The Final Fantasy series is one of gaming’s most long running series and up to this point has already spanned numerous generations and is undoubtedly a bigger franchise right now than its ever been. Amongst the franchises many entries, it’s widely accepted that Final Fantasy 7 is one of the most popular and is definitely the deepest explored, with that entry alone spanning across multiple games, movies, spin offs, the recent mobile entry and of course the long awaited remake, a trilogy of games that kicked off with Final Fantasy 7 Remake in 2020.
I recently got to go hands on with the second entry in the remake series, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth and came away knowing that I can’t wait to get my hands on more of it, and that it’s also going to be a game that is going to excite so many Final Fantasy fans. If this demo is anything to go by, Rebirth is going to be packed with some great surprises and plenty of fan service moments that fans of the series are going to love.
My hands on time was split across 2 separate vertical slices of the game and very quickly confirmed something that has been long requested by FF7 fans and that was hinted at during the recent release date reveal trailer. Yes, Sephiroth is going to be playable in Rebirth!
The first demo I got to play, titled ‘The Fated Mt Nibel Mission’ is set in the past and has a younger Cloud, Sephiroth and Tifa adventuring through the Nibel mountainside toward a Mako source. The area featured a number of smaller combat encounters, world traversal where Cloud puts his mountain climbing skills to the test and reaches its climax with a boss battle against a Materia Keeper, a creature that fans of the original game may be familiar with. Given he was the shiny new toy, I spent most of the combat encounters switching over to Sephiroth to get a good look at his skillset, his special moves and his flashy fast paced sword slices.
The combat system itself in Revirth is built upon what was used in Remake, so players of the first entry will be able to pick it up super quick. It retains the ATB combat mechanics and allows for quick switching between party members and the ability to have time slowed down when issuing commands to provide a further layer of strategy to a system that on its own is quite fast paced and action oriented. Introduced here is a new Synergy Abilities area where party members are able to perform special group abilities where they come together to perform larger scale attacks together that deal bigger damage and also help fill each character’s Limit gauge, which as we know, let’s us use each character’s most useful and flashiest attacks. And yes Sephiroth also has his own Synergy and Limit Break attacks and they look just as awesome as you would expect.
Where the first demo was more linear in design and acted more as a reintroduction to this world and it’s systems, the second demo titled ‘The Open Wilds of Junon’ was as the name suggests, a lot more open in design and gave a look at how Rebirth may be treating its larger scale open areas.
This section had Cloud and his current party travelling through the Junon portion of the game and gave me the ability to freely explore this area, seeing the creatures that inhabit it, converse with my other party members and also explore to find scattered collectibles. This demo also let me ride on The back of a Chocobo and not only does it help in getting across the world faster than walking, it also feels great to manoeuvre, with a nice sense of weight and who doesn’t love Chocobos? I was a little thrown back that there was no jump button for the Chocobo, at least in what I played especially coming off the back of FF16 but based on the recent trailer, it looks like the game may feature multiple types of Chocobo, each with different skills so who knows what may feature in the final game.
This demo culminates in the party reachin a village where I was quickly directed to rescue a person in distress down by the bank of the waterways surrounding the town. This lead to Rebirth’s version of the Bottomswell boss from the original game and had me fight against the large water serpent fish using my party of Cloud, Aerith and Red XIII, but does have the ability to customise your own party load out to your liking. Red XIII is newly playable, after only joining the crew at the end of Remake and comes with their own skill set too. Guarding attacks fills up Red XIII’s Vengeance Gauge which can then be consumed to increase his attack power and dodge speed, allowing him to act like a bit of a tank that can be unleashed once he gets all worked up. I loved that with him, along with Sephiroth that the new characters feel different to play and have their own unique strengths and reason to have a spot in your preferred party, providing a reason to also change up your playstyle to suit the situation. I’m keen to see who else may join us in the full game and how they may play.
Overall, my time with Rebieth has me very excited to see what the full game is going to offer and how it’s going to change things up compared to the experience we’re familiar with from OG FF7. The experience was really polished overall and looks and plays just as great as Remake did. Square Enix continue to be the masters of cinematic cutscenes. Despite being still about 5 months away, the sections I played seemed really polished and had fully implemented English dialogue and translated menus and interfaces.
Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is set to launch on Feb 29th next year and based on what I’ve played so far, it’s set to be full of plenty of surprises for new and old fans of the series.
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