Seven new Mechanics that change up the game in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth

It’s hard to believe that we’re now less than half a year from the release of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, but with Square Enix’s recently announced release date of February 29th, that’s the case. 

RPG Site recently got to go hands-on with the same demo of FF7 Rebirth that’s available for the public to play this week at Tokyo Game Show - and as well as our full FF7 Rebirth preview discussing our experience with the demo in-depth, we wanted to to break out a few mechanical notes about how Rebirth differs from Remake in terms of how it plays.

So, without further ado - here’s seven new mechanics that we saw that’ll change up how you play with Cloud & company in FF7 Rebirth:

The ‘Item Transmuter’ is a new Crafting System, and gives you a reason to go on Hunts

New in FF7 Rebirth’s main menu is the ‘Item Transmuter’ - essentially a crafting system that allows you to create items from items found out in the world.

In the Junon portion of the hands-on, items can be found just dotted around the map to be picked up with a tap of Triangle, but rarer items can be obtained by having your Chocobo sniff and hunt them out, digging them from underground - or by taking down notable Fiends in FF7 Rebirth’s equivalent of hunts.

How deep the Item Transmuter system will go isn’t yet clear, but in the demo you can craft items like Potions, Hi-Potions, Ether, Elixir, and more. There’s a ‘Craftsmanship’ level, and each time you craft new items your craftsmanship level increases, which will presumably unlock more items to craft. This includes some new items for FF7 Remake - and the FF series in general…

Items & Materia Double Up in new ways

There’s a handful of new items in FF7 Rebirth over FF7 Remake - and they’re going to make a significant difference to how you play. 

Some are simple, like the ‘Mist Potion’ - which comes in multiple variants and spreads a ‘Mist’ over the battlefield which basically means - it heals your whole party, rather than just one character. But more interesting by far are the ‘Mixed’ additions.

The ‘Mixed Potion’, for instance, restores both HP and MP. And, by a similar token, you can now get Double-function Materia. ‘Fire and Ice Materia’ unlocks both Fire and Blizzard element spells for one Materia slot, for instance. We also spotted ‘Lightning and Wind’ materia - same deal.

Despite this, the individual versions of each materia do still appear to exist - so these must be later unlocks, or perhaps something you can synthesize out of individual materia.

AI Characters can now use Spells & Abilities solo - with certain materia equipped

The blue-hued Support Materia was one of the least-utilized types of Materia in FF7 Remake - but Rebirth is ramping things up with a few new types - and one in particular catches the eye.

The new ‘Auto-Cast’ materia can be slotted into a character’s double materia slot - and when that’s the case, that character will be able to use that materia’s skills or magic even when they haven’t been expressly commanded to by the player. In FF7 Remake, the player had to intervene to trigger any major ability usage.

Similarly, in the hands-on we spotted a few new Purple Independent Materia that have similar effects. The ‘Auto-Unique Ability’ materia lets a character use their unique ability (the attack that’s on the Triangle button) even when not directly controlled. And the ‘Auto-Weapon Ability’ does the same for your unlocked weapon abilities. 

Basically, by slapping these Materia on characters, you can make the AI controlled allies much more effective in battle - at a cost of narrowing how many ability-granting materia they have equipped. Regardless, this seems to make FF7 Rebirth a more friendly game to play as a single-character game, if that’s your wish.

You can set up Preset Party Compositions in the menu and switch at will

While the actual ability to edit them wasn’t available in this hands-on, the menus clearly show the option for at least three different party composition presets for players to fill and flick between.

Playable in the demo are Cloud, Barret, Tifa, Aerith, and Red XIII - plus Sephiroth in the flashback. We also know that Yuffie and Cait Sith will be full party members. That makes for seven ‘main’ party members at a minimum - and you’ll be able to set up customized party load-outs to bring your favorite characters together.

You could switch between various Square-designed parties in the demo, however - and you can do that any time you’re out in the world and not in a combat situation. The characters not in your party stick around on the fringes, and are even visible ‘participating’ in combat - but they have no real impact, and can’t be directly controlled. 

Synergy Abilities are accessed by using your ATB Gauge

Synergy Abilities are FF7 Rebirth’s new name for the fancy team-up attacks - and while we’re not yet 100% certain on how these attacks are unlocked and accessed, we do now know how they are executed in battle.

It’s basically all about ATB charges. Say your party is Cloud, Red XIII, and Aerith. Cloud has a unique possible synergy attack with Aerith, and another with Red. In order to unlock it for use, Cloud and his partner must both build up and then spend two bars of their ATB meter.

So, say you get Cloud 2 bars of ATB and spam the still mad-powerful Triple Slash twice - and then have Aerith use Sorcerous Storm twice - you’ll then be able to cast their Synergy ability, which in this case is Aerith powering up Cloud to deliver a magically-infused ranged attack.

The synergy attacks seem to be hugely powerful, and will be ideal for unleashing on staggered enemies. They don’t appear to cost any ATB bars to use beyond those expended to ‘unlock’ them.

Some Rest Spots will require a special item to use

One of the items you can craft in the Item Transmuter is eye-catching thanks to its utility - a Cushion. 

In FF7 Remake, you could restore party members HP and MP by resting at benches that were strategically placed throughout levels. Often, as you approached a boss area, you’d see a rather inconspicuous bench waiting for you, a stark warning that a big battle was to come.

In that game, you simply had to press Triangle to grab a seat and rest a while - but in Rebirth, it appears at least some of the rest stops will not be all that comfortable - which is where the Cushion will come in.

The Cushion is a presumably one-time use item that allows you to make use of a less comfortable rest stop - thus allowing you to restore HP there. This puts at least something of a cap on how often you can rest in some locations - but you can freely craft Cushions with the Transmuter, so long as you have the necessary materials.

Chocobo can be Outfitted with Gear - though it all appears to be cosmetic

In the Junon area you can explore as part of the demo, there’s a Chocobo Farm - not the iconic one from FF7, which the party has likely already visited at this stage, but an all-new location. Here, we get a glimpse at some new ways to spend time and money - customizing your Chocobos.

By heading into the Chocoboutique, you can equip your trusty steeds with three different items - a headgear piece, a chest piece, and something for their taloned feet.

In the demo, you could obtain new parts by trading Golden Plumes, which in turn were earned by helping out Chocobo Chicks in a separate side quest. In the demo there were only two armor sets: a Shinra set, and a ‘Scorpion’ set which is clearly inspired by the Scorpion Sentinel boss from the first game.

The screen for equipping the Chocobo gear didn’t indicate there was any stats change - so it may just be cosmetic. However, it’ll be interesting to see if these parts have any bearing on the Gold Saucer’s Chocobo Racing mini game.