Final Fantasy VII Rebirth for PS5: First Impressions


Just a few weeks before its release, we had the opportunity to play Final Fantasy VII Rebirth again, the highly anticipated sequel for PS5 of Final Fantasy VII Remake and the reinterpretation of one of the most legendary RPGs of all time.

You may recall that a few months ago we tried Final Fantasy VII Rebirth for the first time, specifically the famous Nibelheim flashback and the moments before arriving in Bajo Junon. If you didn’t have the chance to take a look, you can find our impressions here.

This time, Square Enix and Plaion allowed us to play the first four hours of the story, so we already know how the adventure begins, but also how some of its great novelties work: progression systems, side missions, affinity with the characters… Even mini-games!

In fact, we were very surprised by this new approach to Final Fantasy VII Rebirth thanks to its multiple novelties and improvements compared to Remake. Here are our impressions.

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This presentation consisted of the first two chapters of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. We won’t talk too much about the first one because we’ve already done it: it was once again the Nibelheim flashback, a key moment of Final Fantasy VII that helps us to get to know Cloud and Sephiroth better. Especially the latter, as we are allowed to control him in combat.

As we have already talked about this part in our first impressions, we won’t dwell on it. Moreover, by the time you’re reading this, a demo will have been released allowing you to play this same section, so it doesn’t make much sense to talk about it.

The only thing we will say is that we were able to see both the beginning and the end of the flashback and we believe that they have done a great job adapting it, delving into the parts that needed it most to give more meaning to the scene. We especially liked the way we witnessed the mental decline of the villain and how everything has been transferred to the playable level.

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Once the flashback was concluded, we returned to the present to begin Chapter 2, with the group composed of Cloud, Tifa, Barret, Aeris, and Red XIII gathered in the “town” of Kalm. And we say “town” because in FFVII Rebirth, Kalm is more of a city: the four pre-rendered backgrounds from the original have given way here to a large location where it was easy to get lost.

We were very impressed by how well the setting was achieved: wherever we went, there were NPCs with different animations and behaviors, holding conversations, or even attending a kind of group dance in the town square. Life in Kalm was palpable.

And inevitably we wonder: if Kalm, which is a small and passing location in the original game, has been recreated in this way, how will places like Junon or Gold Saucer be? Of course, this serves to give an idea of how much Final Fantasy VII Rebirth expands the content of the original and expands it in new directions.

Speaking of novelties, we won’t touch much on the storyline part because we know you don’t want spoilers… But we have to say that in these first hours, a good amount of additions can already be appreciated which, in general, remain faithful to the story and, as in Final Fantasy VII Remake, serve to better understand the characters.

But we also saw that certain parts have been altered to refer to major revelations that in the original game take place much later in the plot. It’s not a change for the worse, as it makes a lot of sense within the context, but it’s quite surprising and will surely be the topic of much discussion. We’re looking forward to seeing how they develop it.

It’s worth noting that the characterization of the characters is once again one of the strong points: the way they speak, their gestures, the expressiveness in every movement they make… Everything is taken care of to the highest level; just watching a dialogue in FFVII Rebirth is a delight.

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Chapter 2 also serves to introduce a good number of innovations, starting with Blood of the Queen. It’s a fairly entertaining card minigame with a lot of depth, which has all the makings of becoming one of the great optional pastimes of the adventure.

Like in Final Fantasy VIII, in some locations, we will find NPCs willing to play who will reward us with new cards if we defeat them.

Another novelty we found is the group level, because in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, in addition to the individual levels of each character, there is a common level for all. By increasing it gaining experience, we gain access to new improvements in the skill manuals.

In Kalm, we also introduced the affinity system. Because in Rebirth, there will be occasions when we will have to make decisions during dialogues (with a time limit!); depending on our response, Cloud’s affinity with the characters in the group will change, something that is represented by a system of “smiley faces”.

It wouldn’t be far-fetched to think that this system will decide who accompanies Cloud during the date at Gold Saucer, another key moment of the original game, although we wonder if it will also have an effect on other storyline sequences…

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We also found novelties in the weapons, as well as having spaces to fit materia, they now have other kinds of slots where we can place cores with different effects, such as increasing the damage of skills or maximum vitality. When leveling up the weapons, the number of slots increases and, with it, the options for customization.

Now, if we don’t want to complicate things, we have the option to activate automatic weapon enhancement and choose from three priorities: offensive, defensive, or balanced.

We liked the inclusion of all these systems very much, because even though they are not overly complex, they represent a greater degree of customization, which in the end is where the RPG aspect of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is most appreciated after its transition to action.

And speaking of action, after overcoming the events in Kalm, it was time to go out into the open world. Technically it’s not open world, but the reality is that it felt like one at all levels, as a vast plain opened up before us.

The scenario was huge, but also very dense. The kind of open scenario where you feel a bit overwhelmed seeing all the things there are to do, and at the same time, you want to do everything.

This freedom has also led to the inclusion of elements typical of open-world games, such as the “famous” observation towers that show points of interest on the map.

Of course, as we explored, we came across several groups of monsters and, although there are no random encounters, if we attack before the enemy alert bar fills up, we can carry out a preemptive attack that causes more damage.

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By the way, we already saw this in Final Fantasy VII Remake, but the way the exploration melody dynamically transforms into an action melody when entering combat is amazing. Especially in this case, because it was the main theme of Final Fantasy VII.

If we’re being honest, we spent so much time in Chapter 1 and in Kalm that we hardly had time to explore the open scenario that lay before us.

So we missed out on things like combat simulators, photography missions, the mini-game to catch Chocobos, stealth phases, and side missions with their own mechanics, such as picking flowers with Aeris or collecting crystallized life stream fragments.

But that is a good indication of the size that Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is going to have, because what we played seemed huge, much bigger than we expected. The amount of things to do and see is overwhelming… And that’s talking about one of the open areas of the game!

And likewise, the improvement over FFVII Remake is much greater than we imagined. It’s as if they didn’t want to save anything for the next game and gave absolutely everything with this installment.

We even saw it quite a bit better on a visual level, and that its predecessor was already a very powerful game (doors and .jpg backgrounds aside). We were surprised by the increase in the level of detail of the character models outside of video scenes… And inside video scenes, we won’t even tell you.

That said, there are also some aspects that we didn’t like as much, mainly the game’s tendency to slow down the action during story sequences, forcing us to walk extremely slowly or repeat certain actions (like turning a valve) more times than necessary.

But it’s still a very small flaw within a set that looks at an extraordinary level. We were already very excited about it, but after this new approach we can’t stop thinking about Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.

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