Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is continuing Cloud and the gang's adventure outside the walls of Midgar, so it was always assumed that it would feature larger, more open environments than what you'll find in the typically cramped Final Fantasy 7 Remake. But we didn't realise just how big this sequel's world might actually be.
In an interview with Press Start, director Naoki Hamaguchi makes it sound like Rebirth is going to be bloody massive — and this is despite it not being a true open world. "What we’ve done is we’ve taken the world map from the original Final Fantasy VII, but we’ve created it all in a one-to-one real scale. So all of the dungeons, all of the cities, everything in that world is now included in the same space. One seamless map," he says.
Hamaguchi explains further: "So when you open up the game there is still a fairly large area to explore at the beginning but then as you continue your quest it expands further and further, you get more regions you can go to and then you at any time you want you can go back to the regions you’ve been to before, because it’s a seamless map, and you can find new quests and new bits of story which have appeared in there as you go along."
So again, it's not quite open world — you can't just go anywhere you want at any time — but it is one big, "seamless" map, made up of countryside, towns, and dungeons. The scope of this game is beginning to seem more and more impressive, isn't it?
In watching recent video previews for Rebirth, we caught glimpses of the world map — as in, the map screen with icons on it — and it really does look huge. The Grasslands area, for example, is a very open environment that encourages exploration — shown off in Square Enix's own TGS presentation — and that's just one chunk of what seems to be an entire continent's worth of land.