Game Theory

FF7 Rebirth Makes Rufus Shinra More Important Than Ever

Shinra has some big plans.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth Rufus
Square Enix
Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth follows the same basic story structure of the original 1997 game, while introducing a wide array of new characters and details. While integrating elements of nearly every spinoff, Rebirth enhances the story for a few key side characters. Of course, this includes Zack Fair, but arguably the more important character this time around is Rufus Shinra. Remake dropped some hints that the secondary villain could be a vitally important character in the trilogy, and now Rebirth completely doubles down on that idea. Here’s how Rebirth sets the stage for Rufus being one of the most important characters of the trilogy.

Warning: We’ll be talking about extensive spoilers from Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, including the ending.

Rufus in FF7 Remake

Rufus is the only character outside of the main party that can see the Whispers in Remake.

Square Enix

Before we dive into Rebirth, it’s important to point out one huge detail from 2020’s Remake. At the end of the game when the party fights Sephiroth and defies fate, Shinra Tower is surrounded by Whispers. At this point, it’s implied that Rufus can see the Whispers. This means that Rufus is the single only other person that can see the “arbiters of fate,” outside of the main party. We still don’t know the exact meaning of this, but considering the party “change their fate,” it could be inferred that Rufus' fate has also been changed.

Rufus’ Larger Role In Rebirth’s Story

Rufus has a one-on-one battle with Cloud in both Remake and Rebirth, a tradition that will likely return in the third game.

Square Enix

Rufus has nearly a dozen brand new cutscenes scattered throughout Rebirth. This change gives Shinra, as a whole, much more of a presence throughout the story, whereas in the original game, the organization ended up feeling like a bit of an afterthought after Sephiroth’s introduction.

Rufus’ main goal in Rebirth is to fulfill his father’s vision of finding the “promised land,” and it quickly becomes clear that the savvy president has multiple plans running at once. There are two important details to break down, before we dive into the end of Rebirth.

The first is Rufus’ encounter with Cloud and the party during the Junon parade, where he offers an interesting proposition. Rufus wants to team up with Cloud and have the party deal with Sephiroth, while he keeps his focus squarely on Midgar. This is the first step in a trend of story developments showing that Rufus has an ulterior motive, other than simply claiming power for Shinra. He doesn’t immediately see Cloud and the others as a threat, until Yuffie tries to assassinate him, and Cloud gets blamed for it.

The other key detail comes after the events in the Temple of Ancients, when Rufus is in a helicopter with Professor Hojo. As the two discuss what they’ve seen, Hojo says he thinks that “we at Shinra could stand to dream far bigger.” At this point, Rufus remarks, “I would have to agree.”

This interaction is open to interpretation, but it could indicate Rufus has some degree of knowledge, or at least a hunch, of the larger picture of events, with Sephiroth wanting to unite the multiverse. If Rufus does somehow know about other universes or timelines, it makes sense he’d want to take advantage of that fact to further his control. No matter what, his goal is much more than finding the Promised Land.

Rufus and Glenn

Glenn is a new character introduced in the 2023 mobile game Ever Crisis.

Square Enix

Early in Rebirth Rufus is met by a cloaked man named Glenn Lodbrok, who essentially chastises and taunts the president over his inexperience, trying to goad him into battling Wutai. Glenn is working with the resistance against Shinra, but his real identity is much more complicated.

Glenn Lodbrok is one of the first SOLDIER candidates in Shinra’s history, and the main character of the First Soldier storyline in the Ever Crisis mobile game, released in 2023. In a quick flashback in Rebirth, we see that at some point in the past, Rufus shot Glenn in the back.

However, things get really interesting with a new short story released alongside Rebirth in Japan, called “2,000 Gil to Continue to Be a Hero.”

This story focuses on a young Cloud when he lives Midgar to join Shinra’s army, and it drops some subtle clues that Glenn Lodbrok could actually be Cloud’s long-lost father. There are visual similarities between the two characters, but the book describes Cloud’s father as an “upbeat and optimistic guy,” which fits Glenn to a tee. There are further clues that provide more evidence, which you can read about here.

