When followers first heard that Closing Fantasy 7 Remake was to be the primary entry in a multi-part saga, some have been disillusioned. However the fact is, breaking the story of FF7 into a number of ‘remade’ titles could be top-of-the-line choices Sq. Enix has ever made.
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I imply, certain. It’s good for the underside line, make no mistake. Why cost as soon as when you may cost thrice? However that’s the cynical viewpoint – and when you’ve reached the tip of 2020’s FF7 Remake, you’ll know that there’s extra to this than merely a remake of a 90s traditional. That provides greater than sufficient story latitude for the corporate to concoct one thing irresistible – and in a primary hands-on, Closing Fantasy 7 Rebirth is a tantalizing trace of what's to return.
On this demo (which this week will probably be playable to the general public at Tokyo Recreation Present), gamers get to decide on between two completely different situations. One is a flashback scene that clearly will probably be positioned early within the sport, displaying a younger Cloud and Sephiroth allied as they ascend the perilous Mount Nibel to be able to examine a broken Mako Reactor. The opposite is from in all probability just a few hours later, and more than likely represents the primary of FF7 Rebirth’s main ‘open’ areas, giving the get together a reasonably expansive zone on the outskirts of the gun-toting metropolis of Junon to discover.
Larger, higher, bolder.
The selection of those two segments speaks to FF7 Rebirth’s possible construction, which more than likely will match the primary sport. That's to say, it’ll function linear roller-coaster like motion phases that take you on an exhilarating journey with all the design hallmarks of a Name of Obligation marketing campaign mission, simply with swords and magic. These will probably be offset by flippantly open-ended areas that aren’t fairly open world, however extra like open ‘zone’; modest-to-large areas the place you’re given the selection of meandering round to undertake facet actions or just heading proper to the following story goal.
The Nibelheim flashback seems to be the primary kind of chapter, and shares a lot in widespread with FF7 Remake’s explosive opening Mako Reactor journey. Blue glyphs litter the setting to inform you that sure, you may scale this explicit rock, and the sport recurrently invitations you off the overwhelmed path to an inevitable useless finish the place there’ll be a chest or another vaguely ineffective trinket to choose up. Cutscenes punctuate transitions from one a part of the stage to the following, and finally it’s topped off with a boss encounter the place our lead and his companion supply chatty banter as they battle a hulking foe that's virtually designed to show you fight fundamentals and check your means to regulate two characters and exploit weaknesses. It’s very related.
The open-ended space is the place FF7 Rebirth flexes its new-generation muscle groups, nevertheless. The world surrounding Junon is large, and basically represents a chunk of the FF7 world that has by no means ‘correctly’ appeared in a sport earlier than. This was an space of the ‘world map’ within the authentic sport, the place you’d plod your blocky boots throughout it to be able to attain the following lovely pre-rendered locale. It was fundamental. Right here, it’s a fully-realized world – a dusty, arid zone with occasional pockets of inexperienced to interrupt it up and a shoreline littered by rusting shipwrecks.
Take a segue to some facet content material.
From the place at which this a part of the hands-on begins, with the Mythril Mines behind you, the following story goal is round 620 meters away. For the file, when you wished to bee-line this, it’d take you a few minutes on a Chocobo, and just a little longer on foot. To try this principally takes you across the outskirts of the world – however you may wander deeper, right into a zone that feels extra like a smaller and self-enclosed model of, say, Closing Fantasy 15’s ‘Duscae’ than any of the areas of FF16, which largely really feel pretty claustrophobic and uninhabited by comparability.
The distinction, I suppose, is within the open-ended nature of the design. There was annoyingly no on-screen mini-map on this open zone (curiously, the linear stage has one), but when there have been one, you’d see an important massive blob of explorable space versus smaller splodges related by corridors, which is how a lot of FF7 Remake’s open-ended slums zones have been designed.
This seems like each an embracing of how the unique FF7’s story and worldview opened up upon leaving Midgar and a direct response to the commentary round FF7 Remake’s comparatively weak open-ended chapters. There’s stuff to do in these plains, together with hunts, a Chocobo Farm to go to that wasn’t within the authentic sport (full with the power to equipment your birds out with outfits and equipment), Child Chocobos to help, and a handful of NPCs to fulfill.
