Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth: The Biggest Changes and Differences

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth changes both Remake and the original game in some pretty big ways. Here are some of the most notable differences.

Final Fantasy Rebirth
Photo: Square Enix

This article contains spoilers for Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is here, and fans everywhere are desperate to know what has changed in this new game. After Final Fantasy 7 Remake introduced a series of shocking changes to the original Final Fantasy 7 adventure, franchise fans everywhere are eager, worried, and, in many cases, eager and worried about how different this new game really is compared to its predecessors.

While we’re going to talk about some of the biggest differences you’ll find in Rebirth, here are a few things to keep in mind about this breakdown:

– Since everything we discuss could be considered a spoiler, I’m issuing a spoiler warning at the top of this article and for the rest of this piece. However, I’m refraining from sharing the specifics of the biggest story spoilers in the game, especially if they change the base Final Fantasy 7 experience in some way. We’ll dive into those specific spoilers in separate pieces in the near future.

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– This article references ways that Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth has changed both Final Fantasy 7 Remake and the base Final Fantasy 7 game.

– Finally, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is a massive game. We’ll be covering some of the biggest overall changes it introduces, but there are countless little things that even longtime fans will be surprised by in this adventure.

Let’s dive in:

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth’s Massive Open World

For the most part, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is an open-world game. The game features an absolutely massive explorable world that is brimming with things to do, places to see, and people to meet. It could easily take you 100 hours to do everything the game has to offer, and most will never come close to achieving that goal.

That emphasis on the game’s open world is a pretty big change from the original Final Fantasy 7 and even Final Fantasy 7 Remake. While the original Final Fantasy 7 allowed for exploration once you unlocked the world map, it was a style of exploration limited by the franchise’s standards and the technology of the time. Final Fantasy 7 Remake afforded you often surprising degrees of freedom to pursue various side activities, but it was largely limited to the Midgar area which ultimately also limited your exploration options. 

Rebirth splits the difference between some of those concepts. Unlike titles like Skyrim that let you go anywhere you want right away, you will not be able to explore all (or even most) of Rebirth’s map from the start of the game. You will instead unlock new areas to explore as you progress. However, you will eventually be able to traverse the available map as you see fit and even fast-travel between key areas. So, it’s not quite as open of a world as we saw in Final Fantasy 15, but it’s much more open than the sectionalized world of Final Fantasy 16.

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Advanced Chocobo Mounts

While the original Final Fantasy 7 allowed you to ride Chocobos, Rebirth expands upon that game’s relatively simple version of that mechanic with a surprisingly dynamic modern mount system. 

In short, one of the best ways to navigate Rebirth’s larger areas is to ride a Chocobo, and those Chocobos can be summoned at any time once they have been caught. It’s that catching and taming process that makes things so interesting this time around. Not only do you have to catch a Chocobo in each region before you can ride it, but there are unique Chocbos to catch in each region that have powerful special abilities. Furthermore, the process of tracking Chocobos is closely tied to the game’s aforementioned fast travel system. 

Missing Regions From the Original Map

While Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth offers a massive world to explore, some of the areas that were technically explorable in this part of the game in the original Final Fantasy 7 are not available in Rebirth. Most notably, the Wutai Village region is nowhere to be found in Rebirth, but that’s only because it’s being saved for the next chapter of this series. 

There are a couple of smaller “legacy” areas that are also missing from this section of the map (mostly islands), and it’s not entirely clear why. Logically, those areas were likely softly replaced with the sheer amount of new things you can see and do in this game. For that matter, many of those minor missing areas didn’t offer much to see or do in the first place. 

New Cities and Regions

While there are a few places from the original Final Fantasy 7 you won’t find in Rebirth, there are a couple of entirely new areas in Rebirth that help fill out the game’s massive map. 

The most notable of those new areas is Crow’s Nest: a kind of anti-Shinra encampment that not only expands upon a worldbuilding element previously emphasized in the Midgar section but offers quite a few new side activities. While these new areas are certainly not as large as many of the returning regions and cities, they generally offer more collectibles, more activities, or otherwise expand upon some element of the worldbuilding/mythos in ways that the original game did not. 

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Synergy Attacks, Summons, and Materia

Generally speaking, Rebirth’s combat is fairly similar to the combat seen in Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Refinements have been made here and there, but the broad strokes are largely the same. 

However, Rebirth does expand upon one of the biggest new combat features previously seen in Remake‘s INTERmission DLC: Synergy Attacks. As the name suggests, Synergy Attacks allow party members to combine skills and effectively create new abilities in the process. Given the number of possible party combinations in this game (and the various Synergy Attacks those combinations enable), this feature certainly adds a welcome amount of variety to the overall combat experience. 

Furthermore, Rebirth features Materia and Summons not seen in Remake or the base Final Fantasy 7 game. In the interest of avoiding the deepest possible spoilers in this part of the article, I’ll refrain from listing all of those new options here. However, we will discuss how to acquire them in the future for those interested in learning more, and I can tell you that some of them are incredibly impressive and hilariously powerful. 

So Many New Minigames and Unlockables

Minigames and unlockables have long been part of the Final Fantasy 7 experience, but Rebirth features more of both than we’ve ever really seen in another Final Fantasy game. If anything, the sheer amount of optional content in this game can be a bit overwhelming at times. 

