Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Recaptures the Awe of the Original Game’s Open World

    A feeling recaptured through one simple shot.

    After a long year, we finally saw our first glimpse of the expansive world that awaits in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. Summer Game Fest ended with the incredible new trailer for Rebirth, which has a lifelong list of things to converse about. From the cryptic lines Sephiroth spoke at the end to the new UI elements in the combat system, I’ve rewatched the trailer dozens of times just to put the pieces together.

    One of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had with my rich history in video games is the pure awe I experienced leaving Midgar for the first time in Final Fantasy VII. This past week, I felt that same rush of emotion as I watched Cloud, Tifa, Barret, Aerith, and Red XIII step out into the world for the first time in Rebirth. It’s incredible how one single frame of a trailer, not even a game, can replicate one of my favorite moments in video games ever.

    The First Steps Outside Midgar

    Final Fantasy VII - Escape From Midgar Throughout the opening hours of Final Fantasy VII, I quickly got immersed in the world of Midgar. The swirl of ideas that unfold within these hours is captivating and easily engulfs you in this city run by Shinra, a corporation filled with greed. VII works wonders in its Midgar opening, easily painting a picture of the crisis at hand for the player. 

    At this point, it’s easy to have imagined how the entire game could take place in this massive city: eight different sectors to explore and both upper and lower layers. However, upon the escape from Shinra HQ, you’re plopped onto a world map that is formidable and genuinely mind-blowing. To my surprise, what I initially believed to be the game’s world was merely a fraction, amounting to roughly 10% of it. Gaia, the world of Final Fantasy VII, was revealed. 

    Seeing the larger-than-life city appear as only a tiny part of the map is a moment that helped craft my experience with FFVII. I was met with a vast land to explore, with oceans and coasts in sight. The land was noticeably dark and gloomy around Midgar yet green along the shores and areas further away from the City of Mako. As the landscape unfolds before your eyes, the beautiful melody of the “Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII” fills the air. A whole world was waiting, which fueled my sense of exploration and discovery to new heights.

    Leaving Midgar in the Original Final Fantasy VII.

    As anyone who has played the original game knows, your first stop outside Midgar is the town of Kalm, just along the coast. Here, the iconic Nibelheim flashback sequence occurs as Cloud drifts off to sleep in the inn. After regrouping with the party, the world of Gaia is yours to explore. As you travel across the lands fending off random encounters and listening to that euphonious melody of the main theme, you have the freedom to go anywhere you can access. 

    I could spend hours gushing about the pure exhilaration I experienced with Gaia and the hundreds of hours spent in it. Traveling around the world and discovering new locations riddled throughout the land helped to define my time with Final Fantasy VII as one of my favorite games of all time. However, that’s for another time. The feelings and the overall scale of what the world of Final Fantasy VII accomplished was something that had me endlessly excited for what was to come. Enter Final Fantasy VII Remake, the hit 2020 release that remade the opening hours of the original game into a 40-hour experience.

    Final Fantasy VII Remake Elevated and Enhanced the Magic

    Final Fantay VII Remake Intergrade Key Art

    Everyone in the world of games remembers the Final Fantasy VII Remake reveal trailer. A glorious leadup that ended with one magical word: REMAKE. It was once only a mere dream among fans, yet the impossible happened, and Square Enix revealed a remake of the beloved Final Fantasy VII would be made. I’ll personally never forget the leadup to the game, with the Final Fantasy menu sound effect appearing out of the blue at the beginning of May 2019’s State of Play. The road to launch for one of my most anticipated titles ever was quite the spectacle and genuinely unforgettable.

    At release, Final Fantasy VII Remake not only met my expectations but well exceeded them. The game is nothing short of a transformative and monumental achievement. It’s incredible how Creative Business Unit I and Director Tetsuya Nomura managed to perfectly recapture the spirit of the original’s characters, world, and essence while still driving to innovate and create something refreshing. The most obvious point of innovation is the graphics. At the time of release, VII Remake was home to some of the most impressive visuals on the market. Even now, the complete version of the game, dubbed Intergrade, stands neck and neck with the most impressive titles released on the PlayStation 5. Midgar has an astonishing amount of detail that rivals any game on the market, making impressive use of pre-rendered skyboxes. The pure visual fidelity found throughout Remake is a crucial tool for immersion. Of course, that immersion would not be possible without the phenomenal voice cast.

