After much radio silence, Square Enix finally lifted the lid off of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. Following a series of cryptic Q&A updates over Twitter, the developer revealed a whole trailer at Summer Games Fest. In short, the game looks great. Heck, it even sounds great. Although it’s the second trailer for the game, it shows off much more than the first one did. As a big fan of Final Fantasy VII, and of speculating about the remake, I humbly offer up some theories of what info and secrets the trailer may hold for the upcoming game.
First, a (Zack) fair warning: Spoilers for Final Fantasy VII and rampant speculation following this gorgeous trailer:
Right at the start of the trailer we see the aftermath of a tornado that decimated Midgar. So when did this happen in the game? Short answer, it didn’t. Longer answer, it seems this may show the alternate reality teased at the end of Remake.
In that reality where Zack Fair survived the events of Crisis Core, Cloud may not have helped Barret, Tifa, Aerith, and Red XIII. Therefore, when they fought the Arbiters of Fate on the expressway without Cloud, they failed in their quest and the resulting tornado trashed the area. Further evidence for this comes from Intergrade, wherein alternate reality Zack arrives at the church to find people in mourning—possibly because of said tornado.
The Unknown Journey Continues… Where Exactly?
Just because we don’t know what will happen in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, doesn’t mean we don’t know where they game will take us. In the trailer alone, we have confirmation of Kalm, the Chocobo Ranch, the Mythril Mine (featuring Elena), Junon (peep the Highwind in the background), the Cargo Ship, and Cosmo Canyon. Though not featured in the trailer, a previous motion-capture photo seemingly teased the Kalm flashback, showcasing Nibelheim.
This list includes almost every major location visited immediately after Midgar in the original Final Fantasy VII. Notable exclusions consist of Costa del Sol, North Corel, and most notably, The Gold Saucer. Naturally, a trailer doesn’t include every location in a video game. So we may see these down the road. That said, producer Yoshinori Kitase and director Tetsuya Nomura previously stated that locations will appear in a different order than they did in the original. So it’s possible some of these may arrive in the third part of the trilogy instead.
And Where Will Part Two of This Journey Leave Us?
This begs the question, how far into the original storyline will Final Fantasy VII Rebirth go? Again, switching up the order of locations visited throws a bit of a wrench into speculation here. But that won’t stop me from trying anyway. Here I have two theories:
Rebirth will stray from the original’s narrative in a major way, and may in fact end after Nibelheim.
Rebirth will stick fairly close to the original’s narrative, and will end at the first visit to the North Crater.
What evidence am I using for each theory? For the first, this trailer, and even the previous one, focuses heavily on the events in Nibelheim five years prior, namely those pertaining to Tifa’s defeat at the hands (read: sword) of Sephiroth. If Rebirth wants to tell a story about uncovering the truth of that, it may start with the flashback of Nibelheim and end at the place itself.
That said, my second theory relies on the very end of the trailer, which shows Cloud as a Sephiroth clone joining the “reunion,” likely at the North Crater. This could be a fake-out, or it could suggest the game goes that far into the narrative. Note that a potentially Jenova-created illusion of Tifa tricks Red XIII into handing over the Black Materia at the North Crater in the original, which the trailer may allude to as well with all the “Tifa suspicion.” Which brings us to our last major point of interest…
The “Death” and “Rebirth” of Tifa Lockhart
Most notably for many, the Summer Games Fest trailer ends with Sephiroth coldly stating, “You know that I killed her. So who is she?” Though some wondered if this referred to Aerith, the Japanese trailer confirmed this as Tifa. Shout out to @aitaikimochi for the translation found here.
You may ask: When does Tifa die in the original? Well, she doesn’t. So the prevailing theory here is that Sephiroth is toying with Cloud, trying to get him to mistrust Tifa. Going back to the two theories from earlier, this could either exist to instigate Cloud to examine his Nibelheim memories, revealing the “he thinks he’s Zack Fair” twist much sooner. Or it could lead to Cloud falling for Sephiroth’s tricks at the North Crater more easily—or catastrophically.
What do you think? One could argue that the most exciting aspect of this trailer is that it encourages so much speculation. After the “anything could happen” ending of the first part of Final Fantasy VII Remake, it makes sense to lean into that in anticipation of the second part. Either way, we’ll know for sure when Rebirth arrives on PlayStation 5 in early 2024.