[UPDATE 11/6/2021]: Big update to the mod pack with numerous improvements!
- File size cut in half by removing now-redundant mods.
- 7th Heaven mod manager no longer requires running an installer and is standalone.
- Ninostyle chibi models updated with tons of new character models.
- Satsuki Yatoshi upscaled backgrounds updated to V5 as featured on Dtoid's article.
- Rotty's Choice bonus soundtrack option has been updated with improved selection, better volume-balancing, and merged with the other soundtrack selections for convenience.
- New mod FF7 Refined added which makes QoL improvements to FF7's dialogue and combat.
Have you just recently finished playing through Final Fantasy VII Remake and are craving for something more to hold you over until Part 2? Or perhaps FF7 is something that you've long wanted to jump into but never found a good starting point. Well folks, it turns out that now more than ever is actually a fantastic time to experience the original Final Fantasy VII, as just within the past year there has been a surprising amount of advancement in the modding community that has drastically reduced the amount of headache involved in giving the game a nice facelift and bringing it up to modern standards.
Version 2.0 of FF7's current most popular modding client, 7th Heaven, was released last year, removing a lot of tedious steps that used to be involved in the setup process, and even when you did follow all the steps right with the old version, it was still largely a coin toss whether it would actually work or not. Now it's considerably more stable. The nice thing about 7th Heaven as well is: it doesn't actually modify the base game in any permanent way. It only injects the mods at launch and then discards them when you exit the game, so if you don't like something about a particular mod that you're using, you don't need to start all over with reinstalling the game.
What's more, I've streamlined this process even further by providing a singular beeg fat download link that contains all of the necessary files and mods to get you going. The pack is 9 GB when downloaded and 14 GB after extraction. It overhauls nearly everything in the game. Given its size though, you may want to get the download started now before you read any further:
Why play classic FF7 when the remake is out?
FF7 Remake gives the original game quite the facelift, but it also made numerous major and minor changes across the board to the game's story, characterizations, designs, and gameplay; so much so that it's really not an accurate representation of the original game with just a shiny new coat of paint. It's become its own thing entirely. In fact, without getting too deep into spoilers, one could say that it's more of a quasi-sequel to the original game rather than a "remake" of it. It presumes in some sense that the events of the original game already happened before, so it does benefit the player to be familiar with these events.
Furthermore, the remake only covers a small portion of the original game. The city of Midgar was only disc 1 of a 3-disc PS1 game; there is an entire world to explore outside of it, so you are sure to find plenty of new content in the original regardless if you already played the remake.
It should also go without saying that FF7 Classic still holds up quite well from a gameplay perspective. There's a reason why the game broke all kinds of sales records when it first came out back in 1997. Its biggest barrier to entry now is just its extremely dated presentation, which thankfully mods are now here to remedy.
My goals with this guide are primarily to:
1. Make the modding process as quick and painless as possible, and
2. Provide several preset options that aim to update the game's assets while remaining true to its original art style, as it can be very convoluted to try and achieve these results on your own.
From there, you can tweak them further to your liking, but please note that if this is your first time playing the game, I would highly recommend starting with just one of the preset profiles so you can get a better feel for how everything works, because if you start making changes without knowing what a mod actually does, you could cause conflicts in enabling multiple features that try to overwrite the same assets.
Also keep in mind if this guide looks a little overlong and daunting to you, most of the wall of text below is really just me rambling about what stuff actually does and how it works so you can make informed choices, and it doesn't really involve you doing anything much of the time outside of copy-pasting a few files here and there.
Now that we got all that out of the way, let's get started!
The Actual Guide Part of the Guide
Note: Due to significant changes since the last update to this mod pack, if this is not your first time installing, it is recommended that you uninstall everything and do a fresh reinstall again in order to avoid problems. Make sure your saves are safely secured somewhere before doing so.
1. First you'll need to install a standard copy of Final Fantasy VII. Both the Steam version or the original disc version will work. 7th Heaven will remove the need for a disc check after setup. Most likely the majority of people will be using the Steam version, so I will be using this as the basis for my examples going forward.
2. Download and extract the beeg fat modding file using an archiving program of your choice such as WinRAR or 7Zip. Both have free versions available.
3. Copy the "mods" and "7th Heaven" folders to your main FF7 directory. For reference, the default path for a Steam install typically is:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\FINAL FANTASY VII
I have already pre-modified some files in these folders to configure some tricky settings for 7th Heaven, like the game's internal resolution for example can only be changed from manually editing the GameDriver.cfg file. The modified file in this pack will update it to increase the internal resolution from the default so the game will look sharper. If you really want to tweak it to your liking though, you can just edit the file yourself by opening it in any old notepad software.
These pre-configurations also add a couple of extra control schemes for SNES and Xbox Wireless Controllers, as well as install our preset profiles for all of our mods.
4. Open your 7th Heaven folder and create a shortcut for the 7th Heaven.exe file, as this will be how you access and play FF7 going forward. To do this, right-click on the EXE file and select "Create shortcut". Drag the shortcut to wherever is most convenient for you; most likely your desktop.
5. Now launch 7th Heaven. It may immediately greet you with a General Settings screen to configure. If not, go there first by clicking on "Settings" from the top-left menu and then "General Settings".
