Let’s face it, the PC version of Final Fantasy 7 wasn’t that great when it was released 20 years ago, and the only thing that makes it bearable now is that the game is so good. There’s an FF7 remake on its way, but in the meantime, if you want improved graphics, sound, and gameplay over the original, there is a solution. There are mods for the Final Fantasy 7 PC version that take it from arguably the worst version of the game to the best way to play while you’re waiting for the remake.
How to Get FF7 Mods
Your one-stop shop for Final Fantasy 7 PC mods is going to be Qhimm.com. Qhimm has been around in one form or another for almost 20 years. It started as a repository for save editors, sound extractors, and whatnot for the FF7 and FF8 PC versions, and the message board eventually became a gathering place for individuals making programs to access the inner workings of those two games, and a place for mod makers to congregate.
Fortunately, getting some great mods installed on a PC copy of FF7 isn’t too hard these days. It can be a little hard to navigate Qhimm since it’s message board-based, but there’s only really one thread and one tool you need to find to get started. The primary way of installing mods on FF7 is the 7th Heaven tool. If you head over to the 7th Heaven tutorial thread, you can find a step by step guide on how to convert any copy of FF7 for PC to work with the tool, and how to install 7th Heaven, download mods, and get them working with FF7. The whole process is contained within the 7th Heaven program, so it’s pretty easy to understand.
What do Mods do for Final Fantasy 7?
There’s a whole host of small things that mods can do to make your experience with FF7 PC more enjoyable. Square Enix released an updated version of the game in 2012 that made the game compatible with modern systems. The updated version is the game you’ll find on the Steam and Square Enix storefronts, and work at 1080p, and has the original PlayStation music. However, it kept a lot of annoying issues that plagued the initial PC release.
With mods, you can make a lot of changes to the game that put it graphically somewhere between Final Fantasy 9 and Final Fantasy 10. This includes new models for just about everything in the game. You can add new enemy models, new character models (for both the field and in-battle), and new vehicle models to name a few. You can also change the music from the original PlayStation score to an orchestrated score, or a fan-made remix. There are new sound packs you can use that enhance and improve the feel of the game, and you can even change the way the save point looks.
The most significant issue with the game, that even mods can’t help (currently), is the 2D backdrops. Even though the mods included with 7th Heaven help with almost every other aspect of the game, the 2D backdrops are only available in their original size. No large resolution masters have been made available (if they exist), and due to the massive amount of backgrounds in the game, no fan project has managed to complete a mod to improve them. As it stands the only way to improve the environments is to do them by hand. There are a few artists currently working on converting the backdrops to high-res remakes, but it may be years before they finish. You can check out some of the filtered backgrounds, which fix some of the issues with pixelation, but this is one area that you’ll likely have to wait for the remake to improve.
On the plus side, fans have completely re-translated the game, and it makes a huge difference. The spelling errors, nonsensical Engrish, and plothole have been tightened up considerably, and it makes a great game even better.
Once you get 7th Heaven installed, and install in included mods, make sure to head to the other parts of Qhimm and check out the mods there. There are a few releases that the latest version of 7th Heaven doesn’t include that you may want to check out. Additionally, if you’re going to play with an Xbox controller (which you should) get the Xbox 360 Controller Fix patch (also works with Xbox One controllers). Square included a funky bunch of bindings as the default controller settings and this patch not only corrects that, it also changes the button prompts in-game to reflect the Xbox controller buttons.
Also, don’t forget to check out the Final Fantasy 8 and Final Fantasy 9 PC mods available on Qhimm. They’re not as extensive, but there are some cool ones on there.