Live From New York, It’s Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth!

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to play the Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth preview demo in New York City. After growing up in rural Nevada, and having never been to New York, it was a pretty big deal. Okay, that’s a lie; it was a huge deal.

Before we begin, I want to give an enormous thank you to Square Enix and everyone else involved for setting this up. It was an unforgettable experience, and I am eternally thankful for the opportunity. It still feels surreal.

The best moment of the trip came right before I started playing. It started with a presentation to give the six of us there to play a quick rundown of how things would go. Partway through, they introduced us to none other than Naoki Hamaguchi, the game’s director. He gave a short speech, and then we watched a video from him and producer Yoshinori Kitase. After a few more housekeeping notes, we were allowed to play. But first, I had the privilege of getting a picture with the director himself!

But enough about me. You’re here to read about the game preview. I’ll cram as many screenshots into this as I can to showcase as much as possible. They gave me full permission to post anything I wanted, and I intend to take advantage of that. So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

“The blight marches–” oh wait, wrong game.

There were two parts to the demo: story-focused and combat-focused. It was the same demo from Tokyo Game Show, so they showed nothing “new” if you’ve seen that footage. I hadn’t seen anything, though, so it was all new to me.

Naturally formed materia looks even better here.

The first covered a section of the flashback of Tifa guiding Cloud and Sephiroth through Mt. Nibel. It gives you the opportunity to test out the new synergy abilities. Most importantly, it gives you some time to play as Sephiroth, which is easily my favorite aspect. He is a lot of fun to play as, and I can already tell that section alone will be one of my favorite parts of the full game.

I’d play the whole game as him, if I could.

The aforementioned synergy attacks are an upgrade from INTERmission. There is at least one attack for each party member with each party member. During the final battle of part two, I used a synergy attack with Red XIII and Aerith, and throughout other battles I had used them with Cloud and Tifa, as well as Cloud and Red XIII.

Red XIII looks hilarious on a chocobo.

The basics of the combat are the same, and each character has a lot of the same attacks as in the first game. However, they also all have new abilities, which are fun to explore. Most notably, Aerith can place wards on the battlefield, and warp from one to the other. I discovered that on accident near the end.

There was one humorous moment during the final boss battle of part one. I had used a special synergy attack while too close to a wall and ended up behind a fence with no way back out. Then I managed to knock the boss into the little space with me, where I wailed on it until its HP depleted. Unfortunately, I had to restart the battle at that point, as the finishing cutscene couldn’t trigger back there. I found it really funny, since it’s just a demo and not the final product.

It’s locked in here with ME

The second part was a bit more open world. Naturally, because it was just a preview, I only had a small area available to explore. But that didn’t stop me from exploring as much as I could and gathering gold plumes to use to buy new outfit pieces for my chocobo. I found out later from the B-roll footage that I didn’t explore nearly enough. The black chocobo they gave me could swim in shallow water, just like in the original game, and I regret that I didn’t think of trying it while I played. You can also fast travel between chocobo stops, once you’ve fixed them.

The scorpion armor is great.

A welcome element is that players will have the option to modify their party at any time outside battle. For the demo, there were three presets, and I utilized two of them. However, while the others aren’t in your active party, they are still present in the world, exploring alongside you.

The pause menu got an upgrade, too.

There’s still room for improvement. Some of the environmental visuals looked a little rough, and even in graphics mode, the player models were slightly fuzzy at times. Then, of course, we have the bug I encountered in the first part of the demo. However, as it’s just a preview and still months away from release, I hold none of that against it. I have full confidence that the final product will be polished and up to standards.

Way to open your big mouth, Cloud.

Just from what I’ve seen, this game is going to be massive. From covering the flashback in Kalm, the Junon sequence, the Gold Saucer, all the way to meeting Vincent, the four years it’s taken to develop this game makes sense. I was thankful for the more linear approach to Final Fantasy XVI, as it kept the player more engaged with its incredible story. I’m equally thankful for the open world aspect of Rebirth. It will give time to once again be immersed in this world that has made such a lasting impact on me and many others.

Junon looks exactly as I always imagined.

This game is already an improvement over the first installment. Three and a half years later, I stand by everything I said in my review of that one. But the open world aspect of this is an exciting prospect, and the combat has been refined and improved. It’s shaping up to be even better than Remake, and I can’t wait for the full release. This is already the top contender for my Game of the Year for 2024.

David Koury

I'm a writer and aspiring fashion designer residing in the wasteland called Nevada. Also, I'm trying to juggle learning both Korean and Japanese.

2 Comments

  1. Samuru on October 24, 2023 at 10:21 pm

    Nice! Thanks for sharing, enjoyed the review. Cannot wait to play Rebirth!! Cool pic with the director as well.

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