Don't be alarmed by all the sliders and options. You only need to verify that all your directory paths are correct. They should all be linking to various folders inside your FF7 installation location. For a Steam install of FF7, these should look like:
FF7 Exe: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\FINAL FANTASY VII\FF7.exe
Movies: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\FINAL FANTASY VII\data\movies
Textures: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\FINAL FANTASY VII\mods\Textures
Library: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\FINAL FANTASY VII\mods\7th Heaven
If they don't look right, correct them and click Save. You don't need to touch any of the other options.
6. It's time to choose a profile for what mods you would like to use. Go to Settings > Profiles...
I have created several preset options for you which I will break down here so you can better understand what they do.
There have been lots of fan mods over the years; some of which were started and never completed, some that are still a work-in-progress, and some rare few that actually managed to stick it through to completion. Because of this, it is tricky to provide a set of options that will give you everything you might be looking for, so to the best of my ability I have compiled a few choices that I think will give the best results.
As many may know, FF7's original character models were notoriously "blocky" to say in the least; even more so than other games of the time. When you're in combat, they look alright, but out in the field and overworld, some might say it's just a little too abstract to put up with, so there are currently two prevailing sets of character models to use right now which address this.
One is Kaldarasha's ChaOS model set, which overhauls ALL of the game's character and NPC models to look more like their higher-detail battle models. This mod is actually fully complete, so there are no unfinished models or inconsistencies to be found here. That's why I generally recommend this option for first-timers as it will give the most complete and cohesive experience.
The other model set is ninostyle's chibi models, which very charmingly update FF7's art style to strike a more classic JRPG look that the original authors were probably going for at the time but the technology just wasn't there. This is a perfectly fine option too, but it comes with some caveats. It's still a work-in-progress, and some of the models are not done. The plus side is, all of the important and major character models are included in that "done" part, so it's only some rando NPCs you might encounter still running around in their original blocky state. And this art style blends in better with the original models too, so it doesn't look so jarring side-by-side, but nonetheless it is an issue to consider if that bothers you.
Lastly, you might be wondering what's the difference between the "Balanced" and "Pretty AF" options for these two sets. In addition to the chibi models that ninostyle has been developing, he has also been hard at work redesigning many of the game's battle models to be higher detail and look more like the game's concept art depictions of the characters with this sort of sketchy pencil-like look. It's a really cool aesthetic, but once again, it's far from complete, so enabling it will result in a lot of jarring inconsistencies in art style. That's why I give you the "Pretty As Fuck (AF)" option, so if you just don't care about consistency and want to have the highest detail models available, have fun and let loose. The "Balanced" option in contrast aims to keep the art styles consistent across the game at the cost of some occasional visual downgrades.
All of these presets use satsuki's upscaled backgrounds, cutscenes and retextures. Remako was great for its time but it has long been superseded by satsuki in quality, to such a degree that CaptRobau himself (author of Remako) has cancelled development of Remako 2.0 as it's no longer necessary.
Of course, if you're a real purist, you can choose the "Purist" option which mostly leaves the game untouched outside of upscaling the backgrounds and environments.
Anyway, after you've chosen your profile, you may receive some warning from 7H about how the Animation mod might cause your computer to asplode or some such nonsense. Just ignore it. It doesn't know what it's talking about.
7. Select your preferred control scheme by going to Settings > Controls...
Note that you don't need to click "Save" after selecting a control scheme. You only need to do that if you modified one of the presets.
8. Finally, verify that your Game Driver settings are correct. Settings > Game Driver...
Most of it should already be correct, but mainly make sure that Window Mode is set to Fullscreen and Resolution matches your monitor's native size. Remember that this is only the display resolution; the game's internal resolution is handled elsewhere and will not change regardless of your setting for this, so just make sure it matches your screen.
Anisotropic Filtering should be turned on; Linear Filtering off. Turn on VSYNC if you feel that you need it, but it's not required.
Anti-aliasing isn't really necessary when you can always just crank up the game's internal resolution instead. A game from 1998 isn't exactly demanding on PCs anymore.
Change the tab to "Advanced" and verify that VGMStream is set for the Music Option and FFMPEG is set for Movie Option. Fancy Transparency should be turned on. Everything else can be left Off. Click Save.
9. You are now ready to play! Clicking "Play" may give you some initial warning messages during first-time run. These can be safely ignored and just click "OK" or whatever option it gives you to close them.
And that's it! A lot of words but not as many steps as you think. Now have fun. Show off your big HD swords.
- As an added bonus, I also threw in my own mod for the soundtrack called "Rotty's Choice". You can enable it in your library if you want to, but you have to manually select it after choosing an initial profile from the previous steps. It will give the soundtrack a nice overhaul with a largely more orchestral feel to it. You can find it by double-clicking on the "Music - Media Selection" mod and selecting it from the drop-down menu.
- As yet another bonus, I've included FF7 Refined, my ambitious little project to overhaul the game's dialogue and tweak its combat. As many may know, the original FF7's English translation was notoriously rushed, and there is already another retranslation project floating around called "Beacause", but it's designed to only be compatible with a separate mod pack, "The Reunion", which generally doesn't work well with 7th Heaven. This mod, FF7 Refined, is designed from the ground up to work with 7H. It is still a work-in-progress though, but is complete up until just before Cloud and Aeris arrive at Wall Market.
See the results for yourself:
- The latest version of Satsuki Yatoshi's upscale mod utilizes a new advanced feature that adds some special animation effects to the background environments in the game. As this feature is still experimental, it can cause some occasional slowdown issues even on modern high-end machines. For this reason if you find it to be too much to handle, you can disable it by double-clicking on the "[Tsunamods] SYW V5 Field Textures" mod and turning them off.