FF7 Remake Guide: 8 Essential Things To Know Before Playing

Here are some essential tips that'll help ensure you're ready to jump into the FF7 Remake when it launches this week.

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Final Fantasy 7 Remake is quite a different beast from the original. Despite following similar beats, it changes up some elements of how the story progresses and how the game plays. Whether you’re the reigning squat champion of the Wall Market or you’re dipping your toes into the lifestream for the first time, the remake is bound to disorient you with its strategic real-time combat system and different take on world design. We've put together a brief visitor’s guide for everyone on board this train to help you get acclimated to the new FF7 quickly. Below you can find eight tips to help make the best use of your time in Midgar.

These are just a few tips to help you get started on the journey ahead of you. If you're from European regions, what are some things you realized too late? Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments. Otherwise, be sure to check out our other guides, as well as our full Final Fantasy 7 Remake review.

Let's Talk Materia

Materia is an integral part of FF7 Remake's combat system. Serving as spells, abilities, and summons that you can equip to your characters, these colored orbs beef up each character's base attack skills. You should equip as many Materia orbs as you can early on, especially the spell and attack ability ones.

Gaining experience from killing enemies and using Materia eventually levels up each piece you have equipped, which increases their damage potency and overall effectiveness. For example, for spells: Blizzard becomes Blizzara, Fire becomes Fira, and Cure becomes Cura--all more powerful versions of their original spells. You should take a vested interest in leveling up spell Materia, as they're some of the strongest attacks in the game, and if you send a single spell into a cluster of enemies, you can sometimes kill two birds with one stone.

Gaining experience from killing enemies and using Materia eventually levels up each piece you have equipped.
Gaining experience from killing enemies and using Materia eventually levels up each piece you have equipped.

Another smart call is to equip everyone with healing Materia, so that you always have someone to help recover party members in a pinch. It's also good to have each party member be equipped with a different elemental spell, so you can ensure coverage for exploiting a variety of enemy weaknesses. Even if you don’t end up using some of your Materia in the end, leveled up versions are some of the most valuable items in the game, so you're welcome to sell the ones you've stopped using to various shopkeepers to earn a little extra money.

A final note: be sure to purchase the Barrier Materia. You get this later on while progressing through the game as well, but you’ll want to start leveling it up as soon as possible. Not only is it clutch as an early game defense bonus against physical attacks, but it’s helpful once you level it into Manaward to halve incoming magic damage--more reasons on why that's essential later.

Y’all Better Accessorize

Better armor typically has more slots to insert Materia.
Better armor typically has more slots to insert Materia.

Speaking of Materia leveling, the best way to do so is to have as many Materia slots available on each character as possible. Even if you’re low on money, once you get to Sector 7, be sure to purchase some Iron Bangles or Star Bracelets from the weapon shop to expand your available Materia slots. These bump up your defense as well, but the goal is to equip more Materia. Once you complete a few side missions, you should have enough gil to purchase armor upgrades for a full party roster, so don’t be stingy with your earnings.

Don’t Neglect Side Missions

"But I don’t want to do the side missions. I just want to experience the story,” you might say. Well, the side missions are the story in Final Fantasy 7 Remake! Completing side missions is a win-win for everyone involved. First, they’re a great opportunity to spend time with characters like Tifa, which adds to the rich history of Cloud’s friendship with her. Second, you earn great Materia, equipment, and weapon upgrades, if you take the time to mitigate the concerns of Midgarians.

Side missions are a great opportunity to spend time with characters like Tifa, which adds to the rich history of Cloud’s friendship with her.
Side missions are a great opportunity to spend time with characters like Tifa, which adds to the rich history of Cloud’s friendship with her.

While some side missions have you running around the streets like a Slumcat Millionaire, be sure to place extra care into helping out Shinra Intern extraordinaire, Chadley, who you can find just before the path leading to Scrap Boulevard. After talking to him, he'll give you the Assess Materia, which allows you to analyze enemies for their weaknesses. Complete his request to gather data on a few enemies, and he’ll use it to create new Materia that you can buy for a low price.

Eventually, Chadley gives you access to special VR missions where you fight iconic Final Fantasy summons, which after completing, earns you a Materia that allows you to conjure them in battle to support you for a limited time. Definitely make sure you've got the Manaward Materia to help make the VR fights against Summons easier.

Know Your Attack Modes And ATB Meters

As you’ll quickly learn during early encounters, combat is a mix of action and turn-based decision making. While on easier modes, smashing that square button might be enough to get by, but enemy encounters and bosses later on will knock you out faster than LL Cool J if you don’t heed the potential of the game’s full mechanics.

