Visual Breakdown of FFVII Remake E3 Trailer

by June 16, 2015 19 comments

The bulk of this article was written by S&G. Article formatting and image adjustments were done by Shademp and additional observations not included in the first draft were added by the community. High definition trailer images provided by Pixel.

Well, I’m sure by now we’ve all seen the jaw-dropping teaser trailer for the Final Fantasy VII Remake that was released at E3 2015 by Sony. If not, feast your eyes on it here.

The creators at Square Enix have done very well to blend new visuals with a host of nods and references to the original game (OG) – as well as the wider Compilation – but there may have been a few things you missed.

This article is in relation to the visuals of the trailer only. If you would like to read a breakdown of the accompanying monologue, you’ll find one here.

Without further ado, let’s get stuck in. Enjoy.

(00:05 – 00:13)

The teaser opens with a white bird flying through the clouds. Simple enough, but with a few potential references. Firstly, it’s pretty reminiscent of the doves that seem to be hanging around Edge during Advent Children, which makes sense geographically. More notably, however, is the possible parallel of the bird “returning” to Midgar, just as the flock did in Red XIII’s post-credits scene in the OG. Additionally, this is a clear indication that the creators wish to show Midgar in a different light (literally) as white birds traditionally embody peace and serenity, while nature and daytime is not something we’ve ever come to associate the city with.

(00:10 – 00:14)

The bird “returns” to Midgar at a site on the Plate that appears still to be under construction. According to one of the mails you receive early on in Crisis Core, Sector 4 is the last part of the Plate to be completed. In the OG, you can tell by the landscape that the unfinished highway where Cloud and the others leave Midgar is to the southeast of Shinra HQ, thus somewhere on the border of Sectors 3 and 4. Does the bird then “return” to Midgar at the same location the party leaves? Or have I just looked too much into this one? Read on. On a side note – I wonder if those are rain clouds or pollution?

(00:14 – 00:15)

The train map clearly shows the last stop being “South Edge”. That’s an obvious nod to Advent Children, but perhaps not in the way you might think. In On the Way to a Smile: Episode Shinra, it is revealed that Edge is named so because it was established on the southeast border of Midgar (Sectors 3 and 4), and then extended east as it grew. Therefore, “South Edge” refers to a location on the Plate (or possibly Slums) rather than actually having anything to do with the city that emerged from its ruins (the way that Manhattan is broken up into Lower East Side, Upper West Side, etc). Nonetheless, it is a cool nod, but also adds weight to my point above.

It is worthwhile noting that even in the OG, one section of Midgar had “Edge” in its name (though, this is easily missed due to the low resolution of the game’s pre-rendered backgrounds). In the second screen you roam, right after you start a new game, you can read the text “North Edge Station” above the archway. Through a process called occlusion, TLS veteran Lex made this text very easy to read.

(00:15 – 00:17)

The scene with the train looks very much like a metro for the Plate’s interior rather than the usual Mako Express we saw in the other games. Every station in the OG and Crisis Core was shown above ground, though this one is clearly underground. However, the interior Plate tunnels appear twice in the OG while episode 5 of Before Crisis actually mentions stations within the Central Complex that holds the Plate aloft. So, do we now have the inclusion of a metro system for the city or is this just an extension of the regular Midgar Transit?

I might also add that the first thing we are presented with upon our “return” to Midgar is a crowded carriage, possibly symbolic of the long-running metaphor “ain’t no getting’ off this train”.

Follow this link to view, and possibly purchase, the fan-made Midgar Train Timetable seen above.

(00:17 – 00:19)

We are introduced to a cityscape quite unlike anything that we’ve seen from Midgar before. Clear blue skies (like Zack’s eyes) hang over glass towers, though there is definitely a haze of pollution as seen prominently in Crisis Core. One interesting thing worth noting from this shot is the inclusion of a castle-like structure amid the Mako pipes, perhaps to show how certain aspects of the city’s history and culture have remained despite the metropolis expanding around it. This is reflective of the unusual palace that appears near the train station in the opening sequence of the OG. As a side note for anyone who is of the opinion that the early shots are of future Edge rather than Midgar, it’s worth pointing out that Mako pipes wouldn’t exist in Edge because Mako is no longer used by the time it is constructed.

