Biggest story differences between FF7 Rebirth & the original

Biggest story differences between FF7 Rebirth & the original
Images via Square Enix

Written by 

Issy van der Velde


20th Mar 2024 17:21

Fans of the original Final Fantasy 7 will have noticed that Remake and Rebirth can sometimes stray quite far from the source material. While gameplay and graphical changes are to be expected, what’s surprising people most are the story differences. Whether you played the original as a kid or just want to know what Rebirth has done differently, here are the biggest story differences.

SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for the events of both the original Final Fantasy 7, as well as Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth.

The biggest story changes in FF7 Rebirth

The Black Materia

cloud and aerith looking stunned
Click to enlarge

This is the artefact that allows Sephiroth to summon Meteor, an object capable of destroying The Planet. In the original, it’s just there. In Rebirth, the Black Materia and its creators, the Gi, are given new life. 

The Gi are not from The Planet, and so are unable to return to the Lifestream when they die. They are instead stuck in a permanent limbo. They create the Black Materia to destroy themselves and The Planet, freeing themselves but killing everyone and everything in the process.

Characters have more depth

yuffie holding up a materia and winking
Click to enlarge

With Remake taking a six-hour chunk of the original game and spreading over 30 or more, all characters naturally got a lot more time to shine. The same has happened in Rebirth. All characters have more to say and do, and Cloud’s relationships with them are explored in more detail. Yuffie went from an entirely optional party addition in the original to a core member of the team in Rebirth.

The way she, Cid, and Vincent are introduced are also all different from the original game. Yuffie was a random encounter in a forest; she steals your materia and is only added to your party if you chase her and beat her in a fight. Cid is originally recruited in Rocket Town, a location you don’t go to in Rebirth. And Vincent isn’t able to join your party for fights like he is in the original, instead being an important side character.

There are also six possible Gold Saucer dates in Rebirth as opposed to the original’s four. Red XIII and a group date with Cait Sith, Cid, and Vincent have been added. Zack is also a fully playable character in Rebirth. In the original, he just featured in some flashbacks, but now you can take control of him. His chapters don’t really make sense until the end of the game and arguably the biggest change of all.

There's some Multiverse shenanigans going on

In the original FF7, Aerith is killed by Sephiroth around halfway through. In Rebirth, Aerith still dies at the end, but it seems she may still be alive in another universe, alongside her ex-boyfriend Zack. The prologue chapter lays the foundation for this reveal. Playing as Zack, he and Cloud enter Midgar together, coming across Tifa, Red XIII, and Barett all dead on the highway. This is obviously impossible, as the end of Remake sees Cloud and the gang succeed.

Zack is present for the final fight against Sephiroth, although Cloud doesn’t seem to be able to notice his presence. Aerith also helps Cloud fight Sephiroth, even though we just witnessed her die. Cloud even speaks to Aerith directly in the epilogue.

Something strange is going on. Whether it’s separate timelines or different universes, only Zack and Cloud appear to be aware of it at all. The final game in the remake trilogy could see the two SOLDIERs trying to merge the timelines to save everyone.

For more Final Fantasy Rebirth help, like finding the Tonberry King Crown or getting the best weapons in the game, we've got you covered.

Issy loves video games, his houseplants, and short author bios.

These are the best party combinations in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth
All FF7 Rebirth Lifespring locations in every region, from Grasslands to Nibel
Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail release date, trailers, story, gameplay & more
Final Fantasy 16 The Rising Tide DLC is launching next month - here's when
These are the best weapons for all characters in FF7 Rebirth & how to find them