The Biggest Changes In Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth
15 mins read

The Biggest Changes In Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

At the end of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Square Enix made it perfectly clear that whatever lay in store for our band of adventures would be significantly different from the original game. Now that we finally have our hands on the second installment in the Final Fantasy 7 remake trilogy, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, we can confirm that there are numerous differences between it and the ’97 classic. From entirely new combat systems, a plethora of added minigames, and some fairly big character alterations, Square Enix has added plenty of new features that make the latest entry feel fresh.

Below we cover all the biggest changes made to the original Final Fantasy 7 in Rebirth. We’ll start with the least spoiler-filled changes before giving you a big, bolded warning and digging into the juicy stuff. That said, if you’re trying to go into the game with as little information as possible, we recommend you give this a read after playing.

Now Playing: Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth GameSpot Review

New materia

Like previous Final Fantasy 7 entries, materia–orbs of solidified lifestream that grant the wielder unique powers–come in five different forms. Green materia is most common, and offers the user both offensive and defensive spells. Yellow materia contains additional battle commands, purple provides stat boosts, blue augments whatever materia is attached to it, and red grants the user the ability to summon gods and creatures that can help turn the tide of battle. However, while this all seems familiar, Rebirth adds a few new materia to the mix.

To give a few examples, Fire and Ice and Lighting and Wind materia are new additions that give the user two spells while only using one materia slot. Disempowerment and Enervation both focus on debuffs, with Disempowerment casting Debrave (Attack Down) and Defaith (Defense Down) while Enervation casts Deprotect and Deshell. In contrast, Fortification and Empowerment provide your team with Bravery and Faith, as well as Protect and Shell.

Additional new materia includes Subversion, Synergy, Darkside, Auto-Cast, Spare Change, Limit Siphon, Magic Pot, Bahamut Arisen, and more. Suffice to say, there are a lot of combinations to experiment with.

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Synergy abilities

Synergy abilities are a new feature that see your party members come together to dish out powerful attacks or tide-changing support abilities. There are a pretty impressive number of these, as each character has three unique abilities they can perform with set party members. Cloud, for example, can use the abilities Ranged Blade, Melee Blade, and Counterfire. While Counterfire can be used solo, Ranged Blade couples with either Red XIII or Barrett, while Melee Blade requires either Tifa, Aerith, Yuffie, or Cait Sith to use.

Folio system

However, don’t think you can use every Synergy ability in the game from the very start. Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth introduces a new system (that is extremely reminiscent of Final Fantasy X’s Sphere Grid) called Folios. Folios allow players to tailor their character’s combat style by cashing in SP (Skill Points) to unlock new moves, stat buffs, and, of course, Synergy abilities. Be warned that it’s a pretty tall order to unlock every ability on a character’s Folio, so we encourage you to look ahead and establish your various characters’ play styles early to make things easier.

Weapon skills

In addition, character’s weapons now have unique abilities as well. Tifa, for example, can gain Divekick, Reverse Gale, Starshower, Chi Trap, Unfettered Fury, and True Strike from Leather Gloves, Sylph Gloves, Dragon Claws, Tiger Fangs, Crystal Gloves, and Jarngreipr respectively. By using a particular weapon for a long time, you can eventually level it up, allowing you to use its special ability regardless of if that weapon is equipped.

Assessing enemies

Unless you are playing on the game’s lowest/most forgiving difficulty, assessing your enemies and paying attention to their weaknesses is vital. Whereas it was fairly easy to level grind and brute-strength your way through Final Fantasy 7, Rebirth doesn’t let it slide. I recommend at least one person in your party carrying an Assess materia and using it whenever a certain enemy is giving you a hard time. Thankfully, once you scan a certain type of enemy, you never have to do it again, which keeps the whole process from feeling annoying.

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Relationship statuses

While it’s no secret that ’97 did have a relationship gauge of sorts hidden away within its code, it’s a lot more explicit in Rebirth. In Rebirth, your relationship status with each character is indicated by a small icon located above their head that you can view at any time by simply pressing L1. Easy ways you can improve your relationships include completing a party member’s respective side quests, which are indicated by their portrait shown next to the quest in the game’s main menu, and by executing a Synergy Ability for the first time together.

Additionally, many of Cloud’s words and actions will elicit some kind of reaction from your party members, and there will even be times when he is put in a position where he will have to side with one character over another, such as when the thrill-sicking Barrett and motion-sickness-prone Yuffie disagree on a certain method of transportation. While you won’t be able to upset a character to the point of leaving, having a good relationship does make for better conversation–and better dates.

Chocobo wrangling

Chocobos are handled quite a bit differently in Rebirth, pun intended. Whereas Final Fantasy 7 required Cloud to equip the Attract Chocobo materia, run up and down chocobo tracks until one appeared in battle, and toss greens at the bird until all other enemies were defeated and it joined your ranks, Rebirth tasks you with completing a small stealth puzzle. Each region in the game has a specific, named chocobo with a unique ability that you must sneak up on and catch. To do so, you’ll have to duck behind mine carts, avoid the wandering eyes of its chocobo companions, and use rocks to hit levers and cause distractions. It’s a fun spin on an old system, and don’t worry–you’ll still get the chance to race all of the ones you find over at the Gold Saucer.

So many side quests, mini games, and open-world elements

Just as Final Fantasy 7 Remake made a once-seven-hour portion of the original game take closer to 40 hours to complete, Rebirth adds a lot of content in its effort to turn the classic title into a modern, open-world RPG. Naturally, a lot of this comes from side quests, some of which inject light-hearted humor into the game, while others dig deep into your party member’s backstories and emotions.