(00:20 – 00:22)

Another wide shot reveals a section of the Midgar highway system which – admittedly – is not overwhelmingly exciting given that it has appeared in one form or another in every single Compilation title. However, there are a couple of things worth mentioning here. Firstly, the signs on the left give an indication of the naming scheme for locations around the city. The sign to the outmost left in fact reveals the distance to Kalm and Junon. The city names are cut out here but can be made out in the shot at 00:19, if viewed in highest quality.

The vehicles are models of a familiar type for the FFVII veteran. The truck in the trailer may lead thoughts to the one Loz and Yazoo use to transport the Geostigma-plagued kids from Edge in Advent Children Complete, not to mention the iconic yellow pickup that transports Zack and Cloud across the wastelands in the OG and Crisis Core.

The coupe (right image) might draw the mind to a car seen in the original game’s intro, or the two other variations of that sequence which exists in the form of the FFVII PS3 Tech Demo from 2005 and the Crisis Core epilogue cinematic.

Only eagle eyes will have spotted the last one, however: the poster at the bottom right of the screen shows a female with the word “Valentina” written vertically next to her. If you recall from the original game when Aerith and Cloud first meet at LOVELESS Avenue, the camera pans down to them after initially focusing on a theatre advertisement for LOVELESS. Not only is this new poster reminiscent of that image, but the respective accompanying text “Valentina” and “My Bloody Valentine” cannot be a coincidence.

You will notice also that the CG-rendered woman is, in fact, the official render of Aya Brea from the Parasite Eve franchise, included here as a neat Easter Egg.

(00:23 – 00:30)

After the blank shot, the footage opens on what appears to be Sector 6’s Green Park, which we all know and love from Aerith’s interactions there with Zack (Crisis Core) and Cloud (OG). The colour scheme is obviously very different from before so as to reflect the dereliction and levels of pollution, but there is far more natural light than one might expect for the Slums (albeit the city limits), and there are high-rises in the background which don’t belong beneath the Plate. Based on where the scaling sector partition and gateway was in relation to the moogle slide in the OG, the presence of the railway line supports the conclusion that this is, in fact, not Green Park. That said, a train station existed at the Sector 5 Market in Crisis Core where one had not existed before. I would guess, though, that the scene here is more to pull on the heartstrings than to have any genuine link to the story. More on that later.

Note also that the slide in the trailer is not in the shape of a moogle. Closer inspection will reveal a distinct similarity to the enormous shell that overlooks the lake at the Forgotten Capital where Aerith was laid to rest.

The girl on the slide is wearing a t-shirt with a picture of a dolphin on it. The artwork on the shirt is eerily similar (if not identical) to the official sketch for Priscilla’s aquatic friend (see right image), making this a very obvious nod to Mr. Dolphin.

At the park, the two young boys are playing with toy weapons that have a similar shape to two of the blades that make up Cloud’s Fusion Swords in Advent Children.

There is a jade green flare in the sky above the children, reflected in the girl’s eyes. The sequence closely resembles the expulsion of Mako fumes from the top of a Reactor, recognisable from the HD remakes of the OG intro. The fact that she is able to see this lends further weight to the conclusion that the park is located on the Plate, not in the Slums.

Once more, the colour scheme plays an important role as the dusty red hue symbolises Meteor’s approach, while the flash of green symbolises the Lifestream’s convergence at the end of the OG to combat the comet. Since we know Midgar was evacuated prior to Meteor’s impact, this scene is nothing more than another nod to fans.

The wilted flower obviously has the association with Aerith – a counter argument that this is actually Green Park, a haunt of hers since childhood – but also reminds us of how toxic Midgar is, and that flowers are unable to grow anywhere but the Sector 5 Church.

