Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade found a new home on PlayStation 5, and it didn't move in quietly. It kicked the door down before taking up residence, impressing strict reviewers, and boldly declaring that Intergrade provides the preeminent Remake experience. Intergrade is available to those who've previously purchased (sorry, PS+ players) FF7R on PS4 for the attractive price of free. With all of the new technical achievements on display, there's never been a better time for PS5 owners to check out this revivified classic.
Furthermore, Intergrade isn't just a prettied-up port. First-time buyers will receive new story missions and characters included with their PS5 copy. Those taking advantage of the free upgrade from PS4 can buy the add-on content. Still wondering if Intergrade is for you? Scroll on for a breakdown of all that's included — spoilers are marked accordingly.
10 Old Town, New Tricks
The well-trodden hub sections of Midgar's slums are livelier than ever now that the PS4's pop-in textures and phantom NPCs have been fixed. Groups of Midgarians, and the makeshift huts around which they loiter, render without delay. Players can now run about without tripping over dawdling pedestrians who'd previously flicker into view seconds before collision. PS5's NVMe drive does some heavy lifting here too, allowing you to go from the console home screen to gameplay in as little as nine seconds.
FF7R was also initially criticized for its lack of compelling optional content, but the INTERmission DLC brings more mini-games to the Sector 7 slums. It's hard to believe that Midgar can still feel new after 24 years, but Intergrade manages to freshen up the "rotting pizza" once more.
9 Episode INTERmission
Intergrade's DLC opens roughly 40% of the way into FF7R's story, as indicated by the TV broadcast of the reactor five raid, with Yuffie Kisaragi in the spotlight. Merely an optional teammate in the PS1-era, INTERmission provides Yuffie with a heap of character development to contextualize her personal motivations within the plot of FF7R.
The budding ninja travels from neighbouring Wu Tai to Midgar to rendezvous with Sonon Kusakabe, a disciple of her estranged father, Godo. Working alongside an Avalanche cell, independent from that which Barret leads, the Wu Taians plan to infiltrate Shinra. Their goal: steal the materia that the corporation's military wields to keep the surrounding cities subordinate.
8 Condor Galore
It may be tonally inconsistent to have a magical ninja-spy sit down for a board game in the middle of her heroic quest but no JRPG would complete without this trope of the genre.
Though it's described as an in-universe analog for chess, Fort Condor is actually a two-person tower defense game. The rules are simple, a variety of pieces fall into three categories: vanguard (sword), ranged (bow), and defense (shield). The first type trumps the second, second trumps third, and third trumps first. Overpower the opponent's units to damage their forts and claim victory. Will Fort Condor be the next Gwent? Maybe, but probably not. Nonetheless, this callback to a beloved PS1 mini-game is a welcome addition to a game that needed more variety.
7 Combat Evolved
The most universally lauded element of FF7's remake was its groundbreaking combat system. A thoughtful hybrid between action RPG hacking 'n' slashing and the methodical, turn-based planning that FF fans adore, FF7R's fight mechanics even wowed those who were put off by its controversial story.
For all the praise that the new mechanics garnered, they were far from perfect. Boss fights seemed deliberately scripted to trigger cut scenes just as you staggered the big bad, thereby wasting crucial damage windows. Airborne enemies were also tedious whenever they appeared. INTERmission seems to mitigate the former issue and almost completely remedies the latter. Yuffie can throw her shuriken from range or slash with it up close. When confronting flying enemies Yuffie can throw the shuriken and dash to it, making her more mobile in the air than any other character. During one boss fight Yuffie zips between flying drones with speed and gravity. This is the best real-time combat has ever felt in Final Fantasy — rest in peace, Noctis. Lastly, her ability to activate ninjutsus and channel elements, as well as launch synchronized attacks with Sonon, makes Yuffie extremely efficient at filling the stagger gauge. The only downside to these improvements is that they weren't retroactively applied to the base game.
6 Freshly Polished
One of the most befuddling glitches that plagued PS4's FF7R was the failure to load certain high-resolution textures. Truthfully, this graphical error was a minor issue, but it stood out because other areas of the game, like voice acting and character design, were so carefully refined. Scenes with the most notorious visual bugs include a late-game sequence where the sun setting over the slums is depicted via a noticeably hazy sky-box, and every shot showing Cloud's bedroom door.
Thankfully all of these kinks are ironed out on PS5. Additionally, both the base game and INTERmission add "graphics mode" and "performance mode" options that allow the console to prioritize resolution or frame rate, respectively. Even the ever-meticulous Digital Foundry had nothing but praise for the game's improved visual fidelity.
