All the latest details that Square Enix has released in the past week on their upcoming title are bringing smiles — or even tears — to those who spent their younger years with the classic PlayStation title.
Tiny Bronco? Check. Cosmo Canyon? Check. Golden Saucer? Check. The Forgotten City? Check. Weapons? Check. Junon? Check. Vincent Valentine? Check. Mini-games? Check. Nibelheim flashback? Check. Coloured Chocobos, each with their own separate abilities? Check. A glorious world map? Check. All this and more in glorious HD visuals and with limited loading times thanks to the power of the PlayStation 5? Check.
If you’re unfamiliar with terms listed above, it’s possible you’re not deeply acquainted with the world of Final Fantasy VII. However, for those who understand and have grown up with these terms, this past week has been nothing short of glorious and full of wins.
Many people and fans of the original game, which was first released back in 1997 on the first PlayStation console and featured an expansive open world, had expressed serious doubts on whether the development team could encapsulate that world with modern-day tech, considering how much data that would require.
The first part of the Final Fantasy VII Remake project (which was simply titled Final Fantasy VII Remake) only focused on the events taking place in the — admittedly large — city of Midgar, including none of the other towns in FF VII’s world (apart from flashback scenes).
Now, with protagonist Cloud Strife and his band of ragtag adventurers escaping from the industrial metropolis, there’s supposed to be a variety of areas they can visit and new adventures that await them — at least according to the scenario of the original game.
Can That Massive World Fit Into a Single Game? Yes!
A recurring concern voiced by fans is how to translate such an expansive world into a game using modern-day technology. Is it even possible to include everything as it is? Would this require breaking it down into so many pieces that it might possibly become unrecognizable?
Turns out, there was nothing to be concerned about!
There had been an extended period of relative silence, primarily to prioritize the game’s development and also to shine a spotlight on other titles like Final Fantasy XVI and the upcoming expansion for Final Fantasy XIV called Dawntrail. But finally, Square Enix’s Creative Business Unit One, led by Final Fantasy Brand Manager Yoshinori Kitase, returned to the forefront at this year’s Tokyo Game Show, where they revealed the exciting developments on which they’ve been working.
The second game of the FF VII Remake project, titled Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, convinced players to put all their troubles aside and get excited after seeing what the developers showed during the last week. The developers have gone above and beyond to ensure that the legacy of one of their most significant — if not the most significant — titles not only remains intact but goes even further beyond that to draw in a whole new audience of gamers and make them realise what made the original so great.
According to game directors Tetsuya Nomura and Naoki Hamaguchi, the game will follow the story up to the events of the Forgotten City (or Forgotten Capital), at which one of the most well-known events in the history of gaming itself takes place.
This implies that the game will feature a remarkable array of cities and locales, waiting to be visited and explored, each boasting its unique backdrop, history, and culture. Take, for instance, Costa Del Sol and North Corel, which serve as excellent examples. These two areas, though relatively close on the world map (in the original game, at least), couldn’t be more different. The former is a holiday town for the wealthy, complete with beach bars and upscale hotels, while the latter is a rundown mining town, ruined by the aftermath of a Mako reactor explosion (Mako = planet’s energy source).
So how will all of this be connected in Rebirth? How will players be able to travel from one place to another?
During Saturday’s live presentation from the Tokyo Game Show, FF VII Remake director Naoki Hamaguchi confirmed that the world map of the original game will be brought back on a 1:1 scale, so players will be able to travel from one place to another. Players will revisit the familiar world map from nearly three decades ago, now rendered in high definition.
As if that wasn’t enough, all cities will be on the map and players will be able to go in and out as they please with no loading times at all. Honestly, this sounds too good to be true for a game as huge as Final Fantasy VII. Hamaguchi-san continued to put the fears of many fans to rest with the screenshots he showed, confirming all of this. For example, the city of Junon is in the continent's southwest on the map, just as it was in the original game.
What Awaits Us in Rebirth? Far Beyond Our Wildest Expectations!
Besides discussing the expanded battle system, which builds upon what’s already introduced in the first game by bringing in Synergy Abilities (a feature that initially felt somewhat alienating to me but is sure to become familiar with time), the development team has also unveiled many other crucial and eagerly awaited elements of the game.
