Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier is a battle royale game with signature graphics and gameplay, but the mobile platform makes controls unusable.
Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier is a free-to-play, battle royale combat game for mobile devices developed and published by Square Enix. Abandoning story-fueled gameplay and emotionally engaging characters, The First Soldier focuses on gameplay similar to Fortnite, with players battling to be the last soldier standing on continuously shrinking battlefields. However, a mixture of frustrating controls and a poor platform choice make FF7: The First Soldier a near-unenjoyable experience.
Unlike the narrative-rich experience of titles like Final Fantasy 7 Remake, the story of The First Soldier is designed to apply to any player who joins the game. The First Soldier is set 30 years prior to the events of FF7 Remake and follows the journey of the first SOLDIER applicants of the Shinra Electric Company. The battle royale aspect has been incorporated narratively as the trials a player must undergo against other SOLDIER recruits in order to earn a top position under Shinra’s command. However, this ultimately removes any chance for players to learn more about the birth of the Shinra Electric Company, or other FF7 characters that would have been present and influential at the time.
One of the exciting perks of FF7: The First Soldier is the character customization for unique player avatars. However, the character creator is very basic, offering only a handful of choices for hairstyles, skin tone, and facial details. The customizer is greatly lacking in diverse options, which may be frustrating for fans who want to design a relatable character and not a Cloud or Noctis look-alike. There are a number of outfits that can be worn in The First Soldier, but many need to be purchased using microtransactions, which could limit players hoping to avoid spending real money in-game.
One of the most frustrating aspects of Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier is the mobile gameplay interface. During a lengthy tutorial, players are taught how to use melee weapons, Materia, firearms, and physical movements, all of which require a touch-enabled selection on the screen. For those playing on a standard mobile device like a phone, the screen becomes cluttered with controls. Once in the designated combat arena, which is very similar to Fortnite’s slowly shrinking maps, toggling between the needed weapons, items, and Materia is not only frustrating but can be deadly in-game, with a second’s hesitation while navigating the interface leading to a potential knock-out.
The control issues are made worse by FF7’s signature, detailed graphics. The limited dimensions of standard mobile devices make the realistic details and terrain hard to view. Monsters and enemy players can easily be hidden by the interface buttons, or be indiscernible at a distance, creating issues both for aiming guns and stealthy attacks. Additionally, the fully rotatable camera is hard to spin and focus when being attacked, leaving players to shoot blindly at attackers instead of using any strategies that could be present with the provided gear and classes.
Like many mobile games, FF7: The First Soldier heavily promotes microtransaction content. By purchasing Shinra Credits, players can buy loot boxes, skins, and accessories to customize characters and Chocobos. Unfortunately, the majority of these items are surprisingly expensive, with single items like Tifa’s Seventh Heaven Bike skin costing 20 USD alone. While players can earn Gil, there is a lacking variety of items that can be purchased with standard currency. Because of this, players are unable to access all the available content without spending a large amount of real money.
While Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier may appeal to battle royale fans for fast-paced combat, difficult maps, and PvP gameplay, those who enjoy RPG experiences like Final Fantasy 7 Remake may want to pass on downloading The First Soldier. The game would benefit from a port to PC and consoles, but the deviation from narrative RPG content to cash-grab combat may be frustrating to long-time fans of the FF7 games and other Square Enix RPGs. Hopefully, Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier will see some interface and in-game purchase overhauls, but that might not be enough to make it an enjoyable addition to the FF7 game series.
Next: FF7 Remake On PC May Be Real After Leak Partially Confirmed
Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier is available now on iOS and Android devices.
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