Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is discussed in an interview with producer Kitase Yoshinori, creative director Nomura Tetsuya, and director Hamaguchi Naoki in the 19 October 2023 issue of Weekly Famitsu. Though published later, the interview had been conducted before Tokyo Game Show 2023.
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The interviewer begins with noting how it was previously mentioned that Final Fantasy VII Rebirth will goes up to the Forgotten Capital, and asks if the game will cover “that tragic scene”. Nomura says that he cannot say how it ends, but does say that the game will go up to the end of the Forgotten Capital. He then goes on to add that the order of the locations leading up to the Forgotten Capital are different from how they were in the original game. Some locations have even been moved to the third game, and he says to remember that even if a location doesn’t appear in Rebirth, that does not mean that it has been cut.
Nomura says that they did not start with a plan on how to split everything into three games, but rather started with an overall plan spanning all of it. Additionally, Nomura himself was against removing anything at all from the beginning: Even if some things would have to be shifted around or have the amount of attention given changed, he was absolutely opposed to completely removing anything at all.
Next, the interviewer asks if the amount of content leading up to the Forgotten Capital is what lead to the game taking up two Blu-ray discs, and Nomura says this is only one reason. When they were still unsure if the game would be released in two or three parts, it was brought up that if they were going to do three parts, the second part would absolutely have to go up to the Forgotten Capital. As for the discs, Final Fantasy VII Remake was already pushing the limits of the format, and they knew from the beginning that the second part would be even bigger, and so determined that it would need to be on two discs relatively early on.
It is next brought up how FFVII had a lot of minigames and side content, and Hamaguchi talks about how Rebirth will not differ from this. In addition to the Gold Saucer, minigames can be found scattered all over the world map, and a player could potentially lose themself in all the minigames and forget about the main story. He also notes that some characters from FFVII Remake will be returning in Rebirth.
Nomura adds that they purposely made the trailer show a wide variety of things so as to pique the interest of people who did not play FFVII Remake, and that the number of minigames will only keep growing as the player goes on, even into the next game.
Kitase points out that people have voiced the concern that it might be hard to get into Rebirth without playing Remake, or that the game might not have a proper conclusion due to it being the second in a trilogy, and says that there are many movie trilogies where the second movie is still considered fantastic by many, and that fans need not worry. He says that since the first game already introduced the characters, Rebirth can go right in to the story at full throttle, and that they also have an ending that will leave an extremely strong impression that leads into the third game.
Next, the interviewer points out how the Remake Project diverges from the original game’s story, and asks how fans should interpret that. Nomura says that if one plays Rebirth, the answers to most of the questions from the previous game should become clear to some extent. While Rebirth does follow the general flow of the original game, it also adds new questions.
Kitase says that they cannot give too many details as they would be spoilers, but the game generally follows the same path as the original while adding new things for players to question. While this is the same as how Remake was, it will be stronger in Rebirth.
The battle system is next to be discussed. Hamaguchi says that the “Chain” combination attacks were added because story-wise, the bonds between characters in the path leading up to the Forgotten Capital are very important. When he first read the script, he felt the need to make the battle system reflect it more, and the combination attacks were added as a result. Additionally, it was battle director Endou Teruki’s idea to add them to both the realtime action and ATB battles, resulting in Chain Actions and Chain Abilities.
Chain Actions were designed based around the action system, and do not require any resources or gauges while allowing the player to perform things like charge attacks, launch enemies into the air, or do perfect guards. Chain Abilities, on the other hand, use up the ATB gauge and are more for players who prefer menu-based combat. Hamaguchi says that the Chain Actions, especially, are meant to be used for higher-level players who want to hone their techniques. The different Chain Actions have many very different roles, with some that can be used in the air and others that require you to land before they can be used. He does note, however, that the game might end up too hard if they balanced it around fully using the Chain Actions, and so they made it so that the player can clear the game without using them.
Hamaguchi also talks about how difficult it was to make the Chain Actions and Abilities: The current trend in games is to make less playable characters, with more focus on their individual depth. FFVII Rebirth, however, goes against that trend with its large cast of characters, and since they still have the same amount of depth as contemporaries, it was a lot of work.
