Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is apparently so honest-to-goodness big and gorgeous that the game needs two discs just to contain its sheer heft (also it's coming in 2024 now). That's the most exciting explanation anyway. Scope and fidelity aside, the decision to include two discs is likely a function of multiple factors, and it could mean several things for physical owners of the game. One thing's for sure, though: this game is going to buckle some already struggling hard drives when it comes out.
Why might a game need two discs? Well, we could be looking at the opposite approach that some games take nowadays by essentially including a cosmetic disc leashed to a mammoth mandatory download. Hell, a few physical games have actually come with a worthless decorative disc paired with a digital voucher. Instead, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth will seemingly put more emphasis on installing content rather than downloading it to supplement what's on the disc, but that does not mean the game will be small altogether. One way or another, your hard drive's getting both barrels.
The obvious precedent here is Final Fantasy 7 Remake, which also came with two discs and a whopper of a drive footprint at 100GB. I'm assuming that Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth will work just like the Remake did, which itself worked just like Red Dead Redemption 2 did - another rare modern two-disc game, albeit a last-gen one. Basically, you got a data disc and a game disc. You'd install the bulk of the stuff with the data disc then never need to touch it again. Instead, you'd polish things off with the game disc and then use it to actually play in the future.
The important, if obvious, thing to remember is that we aren't talking about the same setup that the original four-disc Final Fantasy 7 used back in the PlayStation 1 days. You won't be prompted to change discs at certain points in the story. That said, the simplest option will still be just buying the game digitally. The question there is whether you'd rather avoid the fuss of discs or avoid a massive download up front. You might also want the nostalgia of using multiple discs, but I'm assuming that's a side effect of Square Enix's decision here and not the purpose.
More to the point, I doubt that the size of Rebirth's explorable world is the reason it comes with two discs, though I'd love to be proven wrong here. That's partly because a world the size of Elden Ring's Lands Between could manage just one disc, though it is visually less lavish than Rebirth looks to be. However, it's mainly because Final Fantasy 7 Remake, which didn't have a particularly massive open world by JRPG standards - hello, Xenoblade Chronicles - was largely bloated by unique assets made by passionate devs who just couldn't help themselves.
"Rather than thinking about repurposing standard assets for individual locations, like the Slums or the Shinra Building, we decided to build each location using unique assets to achieve the quality desired for [Final Fantasy 7 Remake]," co-director Naoki Hamaguchi told US Gamer in an interview now hosted on VG24/7.
"As such, we designed assets like the backgrounds, [background music], and characters per location, which allowed for a unique gameplay experience in each area, even from a game design perspective," Hamaguchi added.
Remember, Final Fantasy 7 Remake was 100GB on PS4. While PS5 ports of PS4 games are often smaller due to compression advantages, Rebirth is a PS5 exclusive, and we've seen that new-gen game sizes can balloon rapidly due to higher asset fidelity. From the list of the biggest PS5 install sizes, the cross-gen Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War Ultimate Edition is frankly a threat at over 280GB. Final Fantasy 15's HD texture pack is another relevant point of reference at over 150GB.
I shudder to think what today's Final Fantasy 7 team will do with the PS5. They're probably modeling every unique Chocobo feather even as we speak, each wing seasoned with 500MB of detail. I'm kidding, of course, but only a little bit, which is the scary part. If this thing isn't pushing 200GB, it'll be a miracle.
Here are all the Summer Game Fest announcements in one place.