5 Say "Cheese"
Not one to let artistic accomplishments go unnoticed, Square Enix has shipped Intergrade with a photo mode not present in the PS4 version of the game, so you can admire every pixel. Intergrade's photo mode isn't as robust as those found in other PlayStation titles — Spider-Man on Ps5 and PS4, for example — but it's better than nothing. Perhaps a later patch with improve this functionality even more.
4 Classic Difficulties
Die-hard Final Fantasy fans aren't keen on having the series' tried and true formula tampered with, that's why the idea of FF7R's "classic mode" was popular among purists. Classic mode didn't fully replace the new battle system with that of the original PS1 game, but it did place more emphasis slowly planning how you'd deploy your ATB charges.
The downside to classic mode? Aside from the unique control scheme, every other combat parameter was copied from the game's easiest difficulty, with no options for those that wanted an added challenge. Classic mode returns in Intergrade, but this time it isn't locked into the easy setting.
3 Revamped Traversal
With FF7R Square Enix showcased their competence for building massive set pieces in a way that hadn't really been explored in other games in the series. Cloud and the gang scurry up ladders, tiptoe over suspended beams, jump across crumbling highways, and even race motorcycles. As with most of the new mechanics FF7R introduced, these adventure sequences weren't perfect, but they made the future look promising.
Unshackled from the PS4's hardware limitations, and with an ever-improving understanding of what makes exploration exciting in a Final Fantasy game, Square serves up INTERmission as a tantalizing demo of what's to come in FF7R sequels. Gone are the days of holding triangle for far too long just to get Cloud to open a door. Yuffie can throw a shuriken to move a lever, rotate a fence, clamber up that fence, and reach a higher platform in the amount of time that it used to take Tifa to simply cross some monkey bars. Once again, these improvements make going back to the base game feel sluggish, but the foundation upon which FF7R-2 (or whatever it'll be called) will be built looks rock-solid. Spoilers for The Final Fantasy 7 Compilation, Remake, and Episode INTERmission follow this!
2 Unique Bosses
Much like the base game, Intergrade is packed with boss fights new and old. Though this section of Yuffie's story is new ground for FF7, that doesn't mean the characters that show up are disconnected from the larger plot.
Square seemingly intends for FF7R as a series to bring the contents of the FF7 compilation (i.e. Advent Children, Crisis Core, etc.) under one roof, hopefully accessible from a single console. In the final moments of INTERmission, Scarlet confesses to Yuffie that the "ultimate materia" she seeks does not yet exist. Empty-handed, Sonon and Yuffie try to escape from Shinra before being confronted by Deepground soldiers. In Dirge of Cerberus, for PS2, yet another group of mega-mercenaries are revealed to live far underneath Shinra Tower. Among the most powerful Deepground experiments are Nero and Weiss, who appear here as Yuffie's final boss and a new main story secret boss, respectively. Whether or not these characters should be included at all is a point of contention for fans. If nothing else, at least they're incorporated more organically into the FF7R series, instead of being relegated to spin-off titles.
1 Coming Up Next...
Before INTERmission fades to black for good, a post-credits scene reunites you with the main story heroes. Cloud, Tifa, Barret, Aerith, and Red XIII, having narrowly survived a clash with the physical manifestation of fate, now trek through the desert to seek refuge in Kalm. Thanks to a convenient cameo from Chocobo Bill the group arrives sooner than expected. A storm breaks out over Kalm and Aerith admits that the rain makes her uneasy. Through some kind of clairvoyance, Aerith vaguely recalls the moment when Zack died in the rain as he was bringing Cloud to Midgar.
FF7R's ending hints at the existence of a multiverse, with this timeline also continuing from the moment of Zack's death, but running parallel to a timeline wherein Zack safely returns to Midgar. After one last fade to black, the camera sweeps down in front of the Sector 5 church where Zack is nervously waiting to greet Aerith. Still carrying the Buster Sword that would've been bequeathed to Cloud, Zack excitedly barges into the church only to be met with a congregation of weeping slum-dwellers... and no Aerith.
With the Sector 7 plate shown to be intact, what tragedy prompted this collective mourning? Why is Aerith missing, and what role would a swordless Cloud play in this other Midgar? FF7R's sequel is primed to be a mind-bending, dimension-hopping ride, but with no release window to speak of, fans will have to sit in suspense a while longer.
A feat only a true Dovahkiin could pull off.