Square Enix has only shown brief glimpses of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, which is the upcoming sequel to FF7 Remake, and the second entry in a planned trilogy. Fans already know that the storyline of FF7 Rebirth will be going in a new direction from the one in FF7, as the ending of FF7 Remake made a point of saying that the party is now going on an unknown journey. There might be an unexpected guest tagging along with the members of Avalanche in the future, as it’s possible that there is a second Cloud Strife running around in the world of FF7 Rebirth.
The death of Aerith is easily the most iconic moment in FF7 and it overshadows the other big twist in the game. It’s revealed that Cloud Strife isn’t who he says he is, as he claimed to be a member of SOLDIER throughout the game and once walked side-by-side with Sephiroth during the ill-fated mission to Nibelheim. Sephiroth later reveals that Cloud’s memories had been tampered with, as he was just a grunt member of the Shinra forces, and he had both his memories and personality confused with that of Zack Fair, an actual member of SOLDIER who was part of the same mission. Cloud and Zack are captured by Shinra forces and experimented on by Hojo until Zack manages to break them out, and he almost gets them to Midgar, before he’s killed by the Shinra army, as depicted in Crisis Core and possibly its FF7 remake, Reunion. Cloud stumbles to Midgar, with his memories in disarray, and he is found by Tifa, who brings him into contact with Avalanche, kicking off the events of FF7.
FF7 Remake has not only influenced the timeline going forward but has also changed things in the past. Zack is now alive in the new timeline and is running around Midgar while the main party is hanging out in Kalm. It’s possible that Zack isn’t alone, as he was seen carrying a familiar person to Midgar. There’s a chance that the Cloud from Zack’s timeline has also made his way into FF7 Remake and could play a part in things to come.
At the end of FF7 Remake, there is a scene where Zack is shown defeating the soldiers that killed him in the original timeline. When the party leaves Midgar, Aerith seemingly has a vision of Zack carrying Cloud to Midgar, as he was originally intending to do before his death in Crisis Core. This could have been written off as a vision that only Aerith is experiencing, possibly as a manifestation of her Cetra powers, guided by her love for Zack and a desire to know what happened to him. The FF7 Remake players were left unclear regarding Zack’s fate, as the battle scene also featured a different design for Stamp the dog, which the camera focuses on, hinting that the scene happened in a different timeline or reality.
The ending for the INTERmission DLC threw all of the theories out of the window, as a living Zack is shown traveling to the Sector 5 church in search of Aertih. He bursts through the door, only to find the people recovering in the aftermath of the Sector 7 Plate’s destruction. Zack asks what happened and the game ends, which is the current final point in the FF7 Remake video games, even though the trailer for FF7 Rebirth and the Aerith & Tifa novel show some events that happen later. INTERmission confirmed that Zack is now alive in the FF7 Remake timeline, though it’s unclear if it’s the same Zack, or if it’s another version of the same character from another timeline.
It’s clear that Zack is still alive, but what about the other Cloud that he is seen carrying to Midgar? The first trailer for FF7 Rebirth brought attention to the fact that Zack was carrying a wounded Cloud to Midgar. The two characters have been shown in Aerith’s vision and the trailer, so does this mean that Zack isn’t the only traveler from his timeline? If the Zack in INTERmission is from another world, then it looks like he has brought his Cloud with him.
One possible counter to this idea is that Zack’s Cloud is the one fans have been playing the whole time. It’s possible that Zack survived and brought Cloud to Midgar, but the two got separated, and Zack needed time to recover from his wounds inflicted in the battle with the Shinra soldiers, or maybe he was accosted when he entered Midgar, as he was still being hunted. This would explain why Zack wasn’t present throughout the events of FF7 Remake until the ending of the INTERmission DLC, where he had finally recovered to the point where he could track down Aerith. If Zack had been separated from Cloud before the latter had recovered, then his memories would still be messed up, as they were in the original FF7 timeline.
The reason this theory doesn’t work is because of the Buster Sword. The version of Cloud in FF7 Remake wields the Buster Sword from the start of the game and the player can keep it throughout the story. Cloud is still carrying the Buster Sword in the ending of the INTERmission DLC. Zack is also shown wielding a Buster Sword in the ending of the INTERmission DLC, though his is notably more beat-up than Cloud’s sword. The fact that there are two Buster Swords is an FF7 Remake inconsistency, as Crisis Core confirmed that there is only one Buster Sword, as it was commissioned by Angeal Hewley’s father and was passed from Angeal to Zack, then to Cloud. No other Buster Sword is seen in the series, yet there are suddenly two in the INTERmission DLC. This is a huge clue that the version of Zack in FF7 Remake comes from another timeline.
This raises the question of why a second Cloud would be introduced into the story? It’s possible that Square Enix doesn’t want to give up all of the work it did to create Midgar in FF7 Remake and wants a DLC expansion focusing on the second Cloud’s adventures in the city, possibly involving the fractured Avalanche factions. The other possibility is that one of the FF7 Remake Clouds will die where Aerith lives instead, allowing her to be a larger part of FF7 Rebirth. The idea of there being a spare Cloud sitting around would cheapen this moment somewhat, much like how the fakeout Cait Sith death worked in the original FF7. It’s also possible that Sephiroth could try to influence the second Cloud, especially one that doesn’t have the support and love of his friends, leading to the second Cloud becoming a villain. There are lots of possibilities for a second Cloud and Square Enix hopefully won’t drop the ball in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.
Next: FF7 Rebirth Effect On Cloud’s Buster Sword Isn’t What It Appears