Also, are there mechanics to encounters and such or is it dumbed down to appeal to masses?
I can answer to this one: it is perhaps the single most prominent goal of this re-release to make the game casual-friendly and "massively" appealing. The director himself has said in numerous interviews that he wants to be "inspired" by WoW, that he wants the team to play WoW, and that much of the content will be made to consume in short bursts.
Apparently there will also be content for more hardcore players, but I imagine that it will take the form of difficulty setting for raids, à la WoW.
Ultimately the game is going for a decidedly "middle of the road" approach, trying to draw in as many players as possible. There will be some
elements for hardcore players, but fast battles, short-term challenges, and mass appeal are being courted in the reboot. Square-Enix wants a large number of subscribers above all else, especially after they have sunk so many resources into making (and re-making) this game. Whether this course of action is misguided or not will be revealed in the coming year.
Or in a nutshell. Sit back and wait like all of us.
I don't understand why everyone is so up in arms about how there has to be some new head turning development in day-to-day battles. Fights with the cannon fodder have always been just a stepping stone to the bosses at the end of a particular area. From FF I until today, you could all but hold down the attack button for every encounter until it came to a meaningful plot point with a major enemy encounter. Those bosses or antagonists, or whatever you want to call them were the only spot in any FF game that required anything more than a heavy thumb on the attack button. They even made it easier in the last few games, you didn't even have to lift your thumb and press it again, just hold down "X" on the controller and attack over and over.
So, no, nothing has changed in the last 25 years of FF, and they're not going to start now. But, that's not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion. If every battle took the planning and execution of those plot point battles, then not only would it take forever to make any progress, but I feel, it would take the sense of accomplishment out of those big wins. I mean not every fight can be against Emerald/Ruby/Ultimate Weapon, or whatever you want to call it. You need the opportunity to build your skills over time. I don't mean to say there isn't room for improvement. I don't know exactly what that improvement could be, but punishing players for exploration and developing their characters with overly difficult battles isn't the way to do it.
FF has always had the story as it's backbone, and as long as it's engaging, I don't really care how many rabbits or marmots or sheep or other cuddly wooldand creatures I have to turn into sticky fluff; as long as the payoff is that in a few levels I'll be able to test all the things I've learned, along with a few others inclined in the same way, against that no good so-and-so from that cutscene a few levels ago. From what I've been able to glean, he has it coming. For justice!
ETA: I also think you're blowing the whole "be inspired by WoW" thing out of proportion. There's nothing wrong with being inspired by the greatest success in your field. All we can hope for is that they take that inspiration and build out from it. Edited, Dec 2nd 2012 10:31pm by LebargeX