(00:34 – 00:35)

Here is our first view of the Mako Reactor facility. It’s obviously at night and is definitely above the Plate as it’s raining. There is a very different atmosphere about this place than in the original game or Crisis Core: dark and gritty like it should be. It has a real Metal Gear Solid feel to it.

(00:36 – 00:41)

Right, now we get to the really interesting parts of the trailer. I’ll deal with this scene in two separate images. Immediately, we see a militant of some sort running up the steps to join their comrade who is pressed against the wall of one of the facility’s buildings. It’s difficult to see from this screenshot alone, but the moving figure has just taken cover under the staircase as the searchlight of a helicopter passes overhead. The stationary male is watching the helicopter through his hi-tech goggles and holding a machine gun. Now, you might at first assume that these guys are Shinra troops given their combat gear as well as the fact they are trained individuals at a Reactor complex. However, they are making an effort to stay out of the helicopter’s sight – and helicopters of this sort belong to the Shinra Company – so we have a strong argument that these guys are not on the corporation’s side. Sound familiar? Let’s explore this some more.

Dealing more specifically with the pair’s appearance, we have a number of things to address.

Who are these mysterious gunmen? Let’s go with headgear first. Straight away, the infrared goggles are unlike anything we’ve ever seen from Shinra’s Security Division (the bulky helmet with three red lights at the front) or SOLDIER (a somewhat medieval helm). One group, however, we have seen goggles and a headcap from is the AVALANCHE of Before Crisis. Next, the combat attire could be anybody as character designs for the respective militant groups hasn’t varied too much, but there are only two types that have used green uniforms: the lower-ranked Wutai forces in Crisis Core and the Junon grenadiers who launch the attack on the Sapphire Weapon in the OG. Sadly, neither of these really seem plausible. The weapons, though, are of genuine intrigue. Both figures are obviously carrying the military-issue assault rifles we saw throughout Crisis Core, but they’re also bearing military-issue swords on their backs (admittedly, it’s hard to see in this image, so best to watch the sequence again). The only group we know to do this are SOLDIER or the AVALANCHE Ravens of Before Crisis. So, just who are they?

One wild theory to consider is that the guy with the beard is actually Biggs. His original concept art shows him to have a goatee, his outfit is not dissimilar, and the red bandanna on both combatants’ arms are synonymous with AVALANCHE members (both the NPC three from the OG and the army in Before Crisis). So, if the first one is Biggs, the second – hidden behind that mask – would be Jessie (unless Wedge has been working hard at the gym). Or Nomura has completely revamped the SOLDIER look. Or it could be somebody else entirely. This one is up for speculation, but my money’s on either the old or new AVALANCHE.

Not much to see here except an explanation as to why there always seem to be helicopters flying in the Midgar skyline. Probably just a routine patrol.

(00:45 – 00:48)

This hazy footage of a cobbled passage precedes a clear Aerith reference, but if you take a second to absorb the image, this is definitely not the alley behind LOVELESS Theatre. For a start, there is a doorway at the end rather than a lane opening. So, what is it? The only thing that moves in the next scene perhaps suggests exactly whose point of view this is. Another theory is that it may be a precursor to Cloud’s confused mental state, but that’s unlikely.

(00:48 – 00:50)

The flowers on the cobbled path are reminiscent of the OG’s intro when Aerith is inspecting a Mako leak in the alley, but there is also a foreboding element too as they appear to have been discarded in haste. In the puddle, there is a reflection of a statue. Note that the statue not only has a single wing (a not-so-subtle reference there), but it looks suspiciously like the one on the archway outside Seventh Heaven in Advent Children.

Then enters the single black feather. If this scene and the last are connected, it suggests that the person in the alley is Sephiroth or, more specifically, Jenova in the form of Sephiroth. Although, to be honest, it’s far more likely to be simple imagery than an actual addition to the plot.