Rebirth also adds a lot of exploration elements. Each of the game’s regions has several unique locations and sites to explore, such as large Remnawave towers that grant you area intel, materia-rich Lifesprings, excavation sites, summon sanctuaries, Moogle homes (or Mogstools), and more. And to get around these areas, you’ll need to catch the region’s most adept chocobo, which is an entire quest on its own. Suffice to say, you won’t be lacking things to do.

Lastly, Rebirth is absolutely packed to the brim with minigames, so here’s hoping you like ’em! From the latest card game craze, Queen’s Blood, to a new version of Fort Condor that transforms your party members back into their previous, polygonal selves, you won’t go long without being encouraged to play, race, and compete.

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No more optional party members

Long gone are the days of wandering the woods in search of Yuffie Kisaragi, or slinking about through Shinra Manor in hopes of rousing Vincent Valentine from his dark slumber; In Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, both characters are mandatory party members. While the way you recruit them is a bit different from the original and we still can’t actually play as Vincent, it seems like this is the only big change Rebirth makes to them.

Okay, this is the point where big spoilers come into play. If you have not yet finished Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, I highly recommend you do so before continuing. Like I said, big spoilers! I’ll be going into the character’s backstories, relationships, and the game’s overall narrative, so read at your own risk!

Cid Highwind’s backstory

For the most part, the cast members of Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth are nearly identical to their ’97 counterparts, albeit with more pixels. However, there is one notable exception: Cid Highwind. While we might still get the chance to pop by Rocket Town in the remake trilogy’s final installment, Rocket Town, Shera, and Cid’s entire backstory are noticeably absent from Rebirth. Instead, Cid is first encountered by the team when they send up a smoke signal in hopes that a pilot will find them. Naturally, Cid is that pilot, and acts more as a method of fast travel rather than a true party member this time around.

Compared to ’97 Cid, Rebirth Cid has more of a Han Solo-esque personality; he confesses that he does the occasional job for Shinra if the money is right, and seems to be primarily driven by the desire for personal freedom. Additionally, Cid reveals he was close with Aerith’s mother, which becomes the reason that he is so eager to help Aerith and the rest of the team. Considering the controversy surrounding Cid’s original backstory, which portrayed Cid as extremely verbally abusive, it makes sense that Square Enix is reevaluating his introduction.

A confirmed multiverse (And a sort-of-alive-ish Aeirth?)

If you played Remake this statement might seem a bit silly, as the existence of parallel timelines was alluded to during the game’s finale. That said, it’s nice to have actual confirmation, and it’s finally given to us in Rebirth. In the game’s final chapters, we discover that Aerith is completely aware of several alternate universes, as well as the existence of a sort of “prime” universe that follows the events of Final Fantasy 7. In every universe that is not following fate’s design, an enormous rift appears in the sky, as is the case with the dimension Biggs and Zack exist in. This becomes interesting (and concerning) when you consider the game ends with Cloud essentially existing between two dimensions simultaneously, as he is still wholly perceived by his teammates in the prime dimension but is also the sole party member able to see and interact with a version of Aerith who lived. While everyone else grieves Aerith and looks up at a clear sky, Cloud still sees his companion–as well as a growing rift above.

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Cloud and Tifa’s relationship

In the original Final Fantasy 7, there were a few things about Cloud and Tifa’s relationship that felt a bit… off. It was never quite clear, for example, why the pair didn’t sit down and discuss what happened to them in Nibelheim or in the years following. Sure, we can assume that Tifa was taken aback by Cloud’s claims, unsure of her own memories, and ultimately remained quiet to ensure her friend’s psyche remained intact, but it certainly requires a lot of filling in the gaps from players. Thankfully, Rebirth makes things a lot more clear and interesting.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth kicks off with Cloud and Tifa being somewhat suspicious of each other; Cloud doesn’t understand how Tifa could have survived being sliced by Sephiorth, while Tifa doesn’t understand how Cloud can vividly recount what happened in Nibelheim, as she doesn’t recall him being there. While their relationship isn’t completely tainted by distrust, the seeds sown in the game’s first act are reaped repeatedly throughout its story and nearly lead to Tifa’s demise.

Furthermore, the pair’s uncertainty towards one another makes Aerith not confronting Cloud about Zack more reasonable as well. After watching Cloud struggle when confronted with information he doesn’t remember, or that contradicts his own thoughts, Tifa essentially becomes a buffer between Cloud and all this unsavory information. For example, when Cloud tells Tifa he suddenly remembers Zack drowning during the pair’s final mission, Tifa tells Cloud to let her talk to Aerith about it, claiming that she is closer to her and can break it more gently. However, we as players can tell she still doubts what Cloud is saying and knows Aerith will, too.

And last but certainly not least, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth finally makes it clear that Cloud and Tifa have a deeply romantic relationship. I still have not gotten over their Gold Saucer date. At this point, I suspect I never will.

Tifa Gets Time To Shine

And speaking of Tifa, one of the biggest differences between Rebirth and the original is how much attention and care is given to her character. While the martial arts master has always been a fan favorite character and one of the game’s most important figures, Rebirth gives us the chance to truly dive into her character. Throughout its chapters, we see her deep bond with Aerith, her concern over Cloud’s deteriorating state, her grief, her confusion, and even her near-death. While I’d argue Rebirth gives more love to just about every character, Tifa really gets some exceptional treatment in the series’ latest entry.

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