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Final Fantasy 7 Remake guide: AP, SP, upgrading weapons, and leveling up

Improve your stats and get more powerful with a convoluted system of upgrades

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Image: Square Enix via Polygon
Jeffrey Parkin (he/him) has been writing video game guides for Polygon for almost seven years. He has learned to love just about every genre of game that exists.

As you win battles in Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Cloud and his teammates will earn experience. They’ll level up, but you won’t improve their stats directly. Instead, earning experience for your characters comes with two other kinds of experience: Ability Points (AP) and Skill Points (SP) — and your equipped weapons and Materia level up (independently) as well.

There are several interconnected systems working together to improve your characters and their weapons, and it’s a lot to keep track of. In this guide, we’ll talk about AP and SP and how you’ll use them to upgrade your weapons and Materia abilities.

Ability Points (AP) and leveling up Materia

We’ll start with Ability Points because they’re easiest. Having a Materia equipped in your gear — weapons, armor, and accessories — means that Materia will earn Ability Points with every fight.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake AP SP Upgrade Weapons level up Materia
As Materia levels up, it gets a new star and unlocks new spells.
Image: Square Enix via Polygon

Over time, that Materia will level up. A Materia orb’s level is indicated by its number of stars. Once you earn enough AP through fights, you’ll get a notification in the lower right corner of the screen — where your loot scrolls past — saying the Materia has leveled up.

That’s it. There’s nothing for you to do.

Improved Materia unlocks improved versions of that Materia’s effect. For Magic Materia, this unlocks more powerful (and more expensive) versions of spells. When you choose that Materia’s spell from the Command Menu, press right on the D-pad to see the improved version and its cost.

Skill Points (SP) and weapon upgrades

Skill Points (SP) and weapon upgrading are a little more complicated.

  • You’ll earn SP as your characters level up.
  • At the same time, your weapon will be leveling up. Every weapon starts with a core. At each level, a new sub-core unlocks. Cores and sub-cores have associated weapon skills.
  • In the Upgrade Weapon menu, you’ll assign SP to these skills.
  • Each weapon has an associated ability (found in Command Menu // Ability). For example, Cloud’s Buster Sword has the Focused Thrust attack.
  • Using a weapon in fights increases that character’s proficiency with it. When their proficiency reaches 100%, they permanently learn that weapon’s special attack and can use it with any weapon from then on.

In your pause menu, choose Upgrade Weapons. Here, you’ll see your party, their current weapons, that weapon’s level, and how many SP you have to assign.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake AP SP Upgrade Weapons level up Weapon Skills menu
You’ll spend SP on weapon skills in your Upgrade Weapons menu.
Image: Square Enix via Polygon

Choose a character and a weapon to upgrade. You’ll see a new interface that looks like a solar system. Each of the weapon’s cores and sub-cores will appear as suns, and the skills to unlock are orbiting them like planets. All abilities around a core have the same SP cost.

Skills do things like increase your max HP and increase the damage you deal.

Once the weapon levels up and new sub-cores become available, hitting the left or right triggers will switch between them. The skills for each sub-core unlock things like even better improvements to your stats or additional Materia slots for the weapon.

Once you meet Chadley in the Sector 7 Slums, he gives you the ability to reset your weapon upgrades. Hand over some gil, and he’ll reset all your skills and SP. At that point, you can reassign them as you wish.

You also have the option to have the game automatically spend your SP for you. In the Upgrade Weapons menu, hit the Triangle button. There, you can select from balanced (a mix of offensive and defensive skills), prioritize attack, and prioritize defense.

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