(00:51 – 00:53)

An absolutely glorious first glimpse of Downtown Midgar and the Shinra Building. The enormous piping, unnecessarily-brilliant floodlights and triple towers are looking quite colossal. Based on the residential district nearby, it might be assumed that these are the Sector 8 streets we get to see in the OG, Crisis Core and Before Crisis, home to many of Shinra’s top employees. And the Turks’ turf, of course.

(00:57 – 01:06)

The radiance that splits the chasm between the Plate of Sectors 7 and 8 is either natural daylight (in which case, the park is definitely not in these darkened Slums) or the synthetic glare of the Shinra Building’s floodlights. Seeing as the perspective turns out to be in the direction of the latter, it is probably not sunlight. A cool little thing to spot here are all the suspended walkways on the underside of the Plate which you have to navigate during the second bombing mission of the OG.

There are those white birds again. They just happen to fly across the screen exactly the same way during Marlene’s monologue at the intro of Advent Children, specifically when the footage shows the destruction of the Slums. Also, going back to my initial point regarding their appearance to herald the “return”, isn’t it peculiar that they only seem to pop up when the concept is first being presented, and then again when the lead characters are being presented? I would make an educated guess that these birds have a special meaning to the creators.

A fantastic wide shot of the Slums including the Central Complex that we perhaps know best from Vincent’s battles there during Dirge of Cerberus, as well the support pillars. Assuming that the location here is Sector 7, based on the geography, the pillar to the right of the screen is the one destroyed by the Turks. It’s also very hard to spot in this screenshot, but watching the trailer will allow you to see a train encircling the tower in the distance, just as it did in the OG.

(01:06 – 01:17)

Our first real sight of the Slum villages. This shanty town is a bit more compact than what we saw in the OG, and further supports the conclusion that the park is above the Plate. No high-rises anywhere to be seen.

(01:18 – 01:24)

So, the look of Barret’s gun-arm has altered somewhat. Obviously in the OG, you could change his weapon pretty much from the start. However, during the recap of the battle with Sephiroth shown in Advent Children, he was wielding a Gatling gun very similar to his character concept art. That was frightening enough, but this thing looks even more menacing.

This is just to highlight the level of detail that has been put into our two heroes. Badass on a whole new scale. I mean, look at Barret’s triceps!

(01:24 – 01:30)

To finish our breakdown, we leave you with this extremely odd U-turn on the design of the Buster Sword. The original look was, of course, pretty basic given the technical capabilities back then.

However, with the Compilation of FFVII, starting with Advent Children, came some redesigns. The blade was given a sexy makeover with grooves and a gilded butt.

Once more, Cloud’s appearance in Dissidia changed things again, and it’s that look which seems to have made it into the remake. Does this mean the Buster Sword’s design has been retconned again? The short answer is: maybe not. It could be speculated that the creators have been exceedingly clever here. Instead of dismissing what they’ve already worked on, it seems like they have either simply added steel plating around the gilded hilt or replaced the larger segments of trimming with ordinary steel. It is unlikely that so much effort would have gone into preserving the exact grooves on the blade only to discard the iconic gilded section. Look closely and you may see the base of the gold trimming peeking out from below. Also note that the leather on the handle has altered, yet the golden adornment that connects it to the butt has not. Furthermore, the hilt on this particular reproduction is the closest we’ve seen to the original, even down to the detail of how many bolts are welded onto the steel plate. This, however, is all open to interpretation, but it makes perfect sense from a plot point of view because so much emphasis was placed on the sword in Crisis Core that any SOLDIER who had served with Zack or Angeal would recognise it instantly. I personally can’t wait to see how they address all these little issues in time for the full release.

One final thing that might be worth mentioning is the way Cloud has attached the Buster Sword to the magnetic holder on his back: it is the reverse of how Zack did it in Crisis Core. As we know, Zack preferred to use the blunt edge of the blade (for ethical reasons), while Cloud always used the sharp edge. Its retrieval in battle, therefore, would have to be reversed. In addition, it could be further symbolism of how the two live parallel lives but are opposite, the same way that the whole Strife vs Fair surname situation did.”

