7 Remake is a faithful retelling of the original story, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t big changes. In a new hands-on preview, it has been revealed that the Sector 5 Reactor – the second target of the Avalanche freedom fighters group – has been substantially reworked in a couple of key ways.As you’d expect of the remake, the area is notably larger and more detailed, with wider spaces to allow for the action-focused combat to unfold. The core journey through the reactor remains the same as in the 1997 original game; Cloud, Tifa, and Barret must place the bomb, use a simultaneous button switch to unlock the gates, and then fight the Airbuster boss battle. But the route through the reactor to this techno soldier fight involves a new mechanic unseen in the original game.
Spoiler warning: the following paragraphs reveal in detail how the contents of Sector 5 Reactor have changed.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake: Over 100 Screenshots
As the party enters the reactor, they discover that this is not just an electric power plant. It is also an assembly line for anti-armour robots known as Airbusters. Pretty much the first thing you see is a powered-down shell of one held in a docking clamp.
After placing the bomb and setting a remote trigger, the party is confronted by huge holographic representations of both President Shinra and Heidegger, Shinra’s head of Public Safety. They threaten the team with the Airbuster, but cannot immediately deploy it due to the robot not yet having been assembled.
Subsequent rooms contain the production line being used to manufacture the Airbuster, which introduces a new mechanic for the reactor. Components can be removed from the production line, which prevents them from being installed into the robot and thus allowing for a slightly easier fight.
Removing components is done by plugging a keycard into a console. After defeating a room’s enemies, the card is easily found, but there is a catch: there are not enough keycards to deactivate every console. After the first room, which has one card and one station that can deactivate one of the Airbuster’s three ‘M Units’ that provide Mako-fuelled attacks, the further two rooms each have one keycard, but two and three consoles each respectively.This setup forces players to make a decision about which element is removed. Available to deactivate are 3x M Units, 3x Big Bomber Shells (hugely damaging explosives), and 4x AI Programming Cores (which enable a stunlock ability). The options provided in each room means you’re unable to completely deactivate any one of these attacks, but allows you to focus on reducing abilities you know you struggle with. For instance, if you know you’re often tripped up by stuns, then you can spend the keycards on removing two of the AI Programming Cores.
For more Final Fantasy 7 Remake, check out our big hands-on preview for extra details on the Airbuster fight, the party’s abilities, and summons.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Entertainment Writer. You can follow him on Twitter.