The interviewer next asks about the Party Level, which unlocks new Chain Abilities as it goes up. Hamaguchi says that the Party Level rises with progress in the main story, mostly when bosses are defeated, but it also rises when the player clears certain side quests in which the characters’ bonds deepen. Raising the Party Level lets the characters’ skill trees grow, and Chain Actions and Abilities can be unlocked there, at the player’s discretion.
The interviewer points out how the Chain Actions and Abilities are different from how Yuffie and Sonon worked in Intergrade, and asks why, and Hamaguchi says that Yuffie and Sonon were a test case, with Rebirth being a result of them figuring that Chain features should be something the player can use more easily.
The playability of party members is discussed next. Hamaguchi says that while all the party members will appear in the game, the player cannot control character(s), similar to how Red XIII was handled in Remake. Nomura says that this is due to the addition of the Chain mechanics, and there being more characters in Rebirth. The timing of the character(s) joining was also considered: As they join very late, it would be hard to balance the game around their growth, and so they will not be playable until the third game.
Hamaguchi also points out that the game has points in which the game switches to the point of view of the various party members, with the player taking direct control of them, which should familiarize players with how they work. The interviewer asks if Cloud, Tifa, Aerith and Barret control the same as they did in Remake, and Hamaguchi says that with existing characters, they based them on how they were in Remake and just added new abilities.
The interviewer next asks if upgrades and equipment will carry forward from Remake to Rebirth, and Hamaguchi says that they will not, but loading a save from Remake will give the player some bonuses. Though the Remake Project is a trilogy, each of the games is designed to be independent of the others, and being able to carry things forward would heavily affect the balance.
Hamaguchi next brings up how, in the story, one of the incentives for exploring the world map in Rebirth is developing new Materia. As the player explores the world, they gain the ability to develop all sorts of new Materia, such as the relatively orthodox Wind & Thunder which gives a character access to the two elements. He especially recommends the Auto type Materia: In Rebirth, AI-controlled party members automatically use abilities based on how much MP or ATB gauge they have, but equipping certain types of Auto materia will make them also use their unique moves and Chain Abilities, drastically changing how the characters the player is not directly controlling behave.
Hamaguchi also stresses how the Junon area (shown at Tokyo Game Show) is really only a small portion of the world map. It is connected to the Grasslands area via the Mythril Mine, and together they are all part of a huge seamlessly connected world map which contains all the towns and dungeons. There are numerous things all over the world map that the player can freely explore, and doing so will let them encounter all sorts of new activities and characters. Progress in the story also unlocks new vehicles, which expands players’ range of movement, allowing them to explore more.
The Japanese version’s voice cast is discussed next. Barret’s voice actor was changed from Kobayashi Masahiro to Funaki Mahito. Nomura says this is due to Kobayashi leaving the industry for personal reasons, and that Funaki is doing well to portray Barret, pointing out that few people noticed the change when the trailer was released.
As for Reno, whose Japanese voice actor Fujiwara Keiji passed away in 2020, Nomura says that Rebirth still uses Fujiwara’s voice due to Nomura strongly wanting it to. Story-wise, Rebirth takes place at a time when Reno is injured and Elena is filling in for him, so they adjusted the story to have her fill in for him more, and did their best to use pre-existing recordings. Timing-wise, Fujiwara passed away right before they commenced on recordings for Rebirth, and Nomura says that he was unable to bring himself to recast him at the time. That being said, Reno will have more screentime in the third game, and they will have to recast him for it.
The three interviewees are next asked for comments to conclude the interview.
Hamaguchi says that even when compared to Remake, Rebirth has even more content and is of higher quality. He is especially proud of the amount of activities around the world map, saying that players can always take a break from the main story from they want, giving them more freedom to control the flow of the story, distinguishing it from Remake where players would just progress in the main story with few divergences.
Kitase says that as Rebirth is the second game in the trilogy, it is filled with a lot of things that fans who played Remake will want to know. That being said, the game does also recap the events of Remake, so new players will be able to enjoy it as a standalone title.
Finally, Nomura says that he hopes the trailer shown at TGS conveyed how wide the world is. There is still more information not revealed yet, and he hopes fans look forward to hearing more.
Final Fantasy VII Rebirth will be released on the PlayStation 5 on 29 February 2024