Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth Sets a New Gold Standard for Video Game Demos
The more the better.
Over the last few years, Square Enix has done an exceptional job of providing meaningful demos for a huge portion of their games, from smaller titles like Harvestella to gargantuan releases like Final Fantasy XVI. That strategy continues with Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth but is being pushed a step further, as the demo will get an update with another lengthy section of the game later in the month. It’s a smart move that helps to both entice and inform players, and should be more of a standard.
Rebirth follows in the footsteps of Final Fantasy XVI’s demo, letting players go through the entire first chapter of the game, which in this case is the entire Nibelheim flashback. It’s a hefty two-hour dose of the game, and even better, your progress carries over to the full release. But that’s not nearly all, as on February 21 the Rebirth demo will get updated with an entirely new section, letting players tackle the open world outside of Junon, an area part-way through.
While multiplayer betas often receive updates, it’s fairly unprecedented to see a single-player demo like this get a massive update after launching, especially for such a highly-anticipated game. It’s genuinely a brilliant move, however, as it lets players experience two major aspects of the game.
The Nibelheim section of the demo sets the stage for Rebirth’s story and gives you a taste of the game’s storytelling, on top of introducing you to combat. But side content has been a major piece of Square Enix’s marketing for Rebirth, and Nibelheim doesn’t show any of that. That’s exactly where Junon comes in, which is the same demo we played back in September 2023.
Junon is the exact opposite of Nibelheim, giving you a massive open world area to explore, side quests to partake in, activities like challenge battles, and more. It’s a good representation of how those aspects of Rebirth work, while also giving you a mid-game party with expanded combat options.
Most demos give you a snippet of the beginning of a game to get an idea, but Rebirth’s demo lets you form an idea of how its gameplay systems can evolve across the experience. That’s something that more games could benefit from, especially massive RPGs and open world titles.
These 100-hour experiences can be a serious commitment, more so for anyone with job or family commitments. Demos like Rebirth can be vital for making decisions on whether a game is for you or not, giving you a complete capsule of gameplay to properly make that decision.
There’s a degree of confidence on Square Enix’s part going into Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, but providing more ways for players to get a sense of what a game feels like is universally a good thing. Giving you a snapshot of two pieces could work wonders for games that are slow-burns that take dozens of hours to get going, such as Starfield, Fire Emblem, Assassin’s Creed, or even strategy titles like Homeworld 3.
Square Enix has essentially set the standard for what modern video game demos should be, and Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth only raises the bar even higher. Hopefully, it’s something others take note of.