Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth preview - those who fight further

Yuffie, Tifa and Aerith perform a traditional dance in costume
(Image credit: Square Enix)

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is launching for PS5 on February 29, bringing the second installment of the remake trilogy to fans across the world. We got our hands on a preview build of this ambitious reimagining of one of the best RPGs (role-playing games) ever made, and we loved what we saw. 

While our time with the action RPG last year impressed us, this latest preview was something else entirely. Bold, confident, and beautiful, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth has learned from the mistakes of its predecessor - somehow less bloated and more lavish all at once.  

The main chunk of the preview took place in the Grasslands Area. Fans of the original will remember this as one of Final Fantasy 7’s first explorable zones. In Rebirth, however, it’s been given a complete glow-up, transforming the area into a luscious expanse worthy of some of the best open-world games

What really stands out is Rebirth’s extreme attention to detail. To get across the plains of the Grasslands, you’ll need a Chocobo - a large yellow bird that the residents of Final Fantasy 7 use to get around. Rather than just handling like a faster version of walking, Chocobo riding feels distinctive and immersive. Your bird picks up speed and momentum, tackling corners with a weighty realism reminiscent of Red Dead Redemption 2’s horses. You can even skid around corners, skillfully drifting through the RPG’s verdant terrain. All the while, the Dualsense controller’s sophisticated haptics give you a tangible sense of the ground below in a way I’ve not seen since the long-distance hiking of Death Stranding.   

Cloud and the party ride teal Chocobos

(Image credit: Square Enix)

These embellishments don’t feel necessary in the strictest sense, but they help to add a powerful feeling of depth. Alone, each detail is trivial, but, together, they become an orchestra. The gentle rumble of the haptics as you ride across choppy ground resonates all the more when accompanied by composer Masashi Hamauzu’s exceptional score. 

The same love and consideration are applied to Rebirth’s characters, who are brought to life with gorgeous animations and well-constructed cutscenes. In one memorable example, Cloud, our protagonist, goes with Aerith to the clocktower in the countryside township of Kalm for some romantic, if awkward, sightseeing. The side-eye that Tifa gave him afterward was so powerful that I was forced to look away from the screen. Her expression felt so authentic and human that I almost forgot I was looking at a collection of pixels.

The complete package 

Cloud and Aerith ready a synergy attack

(Image credit: Square Enix)

The preview build was also polished to perfection. The slick blend of real-time action and strategic pausing in battle felt so refined and responsive that Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s combat seems like a demo by comparison.

Remake’s combat is nothing to be sniffed at, but Rebirth seems to iterate on its predecessor in every way. Remake felt like a tentative experiment, while Rebirth wears its innovations on its sleeve. The new character advancement system, known as ‘Folios,’ allows you to make interesting decisions about how to improve your characters’ combat attributes. It feels far more meaningful than the minute tweaks to stats offered by Rebirth’s weapon upgrade system.

Reminiscent of the ‘sphere grid’ system from Final Fantasy 10, each character’s Folio consists of a series of nodes that can be unlocked with points that you accumulate in battle. These offer big, exciting stat increases or completely new techniques - including synergy attacks and Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth’s new tag-team moves, which party members perform together. In addition to being expressive and great to look at, these attacks can alter the shape of battles in big ways, affecting everything from spellcasting to the character-specific ultimate techniques known as Limit Breaks. You can temporarily cast spells for free, shield allies, and dish out plenty of damage, to name just a few of the options on offer.

Remake felt like a tentative experiment, while Rebirth wears its innovations on its sleeve

Speaking of synergy, Rebirth also introduces a reputation system, where Cloud can raise his affinity with party members by spending time with them in towns and settlements. Not only does it add another layer of play, but it’s also reminiscent of the hidden affinity values in the original. It’s a cute throwback and gives Cloud’s occasionally tumultuous relationships some mechanical weight.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth has also added an in-setting collectible card game called Queen’s Blood. An unholy combination of Gwent from The Witcher 3 and Marvel Snap, you play cards in lanes, attempting to accrue more power than your opponent. Cards have to be carefully played in sequence, too, ensuring that you and your AI foe are constantly disrupting each others’ strategies. It’s surprisingly deep, and I can see myself losing dozens of hours to it.

The new hotness 

The dialogue wheel appears during a conversation with Aerith

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth doesn’t shy away from modern innovations, either. Reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed and Horizon Forbidden West, the Grasslands is covered in radio towers, which Cloud and friends can use to fill in blank areas on the map. However, rather than feeling at odds with the game’s old-school RPG roots, the towers help create a sense of exploration and discovery. They’ll reveal things to find and stuff to do in the surrounding area. Special battles with optional objectives, points of interest, and even Moogle nests can be found this way, helping create a sense that Rebirth’s world is truly expansive. 

Rebirth’s features tend to fold neatly into the RPG’s existing goals and themes. You’re not capturing towers for the sake of it; you’re doing it to help create an information network that the evil Shinra Corporation can’t trace. This sort of side mission seems like precisely the sort of thing a lovable band of eco-terrorists would do.

Shinra soldiers on parade in the former-republic of Junon

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Rebirth’s debut open-world section doesn’t pile on too many activities, either. Contrary to the likes of Horizon Forbidden West and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, the fantasy RPG curbs its side-quest enthusiasm, ensuring that the spotlight is always kept on the main storyline. For a game as story-driven as Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, this is absolutely vital and did a great deal to assuage my anxieties about the upcoming game.

While the title's climbing sections did make me roll my eyes with their uninspired diet-Uncharted platforming, on the whole, Rebirth thrives; combining innovations old and new in the pursuit of something truly special. While I can’t speak for the whole game just yet, the Grasslands section we saw during the preview was extremely promising. February 29 can’t come soon enough.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth could be one of the best JRPGs and best single-player games of the year.

Cat Bussell
Staff Writer

Cat Bussell is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Gaming. Hailing from the crooked spires of London, Cat is an experienced writer and journalist. As seen on Wargamer.com, TheGamer.com, and Superjumpmagazine.com, Cat is here to bring you coverage from all corners of the video game world. An inveterate RPG maven and strategy game enjoyer, Cat is known for her love of rich narratives; both story-driven and emergent. 


Before migrating to the green pastures of games journalism, Cat worked as a political advisor and academic. She has three degrees and has studied and worked at Cambridge University, University College London, and Queen Mary University of London. She's also been an art gallery curator, an ice cream maker, and a cocktail mixologist. This crash course in NPC lifestyles uniquely qualifies her to pick apart only the juiciest video games for your reading pleasure. 


Cat cut her teeth on MMOs in the heyday of World of Warcraft before giving in to her love of JRPGs and becoming embedded in Final Fantasy XIV. When she's not doing that, you might find her running a tabletop RPG or two, perhaps even voluntarily.