There are a few details now known about the upcoming JRPG Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, otherwise known as Final Fantasy 7 Remake part 2. Gamers have been shown some brief gameplay footage, as well as several interviews from the creators which have shed a little light on what to expect. Those details hint that the original game's core story elements will all be present, but the order in which things play out may alter slightly. The big question remaining is just how linear the narrative will be. In a game that will need to cover as much ground as Rebirth likely will, a linear narrative might not be what's needed.

Events in Final Fantasy 7 see the world open up massively for the player after the Midgar section of the story. Seeing the world map for the first time can be overwhelming for players who, up to that point, were used to being contained inside the steel plates of the slums. Based on the original, there's a lot to swallow with a whole map to explore, gamers are able to experience events in different orders, and recruitable party members like Yuffie and Vincent Valentine are entirely missable depending on where players go and what they choose to do. This added to the sense of awe, and replayability, with many people keen to go back and experience things differently the second time round. Given the complexity of the story involved, Rebirth should follow suit, and ditch the linear narrative entirely.

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Final Fantasy 7 Was Made For Open-World

Final Fantasy 7 Remake was a pretty straightforward and guided game. Due to the entire game only covering the Midgar area of the story, which was the one linear section of the original Playstation classic, it was an incredibly linear experience with little room for exploration.

In terms of the story it will likely tell, Rebirth couldn't be any further away from Remake. Rather than being contained in one City, the narrative is very likely to span numerous areas from the world of Gaia, ranging from Theme Park Gold Saucer to the beachside town of Costa Del Sol. Producer Yoshinori Kitase has confirmed that the locations and key story elements of FF7 will be present, but not necessarily in the same order. While it is clear that changing the order of locations may impact the story considerably, it's easy to see how this could excel with a non-linear progression route. If Rebirth implements an open world for gamers to explore at their leisure, each gamer's story could be different.

How much of a challenge the game will pose for veteran RPG players could also hinge on whether it is open world or not. Another linear experience will mean fighting monsters and bosses in one specific order. This means if the player does hit a wall like some probably did when encountering the Hell House boss in FF7 Remake, there is nothing to do but simply keep trying. An open-world format will give players the chance to go away and find other challenges, until they are better prepared, as was demonstrated in FromSoftware's Elden Ring. Giving players the freedom and choice to approach challenges in different orders will ultimately make the game more accessible.

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Linear Narratives Can Have Their Advantages

The original story is one of the most well-crafted narratives in the industry. There are several key moments in Final Fantasy 7 that gamers likely can't wait to experience again, and it is not entirely known how much ground Rebirth will cover, given the fact it is the 2nd game in a trilogy. FF7 Remake only covered less than 20% of the story in its entirety, so there's a huge amount of ground left to cover. While it is undeniable that FF7 Remake was extremely well received by both fans and critics, one of the few areas of criticism it received was due to the linear nature of the experience. Aside from side missions found in the slums and backtracking to earlier areas to participate in small activities that weren't part of the main story, the game didn't really offer gamers the opportunity to explore Midgar at their own leisure.

There is a case to be made for linear narratives though, and they certainly aren't without their merits. Little room for side missions and fetch quests usually results in a tight, gripping narrative that gets players heavily invested. This was definitely the case in FF7 Remake, and it also looks to be the case for the upcoming Final Fantasy 16, which has a story that is more personal than past games. If Rebirth does take the linear option, there's no doubt it will still tell a rich, detailed story that will likely leave fans satisfied. But ultimately, due to the huge world waiting to be explored, it would hinder the experience.

Whatever route Square Enix decides to take, gamers likely won't have too long to wait before finding out. Over the coming months, fans can expect further announcements and updates regarding Rebirth's progress, and there should be more light shed on details regarding the gameplay and story. However events play out, the experience is promising to be an unforgettable one for Cloud and his friends.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is currently in development and is set to release next Winter on PS5.

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