Final Fantasy VII Remake on PC: A gorgeous start, but where are the toggles?

Final Fantasy VII Remake on PC: A gorgeous start, but where are the toggles?
Enlarge / Cloud Strife is finally on PC again, and this image is taken directly from real-time rendering in the new PC port.

Final Fantasy VII Remake's exclusivity on consoles ends today. Nineteen months after its launch on PS4 and seven months after its PS5 update, Square Enix's ambitious return to Midgar breaks out of Sony's console family to land on PCs.

If you're the type of Final Fantasy fan who wants little more than a way to play this game on your computer, you can expect a beautiful and mostly solid port that delivers the perks of the PS5 version to many more people. I went into my testing of FFVIIR on PC with higher hopes, however. For gamers like me, the news isn't nearly as good, and that makes its unusually high PC price of $70 even harder to swallow.

A graphics menu brick wall

Final Fantasy VII Remake on PC: A gorgeous start, but where are the toggles?
Enlarge / You might think that this is the first of multiple graphics settings menus in FFVIIR's PC version. Nope. This is it.

My first stop before starting any FFVIIR PC gameplay was the options screen, where I slammed into the brick wall that is the above "graphics" menu.

If you've played an Unreal Engine 4 game on PC over the past few years, you can immediately tell which crucial settings are missing. There's no toggle to adjust anti-aliasing quality or methodology. You can't disable V-sync. And most of the finer-tuned graphical toggles that can increase performance for lower-powered machines are entirely absent, including ambient occlusion, reflection, depth-of-field, motion blur, and particle-effects sliders.

Worse, the included settings are limited. The "FPS" menu limits players to a few pre-selected frame rates: 30 (same as PS4), 60 (same as PS5's default), 90, and 120. (Nothing higher for the 144 Hz and 165 Hz crowds.) As I've confirmed in tests, this attempt to lock frame rate to a rounded target leads to occasionally choppy performance when the game can't hit its mark. This problem results in something that resembles frame-pacing stutter; it seems the game does not play nice with a variable refresh rate.

At 1080p resolution, my favorite medium-high-spec laptop runs the game mostly at 90 fps, but the frame rate can drop when the camera shifts to an entirely new real-time-rendered scene or when the game renders any particle-filled explosions. In these moments, frame rate stutter is quite severe, implying that some optimization work remains for Square Enix's PC porting team.

Final Fantasy VII Remake on PC: A gorgeous start, but where are the toggles?
Enlarge / This capture was taken while Windows 10's resolution was running at a 21:9 ratio. Those are black bars on the left and right of this captured screen. FFVIIR didn't acknowledge this fact in either menus or live gameplay.

And if you're looking for ultra-wide monitor support, you won't find it here. FFVIIR on PC is locked to a 16:9 ratio.

  • Quality comparisons. This one is hard to see. Look in the background at the NPCs. That's the game running at "maximum" crowd settings.
  • Look again, and you'll see that the crowd in the distance is not there. They'll only appear when they're within a certain radius of Cloud at this "minimum" setting for NPC crowds.
  • "Low" shadow quality. Lowering the quality to this setting only scrapes back about 1.25 percent performance, so I do not recommend doing so.

Currently, your only path to improving PC performance in the default menus comes from a shadow resolution option and a slider that determines the number of visible NPCs (applicable only in towns). The latter is basically a level-of-detail slider for how long it takes for a crowd of townspeople to pop into view. It doesn't seem to impact any of the game's more intensive battles, and changing the setting from its minimum spec to its maximum gets you only a 1.5 percent increase in performance. Switching shadow quality from high to low results in only 1.25 percent more performance at the cost of noticeably uglier shadows. Neither path to meager frame rate savings is worth the apparent visual degradation.