Thankfully, Rebirth is only a few months away now, and it’s set to be one of the biggest titles to release in 2024.
Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Hands-On Preview (PS5) – Rebirth Is Looking To Create The Ultimate Final Fantasy Experience
Bringing Back The Band
I got to go hands-on with Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth and became more excited about it than I already was. My demo consisted of two locations.
One was a more story-driven experience, which saw Cloud and Sephiroth tasked with investigating the Nibel Mako Reactor, which takes place on Mt. Nibel and which fans will recognize as a huge turning point for Sepiroth as a character.
This part of the demo was more story-driven and linear, but it was a great refresher to the game’s mechanics. The majority of Rebirth plays like you would remember from Remake.
The second part of the demo takes place right where Remake left off, with the party of Cloud and friends leaving Midgar and exploring the Junon region and introducing the more open areas of Rebirth, bringing back that familiar open-world experience from past Final Fantasy titles.
An Improved Flasher And Smoother Combat Experience
The Action combat returns but feels much smoother this time than it did in Remake. Your ATB gauge fills up as you fight, allowing you to pull off power-skill attacks.
You can press the X button, which goes into the tactical battle mode, slowing down time and allowing you to select various options through menus like issuing commands for your party members, allowing spells like Cure and Fire, or selecting multiple items to choose from to utilize.
Though combat feels familiar, there is one significant addition in the form of Synergy Attacks and Synergy Skills. These attacks see two party members team up to pull off some fantastic attacks.
You can use Synergy Skills from a quick menu, which provides a quick combo attack that usually involves one character imbuing another with power.
In contrast, Synergy Attacks are selected from the Tactical Menu and are a much more cinematic attack with a nifty little cutscene and flashy camera work.
Though I enjoyed the combat as much as I did in Remake, there were a few moments when the camera had a hard time following what was happening on screen.
Red XIII is now a fully playable and controllable character and is highly agile and fast. His attacks were so quick that, at times, he would move off scene attacking the enemy, and the camera would lag behind him to catch up to the action. I encounter the same issue with Tifa, but not to the same degree.
One very welcome addition is being able to set up quick parties. You can set up characters into party systems that you can switch to on the fly without having to go into a menu. Start a party with Cloud Tifa and Aerith and press a button on the d-pad to switch parties to Cloud, Barret, and Red XIII.
Open Exploration Opens Ups A Lot Of Material Hunting And Surprise Encounters
Exploration has gotten a much-needed overhaul with the more extensive open areas to explore. The open space around Junon is a wasteland with destroyed and burned-down towns and rocky terrain.
Cloud is still the only character you can control during exploration. Still, you can switch out who you control during combat.
While exploring, you can pick up material scattered around the world that can be used to craft items and healing potions. You’ll also be able to find Materia and combine it as you could in Remake, but that part of the game wasn’t available to me to try out in my Hands-On.
While exploring, you can ride Chocobo. The Chocobos can be used for faster traversal and customized with armor. I didn’t have much access to the armor, but from what I saw, you can add helmets, Leg armor, and equipment on their wings. It adds nothing to the gameplay but is just a visual accessory.
You’ll also encounter baby Chocobos, which are important because they lead you to fast-travel locations if you follow them. They also allow you to pet them, so there is that benefit.
Monster Hunts Provide Plenty Of Challenge For Your Party
As you explore the world, you’ll encounter unique, powerful monsters. These enemies act like hunts when you encounter them; you’ll get a history lesson on the beast as you’re fighting it, like watching Planet Earth.
It’s pretty entertaining learning about animals’ habitats, how they live, and what they eat, all while I’m fighting for my life.
These hunts have challenges attached to them. I only experienced the same three challenges in my demo but was told there would be many more.
My challenges consisted of Staggering the monster, defeating it in a certain amount of time, and pressuring it with constant attacks.
Visually, my early hands-on was impressive. Character models are detailed, and the animations are smoother than Remake. Rebirth will feature a Quality mode and Performance mode, but I was instructed to play in Quality mode probably because the performance mode wasn’t quite optimized for our hands-on.
An Incredible First Impression
Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth is already shaping up to be one of the best games of 2024. Cloud’s quest to stop Sephiroth looks to be an emotional journey with plenty of surprises in store.
If my hands-on is any indication, Rebirth is looking to be the RPG to beat with improvements across the board.
Final Fantasy Vii: Rebirth releases exclusively on PlayStation 5 on February 29th, 2024.