Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth looks to be a huge game, as we found in our preview, but now we know exactly how much of the original Final Fantasy VII the new game will cover, and it’s still just the equivalent of the 1997 game’s first disc.
In its recent State of Play presentation showing off Rebirth gameplay, Square Enix noted that Rebirth goes from when Cloud and his friends leave Midgar, “through their arrival at the Forgotten Capital.” That’s a major event in the game’s story and originally marked the end of the release’s first of three CDs when it was released on the original PlayStation.
That suggests that while Rebirth covers a lot of ground, apparently offering players the ability to traverse a huge portion of the original game’s world, from Junon and Costa del Sol to Cosmo Canyon and the Golden Saucer, it’s leaving the last two discs’ worth of story for the final game in the remake trilogy. Granted, the original’s disc 3 mostly included mop-up content like side quests, but there’s still quite a bit of content that Rebirth might not get to.
Given the way Rebirth was discussed during the State of Play, however, we might see some significant remixing of the story, bringing some elements from later into Rebirth and letting you access them before some of the later story developments. There’s also the fact that, as we saw in Final Fantasy VII Remake, the story isn’t necessarily bound by what we saw in the original release.
There’s another reason ending Rebirth at the Forgotten Capital is significant, though.
Warning: Spoilers for the original Final Fantasy VII–and possibly for Rebirth–from here on out.
First, there’s this image, which shows the Forgotten Capital swarmed by Whispers, the strange spectral forms that appeared in the first game. It seems the ending of Final Fantasy VII Remake didn’t completely stop the Whispers or their attempts to force Cloud and his pals into the fate depicted in the original game.
Second, the Forgotten Capital is where, canonically, Aerith is killed by Sephiroth.
In the State of Play presentation, Square Enix makes specific mention of Aerith’s story, saying, “We’ve taken painstaking care to depict how the group bonds during their journey, one that ultimately decides Aerith’s fate.” Aerith’s death is the elephant in the room when it comes to the FF7 remake trilogy, but since other story elements are no longer set in stone, it sounds like this one isn’t, either.
To speculate a bit, the presentation almost makes it sound like your actions and choices throughout the game will determine what happens to Aerith. The presentation details how you’ll be able to make choices in dialogue that will affect how the other party members feel about Cloud, which will eventually determine who joins Cloud in the famous Golden Saucer date scene. But the quote above suggests that the bond between the team members might have greater implications on how the story shakes out, too. It sounds as though it could almost be like Mass Effect 2‘s Suicide Mission, the outcome of which is determined by how much effort you’ve put into loyalty missions for each member of your crew.
Of course, it’s tough to say if that’s the case for sure, but the impression I’m getting is that not only is Aerith’s fate still up in the air going into Rebirth, but there might be more possible outcomes than players have yet realized. We’ll have to wait until February 29 to find out.
In the meantime, the PlayStation Store has a Final Fantasy VII Rebirth demo you can play right now.