When you’re a Final Fantasy VII fan like I am, having to get any sort of hands-on time with Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is just pure happiness. So when I was told that we would be able to participate in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Preview where we would be able to play the game for a solid NINE HOURS, I had to pinch myself to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming or have already gone to heaven. Yes, that’s correct. In a special media event held in the Square Enix office in Japan, we got to try the game again after our initial experience with it in Tokyo Game Show 2023. This time, we definitely got a more in-depth look. Here are my Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Preview impressions.
A Whole New (Open) World
This looked to be the whole focus of this preview – a solid experience into what Final Fantasy VII Rebirth’s Open World experience is like. Yes, I said we were given 9 hours for the whole experience but this experience went only as far as chapter 2… and I wasn’t even finished with everything that could be done. True to what the devs promised, they have indeed recreated and even enhanced the open world experience by filling it with various activities for players to enjoy. What I loved about this was that the side quests didn’t even feel like a simple checklist of things to do. The quests I encountered all were worthwhile with each one contributing to the lore of the game and the characters.
The area that we explored was mostly the area surrounding Midgar, Kalm, the Chocobo Ranch, and the swamp of the Midgardsormr (previously known as the Midgar Zolom from the OG FF7). This area was practically filled to the brim with stuff to do. Simply running around is rewarding as there’s always something worth exploring in the area – whether you would find something that you can interact with, a treasure to be opened, a Chocobo stop to restore to establish fast travel points, and more.
OG fans may recall that this part of the game was literally just a bunch of open plains for random encounters and the only points of interest here would be Kalm, the Chocobo Ranch, the sinister Midgar Zolom Swamp, the Chocobo tracks for capturing Chocobos. Rebirth does an excellent job at recreating this area and filled it with much more substance. First off, everything in the area is visually stunning and… made sense. One of my biggest qualms about the FF15 open world was how, while there were cars travelling around, the landscape around didn’t seem to make sense why people WERE travelling the way they were depicted. There was practically one main town and all other places where normal people would go were gas stations and each had 1 trailer for people to stay. It was one of those things that just really broke the immersion for me at times. FF7 Rebirth’s open world, at least from what I saw, doesn’t feel that way at all. Everything feels lived-in. Kalm was elevated to a bigger town that has a lot going on inside it. The open world areas featured side areas with small houses where people would gather. There are even Mako pipes which makes sense because of Midgar’s proximity to these areas. The areas just make sense which makes exploring them all the better.
While I wasn’t able to do everything, the quests I DID end up doing were amazingly fun. Rebirth brings back the tradition of FF games having a card game sidequest in the form of the game “Queen’s Blood”. It’s a fun mini game that lets you challenge certain NPCs which will win you more cards to strengthen your own deck. The mechanics are easy to grasp but also have a high enough skill ceiling that allows for various deck builds / combinations. Chadley is also back and still offers some VR matches for you to participate in. Additionally, he also gives you a bunch of open world sidquests for data gathering and will reward you with awesome loot as well as reveal to you others things that you can do you in your area. There’s even an additional caveat with Chadley’s VR battles. Basically, we had a quest to defeat Titan in his VR simulation to win the Titan Summon Materia but, if you just straight up fight him, he will be amazingly difficult to down. Chadley then gives you the alternative of discovering Divine Intel about Titan found in the open world. Doing so will give you more lore about Titan and its relationship to the world as well as weaken the VR Titan allowing you to beat him down easier.
With so much to do, you may think that this may cause side quest fatigue. We actually did speak to the devs about this and they did assure that they made each quest to be as meaningful as possible so that it didn’t feel like you were just crossing stuff out of a list. Plus they added a feature where you would get an indicator of how many more sidequests there are in the particular area you’re in which, at least, does help. By being transparent about how many quests are still there, the feeling of things just being never-ending which does cause fatigue.
An Enhanced Experience
Overall this, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth succeeds in creating an elevated experience for players. While we did mention that the open world has been upgraded to suit modern standards, the story is also much more fleshed out. Kalm, for example, didn’t just get a graphical face-lift. They made sure that the city itself was much more developed. Every small story beat was given much more meaning and cohesion to the overall world of the game. Old characters like Chocobo Billy who were just really side NPCs have been given way more personality and Remake characters like Chadley continue to be fleshed out.
Rebirth will hit twice as hard for people who were able to play and finish the original Final Fantasy VII as you can compare the various areas as see how Remake has improved upon them. There’s even a small story detail with the Midgardsormr that made me audibly gasp as I kept comparing the scene of the original in my head. Based on everything that we’ve seen and experienced, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is the game that fans have been waiting on for so long. It revives the open world experience, the story, the setting, and more from the original game and gives us the modern version that we’ve all wanted to see – all while keeping the spirit of the game intact. Add that to the fact that the story of Remake and Rebirth are technically sequels of the original and can go in a vastly different direction, I can’t wait any longer to play this game. Fans are hyped and excited – rightfully so. I’m glad to tell all of you that from these snippets of the game, we’re hopefully on the right track to another masterful game. Fingers crossed that the game sticks the landing.
Final Fantasy VII Rebirth comes out for the PlayStation 5 on February 29, 2024.