I really hope the answer is “yes”
A Final Fantasy VII Remake open world confirmation is coming eventually for “Part 2” (Rebirth), as Square Enix has said that they’ll tell us with the next announcement. Until then, we have a bit more info! Gematsu rounded up interviews from 4Gamer, Dengeki Online, Famitsu, and Gamer.ne.jp, and while some comments involved “more information to come,” we did get some kernels of stuff, which, for Final Fantasy fans, is generally regarded as a meal.
Square Enix says that one of the reasons they waited so long to announce Rebirth is because “they weren’t sure if it was going to be a two-part” Remake or part of a trilogy, which lines up with pretty much everything we’ve known about their planning process in the past few decades. They also reiterated the development strategy, noting that the “part” structure allowed not just key members of the team to continue on into Rebirth, but the bulk of the squad as well. Currently, Rebirth is in the “mass production stage,” and the “fundamentals” are finished — so Q4 2023 seems reasonable (though with Square Enix, I’d realistically expect another delay). As for the third game, “plot and scenario work” is already being done.
So we don’t have open world confirmation yet, but we do know that Square Enix is being very protective of the “image of the original,” and that the second part will be “quite massive.” That quote kind of shifts the Final Fantasy VII Remake open world potential to the “yes” side (as does the confirmation that the “PS5 was needed to travel the world comfortably” due to its SSD speed), but I’m not expecting it at this point.
Outside of that no major alterations are being done to character models (beyond “touch-ups”) and the “focal point of the story hasn’t changed,” but there “will be some changes” to accommodate the trilogy foundation. The goal is to “essentially not cut anything,” so things might appear out of order, but ideally, the crux should be there (so snowboarding then?).
When coupled with the Crisis Core confirmations, it’s clear that the Final Fantasy VII sub-universe is alive and well, and here to say for the foreseeable future. I wouldn’t be surprised to see several more spinoffs by the time we get to the third “part” of the remake trilogy.