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Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, Square Enix’s latest RPG, is an enormous game. And like any huge adventure, there are dozens of subsystems, features, and layers to navigate. If you’ve played the first game in the new trilogy, Final Fantasy VII Remake, you already have a good handle on the basics of modern FF7. But whether you’re coming to Rebirth as a total newbie or a die-hard fan, these are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you begin your journey.

1: The open world stuff doesn’t start until Chadley shows up

When you first leave Kalm and step out into the big open world of Rebirth, you might be tempted to run off and start exploring. By all means, give into that urge, but know that many activities won’t properly unlock until you meet up with Chadley at Bill’s Chocobo Ranch. Follow the story as scripted until you wrangle your first bird buddy, and you’ll come across the very chatty (and very needy) cyborg. He’ll ask you to activate a tower and your map will start filling up with icons noting places of interest.

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

If you explore before talking to Chadley, you won’t be able to activate any towers, scan lifesprings, and more.

2: Synergy Skills and Abilities are Essential

If you’re coming fresh off Remake, you might be tempted to default to the combat system you already know from the first game. While the fundamentals of the combat system are essentially the same, Synergy Skills and Abilities are worth getting used to sooner than later. Skills can be activated holding R1 and selecting a face button. Synergy Abilities are special combo moves you can use once you’ve used up enough ATB charges. We detail the Synergy Abilities more in our growing Rebirth combat guide.

3: Press L1 while traveling to view character affinity levels

A screenshot shows smiley faces above characters to indicate how much they like Cloud.

Not the little smiley faces above characters’ heads.
Screenshot: Square Enix / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

Want to know how much a certain character likes you? You’ve likely seen the little smiley faces over their heads during scripted sequences, but it’s not so obvious when you’re out exploring. If you hold down L1, you can see any character’s affinity level with Cloud at the present moment.

4: Sidequests significantly influence affinity

Want to raise your affinity with a specific character? Completing side quests is one of the best ways to do that. When you pick up a side quest, you’ll notice that one of the party members is likely to play a present role in the story. Should you complete that quest, you’ll raise your affinity with that character.

A screenshot of a map shows side quest progress in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.

Note: we’ve blurred out text and quest titles here to avoid possible spoilers.
Screenshot: Square Enix / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

If you’re not sure which character’s relationship will be boosted by a given quest, hit the touchpad to bring up the map and press L2 to tab over to the quests area. Here, you’ll see each quest for the region with one of the characters’ faces on the quest title.

5: Use the menu button for quick map navigation

Take it from someone who spent around 100 hours pulling back on the right analog stick to zoom through Rebirth’s many map layers.: All you need to do is press the menu/pause button (the one to the right of the touchpad on the DualSense) and you’ll automatically zoom out one layer at a time.

Speaking of the map…

6: The map menu is really important

Hitting the touchpad to bring up the map is something you should get used to doing early and often in Rebirth. While the menu button to the right of the touchpad is essential for managing inventory and character growth, the map itself is your command center for understanding quests, intel objectives, and so much more. The map menu is divided into main tabs and sub tabs. Navigate the main tabs with L2/R2, and the sub tabs with L1/R1.

To start, you should get into the habit of placing down a marker with R3, as the mini-map can often get a little cluttered. Don’t worry, it goes away when you arrive at the location, so you don’t have to go back in to turn off a pinned location.

A screenshot of a menu shows region progress in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.

Screenshot: Square Enix / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

Story and Quests breakdown the main narrative material in outline form, so you can quickly refresh yourself on what’s going on. The same is true of the game’s many sidequests. Under Intel and Chadley, you’ll find helpful info for keeping track of the various side activities in the game. In fact, under Chadley > Region Intel, you can read up on unlockable lore for each area. For example, did you know that most goods in the world are transported via sea and air? Or that the people of Junon have a unique and special relationship with the sea? If you’re dying to know more about FF7’s world, Region Intel is where it’s at.

