Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Hands-On Preview
Reliving One Of The Most Memorable Moments In Games
In my hands-on at the recent press event, I had a chance to experience four hours of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, and I loved every moment. My demo was split between an expansive world Grasslands location outside Midgar and the infamous Nibelheim flashback of Sephiroth’s descent into madness.
The Nibelheim part of the game was a straightforward section with Sephiroth, Cloud, Tifa, and a pair of Shinra soldiers ascending the mountain to investigate a damage Mako Reactor. This section mostly has you play through as Cloud and then play through moments of the demo, which I got to experience back in September.
I won’t spend much on this chapter because it’s easily one of the most memorable moments in Final Fantasy VII and should be something players experience.
A Gorgeous Recreation Of A Beloved World
The other portion of the game allowed me to try out the game’s open-world design and even the new card game. The card game rules were a bit tough to comprehend in the short time I had to play, but it was quite fun. Those expecting Triple Triad will be disappointed as this is a different experience.
The town where the party rests is Kalm, and it’s here that I got to experience one of the first new features in Rebirth. Some conversations feature multiple dialogue options that raise your relationship with party members. One I got to experience allowed me to go on a small date with Arieth at the top of a clock town. During this date, though, Shinra arrived, and we were forced to flee this picturesque town.
The Grasslands is the bread and butter of my demo and features plenty of activities to partake in. After a few missions at the Chocobo farm, I unlocked the various activities in the demo. Hunting down special monsters, finding scenic spots to capture photos, and climbing towers to activate fast travel points, among many other activities.
The Grasslands are filled with various monsters, leading to the game’s fantastic combat system. Most of the mechanics have remained the same from Remake.
Excellent Combat Made Better With Synergy Attacks And Refinements
Combat is action-based and allows you to pull off limit break attacks when the ATB gauge is full while blocking, dodging, and attacking at your leisure. You can press the X button, which goes into 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.
Synergy Attacks are a new addition, with two party members teaming up to pull off an amazing combo attack. There are various attacks, but my favorite feature is Barret picking up and throwing Red XIII at enemies, much like Colossus throwing Wolverine in Marvel Comics.
Rebirth features an entire skill tree for party members to unlock. As you level up and compete in side quests, you’ll earn points to raise your stats and unlock unique character abilities, such as faster charging shots for Barret. You can also unlock more Synergy Attacks.
Quality Of Life Improvements Go A Long Way
In September, I mentioned that Red XIII 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 encountered the same issue with Tifa, but not to the same degree.
The good news is that these issues have been addressed, and both characters play flawlessly. Red XIII instantly became my favorite character, just like he was in the original title. Combat is so smooth and responsive that I couldn’t believe just how well it performed under some stressful conditions.
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 going into a menu. Start a party with Cloud Tifa and Aerith, and press a button on the d-pad to switch any party of three members you have set up.
You’ll find crafting material scattered worldwide, which you can use to transmute into other items like potions. You can also craft a new Materia, which has also been improved with your ability to craft and equip Materia that features two abilities at a time. I wish I had more time with this, but most of the ones I could craft were Fire, Ice, and Thunder combinations.
One Of The Best Looking And Sounding Games
Rebirth is visually stunning. It’s easily one of the best-looking titles on the PlayStation 5. The Grasslands are vast, with various cliffs and rivers running through them. There are also a lot of hidden areas, one of which features the origins of the Summons that players can find and learn about, which I found very fascinating.
The sound design is as good as you would expect from a Final Fantasy game. Hearing the great soundtrack from the original remastered is always great, and the voice acting has vastly improved from Remake, with the cast really getting to grips with their respective characters.
Rebirth is looking to take the franchise and genre to the next level. With improvements in every aspect of Remake, I wondered if this is the comeback that some fans have been hoping for in the franchise. 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 on Feburary 29th 2024