Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth creative director didn’t want "reflex-type" action without the strategic elements he considers "core" to the JRPG series

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth characters
(Image credit: Square Enix)

For the Square Enix developers behind Final Fantasy 7 Remake and its sequel Rebirth, moving the series to a more action-oriented take with its combat was a key focus, but still retaining the franchise's tactical decision-making was especially vital. They succeeded in that careful balancing act with Remake, but with Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, that core concept expands even further.

In an interview published in Game Informer magazine, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth creative director Tetsuya Nomura and battle director Teruki Endo spoke about the unique balance they have to strike when developing the combat engine and how the strategy element is a core part of the franchise's history.

"I do have this idea of how Final Fantasy battles should be and should feel," said the game director in the Game Informer interview. "We want to keep this strategy element intact, in which the player will consider the elemental weaknesses of enemies during battle while using these action moves and being engaged. That was always my core belief in how we should approach Final Fantasy battles. [...] I thought this was truly vital to this game; I didn't want it to be a game where it's a reflex-type action or reflex-based battle; we wanted to combine all of these elements."

2020's Final Fantasy 7 Remake earned wide praise for its approach to "remaking" FFVII, and one particular point of praise was its combat. While having elements of a satisfying character action game, it also stuck close to the series' use of battle commands and special attacks in its transition away from the turn-based format of the original. With Remake, the battle felt like a reflex-focused engagement where attacking, blocking, and dodging were pulled off in real time. Yet, you still had to pick your moments to execute tactical commands to get the upper hand against foes.

With Rebirth, combat will have even more tactical elements with the introduction of team attacks where party members can combine moves in a fight. According to battle director Teruki Endo, the Final Fantasy series features many characters that bring a particular style and utility to combat. For Rebirth, it was especially important to let battles showcase these characters and let them have their moments.

"Seeing that the Final Fantasy series has a strong focus on its characters, I believe the action enhances this and lets the players be further immersed into the characters as they play," said the battle director. "Along with the strategic battles that I believe are key to Final Fantasy VII, I wanted to see how best I could mix these two elements of the command and strategy-based battle with the action that allows for that instance immersion."

So far, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is shaping up to be a massive upgrade from the original's Midgar-focused storyline, allowing players to explore the larger world. In GamesRadar's recent hands-on preview, editor Iain Harris stated: "Despite all the changes that are likely to come, then, previewing Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth reassures me that the game won't be morphed into something unrecognizable. And now, I'm keener for the unfamiliar, what it brings."

For more on Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, check out our detailed guide on everything we know so far, and if you're looking for other games to try out ahead of Rebirth's launch, check out our roundup of the best JRPGs to play right now.

Alessandro Fillari

Alessandro is a freelance writer and editor based in the San Francisco Bay Area who has covered the games, tech, and entertainment industries for more than 13 years. Having previously worked at GameSpot, CNET, and various other outlets writing features and coordinating event coverage, Alessandro enjoys playing games on PC, but also gives plenty of time to his Nintendo Switch. You can find him on various socials at @afillari.