Archives by Day

December 2023

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth

Platform(s): PlayStation 5
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: Feb. 29, 2024


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

PS5 Preview - 'Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Oct. 6, 2023 @ 12:50 a.m. PDT

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth continues the story of Final Fantasy VII Remake, taking Cloud and the party out of Midgar into the wider world.

As far as opening acts of a video game go, Midgar packs a whole lot into its opening hours. There's so much that when you leave Midgar, the area just outside of it can seem too simple — until you run into the Midgar Zolom serpent. Maybe that is why Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth's opening area stands out so much. We saw a good chunk of the opening for the game, and "boring" certainly isn't on the table.

The demo seems to begin early in the game. Based on what we know about the story, it's likely right after Cloud gives his flashback sequence about how he and Sephiroth met. Still on the run from Shinra, the party has gone into the lands surrounding Midgar in search of a chocobo they can use to cross a treacherous swamp. This time, they're joined by a new companion, Red XIII. What little we saw of the plot contained the same basic charm and humor of the previous title. For example, poor Cloud's hair was compared by a Chocobo breeder to the Chocobo's own, meaning Tifa and Aerith spend the rest of the sequence making fun of him for it.

One of the most challenging parts of going from Remake to Rebirth was always going to be the world. All of Remake takes place inside one city, while the segment that Rebirth picks up from takes place as you enter the world map. In Rebirth, this means the world map has been converted into a large, wide-open field area. Judging by the map screens, this field area roughly represents the same space as the classic world map, just closer to the ground and with more things around. This does include fast-travel points and even towers to activate for everyone's favorite weird nerd cyborg Chadley, bringing to mind games like Horizon. Heck you can even swim, but there's certain to be locations that need more specialized transport. (For example, the Buggy has already appeared in other game footage.)

Of course, it won't be all wilderness. We saw a bit of Kalm, the first town you visit after leaving Midgar. It's genuinely impressive how much of a glow-up it has gotten for being such a small zone in the original. It's a small but thriving city, with a lot of hustle and bustle. You see people practicing a dance number, milling around and chatting, and it makes Kalm look like something more than just a brief stay at an inn. Like the previous game, you can also take on side-quests for people in the zone, ranging from picking flowers to hunting down dangerous beasts.

Also new to the game is crafting. As you might imagine, the open world is filled with a bucketload of places to explore, and in those places are various ingredients that can be used to craft healing items like potions and Phoenix Down. Crafting items also seems to give you experience points, which allow you to craft more powerful items. Healing seems like it might be more difficult, as even the "rest stop" benches seem to require a consumable item.

It wouldn't be a Final Fantasy without Chocobos, and now that you're free of Midgar, they go front and center. Cloud and pals are given a hint about where to find an ornery Chocobo named Piko, and once they capture him (in a style that is shockingly similar to Breath of the Wild's horse-wrangling mechanic), the entire party gets Chocobos to ride. As expected, they massively speed up movement around the environment. They are also able to sniff out rare treasures, follow scents to find hidden monsters, and more. We know from other info that they'll come in multiple colors with multiple movement abilities, and they have their own costume customization options.

The combat system in Rebirth looks very similar to the system in Remake, just with a lot of new features. For example, new to the combat system are Synergy Skills, which are special combo attacks between different party members. These powerful united attacks seem to allow you to keep combos going longer or chain together moves. One great example is shown early in the demo, where Tifa can use Cloud to perform a Heavenly Ascent attack with huge airtime, allowing her to instantly follow up with a lengthy air combo before slamming enemies to the ground with her new Descending Gale attack. This also emphasizes that characters get new abilities and that some of those abilities can be used in the air, allowing for lengthy juggle combos. These Synergy abilities have their own ATB bars so they can be used freely, but the game seems to reward you with faster charges if you're swapping characters regularly. This was something the original game encouraged but could be easily overlooked, so the Synergy mechanic is a nice way to incentivize players.

You also have a party larger than the default three this time, and that means you can instantly swap party members. It also means Red XIII is playable for the first time. It appears that blocking attacks causes Red to build up a vengeance gauge. At any time, he can spend this gauge to go into a more powerful attack mode. His abilities and attacks appear to focus around high-damage physical and magic attacks, but of course, it's difficult to tell from only the beginning of the game. Even the old party members have new abilities, such as Cloud's "Firebolt Blade," which gives him an elemental damage option without materia or Aerith's extremely cool Radiant Ward that causes glowing spikes of magic to shoot at enemies while she is within its radius.

Of course, there's going to be a bunch of new materia, too. There's a "Fire and Ice" materia that lets you cast both Fire and Ice spells from a single materia. There are also a few others, including Auto-Cast, Auto-Unique, and Morph. Auto-Cast and Auto-Unique are likely tied to magic and your character's actions. Chadley can make new materia using data points that you receive for completing objectives, rather than the 1-for-1 trade from Remake. Morph likely allows you to transform enemies into items as it did in the original.

Combat challenges look more involved this time. Chadley sent the party to hunt down monsters called Elphadunks. Once found, the players were tasked with defeating them under certain requirements, such as pressuring and staggering them within a time limit. All the while, your pseudo-pokedex (called MAI) read information about the creature, such as how it was used as a draft animal before Chocobos. It might seem small, but it appears to be a nice way to add extra flavor to what would otherwise be standard  missions around defeating an enemy.

There are also some interesting changes to the world. For example, the party came across a Moogle House in the middle of the wilderness. In the original game, Mog House was just an arcade game you could play at the Golden Saucer, but in Rebirth, it appears to involve in-world Moogles rather than simply being an arcade game. There is even a new collectible card game that gets a front-and-center option on the in-game menu, which suggests it will be more akin to Final Fantasy 8's Triple Triad or The Witcher 3's Gwent.

So far, what we've seen of Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth may only encompass the first few moments after you step outside of Midgar, but they are incredibly impressive moments. Even some of the least memorable moments in the original game are filled with a sense of wonder and excitement. Considering that this is just the opening and some of Final Fantasy VII's best moments are still to come, Rebirth has shown that it has the potential to eclipse the high bar set by Remake. I'm certainly looking forward to getting my hands on Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth when it releases Feb. 29, 2024, exclusively for the PS5.

More articles about Final Fantasy VII Rebirth
blog comments powered by Disqus