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What to know before playing Final Fantasy 7 Remake

It’s time to learn

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Cloud Strife with someone pointing at him in Final Fantasy 7 Remake Image: Square Enix via The Game Awards/Twitch
Julia Lee (she/her) is a guides producer, writing guides for games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Genshin Impact. She helped launch the Rift Herald in 2016.

Final Fantasy games can be a daunting task to pick up, and Final Fantasy 7 Remake is no exception.

To help ease you into the game, we’ve put together a quick explainer on some things you should know to give yourself a better understanding. This series has so many spinoffs and extra media to consume to flesh out the story, and while it’s not completely necessary to know everything, here’s the stuff that may help supplement your playthrough.

Note that while you may still have questions, we didn’t want to answer any questions that could be solved by playing Final Fantasy 7 or the remake.

What’s with Sephiroth and the “great war”?

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Square Enix

Sephiroth was formerly a Soldier for Shinra Electric Power Company. These are the best of the best among Shinra’s military. Before Final Fantasy 7 takes place, there’s a war between the industrial city of Midgar and an independent village, Wutai. Shinra wanted to plunk down a mako reactor in Wutai territory, but Wutai obviously did not want this energy-sucking reactor in their backyard, nor did they want Shinra’s power to expand to their nation.

Unfortunately for Wutai, Shinra was too strong, and Sephiroth played a huge role in taking down the Wutai military, making him a war hero. The public in Midgar do not know that Sephiroth went rogue from Shinra, but civilians still see him as a hero.

What’s a Soldier?

Capital-S Soldiers are the elite fighting force owned by Shinra. You have to pass specific tests to become a Soldier, and once you do, your body gets injected with Mako energy and Jenova cells. This gives your eyes a lovely blue/green tint, and also makes you super strong.

Note that these are not the dudes you see running around in helmets with guns. Those are regular ol’ Shinra lackeys, but Soldiers are the cream of the crop.

Who’s Jenova?

Without getting too much into it, she’s an alien who fell to the planet on a meteor. That’s all you need to know.

And what are Turks?

Reno from the Final Fantasy 7 remake stands flanked by two guards holding guns. Square Enix

Similar to Soldiers, Turks are special operatives owned by Shinra. Officially dubbed the “Investigation Sector of the General Affairs Department,” these suited spies help protect high-ranking Shinra employees and get work done behind the scenes. They’re all pretty dedicated to their jobs for some reason and will do whatever Shinra says. They’re not as elite as Soldiers, but they still know how to fight.

What’s the deal with that huge sword on Cloud’s back?

That’s the Buster Sword! It originally belonged to Angeal Hewley, a Soldier First Class. Angeal was Zack Fair’s mentor, and the sword eventually passed down to Zack. As Zack passed away protecting Cloud, he entrusted the sword to Cloud. These events happen throughout Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core, a PlayStation Portable game from 2007.

Angeal never used his sword, as his father passed away while working to pay the sword off. The sword was a gift for Angeal making Soldier. He would instead use Shinra’s less durable swords, breaking them in the process. He would often make comments about wear-and-tear, while his friends would make fun of him for carrying around a huge sword without using it. The sword is meant to symbolize honor and dreams.

OK, who’s Zack?

Zack Fair is the protagonist of PSP spinoff Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7. The black-haired Soldier climbs the ranks, eventually hitting First Class. Notably, he’s also Aerith’s first love, as they spent lots of time together in the Sector 5 Slums.

He befriends Cloud, who is working for Shinra as a simple gunman. They both get captured by Hojo after deflecting from Shinra, and experimented on. Zack breaks free, takes an unconscious Cloud with him, and gives his life trying to protect Cloud from the Shinra military. He then passes on the Buster Sword and his legacy to Cloud.

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