(01:31 – 01:35)

With a fresh silver casing, the original FFVII logo has been properly updated for the remake.

Inbetween the game footage, the production cast was revealed, in the following order:

Producer – Yoshinori Kitase
Scenario – Kazushige Nojima
Director – Tetsuya Nomura

This trinity makes up the highest official lead over FFVII canon. Will other giants in FFVII production history, like recurring art director Yusuke Naora, join the fray? This remains to be seen.

We hope you have enjoyed this article. If you think we’ve missed anything, please do let us know in the comments and we’ll be sure to update.

M. J. Gallagher is the author of the free-to-download unofficial Final Fantasy VII novelisation and forthcoming superhero-fantasy series Axtelera Ray.


  1. Chelsay Baillie
    #1 Chelsay Baillie 16 June, 2015, 23:57

    From this small 1.50 trailer it’s clear that they’re bringing final fantasy VII into a fresh new perspective, flashy buildings, a shiny train, and effectively what they are wanting to give us, is a whole new look at this game, the same old story but nothing we have ever seen before. The only nod I can see so far is, like you said, Dissidia Cloud’s sword with the metal casing which makes it look pretty different to anything we’ve seen previously in Crisis Core, Advent Children Complete, etc. it’s like they are definitely saying “guys, you asked for a remake, not a HD classy update, but a full on REmake and here it is”. They are effectively giving us a story we already know but in an entirely new game – it’s going to be fantastic in my eyes! Fresh! I love how the trailer just nods at a lot of things but doesn’t actually show anything that we can completely identify as “OH MY GOD IT’S THAT!” – the playground isn’t even remotely the same but it’s deliberate, it’s a nod to it. You see the three flood lights but not the main Shinra building or anything we can immediately identify as a reactor. The trailer is fantastic because everything is so underexposed but is perfect – I think we would have expected the norm of having everything familiar in our faces yet they haven’t and I love it! The imagery of the one winged angel, the black feather and the lily is fantastic! I’m sorry if everything I’m typing begins to not flow and not make sense, I just can’t contain my happiness and excitement! Back to the playground, did you notice it was in the shape of a shell rather than a Moogle? A nod to the City of the ancients shells possibly? Who knows… 🙂

    Reply to this comment
  2. Leen De Blauwe
    #2 Leen De Blauwe 17 June, 2015, 00:22

    Thanks for the amaaaazing analysis!! the Avalanche hint and the bustersword gold blew my mind!
    After watching it a second time yesterday night (^_^) I had a feeling with the slide-scene that this was a reference to meteor hanging above the city, because the atmosphere is reddish and then there is this green flash and you can see the lifestream in the eyes of the girl? This might also have to do with the dying flower. Geostigma coming down maybe, or a reference it’s after Aerith’s time?
    Oh, and it feels like a wink to the girl in the tower in Kalm watching Meteor and the lifestream.
    What do you think?

    Reply to this comment
    • Shaw-Nobi
      Shaw-Nobi 26 August, 2015, 16:00

      Just an quick side note. The little girl seen in Kalm during the final scenes as the Lifestream breaks through is actually Marlene. Which kind of ties into the intor of AC

  3. sy2pie
    #3 sy2pie 17 June, 2015, 06:29

    What a fantastic read. Thank you so much and keep up the good work!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Tash
    #4 Tash 17 June, 2015, 06:31

    Sigh….I knew it. This is the very last FFVII game ever, meaning that Square Enix has silently shelved back the rest of the Compilation series and will wait until either next year or 2017 to tell us, “Due to the lack of ideas and time and the more demands for a remake, the future plans for future titles of the Compilation were scrapped and shelved back early in 2010.” That’s what I predict.

    The mystery in Genesis and Weiss is to remain a mystery, which is heartbreaking and frustrating, and we’ll never know what happened to Rufus and the Turks after Advent Children or why they were absent in Dirge of Cerberus, and we’ll never get a full remake of Before Crisis.