The hunts are in all probability probably the most fascinating piece of facet content material current within the zone, and are fairly easy. You strategy a marker utilizing a compass heading, and also you’ll discover a ‘fiend’. This seems to be a strong or differentiated model of an current enemy, and when you get shut sufficient to provoke the battle, you’ll be offered with just a few optionally available bonuses for the battle. For example, one pair of targets tasked me with staggering one in every of them, defeating them inside a sure time restrict, and stopping them from utilizing a selected transfer. It looks as if there’s an honest quantity of problem to these items to encourage making an attempt these battles not less than a few occasions, and on this Junon space the UI flagged 4 completely different hunts; I think about later areas will function related setups.
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Hunt or not, when you’re in fight, it’s all fairly acquainted. FF7 Remake had a beautiful fight system that was for my cash probably the most potent imaginative and prescient of respecting Closing Fantasy’s ‘Lively Time Battle’ heritage in a contemporary motion sport. And if it ain’t broke, they’re not going to repair it. You possibly can count on new strikes, new materia, and enhanced or all-new abilities. On this construct there have been new characters: Sephiroth, who seemingly will solely be playable for a scorching minute, and Crimson XIII, who will probably be a full-time get together member. Yuffie will be a part of later, however wasn’t playable on this demo – and we now know Cait Sith will probably be, too. That brings the core get together members to seven, plus Sephiroth, and more than likely Zack. 9 ain’t unhealthy; over double FF7 Remake. However the cadence and circulation of fight is just about equivalent.
Sephiroth offers you wing.
The largest fight addition for Rebirth, not less than on this demo, isn’t even technically new. Staff-up ‘Synergy Skills’ enable two characters to ship devastating blows as a duo once in a while, with the frequency primarily based on utilizing different battle abilities first. However team-up assaults have been current in Episode Intermission, the PS5-only DLC story for FF7 Remake.
The promise, then, is to flesh the sport out in different areas. Hints of which are ubiquitous on this demo. There’s a crafting system that permits you to accumulate supplies which litter the overworld, drop as hunt rewards, and might even be sniffed out and dug up by your Chocobo. Crafting is barely seemingly used to create fundamental gadgets like Potions and the like, however a Crafting EXP system suggests the extra you craft, the extra stuff you’ll be capable of create over time.
After which there’s that current trailer, which aired in a State of Play just a few days after I performed the sport. That trailer showcases the true promise: mini-games galore, all kinds of environments, extra enemies, simply… extra.
Polygon with the wind.
That is the promise of FF7 Rebirth. It’s fairly uncommon that Closing Fantasy’s builders get an opportunity to iterate. Often, they’re throwing all the things out from one sport to the following. Previous events the place they've iterated, just like the FF13 sequence, haven’t been deliberate – FF13 received sequels out of budget-balancing necessity, not due to a plan. This has all been deliberate and ready for, although. And you'll simply inform.
The result's a curious quantity of content material reuse, admittedly. Even battle barks – Aerith nonetheless hollers “Right here’s one for you!” when she slings a ranged spell, and sing-songs “I’m coming~!” whenever you change to direct management of her in fight, for example. I used to be fairly stunned to listen to a good bit of reused music, too – as you ascend Mt. Nibel, you’ll hear the identical reactor dungeon music from the unique sport. Each bosses used tracks from FF7 Remake, however with some new part transition stems. All that is theoretically superb, although – as a result of for all that's ‘reused’, there’s a hell of rather a lot right here that’s new.
However make no mistake: that is extra of the identical. Don’t count on something radical, not less than by way of the way it feels, performs, and even seems to be – it’s a wider-scoped, smoother-running, reasonably better-looking model of what we noticed on PS5 within the Intergrade re-release. I count on the left-field twists and turns to largely be saved for the story – and I count on in that space they’ll be plentiful.
It is all coming collectively.
When the sport that’s a foundation for this one is without doubt one of the greatest video games of 2020 – and sure, a greater sport than Closing Fantasy 16 – iterating isn't any unhealthy factor. FF7 Rebirth was already excessive up, however an hour with it has made it shoot to the highest of my most-anticipated checklist for 2024. It’s out on February 29, 2024, and is PS5 unique for not less than three months.