Beware: EPISODE INTERmission spoilers inside.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade launched on the PlayStation 5 last week, but it didn't launch alone. It came with the strangely-titled, PS5-exclusive EPISODE INTERmission DLC. Running concurrently with the events of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, the DLC stars Yuffie Kisaragi and is absolutely worth playing if you enjoyed last year's blockbuster. Yuffie is as loveable as she's ever been, and has a distinct style of combat that's both stylish to behold and satisfying to employ.
Perhaps most importantly, story hints at what's to come in the sequel to Remake.
Tetsuya Nomura, the director of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, has said the game's sequel will begin where EPISODE INTERmission (henceforth referred to as "Yuffie's DLC," for everyone's sake) finishes. That's great news -- but if you've played Yuffie's DLC and have seen its ending, you may be at a loss as to what its ending even means. So let's break it down.
It should go without saying, but: spoilers below.
There are two parts of Yuffie's DLC to break down. The final stretch of the game, in which you're introduced to a new gang of bad guys, and the post-game scenes, which leads into Final Fantasy Remake Part 2.
First, the bad guys: Deepground. Deepground is a secret branch of SOLIDER (which is the military wing of Shinra), one that was actually introduced in the 2006 Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy 7 game that starred Vincent Valentine. Leading Deepground are elite warriors known as Tsviets -- and leading the Tsviets is Weiss.
We see Weiss being experimented on in Yuffie's DLC in Shinra's basement levels. He seems not fussed at all with the "idiots" at Shinra trying to clone him, and summons his younger brother, Nero, to go "hunt." That's obviously bad news for Yuffie and Sonon, who face Nero as the final boss in the DLC. After a tough battle, you nearly escape -- before Nero emerges from the darkness. stabs Sonon and retrieves his body. Yuffie escapes, but Sonon is a goner -- and will probably return in Part 2 as a Deepground experiment.
What's important about all this is that Dirge of Cerberus -- where Deepground, Weiss, Nero and the rest of the Tsiviets were introduced -- occurred after the events of the original game. That the group is being introduced here obviously means they'll be a part of Remake Part 2, which means you can expect significant changes to the story beats.
After Sonon's "death," Yuffie escapes in time to see Sector 7 explode and crumble onto the slums below.
The post-game scenes take us back to Cloud, Barret, Tifa, Yuffie and Red XIII. They have some banter about long walks and how Midgar is a trash city, then they hitchhike to the nearby town of Kalm. (Being picked up by Chocobo Bill, who fans will remember from the original game.) This is all fine and dandy, but then we see something more interesting.
Zack Fair is outside Aerith's church, practicing some "Hey, it's been a while!" lines. After psyching himself up, he barges through the doors to announce his return, only to find a church full of Midgar citizens, probably taking refuge from the Sector 7 explosion.
Some quick reminders.
At the end of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, it's revealed that there are multiple timelines: The story we saw in the original game is one timeline, and Remake another. At Remake's end, you destroy the Whisper Harbinger. The Whispers had been ensuring each timeline flows in the same way -- or, in other words, ensuring the storyline of Remake followed the original's. Now that you killed off the Whisper Harbinger, there's nothing stopping the story from straying from the original's. (This will probably be important for the Deepground plot, too.)
Second, Zack Fair was Cloud's mentor and the protagonist of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7, a prequel to the original. A 1st Class Soldier, he dies at the end of Crisis Core, just before the events of Final Fantasy 7, as he's gunned down by dozens and dozens of Shinra's infantry. (That's a whole separate story, well worth experiencing in Crisis Core if you have a PSP handy.) In Crisis Core we see that Zack had a romance with Aerith, which is why he's anxious to visit her at the Church.
Now, here's the important part. This new scene featuring Zack Fair shows that he's alive and well, which is a huge change for the Final Fantasy 7 story. But what's still not clear is which reality he's alive in. At the end of Remake, as Zack recovers from the attack that in the other reality left him dead, we see a chip packet with Shinra's Stamp mascot on it -- but it's conspicuously different from the Stamp mascot we saw in Remake, implying a different timeline. An eagle-eyed fan on Reddit has pointed out that the church Zack enters at the end of Yuffie's DLC is different -- less dilapidated -- than the one we see in Remake.
So Zack is indeed back, but we still don't know what timeline he's in.