As you’ll quickly learn during early encounters, combat is a mix of action and turn-based decision making.
As you’ll quickly learn during early encounters, combat is a mix of action and turn-based decision making.

First, make sure you’re actively switching to your character’s alternate attacks by using the triangle button. Cloud switches into his slower Punisher Mode stance, which increases his damage and stagger output. On the other hand, Barret unleashes a powerful charged shot, while Tifa strikes with a jaw-breaking uppercut.

Second, try to always have your eye on each character’s ATB meters--which dictates when they can perform a special action--on the bottom right of the screen. While you should maintain awareness of everyone’s HP, you should also actively pay attention to when you can use your party's abilities as much as possible. If you’re focusing on Cloud, who’s currently up close and personal with an opponent, consider hitting the L2 or R2 buttons to quickly add a command on a different character to the queue based on the situation--Barret shoot a Focused Shot for added damage, while Tifa can cast cure on her spiky-haired bro on the front line. It's also worth noting that character ATB meters charge slower when you’re not directly controlling them to attack, so be sure to jump around from time to time to make sure you're personally engaging with them in the current fight.

Don't Forget To Block

With Cloud, you may want to consider blocking, as successfully doing so against a physical attack lowers the amount of damage you take.
With Cloud, you may want to consider blocking, as successfully doing so against a physical attack lowers the amount of damage you take.

As tempting as it may be to see damage numbers fly during combat, be on the lookout for any telltale signs that enemies exhibit when they're about to wind up a powerful attack, and try to block or dodge out of the way. With Cloud, you may want to consider blocking, as successfully doing so against a physical attack lowers the amount of damage you take. In Cloud's Punisher Mode, a successful guard also delivers a modest counter attack. Several bosses and mini-bosses often require you to block and dodge to build up their stagger meters, so be mindful of what works the best in a given combat situation!

Heal Often And Don't Hesitate To Use Potions

If you’re going to heal, though, make sure you’ve got enough distance between yourself and the monster that’s trying to hit you.
If you’re going to heal, though, make sure you’ve got enough distance between yourself and the monster that’s trying to hit you.

Don’t be afraid to get too liberal using healing spells and items. Things can go from bad to worse quickly if one of your party members gets knocked out of a fight, requiring precious ATB bars to give them a phoenix down, and another to top off their HP. Some bosses occasionally pull off random attacks that do massive damage, which can easily wipe out a character if they’re resting comfortably with three-quarters of their health remaining.

If you’re going to heal, though, make sure you’ve got enough distance between yourself and the monster that’s trying to hit you. If you’re damaged during the casting animation, it will not only not go into effect, but you will lose the ATB meter you attempted to use.

Get The Deadly Dodge

We recommend giving Deadly Dodge to Cloud immediately.
We recommend giving Deadly Dodge to Cloud immediately.

There’s a Materia you get early on called Deadly Dodge. It allows you to quickly pull off an area of effect physical attack after performing a dodge. We recommend giving this to Cloud immediately. Not only does he have the strongest physical attack in the early game, but because you control him in fights first by default and you want him up close delivering damage, you can start most fights by rolling straight into the fray. No Luck Plus Materia required here as you slice and dice your foes!

Spec Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Once Biggs and Wedge teach you how to upgrade your weapons, you’ll want to take advantage of fleshing out your character’s attributes every time you get a new weapon. Once you’ve better familiarized yourself with the combat system and your party's individual strengths and weaknesses, try to build out their specs to match a role in a fight. We recommend leveling up Cloud's strength bonuses for damage dealing, Tifa’s ability to stagger enemies, Barret's ability to deal tank damage, and eventually, Aerith’s strength as a mage in the back row.

With this configuration, a typical encounter with a mini boss might play out in the following: Cloud rushes forward, switching to Punisher Mode to lay down some damage; Tifa builds up her ATB with standard attacks and then uses the Unbridled Strength ability to increase the enemy’s stagger meter; and then Barret takes potshots from the back. Once the enemy is staggered and susceptible to damage, Cloud can then use a strong attack, like Braver, to deal massive damage, Tifa can execute her beefed up combos, and Barret can take care of any healing that the party might need.

Once you’ve better familiarized yourself with the combat system and your party's individual strengths and weaknesses, try to build out their specs to match a role in a fight.
Once you’ve better familiarized yourself with the combat system and your party's individual strengths and weaknesses, try to build out their specs to match a role in a fight.

If you need a boost on stat points, be sure to smash every shinra crate and open every chest you see as well. They’ll sometimes drop Moogle Medals which you can use later on to buy stat upgrades for specific characters!

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