Among these features are mini-games, providing players with a wide variety of entertainment experiences within the world. Most of these mini-games will be found at the Gold Saucer amusement park, a location Cloud and his companions will explore during their journey. However, there are additional mini-games scattered throughout the game. The development team has gone the extra mile, introducing several new mini-games, including the card game “Queen’s Blood.” This is bound to distract players to the point they might even forget about the main storyline itself! Of course, beloved classics like Chocobo Racing, 3D Brawler, Mog House, and G Bike will also make a return. Oh, and if you sneak into Tifa’s room, you’ll even have the chance to play the piano!
The Nibelheim flashback sequence has been extensively shown off during these last few days, revealing that players will be able to control FF VII’s main antagonist Sephiroth during that time. It’s heavily rumoured that will be the game’s opening, based on the events of FF VII Remake’s DLC episode Intergrade, but nothing has been confirmed.
It’s worth mentioning that, in the original, Sephiroth accompanied Cloud during the flashback, but could not be controlled by the player and took action independently.
Some additional elements have also been revealed, apart from new mini-games and Synergy Abilities, such as the Item Craft skill. This allows the player to combine materials they find in the field to create useful items such as Potions, Phoenix Downs, or Elixirs.
Chadley from the first entry of the Remake project will also make a comeback and he throws in a few... Zelda-like elements to the mix! More to the point, he will instruct the crew to locate Communication Towers to which he can link up and identify areas of interest on the world map for Cloud and his companions. This is similar to how Link can find points of interest via the Skyview Towers in Breath Of The Wild and Tears Of The Kingdom. I don’t see Cloud being blasted through the sky or paragliding... not yet, at least!
Chocobos will also be used and interacted with in various different ways. For example, players will head to the notorious Chocobo Ranch where Choco Billy (who’s also making a comeback from the original!) will task the player with locating one of his runaway birds. Players will need to follow the tracks (again, just like the original) to find the Chocobo, then there’s a little mini-game during which they’ll need to catch it off-guard in order to capture it. Once players have their own Chocobo to ride, it’ll sometimes be able to sniff out hidden treasures in the ground for them (this ability is more reminiscent of FF IX’s “hot-and-cold”, but we’ll take it)!
Subquests are also making a comeback and we will find requests for help on bulletin boards inside towns such as Kalm (the first city players will visit after the Nibelheim flashback.) Subquests will focus on different members of the party (there will be seven playable and two guest characters) and strengthen the bond between them.
When it comes to the characters, they have confirmed that FF VII Rebirth will feature all the essential party members from the original game. Cloud, Tifa, Aerith, Barret, and the guest character Red XIII will be joined by Yuffie from episode Intergrade. Yuffie will become a part of the group early on in one of the first towns they visit, however, in a different location compared to the original game. Additionally, the robotic animal Cait Sith will make an appearance. As for Vincent Valentine and Cid Highwind, they will assume guest roles in a manner similar to Red XIII in the first game.
Also, the developers confirmed that some characters from the compilation of FF VII will appear in the game, which will give hardcore fans another thing to look forward to. Based on the appearance of Weiss and Nero in episode Intergrade, there’s no telling where these characters might come from or who they might be.
Is This Too Good To Be True? Nope!
These new features and details have all the makings of an incredible game. Players will enjoy FF VII Rebirth as a standalone title, with no prior connection to the series.
For those who have been, for literally decades, dreaming of a remake and for these areas and characters to be brought to life like this, this can only describe this as ear candy.
This is a dream come true, one we never dared to hope for but secretly kept in the back of our minds. If the first installment of the Remake project breathed life into these once-forbidden dreams, Rebirth not only gives them wings but sends them soaring to heights we never thought possible.
Obviously, this game is a labor of love from a development team deeply connected to the original game. It’s crafted with that specific audience in mind, yet it also serves as a bridge to introduce a whole new generation to the magic that captivated so many, not only with the game itself but with the entire franchise.
It’s the characters, the areas, the world, the mini-games, the music, the story... it’s all this wrapped up in a neat little package. This is much bigger than we could ever imagine!
To think this is only part two of the trilogy. What else will they come up with? Guess we’ll have to wait and see. Until then, we will all look forward to Rebirth!
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