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Should You Just Play The Main Story?

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Cloud and Zack stumble toward the city of Midgar with their backs to the camera.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth has finally arrived. The second installment of Square Enix’s attempt to remake one of the most celebrated video games of all time is here for PlayStation 5. The massive RPG offers damn near close to (if not more) than 100 hours of gameplay. Now you might be asking yourself: Do I race to the end and mop up the side stuff later? Or do I do every possible side quest and random activity to avoid not missing out?

Read More: PSA: Be Careful Skipping Cutscenes In FF7 Rebirth’s Flashback Chapter

How you play Rebirth is largely up to you and it’s totally valid to either enjoy the main story from start to finish with relatively few diversions, or spend well over 50 hours doing everything you possibly can. This guide will walk you through some considerations from someone who has spent well over 100 hours in Rebirth and is a lifelong lover of Final Fantasy VII. So read on for advice on how to best manage this colossal game.

Rebirth has a clear point of no return

For the game’s first 12 chapters, you have varying amounts of freedom to traverse the world at your leisure (certain scripted sequences will lock you out of the open world from time to time). Chapters 13 and 14, however, are the home stretch and you won’t be able to turn back until you finish the game.

Read More: How To Get FF7 Rebirth’s Bonus Materia From A Remake Save File

I won’t spoil what that point of no return is, but know that you will be given a clear prompt (and the cadence of the narrative will also make itself clear that you’re heading into the climax) that will say “Land here? You will not be able to return after landing.”

How eager are you to know what happens in Rebirth?

Oh, I get it. When Remake arrived in 2020 to shake things up with its meta-textual narrative, many of us were absolutely dying to know the answer to countless questions: What’s gonna happen to Aerith? What the hell is with these Whispers, really? How open world will Rebirth be? Will Cloud really raid Tifa’s wardrobe and…well, I’m sure we all have those moments in FF7 we’re eager to see brought to life in 2024.

Screenshot: Square Enix / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

There’s another factor to consider as well: How long do you want to put up with dodging spoilers on the internet? Rebirth covers some of the most critical moments in the original story, and the longer it’s out in the wild, the more likely you are to casually come across spoilers on any number of websites.

Read More: PSA: A Final Fantasy VII Spin-Off You Didn’t Play Matters In Rebirth

There’s a lot of joy to be had in just wandering around Rebirth, soaking up this beautiful recreation of some of gaming’s most iconic locales.But if you’re here for the main act, you might be better off moving through that story and then mopping up everything afterwards.

Note that Rebirth’s campaign sequences are very linear and sometimes very long. The game is typically good at warning you before proceeding into a long scripted scenario, but you don’t want to end up facing off against a boss who you are very unequipped for. That’s why going back and grinding a bit is sometimes a valuable strategy to keep the game moving forward. Always plant a hard save down before progressing the story beyond major moments.

“New Game Plus” in Rebirth is very kind

Once you hit the credits screen in Rebirth, you’ll be able to select any individual chapter from the game and replay it, and you can choose to finish side quests based on where you left them, or reset all of them and start from scratch. But that’s not all you get when Rebirth’s campaign concludes.

Rebirth is perhaps more of an open-world game than many had anticipated. When you wrap up the main story, you’ll get access to a “Play Log” that will break down how many of the open-world activities are left to complete, as well percentage meters for your affinity with each party member. You’ll also get the ability to auto-pickup crafting resources, saving you the trouble of constantly mashing triangle to pick up resources.

After the main story, Rebirth becomes an easier open-world RPG to navigate and manage. In some ways, that’s a good argument for skipping everything and just gunning the main story: You’ll have an easier time doing everything else later.

If you skip most of the side stuff, be sure to load in to chapter 12 after completing the story and play at least up until you meet with Dio again at the Gold Saucer’s arena, or just before heading to the Temple of the Ancients (the game’s point of no return). From there you can fast travel practically anywhere in the world just by clicking on a map icon and can swiftly read up on what objectives you need to accomplish (not to mention be pretty well equipped and leveled to take on challenging fights).

Rebirth side quests on their own are meh, but added up make a great experience

Almost every side quest relates to a character in your party: Aerith, Barret, Tifa, or Red XIII. That character will contribute direct and ambient dialogue to the side quest. While the core subject material of these quests isn’t exactly riveting material, that time spent with the other characters does feel meaningful.

Barret poses in front of Red XIII with his arms spread wide open.

Screenshot: Square Enix / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

With a cast of characters who to many of us FF7 fans feel like real people, even the most boring of activities can feel like a fun time, and you’ll come to learn some interesting facts about them all, too . So consider doing at least a few of these. Plus, they’ll influence which character you have a special moment with later in the game.

Try not to skip the Protorelic quests though—especially the one at Cosmo Canyon

If you’re going to skip the side content, especially the open-world stuff, try not to miss the Protorelic quests. These are four-part quests that see Cloud and the party chasing down mysterious relics, with each one concluding in a strange and humorous vision.

While the actual meat and potatoes of what you’re doing (which is often just fighting or playing a mini game or two) isn’t exciting, there’s some really funny and endearing moments in these quests. And the Cosmo Canyon Protorelic quest in particular literally brought me to tears with its touching tribute to some characters from Remake—one that powerfully resonates with Barret’s original Cosmo Canyon bonfire speech in the 1997 version. Don’t miss this one, please!

Rebirth’s date night with your bestie is an important consideration

If your heart’s set on gunning for the conclusion of Rebirth, there is one major consideration you may want to make. In chapter 12 you’ll go on a date with one of the game’s party members. The game determines which character will join you based on your affinity level with each one.

You can check a character’s affinity anytime, whether you’ve finished the main game or not, by holding L1. This pulls up a smiley-face icon above each character’s head with a too-tiny-to-read meter. The face icon transitions from gray to purple to green to blue, signifying you’ve reached the max level with any particular character..

You raise affinity in two ways: side-quests and Synergy Skills. Each side-quest stars one of the party members as a secondary character fully invested in whatever Cloud is being asked to do. Finishing these side-quests will raise your affinity with that character. Also, when you activate a Synergy Skill in combat, you’ll change and deepen your relationship with that character.

If you’re not sure who you’ll end up on a date with, plant a hard save before chatting with the hotel’s staff at the Gold Saucer and see who you get in the following cutscenes.

Rebirth is a very linear game, but who you go on a date with might play an important role in how you interpret the story, and who you think is most meaningful to Cloud. If you don’t care for the open-world stuff, getting the right person on your date is one of the few main reasons to dip into the side content.

You’ll only play Rebirth for the first time once

While the call of Rebirth’s ultimate revelations might be irresistible, so too is the experience of simply wandering around the world, taking in the sights and sounds, and engaging in fun, strategic battles. Like in the original game, Rebirth’s presentation of its wider world is something to be enjoyed and soaked in.

Aerith looks over at Cloud.

Screenshot: Square Enix / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

So, even if you’re eager to head on to the Temple of Ancients and Forgotten Capital (FF7 Rebirth’s final areas), consider staying a while and seeing what the rest of the game has to offer. The busywork of the open world can be a bit much from time to time, but if you pace yourself throughout, the world will feel fresher and less repetitive. All of this extra activity simply means more time spent with this incredible cast of characters, a soundtrack that is to die for, and a faithful visual retelling of one of the greatest world’s gaming has known.


Rebirth is an epic RPG meant to be savored. Whether you save all the extra side stuff for later or check everything off your list before heading to its conclusion, if you’re a FF7 fan, this will be a wonderful time either way.

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