Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth put on quite a show during the September 2023 PlayStation State of Play. When I wasn't yelling at my screen about the fact that Cloud was riding around on a segway (which was undoubtedly the highlight of the whole showcase), I was appreciating all of the character appearances – hello, Vincent Valentine – mini-games, and locations on display. It's clear from this trailer alone that Rebirth is going way bigger than Final Fantasy 7 Remake in more ways than one. In fact, following the event, director Naoki Hamaguchi promised in a post that we can expect "nearly 100 hours of adventure", which is an absolutely massive proposition for what is essentially the second part of Cloud and co's adventure in all but name.
But that's the key point, it may well be a continuation of the shiny 2020 Remake, but the more I see and hear of Rebirth, the more I realize it really will be a beast of its own – building on what came before, while also expanding on the experience with oodles of side content, new features in combat, and more locales to explore as we step out beyond Midgar. Set to come on two discs with a release date announced for February 2024, the latest trailer really does speak to what the team Square Enix previously announced. As Hamaguchi reiterated in an official PlayStation blog: "The Final Fantasy VII remake project will be a trilogy and that each entry will be a standalone game in its own right."
Broadening Cloud's horizons
Even now, it seems kind of wild to me that Final Fantasy 7 will become a sprawling trilogy. Sure, the original 1997 boasted impressive scale – especially for its day, and there's still plenty to tuck into – but presenting each entry as a "standalone game in its own right" does make me wonder how the story will play out and wrap up in the next installment. I can't confidently speculate to that end, but from how much Rebirth appears to promise, I can see how the team is striving to deliver a hearty experience that stands on its own two legs. The next part of Cloud's adventure was always going to be bigger all things considered. The original did a great job of opening up the world to us after the opening section of the game, with a world map that blew my tiny mind at a young age.
As Final Fantasy 7 Remake came to a close, we were left with the promise of heading out into the wider world in pursuit of Sephiroth. As the latest trailers have showcased this year, we'll be going to more open environments, and longtime fans can expect to visit some beloved landmark locations from the 1997 experience such as The Gold Saucer. But it's evident that exploration is going to play a big part in Rebirth to try to recapture and modernize the sense of scale presented in the original.
During the trailer, we see Cloud traversing various locales, including one instance that has him scaling up a stoney cliff face on the back of a chocobo… And who could forget that Segway? (I never will). It seems it's not just going to be all about the places we can explore, but also how we can explore them. Hamaguchi explained in the PlayStation blog that the team set out to recreate "the massive Final Fantasy 7 world map that would also incorporate places such as towns and dungeons within itself".
Hamaguchi adds: "To do this, we dug deeply into the feeling of each different region and reflected that in the graphics, creating areas that look and feel quite diverse. On top of that, we designed chocobos unique to each region that have their abilities (e.g. mountain chocobos that can climb sheer cliffs and sky chocobos that can fly), so players will need to utilize their chocobos to fully explore each area."
Whether it's climbing up cliffs, flying through the air, or tootling along on a segway (which could be a mini-game, but I truly hope I can use it often), Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth already sounds like its upping the scales in terms of where we can go and what we'll be able to do. But that doesn't just begin and end with exploration and an expanded world setting. I'm already hyped to see the Remake's take on one of the most memorable locations in the original: The Gold Saucer, and that's mainly because of the mini-games it's home to.
After reading what Hamaguchi had to say about the amount of mini-games in Rebirth (that promise to distract ourselves from Cloud shenanigans), well, let's just say he's really talking my language:
"I think a lot of fans who point to the number and variety of mini games as one of the draws of the original Final Fantasy 7, but for Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth we have gone all-out and created a huge number of mini games on a scale that surpasses even the original!" Hamaguchi states in the blog. "Many of these mini games can be experienced in the main story, but we also have lots of unique games and challenges that appear as part of the side stories you can find as you explore the world map. There might well be players who get so caught up in all the fun mini games that they find they aren't making progress in the main story…"
If the mini games deliver, I'm sure I'll be one such player. There was so much packed into the latest trailer to get excited about, from the introduction of characters such as Cait Sith and Vincent Valentine, to combat that has been fleshed out with new abilities, Materia, summons, and more. But time and again it impressed upon me the fact that this is a new dawn for Final Fantasy 7, one that will see it grow larger and offer us more time with the cast of lovable characters. There are still so many questions surrounding the story and where it might end up, and who knows how it will all land when it releases next year, but it looks like we're in for one big adventure in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth.
Keep track of everything ahead with our roundup of upcoming PS5 games.