The love-it-or-loathe-it ending of Final Fantasy VII Remake left fans guessing what Square Enix would reveal at a recent preview event as it brings Cloud Strife and friends back to the modern era. Sephiroth will team up with Cloud in flashbacks, as in the original game, but the mic drop reveal is he’s playable. You can use the villain as your main in combat and perform all the villain’s deadly attacks. It was the highlight of an hour-long demo showing Final Fantasy VII Rebirth expands its world while retaining its linear corridors.
The PS5 demo we played had two scenarios: one explored Mt. Nibel as Cloud and Sephiroth investigated a failing Mako Reactor, and the other explored Junon’s plains. They show how Square Enix focuses on storytelling in Final Fantasy VII and expands what’s possible when detouring from the main path.
As in Final Fantasy VII Remake, Cloud and Sephiroth follow extremely linear paths to the objective marker, claiming items and objects and completing one-time minigames. We saw one involve moving a machine to catch all the Mako gas. The minigame almost felt comedic in the demo’s limited scope (we don’t know what came before it), recalling the crane puzzles in the first PS5, PS4 game’s Collapsed Expressway.
Tifa, wearing a cowboy hat, led Cloud and Sephiroth up Mt. Nibel, offering few new thrills. Only one linear route up and through the mountain existed, with some shimmying and odd corridors. The combat system gave us something new to celebrate.
The PS5 sequel brings back Final Fantasy VII Remake’s abilities, Limit Breaks, slashes, and swipes, along with Synergy Skills. These new, flashy abilities let two party members team up for a powerful attack. You use your base powers like elemental spells and Cloud’s Triple Slash and Braver often in battle. They are one step below a Limit Break in power and usage, allowing you to deal damage quickly.
These skills are useful for applying pressure to an enemy and staggering it, especially for the new Fiend Sightings around Junon. This RPG lets you explore larger areas and do side quests and optional content at certain points in the campaign. Our demo featured Fiend Sightings with Cloud, Aerith, Tifa, Barrett, or Red XIII as a trio. You can use custom chocobos to travel across a larger map, and Fiend Sightings were simple combat encounters with quick objectives. This included staggering an enemy and defeating them before the on-screen time limit expired.
Although they were simple, Square Enix said the map’s content wasn’t complete and there would be more in the final game. Complete these quests for Regional Data and Intel. The second half of the demo was only 25 minutes, so we didn’t see their uses.
That may reflect the Final Fantasy VII Rebirth preview as a whole: a grand teaser for Square Enix’s plans for PS5 owners next year, but there wasn’t enough meat to draw any conclusions. Other than playing Sephiroth. By showing us a little of its linearity and some open-ended exploration, the publisher appears to have built its next PS5 heavyweight around the story and then used PS1 source material where possible. Like the Midgar of Final Fantasy VII Remake, you’ll spend more time in the story’s most iconic locations with more to see and do. We don’t know what else a Final Fantasy VII fan wants.
Final Fantasy VII Rebirth will be a PS5 exclusive on February 29, 2024. Are you eager to return to Square Enix’s 2020 remake?