Final Fantasy Rebirth: The story so far

Rebecca Hills-Duty
Cloud and Sephiroth with Shinra soldiers in FF7 Rebirth

If it has been a while since you played Final Fantasy VII Remake, you might have forgotten some details about what happened. We break down the events of the previous games to help you follow the story of Rebirth

Final Fantasy games tend to have vast, sprawling stories and Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is no different. Since the full story is spread out over several games, it can get a little hard to follow. Not to worry, we have you covered with this guide that will cover the major story beats of previous games so you can go into FFVII: Rebirth armed with all the knowledge you need.

Below we’ll summarize the story of The First Soldier, Before Crisis, Crisis Core, and the Final Fantasy 7 remake. We’ll also point out how it’s different to the original game.

Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier – 30 years before FFVII

FFVII first soldier gameplay

The First Soldier had a short life as a free-to-play Battle Royale mobile game, but more importantly, the events of the game were set 30 years before the events of Final Fantasy VII (original or Remake)

This period covers the establishment of SOLDIER. This elite fighting force of enhanced super soldiers was created by the Shinra Electric Power Company to further cement its power over the planet, protect the Mako Reactors, and eliminate its enemies.

The establishment and early years of Midgar are set during this period.

Before Crisis – 7 Years before FFVII

Final Fantasy 7: Ever Crisis gameplay

The mobile RPG Ever Crisis encompasses the content originally available in the Japan-online cellphone game Before Crisis. This story concerns the Turks – the spies, assassins, and fixers of Shinra.

A group of ‘Planetologists’ of Cosmo Canyon have grown increasingly concerned about the damage being done to the planet by Shinra’s use of Mako Reactors. They set up a pressure group to try and put a stop to them. Shinra sends in the Turks to deal with the group, who have now assumed the name of Avalanche.

The events of the game follow the Turks as they are pitted against Avalanche’s eco-warriors, but they uncover several terrible conspiracies within Shinra as the story unfolds. At the end of the game, many of the Turks escape from Shinra to live in hiding or assume new identities.

The attempt on President Shinra’s life by Avalanche happens during this period.

Crisis Core – 6 Years before FFVII

Crisis Core Renuion Cover

Many of the early parts of Crisis Core overlap with the events of Before Crisis.

Shinra’s SOLDIERs have been engaged in an ongoing war against the nation of Wutai, Zack Fair, a young 2 Class SOLDIER is sent on a mission to Wutai in place of a 1 Class SOLDIER called Genesis Rhapsodos. He discovers that this is due to a mass desertion of many high-ranked SOLDIERs, including Genesis.

As the Wutai War ends, Zack is promoted to 1 Class and discovers that his mentor and friend, Angeal Hewley, has also deserted. He sets out to discover why Angeal would do this, and in the process runs into many familiar faces, including the Turk Tseng, Aerith Gainsborough, Sephiroth, and even Cloud Strife.

Ultimately, Zack is forced to confront and fight Angeal and Genesis, learning that they are undergoing some form of ‘degeneration’ as a result of the enhancement process that made them into the powerful SOLDIERS they are. The most visible sign of this is the sprouting of a single wing. Zack manages to defeat Angeal, ending his life and inheriting his iconic Buster Sword. Genesis is knocked into the lifestream, something usually thought to be fatal.

Depressed by the outcome, Zack, Sephiroth, and Cloud along with other Infantry troops are dispatched to Cloud’s home town Nibelheim to investigate a malfunctioning reactor located in the mountains. The townspeople have reported strange aggressive monsters nearby which they believe is being caused by the reactor. Tifa Lockheart, Cloud’s childhood friend, volunteers to guide them up the mountain to the reactor.

It is here where things start to go wrong. Sephiroth is confronted with the dreadful reality of how he was made to be a super soldier, using cells from an ancient being called Jenova that was found in a geological stratum. Locating books and journals on his creation hidden within the Shinra Mansion in Nibelheim, Sephiroth becomes increasingly unstable, finally snapping and burning the town to the ground.

Zack attempts to confront Sephiroth at the reactor where he is trying to find his ‘Mother’, Jenova. They fight, but Zack only manages to knock him into the Mako pool beneath the reactor but is gravely wounded in the process.

Professor Hojo of Shinra, who was responsible for Sephiroth’s creation, finds Cloud and Zack in the ruins of the town and begins to experiment on them. Zack manages to escape and takes the semi-comatose and mako-poisoned Cloud with him.

Zack almost succeeds in escaping, but just before they reach Midgar he is confronted by an army of Shinra troops. He fights valiantly but is ultimately gunned down. Waking from his comatose state, Cloud takes up Zack’s sword.

Final Fantasy VII: Remake

An image from Final Fantasy VII Remake featuring Cloud.

Cloud Strife takes up a career as a mercenary in Midgar. Tifa offers him his first job, assisting Barret Wallace’s branch of Avalanche with bombing Mako reactor one. They’re successful, but the explosion is far bigger than expected since Shinra set off other bombs to pin the blame for the loss of life on Avalanche.

On the way back to the Avalanche hideout in the Sector 7 slums, Cloud runs into Aerith. She is being haunted by strange, grey-cloaked ghostlike beings referred to as Whispers. Cloud helps her fend them off. These entities are essentially caused by a tear in spacetime and exist to fix timelines that have deviated from their predestined course.

