You drop into a large map as a gaseous storm slowly moves in, shrinking the area you can fight in. You loot weapons and hunt down other players to fight. Currently, this can be done alone or in three-player teams. The ultimate goal is to be the last one standing.
In look and feel, The First Soldier is very similar to games like PUBG Mobile and Garena Free Fire that have millions of players on mobile. Square Enix clearly hopes to replicate the success those games have seen by capitalizing on growing interest in the Final Fantasy VII world.
Inverse participated in the Closed Beta on Android, which runs until 11:59 p.m. on June 7, 2021. While seeing all of the ways FF7 manifests in a battle royale starts out fairly charming, after a couple of hours, The First Soldier begins to feel like a dull, trend-chasing spin-off.
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Before a match, players choose one of four classes — Warrior, Monk, Sorcerer, and Ranger — and each has different abilities. The Ranger’s Assess ability shows if any enemies are nearby, which will undoubtedly make it a top-tier pick. Players can level up each of these classes to unlock new items in lieu of a traditional battle pass system.
Once you’re in a match, you’re able to control the helicopter you drop from, so that means more autonomy in terms of where you want to drop compared to any other battle royale. The map does feel a bit too big, even though players can move around quickly and climb any wall. The storm also takes a bit too long to kill you if you get stuck in it.
This ultimately leads to long, boring stretches of gameplay, an issue that plague most mediocre battle royales. At the very least, you can explore the map and see all of the iconic Final Fantasy VII locations the game features like Corneo’s Mansion and the Train Graveyard.
Once you’re on the ground, you can loot Materia magic spells in addition to guns, and these make up your loadout. You’ll probably always want Cure in your arsenal so you can heal yourself. Various creatures from Final Fantasy 7 Remake are also scattered around the map, and you can fight them to level up your skills and character.
And that’s about it. The Closed Beta only features one map, and outside what’s mentioned above this game doesn’t do much to separate itself from the plethora of battle royales that are already out there. While Square Enix found these ways to add some Final Fantasy flair to the experience, none of them are super original or move the needle for the battle royale genre in a major way.
It is still in Closed Beta, but I doubt that much will change between now and release regarding how it plays. This game is disappointing as a third-person Final Fantasy shooter, but it has a lot of potential. Final Fantasy spin-off Dirge of Cerberus messed with this idea. While that game is mediocre, it still is more original and compelling than The First Soldier, which is just capitalizing on the success of both battle royales and FF7 remake.
The novelty of riding a Chocobo or using classic Final Fantasy spells in a battle royale only lasts for so long, and after that, you’re stuck with a boring battle royale with a Final Fantasy VII skin.
Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier will be released for iOS and Android in 2021.