LOS ANGELES—Square Enix’s E3 press conference began by wasting no time with its big, expected news: Final Fantasy VII Remake finally has a release date. The PlayStation 4-exclusive JRPG will launch on March 3, 2020. If that sounds like too long to wait, and you’re in Los Angeles this week, Square Enix says all E3 2019 attendees will have a chance to play the game’s first real-time demo on the show floor.

Monday night’s event included the clearest demonstration yet of how the game’s combat system will work: as a mix of real-time attacking and dodging, and an “active time battle” (ATB) system of pausing to activate special abilities and items. The latter will only activate once players have built up enough of their fighters’ ATB meters, which grow as players pull off more successful weapon swipes and dodges. (This means crucial items like potions and Phoenix Down revives won’t work until you rack up enough hits on foes, and using those will mean waiting longer to activate magical spells and special melee attacks.)

More familiar FFVII characters finally got their in-game reveals, as well, particularly the popular martial arts ally Tifa. One of her ATB special attacks, a flurry of punches followed by a flashy bicycle kick, fit in nicely with Cloud’s barrage of sword swipes within a Japanese kanji character, a massive lighting-ball blast from Barret’s machine gun, and a green, particle-filled explosion of healing power from Aerith. Barret’s standard attacks will largely revolve around gun shots, not melee swipes, so he will be able to control real-time combat from a distance—and that likely means other popular FFVII characters will work the same.

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