Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth’s card game is better than Witcher 3's Gwent

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth's card game is called Queen's Blood, and when it comes to the two biggest in-game card games on PS5, it's the clear winner.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth’s card game is better than Witcher 3's Gwent
Lee Brady

Opinion by Lee Brady

Published

For PS5 players currently out there collecting Final Fantasy VII Rebirth trophies that have also played The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt, there's probably only one question constantly lingering in your mind: is Final Fantasy VII Rebirth's Queen's Blood better than The Witcher 3's Gwent? The jury might be out on which of these games is truly the best PS5 RPG, but in terms of which game has the better card game, it's Queen's Blood all the way.

Lee

Queen's Blood is a better game than Gwent in one key way

I'm well aware that it's somewhat trashy to directly compare the card games of two phenomenal RPGs like this, but to be honest, I just can't help it. Like I said in my Final Fantasy VII Rebirth first impressions, the influence The Witcher 3 has had on Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is undeniable. Not that he needed to admit it, but Rebirth's director Naoki Hamaguchi said as much himself — Square Enix studied The Witcher 3 "extensively" during the game's development.
That influence can be felt everywhere in the game, particularly in how improved the side quests of Rebirth feel when compared to Final Fantasy VII Remake, but let's not kid ourselves. By far the most telling impact was the introduction of Queen's Blood — a game-long in-universe card game Cloud can play against friends and foes of all shapes and sizes.

While it doesn't play like The Witcher 3's Gwent, it is obviously very much implemented into the game like Gwent, including moments that give the player the option to progress the story by winning card games rather than fighting. Final Fantasy has had card games before (hello, FFVIII's Triple Triad), but nothing as ambitious or as far-reaching narratively as Queen's Blood.
Now, before I jump into why I think Queen's Blood is a better game than Gwent, I just want it to be clear: I absolutely love both of these card games. I've played every possible opponent and won every available challenge related to both Queen's Blood and Gwent in their respective games, so know that this comes from a place of love for both games.

I'm certainly not trying to take Gwent down a peg or something — TrueTrophies Editor Kes and I are all the way in on a shared delusion that more Gwent is secretly in the works for PS5. That said, I can still think of one key way Final Fantasy VII Rebirth's Queen's Blood raises the high bar that Gwent set when it comes to in-game card games.

Queen's Blood and Gwent both succeed where it counts

Queen's Blood

Now, just to clarify, I'm not some sort of card game purist or anything like that. Sure, I've played a wide range of card games at this point in my life, but it's not like I've ever gotten hard into the meta of something — not even when I spent a year pouring money in Magic The Gathering Arena. When it comes to card games, my thoughts begin and end with the immortal words of Marge Simpson: "I just think they're neat."

For me, the most important thing Queen's Blood had to do to win me over was not be unreasonably complicated or require too much learning. At the end of the day, I'm really here to play Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, so if it feels like I'm working too hard to have fun, I'll just go back to playing that.

In this sense, Queen's Blood really had to live up to Gwent's standard — involving, addictive, but also accessible. You might think it sounds easy, but it only takes one round of Koi Koi in a game like Like a Dragon Ishin to remind you that these supposedly simple card games have a real tendency to get brutal and unwieldy.
Thankfully, Queen's Blood pulls it off with aplomb, matching the simplicity of Gwent beautifully. The rules are simple: you and the opponent share a board with only 15 spaces to place cards, playing one each per turn until the board is full and no one can make a move. Once you both agree no more moves can be made, the scores on the cards you laid down are tallied and the winner is the player who set down the higher scoring cards.

Of course, there are lots of little rules and qualifiers that get introduced from there, but the premise is remarkably simple — as simple as Gwent's rules, in fact. In Gwent, you and your opponent also set down one card each per turn, racking up points with every card. However, the game is played over three possible rounds, with the winner being whoever is first to win two rounds.

Queen's Blood is more satisfying to play than Gwent

Queen's Blood

The brilliance of both games is that much of the strategy happens away from the board. With Gwent, it's all about learning to bait your opponent into spending their cards too quick, and also knowing when is the best time to pass the round and keep your cards for victory later. Meanwhile, Queen's Blood's strategy is more modular — you can pick an ideal way to play, but because your opponent can affect your game more directly, you need to assemble a deck that remains flexible enough to respond to whatever they play.

