Definitely don’t start your Final Fantasy 7 experience with Rebirth

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is an excellent game and an important evolution for the franchise. It combines a traditional RPG with a large open world, making it feel both modern and like it’s sticking to its 32-bit roots. What it isn’t, however, is a good place to get started with the multi-part story Final Fantasy VII – despite what its creators might say.

For RebirthAt launch, creative director and zip enthusiast Tetsuya Nomura talked about how the game was designed in part to welcome newcomers (always a laudable goal). “In fact,” he said in 2022“new players may even enjoy their Final Fantasy VII travel along Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.” Meanwhile, on the day of the launch, said producer Yoshinori Kitase the game would “welcome newcomers to start their game Final fantasy adventure here.”

Unfortunately, that is not entirely correct.

Let’s start with the obvious: Rebirth is the second chapter of a story. Square Enix’s plan is to adopt the original 1997 version Final Fantasy VII and expand it into a trilogy of modern games. That started with the appropriate name Final Fantasy VII Remake in 2020, the get started of the story. It introduces many elements that are crucial for Rebirth – the state of the dying world you are trying to save; the relationships between hero Cloud Strife and each main character; the machinations of the evil Shinra corporation; and the motivation of antagonist Sephiroth.

You can play on a purely technical level Rebirth First. And in some ways the game stands alone and tells a story about a group of friends who go out into the big wide world to track down a villain who wants to destroy it. There’s a solid recap video you can watch before playing to catch up on what happened. The new games, Rebirth above all, do an excellent job of expanding and clarifying the complicated story of the original, which – despite its length – fell short in many areas.

But things are still quite complex, and skipping the first chapter would only make it worse. So while you could be to start with Rebirththe experience would probably be a lot like when I jumped in Kingdom hearts with the third – that is, confusing as hell.

Then there is the experiential and emotional side. A big part of the appeal of this franchise is the characters Rebirth even introduces a new system that lets you track how someone feels about Cloud and help improve those relationships through conversations and optional side quests. If you skip remake, you miss a lot of context about the often complicated history between characters and why you would want to connect with them in the first place. Going on a date with Tifa isn’t quite the same if you haven’t experienced their journey together.

Look, I can’t tell you what to do. But if you really want to get the most out of this collection of games, it’s best to start at the beginning. In fact, I’ll go one step further: if you really want to experience all that Final Fantasy VII has to offer, you should play the original sooner Remake And Rebirth. That’s because the remakes not only expand the story, but also change things in notable ways, and understanding those changes can be powerful.

Yes, that means spending a lot of hours fighting monsters and playing with Materia. (Hey, at least I’m not telling you to watch Advent children.) But the franchise also gets very meta at crucial moments, using deeply held memories of the original to subvert player expectations. Nowhere is this more pronounced than at the end of Rebirth which…actually I’m not going to say anything about it. Play the original first.

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