifa and Barrett, wishing to save people important to them becomes a huge part of their character arcs later in the game (Barrett with his past with Dyne, Tifa with Cloud in Mideel), seeing them experience that loss firsthand and knowing what it means only adds to the weight of their story.


Final Fantasy 7

The loss of Sector 7 in the original game was monumental, showcasing the pure heartlessness and corruption of Shinra. With all the time players will be able to spend in Midgar during the remake, that loss has the potential to mean even more. Having the chance to explore the slums more wholly, interacting with more NPCs and seeing how they live their lives would make for a really powerful story. The people in Sector 7 wouldn't just be random people, they'd be people the player knows, ones with dreams and aspirations of their own.

It also gives more time to show how Shinra uses people as pawns for power, highlighting the corruption as they kill thousands of their people to frame their enemy. They lived in poverty, getting by day by day in broken buildings and dingy apartments. Shinra never saw them as people, just as expendable resources. More time in the slums, seeing how they live only strengthens the theme of Shinra's greed.

This is the place where Barrett is raising his daughter, where Tifa started her business, and where Cloud was united with the people who would soon change his life for the better. Shinra didn't just frame the AVALANCHE crew for a simple crime, they framed them for the destruction of their own homes, neighbors, and family. This extra bit of worldbuilding could only serve their characters well and enhance the story's narrative.

Final Fantasy VII Remake releases March 3, 2020, for the PlayStation 4.

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