Now, I think if you were to play 100 rounds of both games back-to-back in real life with real people, most people would probably come away having said they prefer Gwent. Honestly, I feel like I might agree with that too. I think there's something brilliant about Gwent's Poker-like elements — the ability to bluff your opponent into playing their key cards too early is a very human element that allows the game to feel more engaging in the moment.

In reality, were we to play 100 rounds of Queen's Blood in person, I think the game would end a lot quicker and be far more decisive each time we played it. In that space, I think Queen's Blood would lack a certain bit of friction. We would finish a round, adjust our decks, and go in for another game. At that point, it would probably start to feel a little bit less like a competitive game and more like a puzzle that each of us needs to solve.
However, in the context of the games they're featured in, I think Queen's Blood is by far the superior card game. You see, while Gwent's major strength is its human element, its major weakness in The Witcher 3 is the fact that you're not playing against other human beings — you're playing against robots. Particularly stupid robots at that. The kind of robots that never see your play coming no matter how many times you wheel it out.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth's card game is built for dumb robots

In my incredibly long playthrough of The Witcher 3, there came a point around the 20 hour mark where I made one final major adjustment to my Gwent deck, and from there I never made any major adjustments ever again. You see, without that human element, Gwent is simply a numbers game — one in which the player who has the most cards wins.

Queen's Blood

The starting deck of the game, the Northern Realms, is catered to making the best of the game's simplicity — or, so it seemed to me, at any rate. You draw a card each time you win a round, giving you one more card to play than your opponent. Load your deck with cards that can revive previously used cards and also spies, which let you draw more cards, and you'll win. Keep the Foltest card that lets you clear weather effects handy and boom — the robots have no means of stopping you from gaming the numbers.

After 20 hours, I was able to just play the same game of Gwent 50 more times and blast through the game's competition without ever having to feign a rematch. It was a glorious time — I was still having fun — but it did become utterly braindead. I would still save before each key match just in case I blew it somehow, and it just never happened; the braindead strategy was simply too powerful to be stopped.

Queens Blood

In comparison, all credit needs to be given to Final Fantasy VII Rebirth's designers in their approach to Queen's Blood, and how they addressed this problem. While they might not have created a game that is fundamentally more fun to play than Gwent, they have at least created a card game that works with the limitations of playing against video game robots.

Right up until the very last competitor, I was constantly having to adjust my strategy in significant ways while playing Queen's Blood, and the game made sure I never got too comfortable. Sure, I found a niche I liked — I've always liked the green cards from Magic the Gathering because they always have the bigger numbers, so I applied that logic to Queen's Blood and made a deck largely based around big points and big stat boosts.

Yet, the robots never made it easy on me, and that's not because they were more effective at stopping my plays. Each opponent represents a very strong, very different approach to the game, presenting you each time with a puzzle you will need to solve. If you don't adjust to the opponent's play, oftentimes you'll lose simply because you failed to solve the puzzle of their play correctly.

Queens Blood

This solves the problem of playing against stupid card-playing robots because, oftentimes, the robots don't have to think all that much. The few moments of immediate interplay between both the machine and the player are so sparse and often so ineffective against the play either player has already set in motion that it really doesn't give you much room to think. Either your strategy pays out and wins or it doesn't, enemy or no enemy.

It's a completely different problem from Gwent, and it's one that probably makes it a worse card game overall, but in terms of the context we're playing both games in, it makes for a better time. Final Fantasy VII Rebirth's card game wins out for me because it's built to be enjoyed within Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, while Gwent feels like it could be a lot better if we weren't playing it within The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt(and from experience, it is better that way).

Either way, both Final Fantasy VII Rebirth and The Witcher 3 qualify for our best PS5 games list — I just happen to think one has the superior in-universe card game. What are your thoughts about Queen's Blood though? Have you been enjoying it as much as I have? Have you finished playing against all of the game's opponents? Let us know in the comments below.
Written by Lee Brady
Staff Writer Lee keeps one eye on the future (Shadow x Sonic Generations), one eye on the past (PS Plus Premium games), and his secret third eye on junk he really likes (Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts games). Then he uses his big mouth to blurt out long-winded opinions about video games.
Hide ads
View discussion...
Hide ads