There are just under 20 fully-fledged minigames in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, and that number doesn’t include some of the smaller side activities that rely on some kind of minor minigame element. 

The highlights of those new minigames would have to be Queen’s Blood and Piano Performance.

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Queens Blood is the latest in a long line of Final Fantasy card games, and it is phenomenal. This deck builder CCG utilizes a lane-based format that is somewhat similar to the famous Triple Triad game from Final Fantasy 8. It’s fairly easy to learn, quite difficult to master, and adds a surprising layer of depth to an already deep game. Not only will you earn new cards as you progress and continue to play Queen’s Blood, but there are storylines associated with playing Queen’s Blood that end up leading to some of the most fascinating sidequests in the game. It’s right up there with the best card-based minigames in RPG history. 

The Piano Performance minigame may be the bigger surprise. Yes, this minigame simply asks you to play tunes on a piano by matching combo-based beats DDR-style. What makes this game special is the surprising number of songs there are to unlock and how intricate the minigame’s mechanics are. It even offers a free play mode that allows you to create custom tunes or recreate actual songs with surprising accuracy.

On top of all the unlockables associated with all of those minigames (and more), you have a variety of unlockable costumes, items, and other rewards spread throughout this massive adventure. Again, it’s just an absurd amount of things to do compared to pretty much every other Final Fantasy game (and most other games for that matter).

Acquiring Weapons

Interstingly, you no longer have as much freedom to acquire new weapons in Rebirth as you did in Remake and the original Final Fantasy 7 game. Instead, most weapons are acquired by opening special chests found at pivotal points in the game. Even if you miss those chests, you have the ability to purchase those weapons later from various vendors. 

This system certainly expedites the equipment upgrading process, though it will likely prove to be divisive among fans who see that process as more of an adventure than a burdensome necessity. 

Dynamic Difficulty

At the start of the game, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth offers Easy, Normal, and Dynamic difficulty options. You can also unlock a Hard mode by completing the game. While Easy, Normal, and Hard are fairly easy to understand from the outset, Dynamic is a new concept for Final Fantasy 7 that changes the experience in notable ways. 

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Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth’s Dynamic difficulty mode essentially scales the difficulty to match your character’s current power level. It’s not advanced enough to alter the overall experience to match your specific skills and personal capabilities, but it does ensure that even formerly lower-level enemies will receive a “buff” to match your basic current power level. This is a scaling feature we see in more and more modern games, and it’s interesting to see the Rebirth team take a crack at their version of that experience. 

Is it worth it? Well, I will say that anyone who enjoys Rebirth‘s combat but gets bored by all but the most level-appropriate battles may get a kick out of those extra challenges. Those who would rather occasionally tear through a lesser foe (or just not have to worry about every fight being a tougher fight) will likely be better off going with another option. 

An Expanded Romance and Affinity System

The original Final Fantasy 7 featured a pretty simple relationship system that largely determined who Cloud went on a date with during a specific portion of the game but also had a minor impact on some smaller sequences. Final Fantasy 7 Remake featured a slightly expanded version of that same basic system. True to most other aspects of the game, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth expands upon that mechanic in some significant ways. 

In the original Final Fantasy 7, Cloud’s relationships were largely determined by a mostly invisible point system that you contributed to based on various decisions made throughout the game. In Rebirth, you have much more direct control over who you decide to have a relationship with. Each character that can be “dated” in the game has an individual relationship meter that you can contribute to by completing character side quests, interacting with them regularly, and generally performing actions that will please them. By the time you reach a certain point in the game, the character you have the highest relationship rating with will be your date for certain special events.

On that note, Rebirth offers you significantly more options in terms of your prospective romance partners. Actually, “romance” isn’t even the best word to use to describe most of them. Some of those options are overtly more platonic, and there are even scenarios that allow you to go out with multiple people at once during those “date” sequences. For those wondering, there are more intimate romance options associated with these relationships, but none of them allow Cloud to get intimate with any of the game’s male or non-human party members. 

Interestingly, this relationship system (known as the Affinity system) ends up impacting a lot more than just those romantic sequences. Various side quests, interactions, and rewards cannot be seen, experienced, or acquired if you do not build up your relationship with certain characters in specific ways. So while you will need to choose a date at some point, you are encouraged to expand and explore your relationship with various characters throughout the game for other reasons.  

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More Story-Altering Choices

Outside of the Affinity System, there are actually several moments in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth when you will be asked to make choices that impact the direction of the narrative events that follow in some way.

Mind you, these choices are not nearly as dynamic as they are in an RPG like Baldur’s Gate 3. Many of them simply end up impacting your relationship with another character in some way or otherwise result in fairly short-term consequences. Still, they are there, and they do often make you pause long enough to try to choose the optimal outcome based on how you’d like to build your version of Cloud. 

Character Specific Segments

Rebirth features a surprising collection of character-specific sections that see you directly control a party member other than Cloud for a brief period of time. Sometimes, though not always, these sections alter the core gameplay in pretty surprising ways. 

This is ultimately one of the ways that Rebirth regularly tries to mix things up. However, I think the reactions to some of these specific sections will vary wildly. In my experience, some feel significantly more enjoyable and fulfilling than others.