At E3 2019, Square Enix officially confirmed Final Fantasy 8 Remastered to the excitement of many fans. With FF8 Remastered's emphasis on high definition graphics and updated character models, this release will give players a chance to experience the story of Squall and friends in a whole new way, and they can do so right now. However, while the new character models in the remaster are excellent indeed, the Final Fantasy 8 Remastered backgrounds leave quite a bit to be desired.
As depicted in the screenshots included in this article, the Final Fantasy 8 Remastered backgrounds have been left untouched in this updated version of the PlayStation classic. As Final Fantasy 8 was released 20 years ago, these backgrounds are, as one might expect, rough around the edges. This is in part due to the low polygon count of the environments, but the most problematic aspect of the Final Fantasy 8 Remastered backgrounds is that they simply feel out of focus and muddy.
This stands in stark contrast to the extremely crisp and beautiful update to the Final Fantasy 8 Remastered character models. This creates the effect that the characters in FF8 Remastered are moving through a world separate from their own, and this is only emphasized further when encountering certain characters that have been rendered as part of the background. In these instances, the distance between the visually sharp playable characters and the blurry background NPCs feels extremely great.
While the quality of the Final Fantasy 8 Remastered environments is unlikely to completely ruin the experience for most players, they are definitely one of the game's notable shortcomings. Additionally, with the commercial availability of automated AI upscaling tools, which could have be used to create high resolution backgrounds for FF8 Remastered at a relatively low cost, Square Enix's choice to leave them as is feels additionally confounding.
That said, if the developer did pursue such an option for the FF8 Remastered environments, it would have been necessary to replace the aforementioned background characters with brand new character models in order to keep them consistent with the aesthetic of the main party. However, many such character models already appear when closeups of these NPCs are shown, and using them in all instance would have improved the visual experience greatly and likely the Final Fantasy 8 Remastered reviews as well.
Fortunately, PC players are very likely to gain access to mods that will resolve the problem with the pre-rendered Final Fantasy 8 Remaster backgrounds. Indeed, the remaster uses the PC port of the game from 2000 as its starting point, and thus some foundational modification work is already in place. Thus, it is just a matter of updating that work and applying it to FF8 Remaster, and that is likely to be done soon now that the Final Fantasy 8 Remastered release date has come.
Final Fantasy 8 Remastered is out now on PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One.