Update (17 April): Hard Mode guide added. 

Final Fantasy VII Remake is out now; we played about 30 or so hours of it and we enjoyed every minute of it. It’s mostly got to do with the fun and action-packed combat system.

The battle system combines both the menu-driven system from Final Fantasy titles while keeping everything going in real-time. Final Fantasy VII Remake combines all of Hajime Tabata’s Final Fantasy games and tweaked it so that you can have party control among the four adventurers: Cloud, Barret, Tifa, and Aerith.

Here are some tips to enjoy combat to the fullest, especially if you want to tackle Hard mode where Items are not allowed to be used mid-battle.

Don’t Rely On Button-Mashing

Your regular attacks don’t do much damage. Having said that, you’ll need to still use it to keep the ATB bar flowing and going up at a fast rate. For instance, if you continuously fire your gun at enemies as Barret, he’ll do a “final shot” animation that spikes up your ATB significantly.

When get at least one chunk of ATB meter, that’s when you start dealing damage. Cast a spell, use any of your character’s abilities, use items; ATB meter is important to end fights quickly and cap them off.

Cloud’s Punisher Stance: Use It & Block Frequently

Each character has unique abilities mapped on the triangle button. Cloud’s Operator and Punisher stances are useful to switch between. Use Operator as the default stance. Use Punisher when you have a ton of fast physical-hitting enemies coming at you.

Block, then let them dare hit you; you’ll build up Stagger onto these enemies with your wide-ranged melee counterattack. To make the most out of this, use weapons that bolster his Punisher Stance even for a bit, as well as equip Materia that reduces block damage while increasing ATB.

When Cloud goes from Punisher to Operator, he does a decent sword swipe to change his stance. Perfect for comboing and using skills after a few sword swipes.

Cloud’s Best Moves Are Triple Slash And Focused Thrust; Get Them ASAP

As you progress in the game, you’ll get new swords for Cloud to use. They come with abilities you can learn and inherit while using different swords. Two abilities that will get you far are Triple Slash and Focused Thrust. The former comes out super-fast, hits for decent damage, and uses only one ATB. The latter gets you close to enemies from a good distance and increases enemy stagger meter quick.

You’ll get the weapons associated with these skills early in the game, so make sure to inherit them so you can use other niftier weapons. Other moves to consider in your permanent repertoire include Blade Burst (a ranged attack that uses one ATB) and  Infinity’s End (a long startup move that hits super-hard when your opponent is in a Stagger state).

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Let Your Ranged Party Members Do The Healing

Both Barret and Aerith are ranged attackers; make sure they come equipped with Healing Materia orbs so that they can keep Cloud and Tifa’s health in proper shape. Use the L2/R2 tactical command option to make them heal you while you still retain control of your main damage dealer.

Also, be sure to at least give one of them an Auto-Cure Materia alongside a Healing Materia so that they can automatically heal anyone who gets in the red.

Abuse Tifa’s Unbridled Power, Always

Tifa’s whirlwind uppercut hits hard and serves as a great combo ender, but it has terrible range. Using Unbridled Power gives Tifa access to her second-level triangle attack, while using that buff again gives her a pretty nifty kick combo that moves her forward.

Try to use her Unbridled Power twice so that she has a good tool for reaching and multihitting enemies from a good distance. Since she’s meant to be a fast-hitting speedy brawler, give her Materia that boosts her ATB quick like First Strike or ATB Booster (press L1 and R1 to trigger it manually).

Tifa’s Best Skills Are Focused Strike and Star Shower

The former makes her dodge back and then do a lunge that increases enemy stagger quick, while the latter is a super-powerful flurry of blows and kicks.

Keep Aerith’s Pray Materia On Her…

Having a free healing spell that affects everyone is always useful. You can also put it on Barret’s Materia slot if Aerith isn’t in your party during certain battles.

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Use Assess Materia To Get Enemy Info

Early in the game, you’ll do some quests for researcher kid Chadley who can sell you Materia for dirt cheap (the first time around though) if you help him out with his research. He’ll pass you an Assess Materia orb for you to scan enemies with. Use this.

See, the many different enemies and bosses of Final Fantasy VII Remake have different weaknesses and methods on how to get staggered. Because you want to get them to a staggered state as soon as possible, you need to know what works against them and what they’re strong against. Using Assess early in a fight will help you get the info you need.

Protip: once you get the info you need, you can press the PS4 touchpad to bring it up in the middle of combat.

Help Chadley With His Battle Research…

…by Assessing enemies with the Assess Materia and staggering enemies whenever possible. You’ll get to buy cheaper Materia and other goodies if you fight smart and fight more.

Bonus Tips For Specific Parts Of The Game Related To Combat:

  • Before you fight the Airbuster boss, you’re given the option to take out its parts. Don’t bother with the M-items; just dismantle the robot’s AI cores and bombs instead.
  • Hold L1 while healing to cure multiple party members at once outside of combat.
  • There’s going to be a segment late in the game where you’ll fight a ton of bloodhounds and you only have two characters available. You will die a lot here, so don’t feel bad if you have to switch to easy mode here.

NEXT: Boss Fights (Spoiler Alert)

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