How Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth Perfects The Hybrid Combat Of Its Predecessor

If you thought it was complex before, prepare to be shocked.

Story Highlights

  • Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth’s combat mechanics are a vast upgrade over the already brilliant ATB system.
  • The addition of definite aerial combos and perfect evasions gives more control over the battle.
  • Synergy abilities bestow tactical advantage, as the heroes join forces to unleash game-changing moves.

When it comes to games, are you a graphics person? Or a gameplay person? Do beautiful and photorealistic visuals matter the most to you? Or is creative and engaging gameplay more up your alley? If I talk about myself, I’m surely the latter type. Visuals don’t matter much if it means the gameplay is interesting. This is precisely why I always revisit and enjoy classic games, despite them being graphically outdated.

Specifically speaking, it’s the core combat system that interests me most of the time. Take Team Ninja’s games for example. Although they have issues, the combat has always been the developer’s forte, much to my delight. And speaking of creative combat systems, the discussion would go incomplete without the FF7 remake and the brilliant sequel: Rebirth.

  • About the Author: I’ve played Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth for over 170 hours, therefore you can completely trust the information mentioned below.

YouTube video

Final Fantasy 7 Remake — The Ingenious Hybrid Combat

At this point, I don’t think I need to go into the details of Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s greatness. Thus, I’ll be sticking to the combat. As you might be aware, Square put a unique spin on conventional turn-based combat back during the initial days of the Final Fantasy series. This created the brilliant ATB-style combat system.

The same system was present in the original Final Fantasy 7, too. ATB or “Active Time Battle” is a specific gauge that fills over time as the character uses basic attacks. Once you get an ATB stack, you can consume it to perform specific actions like spells, abilities, or use items. For the remake, the developers came up with something even more fascinating.

The tactical ATB implementation was pretty well done
The tactical ATB implementation was pretty well done

This was the hybrid combat system — combining real-time action combat with the turn-based ATB system. So how exactly does it work? During combat, you can control Cloud or any other party member with seamless switching and use basic attacks and dodges like a standard action RPG. Doing so fills your ATB gauge, which you can use to pause time momentarily and execute all the specific actions.

FF7R is *THE* best ATB we have so far
byu/WyrmHero1944 inFinalFantasy

This can be done for any party member and gives a great deal of freedom across the battlefield. Plus, it complicates situations and combinations to a very enjoyable degree. My explanation might not be able to do it justice, but this combat system is one of my favorite modern gameplay aspects, and I was both shocked and overjoyed to see Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth improve upon this already brilliant formula.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth Throws Perfect Defense And Aerial Combat Into The Mix

You must be wondering, how exactly is it an improvement, so let me go into some of the details. The basic combat system remains the same as the prequel, but Rebirth includes some pretty creative additions to your standard gameplay loop. The first thing the game will tell you almost immediately is the addition of proper aerial combat.

The first game featured some basic aerial moves, but that was all. Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth introduces solid and creative aerial combat mechanics. You can actively control the shift between ground and aerial movement, and many of the characters’ abilities now come with the additional description: “usable in air.” Plus, it also adds some ranged attacks to the strictly melee characters.

A compilation of Cloud’s Improved aerial capability(Breakdown within)
byu/Flat_Implement5838 inFFVIIRemake

Aerial combat is certainly impressive, but there’s something even more valuable in your arsenal now: perfect defensive moves. Blocking or evading an attack at the right moment turns it into a perfect block or dodge respectively. Perfect blocks completely negate damage received, and perfect dodges can easily pressure certain foes.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth adds perfect blocks to negate damage
Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth adds perfect blocks to negate damage

Essentially, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth not only improves your offense but solidifies your defensive potential as well. The existence of these perfect evasion means your AI-controlled allies can also execute them to some extent, prolonging their longevity on the battlefield. Pair up perfect blocks with a Steadfast Block materia and you’ll never run out of ATB.

And if you want to teach the melee-loving enemies a lesson, utilize perfect blocks in Cloud’s Punisher mode, and see them regret their life choices.

Folios And Synergy Abilities In Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth Are Perfection Incarnate

That was about the standard, “action” part of the combat. But did you know? Your ATB arsenal has some improvements that leave even these in the dust when it comes to strategic planning. These are the new Synergy Skills and Abilities unlocked via the Folio system.

So, what’s this Folio you ask? These are essentially skill books for every character, a progression skill tree. They hold standard stat boosts, as well as the creative Synergy system and elemental attacks. First, let me tell you about these elemental attacks. Every character can unlock the ability to perform elemental attacks using the Ability menu.

Do you know what this means? Even if you don’t have the materia that corresponds to a foe’s weakness, you can use these “elemental abilities” to pressure them. It’s a neat little trick I’ve grown to appreciate. But the real deal is the Synergy Skills and Abilities. 

Synergy Chart for Rebirth
byu/Shiroguma48 inFFVIIRemake

Synergy System is two allies teaming up to execute an attack. Synergy Skills are standard attacks you can use on the fly without any ATB or MP. They don’t deal as much damage but have superior utility applications like counters and defense. And then you have Synergy Abilities, the cannon versions of these guns.

These are ultimate-like skills with two characters teaming up and thus need appropriate preparation. Each character has these little blue pips next to them, obtained by performing certain ATB-consuming actions. When both characters have enough, you can unleash Synergy Abilities, and gain some game-changing effects like infinite MP for a duration, buffed-up Limit skills, or extra ATB gauges.

Synergy Abilities are as powerful as they are satisfying
Synergy Abilities are as powerful as they are satisfying

A Shame About The Performance Mode’s Shortcomings Though

With all that explanation, I think you’ve got a solid idea of just how much Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth has improved an already ingenious combat system. With brand new mechanics, refined existing ones, and extra layers to the complex strategies of the ATB system, Rebirth’s combat system never leaves you out of new things to try out.

However, having said all that, it’s truly a shame that you’re practically forced to play all this at 30 fps for the pristine experience. Why’s that you ask? Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth’s performance mode is a visual abomination that completely butchers image quality. So much so that you’re not doing the game’s beautiful world justice by not choosing the graphics mode.

just a simple side by side of graphics mode vs performance mode from demo
byu/wikid24 inFFVIIRemake

It’s a shame, true, but it should never stop you from trying out this brilliantly complex combat system that always has you craving for more.

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Hanzala is a dedicated writer who expresses his views as opinion pieces at eXputer. He's always been fascinated by gaming and has been an avid consumer of many different genres for over a decade. His passion for games has him eager to encounter the latest RPGs and actively look for new Soulslike to challenge. He puts forth his experience and knowledge of gaming into captivating opinion pieces.

Experience: 8+ months || Education: Bachelors in Chemistry.

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