Final Fantasy 7 First Soldier Review: The Best Battle Royale Game on Mobile Right Now?
Final Fantasy is a long-running series that has experimented with a variety of genres, starting with the turn-based JRPG main series to seemingly countless similarly set up spin-offs to rhythm games, fighting games, card ones, MMOs, a trading card game, and even more. However, the Final Fantasy 7 First Soldier review is for a new spin-off game that is very different from all of them.
While we have had shooters in the Final Fantasy series before (looking at you, Dirge of Cerberus), Final Fantasy 7 The First Soldier is a vastly different game. Not only are the shooting and other gameplay mechanics very different, but this is a game that is primarily a mobile battle royale title.
Final Fantasy 7 First Soldier Review: The Best Battle Royale Game on Mobile?
When this game was first announced, there was little thought in my mind that I would play it, let alone write a full-on Final Fantasy 7 First Soldier review. However, I love the series and thought I’d give it a match or two just to see how it shakes up against the myriad other battle royale games on mobile when it was released.
Turns out, Final Fantasy 7 First Soldier is not only a great game in its own right, but it very well may be the best battle royale game that is currently available on Android and iOS. That is quite the statement, I realize, but this is something that I definitely stand by after my time with the game.
Everything from the style of the game to the combat to the movement to the different classes that make up the title, it is clear that there was a lot of attention and love that was put into this game to make it look and feel just like you would expect a Final Fantasy game to.
It just so happens that it is also a battle royale title and a highly competent one at that. Sure, it has its fair share of similarities to PUBG and even Call of Duty Mobile in the way that it plays, but what is great about it is that it fully goes all in on the Final Fantasy branding to make it feel unique in its own way.
That is why, in my opinion in this Final Fantasy 7 First Soldier review, it is also a game that ultimately surpasses its predecessors, integrating its own unique take on the popular premise of being the last team or player standing, while offering an experience that is also very high quality for mobile devices.
Final Fantasy and Battle Royale Gameplay Is a Near-Perfect Blend
When it comes to the gameplay, anyone who has checked out PUBG Mobile or Call of Duty Mobile will get the basics of what to expect here. There is a map that players drop onto where they compete to find out who will come out on top as the last one standing.
The general idea is to gear up, escape the storm (or Mako gas in the case of this game), and take out any players that you find along the way. That part will be familiar to anyone, right down to the controls of the gameplay with the standard jump, crouch, shoot, aim, and other typical touchscreen buttons.
There are options for auto-shooting as well when you are aiming at an enemy player, so that is there but you can also opt for a more controlled touchscreen shooting format if that is something that you prefer. And for those who do not like touchscreen controls, controllers are already available from day one for a more console-like control scheme.
Shooting in the game feels great, the movement system is especially welcome with options, depending on your class to being able to rush forward or even double-jump fairly often, and the gear system benefits from a decently smart auto-loot system as seen in other games.
Overall, it is matching the other titles in this way, offering a mostly typical feeling battle royale title. However, where the game really shakes the formula up is everything after this with the unique integration of Final Fantasy elements into the gameplay itself.
There are loads of monsters across the map that you can fight when you are not wanting to engage with other real players. There is plenty of materia and magic that ties it back to its Final Fantasy 7 Remake roots and different classes that you can choose to fight with.
Overall, the gameplay is the star of Final Fantasy 7 First Soldier and it shows in the fun, thrilling, and fast-paced nature of it. Combat and movement, together, is rapid but it can be slowed down at the same time with the use of sniper rifles to shoot from afar or the Ninja’s Hide ability to go invisible for a time.
Single Midgar Map Is Vast and Nostalgic
At the time of writing this Final Fantasy 7 First Soldier review, there is only a single map that is available for the battle royale game. As it is mentioned in the name, this is, specifically, a spin-off of Final Fantasy 7 and, most notably, the 2020 remake of the game.
As such, the one map takes place in the undercity of Midgar where much of the downtrodden residents attempt to survive while also being the setting for the first part of the Remake. It is a vast open world setting that attempts to blend many parts of the city that we already know into one open location.
It is worth mentioning that it takes place roughly 30 years before the events of Cloud and the Avalanche gang trying to take down Shinra, meaning that a few of the familiar locales are there but have their own creative liberties taken to ensure that they are all on a single map.
There are familiar locations like the church that Aerith hangs out at and the Entertainment District where Cloud lets loose with his wild side in the future. It is a large enough map to take time to cross, but there are some great vehicles, including a classic Final Fantasy 7 motorcycle that you can use to get around quicker.
