Playing as Sephiroth: Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Demo Hands-On
Yes, you’ll be able to play as Sephiroth. As part of a new gameplay trailer earlier this year, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth confirmed a key scene from the original would feature in this, the second entry in a three-game project of the seminal PS1 classic. In 1997, that moment – a younger, revenge-driven Tifa facing off against Sephiroth – formed part of an extended playable flashback. Back then, the SOLDIER legend was but an NPC in your party. In last week’s State of Play, a new trailer revealed not only would that flashback be present in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth in some capacity, but an accompanying interview confirmed the One-Winged Angel will be DualSense ready. And now, thanks to a new hands-on with a preview build of the game, we know what playing as Sephiroth will feel like.
The Demo Experience
That build is actually a two-part demo. The first half is a combat-heavy but story-driven section that charts Cloud and Sephiroth’s mission to the mountainous Nibelheim and is around 20 minutes in length. The second part – Cloud and company’s post-Midgar adventure taking them across a sweeping valley sat in the shadow of Junon – is of similar length, if you head straight to the marked destination on the HUD. Playtime could be extended due to the area’s expansive world and side activities that beckon:
- Chocobo chicks to follow
- Chocobo farms to visit to customize your newly-acquired mount
- Beasts to thrash with one eye on optional objectives
The area is rendered in stunning detail, drawing players in to appreciate their surroundings.
The demo, as a whole, is curated for attendees at this week’s Tokyo Game Show. Additional tutorials are built-in to explain mechanics and new additions, refreshing or familiarizing players, depending on whether they’re returning from Final Fantasy VII Remake or not.
Playing as Sephiroth introduces a new dimension to the battle system, giving players the choice to direct or control him. The battle system is similar to Final Fantasy VII Remake, allowing players to use DualSense triggers to issue commands to allies and the D-Pad to switch character. Sephiroth is no longer a one-strike man but still boasts some spectacular takedown skills. Alongside stylish and unique Abilities, he can also team up with Cloud to execute one of FFVII Rebirth’s flashy new features: Synergy moves.
Synergy Skills and Abilities let two characters in your active party join forces for a powerful attack during combat. They’ve been developed with each member’s fight style and strengths in mind, meaning there’s unique Synergies for every pairing. Some Synergies are AOE, while others are directional. Timing and positioning are crucial to ensure these strikes land.
Exploring Nibelheim and Junon
The Nibelheim portion of the demo takes players on a slow ascent up the mountainside, with narrow paths and cliff face climbs. Glowing Materia can be found, suggesting optional routes. Rest Stops allow recovery of HP and MP. At one point, a dangerous build-up of Mako gas triggers a lockdown in an elevator lobby, requiring players to cleanse the area before the lift can be reactivated.
The second section of the demo grants players almost free exploration of a rugged stretch of land between the Mythril Mine and Junon. The area showcases the game’s visual splendor, with a beautifully rendered Junon and surrounding landscape. Under Junon, a township built under the feet of Junon, retains the original’s vibe but better captures the contrasting scale of it and the towering colossus above.
In the Open Wilds of Junon, players can uncover secrets, some of which can be discovered by Chocobos while others require players to aid Chocobo chicks. Helping a chick reactivate a Chocobo stop will earn players a Golden Plume, which can be used to unlock cosmetics for their Chocobo mount at a nearby Chocobo farm.
A Epic Battle and Exciting Cutscene
The demo concludes with an epic battle by the shoreline near Under Junon, featuring a serpentine monster from the original game. The battle plays out as Yuffie Kisaragi sails landward, setting up a reimagined clash between the seaborn threat and Avalanche’s finest. The cutscene at the end of the demo is audacious and tongue-in-cheek, leaving players with a sense of excitement for the full game.
The two-part demo provides a captivating glimpse into what players can expect from Final Fantasy VII Rebirth when it releases on February 29. With new additions to the combat system, stunning visuals, and enticing story moments, the game is shaping up to be a promising reimagining of the beloved classic.