Attempting to make a name for himself as a mercenary, Cloud takes on various jobs around the slums. Cloud keeps having flashbacks and strange visions of Sephiroth. A Whisper creatures show up several times and they attempt to force events to play out in a specific way, such as ensuring Cloud is sent on the next mission. Another bombing mission results in Cloud falling off the plate into the slums below. He lands in the abandoned church in the Sector 5 slums where Aerith tends to a flower garden.

After running some more errands, Cloud attempts to return to the Avalanche headquarters but finds that Tifa has been investigating Don Corneo, the ruler of Wall Market. After shenanigans involving dancing, Aerith pulling off professional wrestling moves, and Cloud cross-dressing Tifa, Aerith and Cloud find out from Don Corneo that Shinra plans to drop the Midgar plate onto the Sector 7 slums in order to finish off Avalanche.

Cloud, Tifa, and Aerith are dumped into the sewers by Don Corneo. Desperate to stop the plat from being dropped, the trio fight through the sewers and a haunted train graveyard and make it to the plate support pillar. Here they see that Barret and the other members of Avalanche, Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie are engaged in a firefight with Shinra.

Aerith sets to evacuate the Sector 7 slums as Tifa and Cloud join Barret in fighting the Turks Reno and Rude who try and stop them from pressing the button. Sadly, they fail and the plate falls, crushing the Sector 7 shanty town – and everyone who’s still in it

Sad Cait Sith in FF7 Remake

On the plate above, Cait Sith is seen angrily mourning the scene of devastation. (Note: In the original game, Cait Sith was not seen or alluded to until much later). As Aerith attempts to get Barret’s daughter Marlene out of the sector, she is captured by Tseng and taken to the Shinra building. Marlene is left with Aerith’s mother, Elmyra.

Though mourning for his allies, Barret is told that Aerith managed to save Marlene. They visit Elmyra, who tells them that Shinra wants to get hold of Aerith because she is the last ‘Ancient’. The only descendant of a mysterious people called the Cetra who had powers that let them communicate with the planet. Shinra wants Aerith to help them find the mythical ‘Promised Land’.

In a deviation from the original game, Cloud, Tifa, and Barret find a strange underground Shinra lab located under the now-ruined Sector 7 slums. Here they find Wedge, who unlike in the original game, is still alive. An attempt to explore the lab further is thwarted by the Whispers, who are reacting to the survival of characters who died in the other timeline.

The trio decides to attempt to rescue Aerith from where she is being held in the labs of the Shinra Building. After a visit to Don Corneos’s mansion for more clues (and more sidequests) they ascend to the plate.

With the help of Mayor Domino, they manage to infiltrate the highest levels of the Shinra building, getting into the air vents to spy on an executive meeting. Palmer, head of the Space Program, tries to warn President Shinra that Sephiroth is here, but he is dismissed. Aerith is discussed, and the group follows Professor Hojo to his labs, where they find Red XIII and Aerith.

Hojo recognizes Cloud and says he is not a SOLDIER, but the Whispers prevent him from saying anything further. Cloud has a vision of a test pod containing what looks like a headless woman. The entire group is captured and placed in cells.

Red XIII identifies the Whispers as ’Arbiters of Fate’ that represent the planet itself. Meanwhile, Wedge has gathered what support he can – including Mayor Domino and is trying to bust them out. The group escapes up to the 68 floor where they find the JENOVA sample.

Cloud and Aerith in Final Fantasy 7 Remake

Sephiroth appears again, and this time he isn’t a hallucination, because everyone else can see him as well. He explains that Jenova is “the cataclysm that came from the stars.”

Things really start to go off the rails compared to the original plotline from here. The team finds that the JENOVA pod is broken open, and a trail of purple liquid leads to the President’s office. They find President Shinra dangling from the roof. Barret rescues him, demanding he issue a pardon for Avalanche as his price.

President Shinra instead threatens Barret with a gun until Sephiroth appears and stabs the president, and then also kills Barrett. The Whispers manifest once more and revive Barret as he wasn’t supposed to die in their ideal timeline. Sephiroth turns into a form of JENOVA that wasn’t in the original game known as JENOVA Dreamweaver.

After defeating the JENOVA form and Vice President Rufus Shinra, the group escapes in vehicles. As they are about the consider leaving Midgar, Sephiroth descends from the sky and opens and portal to a place called Destiny’s Crossroads. Aerith asks Cloud to help her defeat the Whispers and thus break the forces of destiny that hold them to their fate.

After a grueling series of battles against the powers of fate, they succeed. Sephiroth, however, gloats that he now has another chance to succeed where he once failed – seemingly aware that events have played out before.

In the following scenes, Biggs wakes up in a bed in the slums, badly injured but alive. Jessie is also implied to possibly still be alive. A shocking flashback also then shows that Zack Fair somehow survived his fight against the Shinra army in this universe, retconning the ending of Crisis Core – and with it, Cloud’s entire identity.

Continuity is broken, and the only way to know the rest of the story is to play Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth.

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About The Author

Rebecca is a Tech Writer at Dexerto, specializing in PC components, VR, AMD, Nvidia and Intel. She has previously written for UploadVR and The Escapist, hosts a weekly show on RadioSEGA and has an obsession with retro gaming. Get in touch at