The map of Midgar is nice and nostalgic, really nailing the look and feel of the Final Fantasy 7 universe. While it understandably does not look anywhere as good as the Remake, it has solid graphics that honestly, including both the environments and detailed character models, makes it one of the best-looking mobile games out there.
Better yet, the performance of the game is stellar. While I had nothing but problems in my previous review of the mobile battle royale game, PUBG New State, I found nothing like that here. There were very few bugs, mostly visual errors or texture problems inside buildings, but that was it. It ran silky smooth and held up even with upwards of 100 players in a match.
Final Fantasy Elements Fit Nicely
As mentioned earlier in the Final Fantasy 7 First Soldier review, there are plenty of Final Fantasy elements that are thrown into this game to put it in the franchise. Thankfully, almost all of them feel great and help to differentiate this from the other PUBG clones out there.
For instance, there is the classes system. There are a handful of classes that you can pick for your fully customized SOLDIER, like the Warrior who can rush forward to attack enemies and has an emphasis on melee attacks, or the Sorcerer who has added bonuses when using magic.
For me, my personal favorite class is the Ninja who is able to hide from enemies every once in a while, see the nearby NPC monsters, and even double jump. Verticality is especially nice since it gives access to great vantage points and highlights the interesting but limited parkour system that everyone has access to for running up the side of walls and the like.
By far, the most familiar part of the Final Fantasy elements are the materia that you can find, with you being able to equip up to three at a time to use in battle. There are classics like Fire and Blizzard, plus the (in my opinion) must-have Cure for healing yourself, and also others like Gravity and Bio that give plenty of options for your playstyle.
The developers behind Final Fantasy 7 First Soldier also really understand how to monetize the free-to-play game, immediately starting with the first season of battle pass cosmetics, both free and paid, and paid store content that includes classic Final Fantasy 7 character-themed outfits for Cloud, Aerith, and Tifa.
Beyond that, one of my favorite parts is the fact that it has Chocobos in it because it would not be a Final Fantasy game without them. You can ride around on the signature Chocobos and even customize them to your liking, which brings me to the fact of the content in this game.
Current Content Is Somewhat Sparse But Great
When it comes to the overall content in the game, it is, honestly, a little sparse at this time, but nothing too unusual for a launch. What is good is that the developer makes great use of what little content is available, making sure that all of it is desirable and interesting.
There is only the single Midgar undercity map that has no name attached to it, potentially revealing that it could be some time until we get another major location in the Final Fantasy 7 world. There are also only two different game modes available with two options for each of them.
There is the normal unranked battle royale match with only the solo and team options at this time. However, the team option is only trios, rather than the squads or duos that some players might be fans of in other games. It is unfortunate that you can only pick solo and trios at this time, especially since Apex Legends is the only game to really promote trios as the main mode.
That said, what is great is that The First Soldier already has a ranked game mode, including both solo and trios options, so that you can start rising through the various ranks and showing off that you are one of the best players at the game in the world.
Beyond that, there is just the tutorial-focused training area and the Chocobos Farm. This farm is the biggest surprise of the content in the game thus far, essentially taking a stripped-down version of the breeding mechanics from the Gold Saucer in Final Fantasy XIV (minus the racing, sadly) and giving you the ability to breed for stats, different colors, and so on to then use in the matches.
The progression is about the expected level with the usual battle pass and in-game currency plus the paid one. The one addition that is fascinating is the ability to level up the different classes in the game separately with 60 levels at launch, which gives a good amount of grinding and plenty of class rewards for those who like that.
Is It Recommended? 9/10
Without a doubt, Final Fantasy 7 First Soldier is a highly recommended battle royale game for Android and iOS. In my opinion, it is the very best that the genre has to offer right now, even though it lacks the numerous seasons, patches, and game modes of the other existing titles.
The gameplay is fluid and fun, breathing life into a pretty standardized genre at this point with magic that is interesting, summons that can change the fate of the match, different classes to play as, a beautiful and large map of Midgar’s undercity, and clear appreciation for both battle royales and Final Fantasy alike.
This is one game that I will, personally, continue to play whenever I want something to enjoy on my iPad and will continue to hope that it will come to consoles and PC later down the road with some upgrades. In a time where Final Fantasy is so huge and constantly getting spin-offs, remasters, and the like, Final Fantasy 7 The First Soldier stands out as a surprisingly respectful move into an oversaturated space with one of the smartest and most shocking moves the series has ever made on mobile.