Glenn being the one who interacts with Rufus feels like an intentional choice, especially with the president’s relationship with Cloud. Rufus is continually set up as a foil to Cloud himself, charismatic and scheming versus Cloud's more strong and direct personality. Both Remake and Rebirth have one-on-one showdowns between Cloud and Rufus, and that will undoubtedly carry over to the third game. If Glenn is Cloud’s father, and Rufus is the one who sealed Glenn’s fate, that could lead to a climactic showdown.

In Rufus’ final scene, we see him tell Glenn that he knows the conflict is a ploy to distract him from Sephiroth, and at this point, we learn Glenn himself is nothing but a puppet used by Sephiroth. It helps reinforce the idea of Sephiroth as this grand puppetmaster, but it’s also a little hilarious that Square Enix took the time to introduce Glenn in an entire other game, before pulling the rug out on the character in Rebirth.

Rufus’ Master Plan

Just like Sephiroth is using Cloud, the villain also seeks to use Rufus.

Square Enix

That final scene with Rufus has some massive ramifications for the ongoing story of the trilogy. In Wutai’s televised declaration, the country’s leader “Viceroy Saruf” fails to appear. Although it isn’t explicitly said, Glenn heavily implies that Viceroy Saruf is secretly none other than Rufus himself. This idea falls in line with the spinoff game Before Crisis, released on mobile phones in Japan in 2004. In that game, we learn Rufus was funding Avalanche, and working as an insider within Shinra.

Rufus being Saruf would mean that the entire upcoming conflict between Shinra and Wutai is being orchestrated by him. For what purpose, we don’t exactly know. But the extra wrinkle here is when Glenn is revealed to be Sephiroth, who says, “The plan is already in motion. A father’s dream achieved by his son.”

This implies that Sephiroth is using Rufus as yet another pawn in his master plan, but Rufus himself is actively fighting against that. Again, this is a fascinating reflection of Cloud, once again positioning Rufus as his foil. Both Cloud and Rufus are being used as pawns by Sephiroth, but while Cloud is mostly unwitting, Rufus knows it full well.

There aren’t enough details in Rebirth to fully parse Rufus’ master plan, but it’s abundantly obvious that he’s going to be drastically more important in the third game. He’s directly put in opposition to both Cloud and Sephiroth, and most of the big “new” story elements in Rebirth are introduced in Rufus’ sections.

Both Cloud and Rufus are being used as pawns by Sephiroth, but while Cloud is mostly unwitting, Rufus knows it full well.

Square Enix

Rufus was never strictly a villain in Final Fantasy 7, as he ultimately tried to save the planet, in his own misguided way. His arc in Advent Children is also all about trying to make amends for the horrors Shinra inflicted on the world. Then, of course, there’s his funding of Avalanche in Before Crisis.

The end of Rebirth shows something isn’t quite right with Cloud, and it’ll be interesting to see how Rufus ties into the hero’s story, and if the president carries on his anti-hero origins. He might be the key to saving both Cloud and the multiverse.

Rebirth is intentionally cryptic about Rufus’ exact role in the story, so it’s hard to say exactly how things will pan out, but if the original still serves as a basis we can have an idea. In the original game, Shinra moves the Sister Ray cannon from Junon to Midgar, and uses it to try and defeat Diamond Weapon. That attack obliterates the weapon and also blows a hole in Sephiroth’s barrier at the Northern Crater.

Events will likely follow roughly that same path, but Rufus’ backstory could be expanded further, giving a deeper understanding of his plans and intentions. If Rufus survives, we could also see him trying to keep Midgar under control after the Diamond Weapon attack, and he could even go up against Hojo, who tries to use the Sister Ray to give Sephiroth, his son, even more power. The big lingering question right now is how the Shinra-Wutai conflict ties into this, as that’s an entirely new story addition that could drastically change how the events of the original play out.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is available exclusively on PS5.

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