A giant batch of new Final Fantasy VII Rebirth interviews and previews just dropped to kickoff Tokyo Game Show 2023 and the sequel is sounding more promising than ever. Here’s everything we’re learning from Square Enix’s latest marketing bonanza around the upcoming timed PlayStation 5 exclusive.
The new round of hands-on impressions come from two demos, one taking place during the Nibelheim incident flashback that sees Cloud fighting alongside Sephiroth, and another showing off open-world exploration around the outskirts of Junon, the sea-side military city with a giant gun mounted on it. Writers at IGN, Polygon, GameSpot, and more came away impressed by how the sequel expands on Final Fantasy VII Remake’s world and mechanics, though many are still eager to find out more about how Rebirth will deviate from the original 1997 PlayStation game’s story.
“As with the previous game, we have strived for the right balance between old and new scenes in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, but we also tried to take on more new challenges than we did in Final Fantasy VII Remake with some of the new scenes,” producer Yoshinori Kitase told the PlayStation Blog last week. “I am confident these new scenes will be wildly enjoyable for fans and newcomers alike.” Time will tell. For now, here are a bunch of interesting new details going around in today’s previews.
At 150GB, Rebirth is huge, but you won’t be swapping between two discs
Director Naoki Hamaguchi confirmed to Game Informer that the total size of the game on PS5 is 150GB, with 100GB on the first disc and 50GB on the second. Unlike the PS1 version, however, players won’t be swapping discs midway through. Instead, they’ll download the whole thing at once and then be able to play the entire game with either disc inserted.
The game ends after the Forgotten City
Creative director Tetsuya Nomura also confirmed to Game Informer that Rebirth will go up to and include the end of the Forgotten Capital, known as the City of Ancients in the original game. That’s where Aerith dies in the 1997 version, but given how the remake trilogy is messing with the canon, anything could happen this time around.
You can go on monster hunts
Like Final Fantasy XII, XV, and XVI, Rebirth will have special enemy hunts out in the sequel’s much more expansive, semi-open world. According to Polygon, players will encounter extra difficult monster variants while exploring that can be defeated in specific ways to earn extra rewards. Hopefully the game uses this to showcase some deep cuts from Final Fantasy VII’s bestiary.
Synergy Skills and Abilities are like combo techniques from Chrono Trigger
Revealed in the most recent State of Play trailer, party members this time around will have an extra slate of attacks called Synergy Skills. These open up while blocking and allow multiple characters to work together, like Cloud knocking Barrett’s gun fire into nearby enemies. Synergy Abilities are even stronger, and GameSpot likens them to Chrono Trigger’s combo techniques. They basically combine multiple characters’ limit breaks into an extra powerful finisher.
Fortunately, it doesn’t look too menacing. Players can pick up random materials while out in the world and use them to make phoenix downs and other recovery items. It’s not clear how extensive the system will be, but it probably beats running back to town when you run out of potions.
Sephiroth is playable
Players could command Sephiroth for a short bit during the original game’s Nibelheim flashback, and the new demos confirm that’s the case in Rebirth as well. There’s apparently even an extended sequence where he and Cloud team up to fight through enemy hordes, with players able to control the super SOLDIER as he unleashes hell with his giant Masamune blade.
Vincent is not, but he’ll still fight with you
Teased during the latest trailer, IGN confirms the former Turk turned shapeshifting gunslinger can’t be controlled but he’ll still accompany players in the late part of the game as Red XIII did near the end of Remake. Nomura hinted to Game Informer that Vincent may join the player’s party for real by the final game in the trilogy.
Nobody’s seen Cid yet
The cigarette-smoking, curse-spewing pilot was absent from the latest round of demos. That doesn’t mean he won’t be in the game at all. In the 1997 version’s timeline, Cid joins the crew long before they make it to the City of Ancients. Rebirth has a ton of ground to cover, however. Either Cid is being held back for a later reveal or his content has been moved to a later part of the trilogy’s story.
Cloud can swim
Players can get some laps in around Junon if they want, the demos confirmed. Whether there will be anything to discover or fight in the water remains to be seen. Will the spikey-haired punk get an alternate speedo costume? He’d better.
The Junon dolphin is back
Swimming will also be crucial for one of the most memorable scenes from the early part of Final Fantasy VII: riding a dolphin to the upper layer of the Junon military base. Simply called Mr. Dolphin in the original, he looks great in 4K and his return shows Square Enix isn’t shying away from the 1997 version’s absurd mini-games.
Here’s Red XIII riding a chocobo
I can’t believe this is real.
You can pet the baby chocobo chicks
Chocobo breeding returns in Rebirth, complete with blue, green, and golden chocobos. But there are also chocobo chicks, they are adorable, and Cloud can pet them. It’s a beautiful Kodak moment before he hauls them off to the Gold Saucer racetrack.
Zack will get an entire episode to himself
Cloud’s First Class SOLDIER friend had a very minor role in the 1997 game but it expanded significantly in subsequent adaptations and spin-offs, most notably Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. Kitase told IGN that the black-haired swordsman will be getting a lot more facetime in Rebirth. “There will be a new episode with Zack, that will contain even more of him than the Remake,” he said. “I’m not able to say much more than this as I would like for players to play and experience this with it in their own hands.”
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