7: You can restart almost all mini games at any time

Rebirth has an enormous amount of mini-games for you to play. And most of them will let you pause and retry (or at least quit, which you can then retry). Some mini-games might not go your way at first, like the Queen’s Blood card game. Save yourself the hassle of getting to an unsatisfactory score or a defeat screen and just repeat a mini-game if it’s giving you a hard time.

8: Feel free to mix up the open-world activities, with some exceptions

While I’d advise starting with side-quests and letting them guide you through the world (many involve other side objectives, so you’re often killing two birds with one stone by picking up the quests), feel free to take in the open-world activities at your leisure…with one notable exception: Fiend Intel.

Fiend Intel sees you take on unique monsters while your other cyborg companion Mai…laboriously talks over the whole thing. These quests often want you to Pressure, Stagger, and then defeat the creatures within a given time limit (the game will mix these objectives up from time to time based on the enemy). The problem with saving these activities until later on is that you risk becoming too overpowered to properly send an enemy to a Staggered condition. You’ll then need to equip lower-level weapons to complete these challenges, but even then, you might have to repeat these fights to satisfy all the conditions. Despite Mai being a touch overbearing, Fiend Intel is good practice for learning the battle system and should be used as such.

9: Keep track of items you want to craft

In the Item Transmuter menu, you can press square on any item to pin it to your to-do list. Not only does this move the item up to the front page of the Transmuter menu system, but you’ll see a purple indicator on your HUD to let you know when you’ve gathered enough materials for that item.

10: Always be assessing

Using Assess materia (which requires 1 ATB charge during battle and is found under Abilities) while fighting is essential to learn an enemy’s strengths and weaknesses. You should use this at the start of every fight with a new enemy to learn how to uniquely Pressure, Stagger, and exploit their weaknesses.

11: The touchpad is your best friend in combat

After you’ve assessed an enemy, you can recall their info at any time with the touchpad. Also, while viewing your Synergy Skills with R1, you can hit the touchpad to call up a menu that explains each move.

12:You can swap party members on the fly with X + L1/R1

You can configure up to three party makeups in the main menu. In the main menu, go to Combat Settings and hit square to edit the party. Here, you can toggle between three different party presets. Once out on the field, you can just hit X followed by L1 or R1 to switch up the party without menu diving.

13: Rotate out characters based on weapon skills

Burdened with choice paralysis over who should be in your party? Here’s a question to ask: Who has a weapon skill to learn? In the main menu, select Materia and Equipment and you’ll see a meter under each character. Some will be partially filled, while others will be filled with a yellow check mark. That bar represents weapon skills.

Anytime you get a new weapon for a character, they can learn a new weapon skill simply by using it in battle enough times. A great way to decide who should be getting fighting time in the game is to see who has weapon skills to learn. Whoever needs to learn their new skill should be actively fighting.

14: Feel free to experiment with materia

Some characters clearly benefit from certain roles. Aerith, for example, is the best at magic in the game, so it makes sense to give her lots of offensive and defensive spells to use. But since you can slot in any materia for any character, you can create some dynamic builds that offer a nice fusion of strategy and creativity.

A screenshot shows equipped materia for all characters in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.

Screenshot: Square Enix / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

You can view each character’s materia in the Materia and Equipment section. But if you hit the touchpad in this menu you can enter an overview screen that shows you all the materia everyone has equipped, easily swapping them across characters or clearing the board entirely to start fresh.

15: The autosave is a little too infrequent

If the only game you plan on playing on your PS5 is Rebirth, you might be fine with just suspending your console and returning where you left off. But Rebirth’s autosave doesn’t kick in as frequently as you might like. While I never lost a substantial amount of time, there were more than a few occasions where I lost a handful of hours of progress because I switched to another game before planting a hard save. Like any RPG, you should save regularly in Rebirth, especially if you’re going to play a different game or turn off your console.

16: Read the in-game manual

Confused about a certain game mechanic? Navigate to the Manual in the main menu to read up on everything from world traversal to combat systems. While you won’t find every possible tip and trick in the game (hi, that’s what we’re here for), there’s a ton of helpful info in here.


And that covers our initial tips to getting started with Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. What features of the new game surprised you? Are there any tips you’d recommend to new players?

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