The usual launch hiccups aside, the office wrangled together some people to queue up for some games of Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier, the battle royale entry into the larger FFVII universe. The basic conceit is that you’re fighting against fellow SOLDIER candidates, so drop down in Midgar and let the fun begin.
For a competitive genre such as this, ensuring your settings are right would surely be a priority. Auto-fire is available for players who don’t typically play battle royales, while “floating fire” or “fixed fire” is open for the more experienced. There’s aim assist to go with this. Auto pick-up can be toggled for the different items should you need that too.
There’s quite a lot of camera sensitivity sliders for general situations, materia use, firing and scope. Sound sliders are equally quite numerous for sound effects, voices, environmental sounds, and voice chat. I would assume that plenty of these are standard in the other mobile battle royale games, so if you’re jumping in from another battle royale, you should be mostly able to change most things to whatever you’re used to.
The game does honestly look pretty good from what I can see on the small screen, an optimized-for-mobile slice of FFVII Remake. Various spells require some targetting, which shows up as a blue indicator but honestly in the heat of the moment, it’s just yelling and hoping for the best. For the Thunder spell, its area of effect I feel is harder to see than others, which could just be me being rather dense.
Other players are indicated by footprint symbols, while ammo and chests have their own. These symbols will show up in a radius around your character, with different opacities depending on your relative distance to them. It helps if you happen to be playing without sound, as the visual indicator is reliable enough.
The highlights around interactable items could stand to be more obvious, though there’s also the circular indicator around you anyway. There are things that you can destroy that aren’t necessarily highlighted, so it’s something for players to experiment around. You can’t try adjusting your UI in the settings menu if you want to though, so maybe something for another time.
The voices are probably one of the last things you’d really need in a game like this. The English dub is alright.
If you’re familiar with battle royale games, then the basic formula is hardly any different here.
You have a crouch, jump with double taps allowing you to scale some heights, up to 3 spells and 1 summon, 2 guns, consumable slot and a Style (basically a Job / Class) specific skill. You can queue with up to 2 other players for a team of 3, locking in your chosen Style before entering the map. Pick up ammo, Materia (spells), guns and Gil (gold), accessories along the way before you engage other players. All Styles will have their basic Melee weapon so you won’t be completely helpless.
Items go up to Orange rarity, with Orange being the rarest. From what I can tell, there are a decent variety of guns, though I don’t think there are too many models to one ammo type right now. Materia use MP to cast which gradually charges up over time, and picking up the same type of Materia can level your skill up further. You yourself will passively level up during a match even if you don’t fight monsters, gaining incremental stats or levelling up your Style skill.
When on foot, the map feels extremely large and you can often go several minutes without meeting another player. Trying to drive a car with the virtual joystick feels quite horrible, but fortunately, different control schemes are available. As a team, we tried to revive a fallen member, then found we didn’t have enough gil even after his cooldown completed, so that’s too bad. You can try to resurrect a downed member before they die, with the controls not cooperating with me as it breaks me out of the animation and they die anyway due to bleeding out.
Gil seems tough to find if you don’t try to engage anything else, so you won’t be able to use the vending machines for any equipment or upgrades. On occasion, supply drops will happen to offer a chance at rarer items, typically a time you may also find a summon Materia. I broke a Don Corneo statue and found a vault key, but I didn’t manage to find it to see what the fuss was about.
Outside of the matches themselves, you have the shop offering paid cosmetics and the battle pass. Daily challenges are offered for that grind towards whatever fancy thing you’ve got your eyes on. Completing a round gets you EXP towards the Style you played that round, and it’s… probably going to take a long while for me.
Needless to say, this is one genre I’m not familiar with. There are various allowances for complete newbies like me, but you’ll still need the practice to get any good at it as is typically the case. I think the controls could use some more tweaks, maybe even more varied sliders to get it just right. It’s got controller support, and that’s probably the best way to play it if you’re able.
You’re hardly playing FFVII: The First Soldier for the story. The game is really solid for what it is and has the expected conventions of its genre, so if you like battle royales, by all means, go for it.
Gameplay done on iPhone 13 Pro Max / Poco X3 NFC.