    Coming from a release with no voice acting, it is unreal how perfect the voice actors for each of the main characters are and how well their lines suit them. The narrative evolved beautifully to allow for a newfound level of depth the original could have never achieved due to its hardware. Recreated moments washed over me with all sorts of emotion as they effortlessly captured everything I love so much about Final Fantasy VII

    Tifa and Cloud in FINAL FANTASY 7 REMAKE.

    FF7R pushed the boundaries of what a remake could truly be. It didn’t have to be a 1:1 strict clone with a fresh coat of paint, but a new experience that could transform and mold the original game into something more significant than ever before. Remake was an unforgettable experience that only made my love of Gaia and its characters swell like never before. After more than a decade since Advent Children, it rekindled everything I loved so much about the original with only the first area of the map.

    Recreating the world of Gaia for modern-day audiences was always going to be a monumental task that some might say is impossible. How could they ever recreate the feelings of the original world? Would they truthfully keep Gaia as big as it was intended to be? Many, including myself, wondered if it would be possible to replicate the scale and freedom of the original game. After the incredible recreation and interpretation of Midgar, I had no doubts in my mind that the team would deliver. At last, one frame from the latest Final Fantasy VII Rebirth trailer shattered any remnant fears and ensured that Gaia would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience – again. 

    The Final Fantasy VII Rebirth World of Gaia Revealed at Last

    Cloud, Tifa, Aerith, Barret, and Red XIII in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Open World from Trailer at Summer Game Fest.

    This takes us to the present, where we’ve finally seen our first glimpse of the beautiful world of Gaia in the REMAKE Project. Last week, Geoff Keighley premiered Final Fantasy VII Rebirth as his “one more thing” at Summer Game Fest. As Aerith ran towards the looming horizon, the camera shifted to reveal the party standing just outside of Kalm, facing the world of Gaia as a whole for the first time. 

    It’s prettier and more vibrant than I ever could have imagined. Creative Business Unit I has perfectly reimagined and recaptured the awe of Final Fantasy VII’s Gaia. Every single shot of the trailer confirmed that. Specifically, the overview shot (seen above) is so reassuring and beautiful that it overwhelmed me emotionally. It signifies the grand adventure ahead: a giant world to explore and seas to cross. That moment of leaving Midgar in the original game has been translated to modern technology in a way that I cannot believe myself.

    The world of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth looks to be incredibly alive. As you descend from the Kalm exit, a bunch of deer run across the grassy landscape. Windmills and other structures can be seen far into the distance, making an incentive for you to explore the giant world that awaits you. This revelation found in the trailer incites the same feelings I felt traversing Gaia in Final Fantasy VII. The development team has clearly put care into creating an immensely detailed environment that is begging to be explored, something that was a critical point of the original title.

    Final Fantasy VII Rebirth World

    Some of the locations we’re set to visit in Rebirth will be breathtaking. The trailer confirmed we’d visit Junon, Cosmo Canyon, Mythril Mine, and more. Following the original story, we’ll also be set to visit locations such as Nibelheim, Rocket Town, The Gold Saucer, City of the Ancients, and more. I’m confident they will be nothing short of magical and truly a dream come true for lifelong fans of VII.

    I’m already enamored with Final Fantasy VII Rebirth and eagerly await to get my hands on it. I fail to recall the last time I’ve been this excited about any game. Final Fantasy VII is one of my favorite games of all time. Remake delivered and created a forever memorable experience, and I have no doubt Rebirth will surpass expectations and create long-lasting memories once again. With what awaits us in this section of the VII story, we are in for one thrilling and meaningful adventure. Considering its nature, there will undoubtedly be some audacious parts of the title, yet I couldn’t be more excited to see how exactly it will unfold. The world of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth looks incredible, and I am one ecstatic fan who cannot wait for 2024.

    Noah Hunter
    Noah Hunter
    Noah is Final Weapon’s Editor-in-Chief. He co-founded the website in June 2019 and has been writing for it ever since. In total, he has over five years of writing experience across many publications, including IGN Entertainment. His favorite series include Xeno and Final Fantasy.

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