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The Entire Final Fantasy 7 Timeline Explained

It's impossible to overstate the kind of impact that a game like Final Fantasy 7 has had since it was released for the Playstation back in 1997. The original game received widespread critical acclaim for its ambitious themes, masterful storytelling, and groundbreaking gameplay. Its impact on the gaming industry was so powerful that the game's legacy continues through the sub-series which fans now know as Compilation of Final Fantasy 7.


This collection of media has served to expand the lore of Final Fantasy 7 as a whole. Compilation encompasses several sequels, prequels, and spin-offs in one sprawling timeline, and each story serves to give different characters their own spotlight and further enrich the universe of Final Fantasy 7. As this universe continues to expand into uncharted territory with the upcoming Final Fantasy 7 Intergrade, it's time to take a quick look back at the entirety of Compilation of Final Fantasy 7 and see just how much has been revealed.

Here is the entire Final Fantasy 7 timeline explained.

A new beginning with THE FIRST SOLDIER

2021 marks an all-new start to the timeline, as a new entry is on the horizon. Final Fantasy 7: THE FIRST SOLDIER is a battle royale game that takes place thirty years before the events of the first game. Though explicit plot details are still rather scarce and its place in the Compilation is ambiguous, the first announcement trailer teases quite a few interesting points.


Shinra — a major power company and the primary antagonists for the first portion of FF7 — sets out to create SOLDIER, a militia group of enhanced fighters. Players are set in battles that require use of both third person shooting and classic Final Fantasy magic in a showdown to become the eponymous first SOLDIER. The initial teaser features plenty of franchise staples, including RPG swordplay, Chocobo riding, and even classic Final Fantasy 7 Summons like Ifrit to aid you in battle.

It will likely become easier to determine how THE FIRST SOLDIER will fit into the timeline in the future. THE FIRST SOLDIER is set to release in 2021 on iOS and Android.

Known characters start to appear in Before Crisis

Though it never actually received an official international release, 2004's Before Crisis was a mobile game in the Compilation that features several characters in Final Fantasy 7, depicting them as they were a few years prior to the main storyBefore Crisis follows the Turks, a task force assigned to handle Shinra's dirty work. The game itself was a 2D side-scrolling RPG that took advantage of phone cameras as a part of gameplay. The final episode of Before Crisis was released in 2006, but servers to play the game were active until 2018.


As a clandestine crew, the Turks worked for Shinra and were pitted against AVALANCHE, a group of eco-warriors attempting to shut down reactors that were harming the planet. Though many Turks appear throughout FF7, the game follows completely original Turk operatives as they uncover major conspiracies between both Shinra and AVALANCHE. After the original operatives undergo their own battle to save the world, many of them go into hiding in order to start new lives, which explains why these characters don't feature heavily in Final Fantasy 7. Familiar Turks like Reno, Rude, and Tseng replace them as the main operatives, and become the classic Turks seen throughout the franchise.

Crisis Core kicks off key events

Compilation officially starts to pick up steam with Crisis Core, a PSP exclusive game released in 2007 in Japan and internationally in 2008.

Zack Fair, previously depicted during pivotal flashbacks in the first game, serves as the main protagonist as he climbs the ranks of SOLDIER to become a hero in this real time action RPG. While Crisis Core features a number of original characters and branching arcs, it also acts as an all-encompassing origin story for Zack. After his lengthy and tragic recruitment into the organization, Zack becomes a renowned SOLDIER in its First Class division, all while cultivating relationships with Cloud Strife and Aerith Gainsborough, two major FF7 protagonists. 


The game's climax leads into an important moment in the story of FF7. While on the run from SOLDIER after learning of the group's dark secrets, Zack rescues a comatose Cloud. His dreams are dashed, however, as they run into an immense army of enemy SOLDIERs. Placing Cloud in hiding, Zack sacrifices himself in order to allow Cloud to survive and become his "living legacy." It's from there that the stage is officially set for the classic JRPG that kicked off the whole Compilation.