    Reply to this comment
    • Shademp
      Shademp Author 17 June, 2015, 08:05

      Or the popularity of the remake could spawn HD remasters of Compilation titles as well as spawn the sequel to end the loose threads of Genesis and Weiss. I’m betting more that the remake will help provide momentum to the Compilation. =)

    • Tash
      Tash 19 June, 2015, 00:22

      I doubt it. The former president of Square Enix back in 2009 said himself that the Compilation could continue until 2017, and I’m betting more that once the remake is released that the company will call it quits on the series, and scrap those ideas for future sequels of the Compilation and use them for other series instead.

    • a
      a 19 June, 2015, 17:48

      Square says a lot of things, like they aren’t going to remake FFVII. Don’t be so gloom and doom 😛

    • Tash
      Tash 20 June, 2015, 07:40

      Yeah, but they also said that they had ideas for future titles, and Nomura said himself that Advent Children Complete did not mark as the end of the Compilation as they still had more ideas to the series, but obviously that was a complete lie now that they’re re-doing every single thing of Final Fantasy VII and making the Compilation forgotten.

  5. roydgriffin
    #5 roydgriffin 17 June, 2015, 09:28

    Your breakdown is amazing, and there are many things I hadn’t noticed so far, but there is one big thing that I’d like to add:

    The first scenes, until the cut to the playground are probably not Midgar. This really looks like an even more built up Edge, with a clear sky and peaceful people going after their daily lifes.
    I feel like it shows how the world of FFVII has recovered after all the chaos and it also fits with the voiceover in-universe, referring to the people who survived meteor, who will never forget what happened.
    “The memory of the star that threatened all burns eternal in our hearts.”
    Then the cut to how it was in the past, dirty, dark, polluted, reassuring watchers that we are taken back to the time when it happened, when the legendary story of FFVII began.

    Reply to this comment
    • SoarelNeo2
      SoarelNeo2 17 June, 2015, 19:36

      The narrator was speaking to us, the gamers, not a representation of what was being shown exactly.

  6. Chelsay Baillie
    #6 Chelsay Baillie 17 June, 2015, 09:39

    hey guys, this kind of backs up my comment I made earlier.

    No matter what they create, I’ll treasure the original and I’ll embrace what is new 🙂

    Reply to this comment
  7. Joseph Knight
    #7 Joseph Knight 18 June, 2015, 10:18

    There’s no gold peaking out. That’s just the reflection off the top edge of the rectangular inlet.

    Reply to this comment
  8. TK-420
    #8 TK-420 18 June, 2015, 12:52

    If you look just after your second to last still, of Cloud’s arm, his lower forearm is much, much skinnier than his upper forearm. Especially when comparing to the size difference of Zack’s in the above frame focusing on Zack’s sword.

    Is this just artistic license with proportions, or does Cloud have a prosthetic perhaps?

    Reply to this comment
    • TK-420
      TK-420 18 June, 2015, 12:53

      In the video, I believe its 1:20-1:24 ish…

  9. Paulo
    #9 Paulo 19 June, 2015, 01:49

    Great analisys but i believe they are showing the begginings of midgar still clean, but as shinra takes control it starts to get polluted and darker, so the ambiance starts to get red smoke appears, and in the girls eyes you see the first mako reactor being deployed, and the flowers start to wither, the smoke to get denser as the city fall in the eternal night

    Reply to this comment
  10. Kiim
    #10 Kiim 2 July, 2015, 11:47

    I enjoyed reading this. Although I think you might’ve over thought the gun guys up there. They look very similar to the normal shinra fodder but grittier.

    Reply to this comment
  11. John McClane
    #11 John McClane 22 July, 2015, 12:20

    Indeed a very good analysis.
    Just wanted to point out, that the object appearing for a few frames at the end of the scene from 00:10 – 00:14 somehow has a strong resemblance to the big cannon in junon (i believe it’s name is “sister ray”).
    i noticed it the 2nd or 3rd time i watched the trailer as well as read about it in different posts.
    can’t wait for this game to be released (have been a huge fan of the original).


    Reply to this comment
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