Whether you’re playing Final Fantasy 7 Remake in Classic or Normal mode, and no matter what difficulty, there’s still a lot going on every time Cloud draws his sword. In this guide, we’ll share our tips and hints for surviving combat.
Assess every enemy
Once you meet Chadley in the Sector 7 Slums during Chapter 3, you’ll have an Assess Materia. When you equip it, you’ll have the Assess ability in your Command Menu.
Assessing enemies (including bosses) tells you a lot, but most importantly, it tells you what they’re weak to. When you see that an enemy is weak to Fire damage, you know to hit it with Fire spells.
Your goal in every fight is obviously to deal damage. You can brute force this by just swinging away for a (very) long time, or you can do it smarter. After you’ve Assessed (above) enemies, hit them with damage they’re weak to.
For a lot of lower level enemies, a single hit with a spell they’re weak to will kill them.
For higher level enemies and bosses, enough hits that they’re weak to will Pressure and then Stagger them. When an enemy is Staggered, they won’t attack or dodge, and they take (at least) 160% damage. This means you’re no longer chipping away at their huge health bars. Instead, you’re focusing on dealing the most efficient damage, and using that extra damage window to end fights faster.
Use each character’s special move
Every character has an attack mapped to the Triangle button. This attack is more powerful than your basic attack and different from using an ability or casting a spell. These unique abilities are free, recharge on their own, and are all very powerful. But they can be easy to forget if you’re focused on the other aspects of battle.
For Barret and Aerith, their abilities are high risk — keeping you locked in place — but deal tons of damage and very quickly raise their ATB meters.
Tifa’s three abilities are some of the highest damaging skills in her arsenal. Make sure you dump some of her ATB into empowering her different attacks, rather than just blasting her opponents with her abilities.
Cloud’s Punisher Mode is one of his most powerful tools, and it’s forgotten if you’re focused on spending that ATB gauge. Cloud’s Punisher Mode hits most enemies very hard, even late in the game. It raises the Stagger meter faster than his normal attacks. And most importantly, it comes with a built-in parry counterattack. You can use Cloud’s parry on a variety of different enemies — including some bosses.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake gives you so many tools, it’s easy to forget your most basic ones. But cycling between characters to use their special attacks will help you raise that ATB and stagger enemies faster than just using your abilities.
Watch your Active Time Battle (ATB) gauge carefully
In both Classic and Normal modes, combat is really about managing your ATB gauge. Your generic attacks with your weapons are all well and good (and can often manage low level enemies), but your Command menu is where the good stuff is — and those commands require ATB.
Each character’s ATB gauge fills over time and is broken into chunks. The rate that it fills depends on the character’s Speed stat and whether or not they’re blocking during a fight. Each chunk of the ATB gauge that fills is, effectively, an action out of the Command menu.
Everything else you do in a fight — like attacking, dodging, and blocking — is really only in service of filling up that gauge so you’re able to use Commands. You’ll need a segment of ATB to Assess (our first tip) your enemies, and you’ll need a chunk for every elemental spell you cast (our second tip).
Every time any party member gets an ATB point, you’ll hear a beep. That’s your cue that it’s time to use the Command menu.
In both modes, your job is to make sure you’re using these ATB-powered Commands for all of the members of your party. In Normal mode, this means constantly switching between party members to fill their ATB gauge, spending it on a Command, and then switching to the next member.
In Classic mode, you don’t have to constantly switch, but your task is the same — watch the gauge, and spend it wisely (see above).
Never neglect your Items
The third option in your Command menu is Items. These require a segment of ATB as well.
For the most part, you’ll use your Items to heal with Potions or replenish your Magic Points (MP) with Ether. But you’ll be picking up a lot of other stuff in your journeys around Midgar.
You’ll have items like Grenades that deal damage to groups of enemies (without spending any MP) or heal conditions. Don’t forget that you’ve got these as options when the fighting gets overwhelming.
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