Last Order truncates the events of Crisis Core

While Crisis Core offers a comprehensive backstory and features a bevy of new characters, the Last Order anime OVA gets straight to the point. While only partially concurrent with Compilation as a whole, this brief animated film from 2004 provides alternate tellings of two major arcs in the base game. One is the massacre at Nibelheim, in which main antagonist Sephiroth sets Cloud's childhood home ablaze and murders countless innocents. The other section follows Zack Fair and his attempt to run away from SOLDIER with an unconscious Cloud in tow.


Though Last Order doesn't provide too much in the way of new content, Western critics have lauded it for its refreshing take and animation style used for some classic FF7 scenes. However, the OVA also received some negative feedback. According to Crisis Core producer Hideki Imaizumi in a 2008 IGN interview, fans were displeased with the many creative liberties taken with this important part of the story. He stated the Crisis Core team dedicated themselves to avoiding those mistakes when it came time to portray these moments in their own game.

The classic takes the stage

After the First Soldier was determined and multiple Crises had been resolved, the time has arrived for the OG to take the stage. The original Final Fantasy 7 set a new standard for video game storytelling and design, and gave rise to the Compilation as fans know it now.


Cloud Strife, a former SOLDIER turned mercenary, is hired by his childhood friend, Tifa Lockhart, to work as an eco-warrior for AVALANCHE. The game begins with AVALANCHE taking on the evil megacorporation of Shinra in order to stop it from drawing from the planet's dwindling life force as an energy source. After the escalating conflict drives them from their home, they embark on a globe-spanning journey and uncover a more sinister plot in which former SOLDIER champion Sephiroth seeks to decimate all life on the planet.

Through shocking revelations and unparalleled tragedy, Cloud and his companions take on Sephiroth deep in the earth's core, with the planet itself aiding them in their final battle against Sephiroth. When Cloud swings his Buster Sword one last time, the world is forever changed. The planet begins to fight back against its own imminent destruction.


Advent Children continues the epic tale

With a story as legendary as Final Fantasy 7, a sequel seems almost natural. But instead of another game, the story's direct continuation came in the form of a feature length filmFinal Fantasy 7: Advent Children.


Released in 2005, this movie takes place two years after the events of the game. Many of Cloud's friends have moved on to their own tasks in rebuilding the planet, while Tifa and a brooding and despondent Cloud start up a new courier service. While on a job, Cloud comes into conflict with Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo, three remnants of Sephiroth's spirit who have taken human form and seek to resurrect him.

Through his fight against Kadaj, Cloud hopes to protect those closest to him and find redemption for his failures in the first game. After reuniting with his friends in the fight to protect his home city of New Midgar, Cloud faces off against a revived Sephiroth in one more battle to save the world. When the dust settles, Cloud finds forgiveness in himself and comfort in his friends.


A newer version, known as Advent Children Complete, was later released in 2009, which added several new scenes to the film.

Dirge of Cerberus spins off with a new tale

In 2006, an FF7 optional party member who you can completely miss during your playthrough actually received his own spin-off game. Dirge of Cerberus takes place one year after the events of Advent Children and follows Vincent Valentine, a former Turk who has become a gun-wielding demonic shapeshifter.


Vincent comes into contact with Deepground, a covert Shinra organization made up of genetically enhanced supersoldiers, as they aim for a special Materia crystal stored within his body. The Protomateria, which grants Vincent the use of his many monster forms, can also power a deadly doomsday weapon that Deepground has its eyes on. As Vincent faces off against the organization and its leader, Weiss, his tragic origins of lost love and retaining his humanity are revealed. Through forging new friendships and accepting his demonic nature, Vincent eventually learns how to better control the monsters inside of him and manages to defeat Weiss before he can destroy the world.

