Kotaku’s Weekend Guide: Spiky-Haired Swordsmen And Intergalactic Trailblazers

Kotaku’s Weekend Guide: Spiky-Haired Swordsmen And Intergalactic Trailblazers

We’ve arrived at another weekend. But it’s no ordinary weekend, since there’s now a demo for Final Fantasy VII Rebirth we can play through a million times before the game launches on February 29 (there’s also an open-world section that’ll be added to said demo later this month).

So yes, we’re talking about the demo this week, and all things FF7. But that’s not all! Read on to find out what our picks are for this weekend.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Demo

Screenshot: Square Enix / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

Play it on: PS5
Current goals: Unearth any easter eggs, perfect my combat skills

In 2015, a friend of mine said he had heard rumors that Square Enix was going to announce a Final Fantasy VII remake at E3. Well, after so many years of rumors and hype largely based on one pretty tech demo for the PS3, I kindly told him to shut up because I thought it was nonsense. “Yeah, no, but I bet we’ll see The Last Guardian, I said.” And hey, I was half right!

Read More: Everything We Know About Final Fantasy VII Rebirth

But here I am, around nine years later with a demo for part two of the remake I said would never happen and, well, I’m ready to play through it yet again. While Remake pushed me right to the edge of narrative changes I was comfortable with, I still loved the combat and it was one of the best ways to spend time with characters I’ve loved for many years (seriously, the English voice cast is and remains a treat).

The combat is a bit different this time around, though. I’ve already shared some essential tips for the foundation of Rebirth’s combat, as well as a primer to understand how Synergy skills and abilities work. Time will tell just how much of a positive or negative addition these new mechanics are, especially when the full game arrives, but I’m liking its position as a gauge worth filling beyond ATB. It really helps me build a strategic scaffold to each fight in my head that I’m working toward, and the core of the combat still remains one of my favorite combat systems in a real-time RPG, perhaps ever. So when Rebirth lands, I want to be in tip-top shape.

Read More: Final Fantasy VII Rebirth’s First Three Chapters Rocked My Socks Off

Also! Folks have found an interesting painting in the manor as it appears in the demo, one that might contain a portrait of a very tragic character. It’s got me wondering what else is hiding in plain sight… — Claire Jackson


Image: Epic Games

Play it on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Windows (YMMV)
Current goal: Merk children

Though I am an avid battle royale player and shooter girlie, I don’t play a lot of Fortnite. The last time I got into Epic’s massive metaverse/BR, it was when Ariana Grande held a concert inside of it, and I could run around its colorful world dressed as an ethereal version of the singer. But my TikTok has recently been inundated with videos of kids staging fish weddings and attacking Peelys, so I redownloaded the game and it’s already got its hooks in me. It helps that, in the massive gap of time since I last played Fortnite, there’s now the No Build mode (which was always the gameplay aspect I most struggled with) and a GTA-style car radio that lets me flip a sports car end-over-end off a cliff while blasting Fall Out Boy.

Sure, managing editor Carolyn Petit burst my bubble when she told me that my frequent Victory Royales were thanks to the deluge of bots in matches, but I’m not going to let that deter me from gloating after every win. Fortnite reminds me that I can have fun while playing competitive shooters, so I’d like to spend my weekend decompressing with that. — Alyssa Mercante

Honkai: Star Rail

Image: miHoYo / Kotaku

Play it on: PS5, iOS, Android, Windows (Steam Deck YMMV)
Current goal: Acquire Black Swan no matter how much it hurts my wallet

Just when I think I’m out, Honkai: Star Rail pulls me back in. HoYoverse’s sci-fi RPG received its first major update this week in the form of version 2.0, and I have fallen deep back into the grind.

The expected inclusion of new limited-time events and gorgeous new characters to pull for (I have not gotten Black Swan yet but I will not stop until I do) are all there in 2.0. But what is most surprising is the continuation of Star Rail’s Trailblazer Missions, the game’s main quest. Since the game’s release last April the story has been intriguing, but fallen victim to the same self-contained narrative styling of Genshin Impact. Version 2.0 throws that out the window and sets the stage for what is sure to be the central conflict of the game going forward. This is all tied together by Penacony, the new area dripping in opulence and rotten to the core. It’s a delight to explore thanks to HoYoverse’s penchant for gorgeous settings filled to the brim with fascinating characters. It’s all been enough to convince me to start logging in every day again. — Willa Rowe

Final Fantasy VII Remake

Screenshot: Square Enix

Play it on: PS5, PS4, Windows (Steam Deck OK)
Current goal: Steamroll the game with my overleveled characters

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is almost here, and thankfully, the game includes a pretty good summary of the story so far to help us all refresh our memories before diving in. (No, I don’t have an early copy of the game. This recap is also included in the free demo that’s available on PS5 right now.) However, I still want to experience a more complete reminder of Remake’s events before Rebirth arrives at the tail end of this month. So this weekend, I plan to start a replay of that first game.

I’m not really interested in re-leveling my characters and contending with the game’s combat all over again, though. I know I’ll get plenty of that when Rebirth arrives. Instead, I think I’m just going to take my powerful characters from my first playthrough and use them to steamroll the game, letting me re-experience all the story beats, explore the game’s gorgeous areas, and absolutely trounce most of the enemies who get in my way. Hey, I’ve earned it after playing through the game the “normal” way, and all I’m really looking for here is a chance to re-experience the story, anyway. I look forward to some challenging, meaty combat when I get my hands on Rebirth. Just let me enjoy this experience as a breezy little appetizer first. — Carolyn Petit

And those are our picks for the weekend. What games are you playing?

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