Final Fantasy VII Remake is getting some deserved praise and attention, both as a recreation of a beloved classic and as a finely constructed series entry on its own. It stays true to the source, yet boldly diverges from the 1997 original to enrich what was just a portion of the overall story. Since I suspect FFVII Remake is wrangling many folks who were either lapsed fans or are newcomers, you may not be aware that its influences in gameplay flow and systems can be traced back to another Final Fantasy that dared to be radically different.
So, let me tell you all about Final Fantasy XIII. It’s one of the more divisive entries for sure, but I’ve found good reason to give it a closer look and put my current playthrough to good use–in playing both games side-by-side, the parallels between the two become quite clear. From the stagger mechanic that makes combat click to the controlled pace of linear sections, FFVII Remake borrows from FFXIII when it needs to most.
Staggering enemies was introduced to the series in FFXIII as a way to incentivize tactical considerations outside of simply hitting elemental weaknesses and managing party roles. As you pile attacks onto an enemy, their “chain Bonus” bar fills (also a multiplier for damage). Once it’s filled, the enemy is then staggered and takes on significantly more damage for as long as the stagger state is active. Some attacks, or combination thereof, contribute more to the chain bonus bar, but once the stagger is in effect, the game encourages you to command the party to take advantage and lay an increasingly hefty smackdown. However, enemies don’t freeze or stun when staggered, they continue attacking. So while sheer aggression might be best, you can’t completely forget about party preservation. This system gives you something to strive for and exploit in battle, and it’s imperative to learn, otherwise you’ll struggle to defeat mid-to-high-tier enemies.