The game's secret ending features Genesis, a major antagonist of Crisis Core, awakening from a deep slumber and flying off into the night with Weiss' seemingly lifeless body. Interestingly enough, Weiss is set to appear in Final Fantasy 7 Remake: Intergrade in an unknown capacity.


One of your party members survives long after the game

Believe it or not, the epilogue of the base game is chronologically the most recent event in the entirety of Compilation.

In the final moments of FF7, Cloud is able to defeat Sephiroth with one epic Omnislash. But the victory is short-lived as his final attack, Meteor, is still on a world-ending crash course toward the city of Midgar. In a last ditch effort, the life force of the planet gathers around the city to try and repel Meteor. The last thing the player sees before the credits roll is an apparition of the deceased Aerith.


The post-credits scene takes place 500 years later. Nanaki — a.k.a. Red XIII, a feral but sentient beast and one of Cloud's party members — is revealed to have survived long after the conflict. As he and his cubs traverse a long canyon, they arrive at a cliffside which overlooks Midgar with plants and nature overgrown across the entire industrial city. Between the events of Advent Children and this point in the distant future, it appears as though the efforts of Cloud and his team have long since paid off.

Advent Children even pays homage to the secret ending, as the film actually opens with an updated version of the scene.

Ever Crisis celebrates the Compilation

The world of Final Fantasy 7 has become one sprawling universe over the years, and the Compilation is finally being celebrated in one mobile collection that looks to retell those familiar stories.

Touted as "another possibility for a remake," Ever Crisis is an upcoming mobile game that will present the story of the entire Compilation. That includes the original story, Advent Children, Before Crisis, Crisis Core, and Dirge of Cerberus. The announcement trailer shows off the classic Bombing Mission opening sequence in brand new, updated visuals. While the overworld has updated chibi versions of the characters to reflect the aesthetic of the original FF7, the gameplay itself features fully rendered models, multiple party members, and spell options laid out on the screen. 


Though it's currently unclear how Ever Crisis will adapt many of the titles in the Compilation, a small tease at the end of the game's trailer shows a new version of the opening scene of Crisis Core, where Zack Fair takes on SOLDIER operatives atop a moving train. Ever Crisis is expected to release in 2022.

Remake is its own beast

Even after receiving universal acclaim and taking home several awards, Final Fantasy 7 Remake's place in the timeline is remarkably separate from Compilation.

There are several key differences between the original game and the events of Remake. For one, the world of Remake is plagued by "Whispers," which appear to be spirits of fate who keep people on their destined courses for the sake of the planet. Another major difference is the point at which the group is forced to leave Midgar. While in the original game, the heroes simply leave as fugitives, the final battle of Remake takes place here. In the end, the ensuing conflict leads to the destruction of the Whispers, giving Cloud and co. the freedom to alter the very course of fate, changing the events of the original FF7. Characters who should've died survive their predetermined ends, and even Zack Fair's pivotal death scene is altered in its own way.


Yoshinori Kitase, the director of the original FF7 and producer on Remake, has stated that the team wanted Remake to be a new start that is separate from the original Compilation. Those differences between the original and Remake are staggering, and only time will tell what else will change in the future.

Where Remake could go with Intergrade

The story of Remake is slated to continue in future installments, and fans are getting their first taste of it in Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade. While the overall package features a refurbished look for a PS5 release, it will also include some brand new story elements centering around classic party member Yuffie Kisaragi, a ninja looking to restore her clan.


If the trailer is any indication, Yuffie's story takes place at some point within the events of Remake. Players will be able to take control of Yuffie and her new partner Sonon as they infiltrate Shinra behind the scenes of the base game. Both characters will have their own unique play styles, and they will become stronger together as this side story unfolds. 

It might be too early for Yuffie to meet up with Cloud and co., but the addition of her character to the story provides a small glimpse of what fans might see if and when other party members make an appearance in the new timeline. Intergrade is scheduled to release in June 2021.