Close up of Aerith in the Grasslands in Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Do You Need to Play the Other Final Fantasy 7 Games to Play Rebirth?

Can you dive right into Rebirth? Here's what you need to know.

As part of a trilogy of games remaking Final Fantasy VII from 1997, Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth takes a ton of cues from that classic title. 1997 was, of course, almost 30 years ago, so do you have to play the original FFVII to enjoy Rebirth? Let’s discuss.

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Rebirth is Its Own Game, But…

Closeup of Cloud in Nibelheim in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Answering whether you should play earlier Final Fantasy VII games before Rebirth is complicated. My gut says, “Of course you should,” because both the 1997 original and some of the others, like Crisis Core, are fantastic games in their own right. Rebirth builds and expands on the story and gameplay of both titles in various ways.

On the other hand, there are certain medium-defining moments from 1997 that, short of revealing anything about them, you don’t want to have spoiled. There are also some changes in other parts of Rebirth that I, as an FFVII snob, don’t necessarily agree with. As a result, I have no way of knowing what kind of effect certain set pieces will have on a more modern audience. Both my parents were still alive when I played the classic FFVII as a kid, and now I’ve had to say goodbye to one of them, and that informed my reaction to several important moments.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is also a much larger game than its predecessor. The main story, which is roughly half of the classic’s, takes about as much time to complete as a full playthrough of the original. Locations have doubled or tripled in size and complexity, there are more minigames than you can shake several sticks at, and most importantly, every story beat is much more in-depth, with more time spent on character development and personality.

There are also some concessions made to the plot to keep it at a T rating, all of which I understand, but some I don’t necessarily agree with. Again, without revealing anything additional about the most important scenes, I’ll simply say that FF7 Rebirth isn’t quite as dark at points as its source material. And I really wish it was.

I would, however, be remiss not to mention that there are some brand-new stories on offer in Rebirth. Almost all of the new content is supplementary to what we had back in 1997 and is made possible by better hardware, a fully-voiced cast, and a need for some space-filling for some of the duller or slower moments from the first game.

It’s Not All Sunshine and Roses

The Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth crew in the Kalm Inn
Screenshot by GameSkinny

As I mentioned in my review of Final Fantasy 7: Rebirth, the game suffers from some 21st-century open-world design tropes that frustrate more than they entertain, and the mission design often leaves something to be desired. I do think the combat is on an entirely different level, despite my love of turn-based RPG design. You can immediately feel how complex and crazy the combat in Rebirth can get. I’m no master of action game mechanics, so I often resorted to a few tried-and-true strategies and copious button mashing, but an expert in fighting and action titles will have an absolute field day with this game.

Lastly, there’s the fact I can play the entire Final Fantasy VII story in my head backward and forward, so part of the fun of Rebirth was seeing what developers changed, expanded, or omitted. I’ve also played every other mainline FFVII game besides the newer mobile titles, and that includes the horrendous Dirge of Cerberus. Someone new to the series will have a vastly different time with Rebirth than I or other veterans of the franchise.

All that is to say, I think you can enjoy Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth on its own merits without needing to play any of the earlier games in the series. However, I also think having that historical knowledge of the earlier titles enhances and recontextualizes almost every important narrative moment and gives you a deeper appreciation for the design of the 1997 classic.

I wish I could give a more definitive answer to the question, but if you want to experience Rebirth now while it’s fresh, then no, I don’t think you need to play other Final Fantasy 7 games to enjoy it. You should, but it’s not required. And maybe going back once you finish Rebirth will be just as enjoyable for a newcomer as it was for a veteran like me to see things from a different perspective.

If you enjoyed this article and want more Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth content, check out our guides hub for the game.


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Author
John Schutt
John Schutt has been playing games for almost 25 years, starting with Super Mario 64 and progressing to every genre under the sun. He spent almost 4 years writing for strategy and satire site TopTierTactics under the moniker Xiant, and somehow managed to find time to get an MFA in Creative Writing in between all the gaming. His specialty is action games, but his first love will always be the RPG. Oh, and his avatar is, was, and will always be a squirrel, a trend he's carried as long as he's had a Steam account, and for some time before that.