Final Fantasy 7 Remake is one of the all-time great PS4 titles but it’s going to get even better with Intergrade. As an enhanced version of the game for PS5, it includes numerous new features and a new story episode focused on Yuffie. What if you’ve never played the base game though? What else does Intergrade bring to the table? Let’s take a closer look at the title before its launch on June 10th.
Story and Setting
The base game’s story starts in Midgar, a bustling city where the Shinra Electric Power Company calls the shots. While life is good for the wealthy, it’s downright harsh for the poor who are mostly confined to the slums. Shinra also exploits Mako, bleeding the planet Gaia dry, but there are groups like Avalanche that oppose them. The plot kicks off with a plan to bomb Mako Reactor 1. Former S.O.L.D.I.E.R. member turned mercenary Cloud Strife is hired to assist Barret, Biggs, Wedge and Jessie in the task.
Though much of the story plays out like the original, it’s been expanded significantly and received brand new scenes. This is also only part 1 of the overall story though, taking place primarily in Midgar.
Cloud is the protagonist and despite leaving S.O.L.D.I.E.R., he’s still haunted by visions of the past and his arch-nemesis Sephiroth. Barret Wallace leads the Midgar cell of Avalanche and is passionate about fighting Shinra, both for the planet’s sake and for Marlene, his daughter. Tifa Lockhart is Cloud’s childhood friend and another member of Avalanche who resides in the Sector 7 Slums. Then there’s Aerith Gainsborough, a seemingly innocent flower girl who has a mysterious connection to the planet (making her a prime target for Shinra).
Though this is essentially the core cast, there’s plenty of interaction with Biggs, Wedge and Jessie along with guest party member Red XIII, a red beast of unknown origin that also seeks to protect the planet. Then there’s Sephiroth, one of the major antagonists responsible for much of Cloud’s agony while also having his own grandiose plans.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake uses the Active Time Bar or ATB system for battles but the implementation is quite different from the original game. Party members can manually attack in battle to build up ATB gauges, blocking enemy damage and dodging in real-time. Using the battle menu causes the game to temporarily slow down for easier selection of skills, Materia, Limit Breaks and Summons which consume ATB. Each party member also has their own unique play-styles – Cloud can switch between Operator and Punisher Modes for blocking and countering respectively while Barret fires from range and can unleash charged shots. Tifa can build up her strength for higher damage and combos while Aerith specializes in magic and uses Tempest for increased magic damage.
New Side Quests and Activities
Along with new systems, like weapon upgrade trees, Final Fantasy 7 Remake also has lots of new content and side quests not seen in the original. Some of these quests include learning more about other Avalanche members, establishing Cloud as a mercenary for hire in the Sector 7 Slums and various mini-games. There’s also the Shinra Combat Simulator Challenges where players can tackle various enemies (and even some optional end-game bosses).
Intergrade Price and Free PS4-to-PS5 Upgrade
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade is essentially the PS5 version of the game but with new story content and optimizations to leverage the hardware. It costs $70 but those who own the PS4 version can upgrade to Intergrade for free (which is not applicable for those who claimed the digital version on PlayStation Plus). This will only net you the visual improvements and quality of life improvements though. To play the new content, you’ll need to pay $20 for Episode INTERmission.
Episode INTERmission takes place during the main story with Yuffie Kisaragi, a ninja from Wutai, as the protagonist. Along with Sonon Kusakabe, she enters Midgar to steal some powerful Materia from Shinra, all in an effort to restore the glory of Wutai. Things rarely go as planned though and the duo face some obstacles along the way. It’s worth noting that Episode INTERmission is exclusive to Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade and won’t be coming to the PS4 version any time soon.
Yuffie’s Play-style and Abilities
Capable of close and long range combat, Yuffie has quite a unique play-styles. Pressing Square allows for unleashing strikes with her throwing star while holding it lets Yuffie create some distance. Triangle throws the star – pressing Square during this allows her to unleash ninjutsu from range while Triangle recalls the weapon. Using Elemental Ninjutsu can confer ice, wind, fire and lightning elements to one’s attacks and ninjutsu. Some examples of ninjutsu include Banishment and Windstorm, the latter capable of blowing enemies towards Yuffie. If that weren’t enough, Yuffie can also perform synchronized attacks Sonon.
Born in Wutai, Sonon has trained under Yuffie’s father and bears a grudge against Shinra following the war between the two. As a more down-to-earth personality, he uses a staff and assists Yuffie in battle. Other characters include Zhijie who serves as a point of contact between Wutai and Avalanche; Nayo, who observes Barret’s cell; Billy Bob, a laid-back yet highly experienced Avalanche operative; and Polk, the youngest member of Avalanche. There’s also Weiss the Immaculate from Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy 7 who rules – and is confined to – the Deepground, an underground research center that Shinra has kept secret.
Present as a tower defense-style minigame in the original, Fort Condor returns as a tabletop straegy game with figurines in Episode INTERmission. You can place units on the battlefield and have to seemingly defend various condor figures during battle. ATB plays a part along with spells like Barrier, Regen and Poison.
New Summons, Materia and Bosses
New Summons and Materia are confirmed for Episode INTERmission, the former consisting of entities like Ramune. We did get a peek at some new bosses though like a mechanical walker with an enormous tail and giant drill; Weiss the Immaculate who seems to be a Shinra Combat Simulator challenge; Scarlet in Shinra power armor; and more. Overall, each looks varied and interesting enough to fight.
“Partial” Support for Adaptive Triggers
One feature that Square Enix remains relatively vague on is DualSense support. Speaking to Famitsu, creative director Tetsuya Nomura said the adaptive triggers were “partially” supported. What this means remains to be seen but it’s also not clear if haptic feedback or 3D audio is supported.
Graphics and Performance Modes
There are two modes to experience Intergrade – Graphics Mode and Performance Mode. Graphics Mode prioritizes running the game in 4K resolution with the frame rate being at 30 FPS. Performance Mode prioritizes running in a stable 60 frames per second. While the resolution for the latter has yet to be revealed, fans can finally experience the RPG in glorious 60 FPS (or glorious 4K, whichever works).
Improved textures, fog effects, lighting
Final Fantasy 7 Remake was already a really good looking game on PS4 (barring some low-quality textures) but Intergrade takes things even further. Along with 4K and 60 FPS options, Square Enix has also improved the textures, fog effects and lighting. Interior environments and backgrounds look way more vibrant as a result while the fog adds some great atmosphere to levels like the Sewers.
Classic Mode on Normal Difficulty
For those who couldn’t quite get into Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s battle system, there was “Classic Mode.” This made attacking and blocking automatic while the player could pause and execute commands when the ATB gauges have filled. You can still switch between characters but the default difficulty in the base release was set to “Easy”, turning the game into a cake-walk. Intergrade offers Classic Mode on Normal difficulty with enemies having more health and posing more of a threat. So if you’ve wanted to experience something similar to the classic battle system but also sought a greater challenge, then it may be worth checking out.
Faster Loading Times
Of course, the PlayStation 5’s SSD is supported for faster loading times. Using the PS5 Enhanced Features trailer as reference, a quick stopwatch check shows less than three seconds to go from the Load Game menu to Chapter 8. Considering it takes several times longer on the PS4 (depending on the area), this may just be the best reason to play Intergrade yet.
It wouldn’t be a PS5 title without some kind of Photo Mode. With Intergrade, players can pause the game and re-orient the camera’s position, adjusting the angle, title and exposure while selecting from numerous different filters like Retro Animation, Black and White, Sunset and more for their photos. You can also choose to hide the party in shots to better capture the environment.
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