FF7 Remake Weapon Upgrades: How To Spec Each Character Early On
Here's what you need to know about how to best spec your FF7 Remake party's weapon upgrades.
In Final Fantasy 7 Remake, you can customize your party's stats and further specialize their roles in battle via the Weapon Upgrade system. This series of weapon-specific skill trees expands the more you level up your characters and increase their max SP (skill points).
Below, we've outlined some background on Weapon Upgrades, as well as a reliable approach to upgrading your party's weapons during the game's first handful of chapters--one you can even use throughout the whole game if it works for you. If you find it doesn't work for you, you're welcome to respec at any time by talking to Chadley, a character you meet in a side mission during Chapter 3, who you can pay to reset your upgrades.
For more guides, be sure to check out our feature highlighting essential tips to know as you play Final Fantasy VII Remake, as well as our Materia Loadout guide. Otherwise, read our Final Fantasy VII Remake review for our full thoughts about the game.
Background: Customizing Your Party
For veteran RPG players, Final Fantasy VII Remake's method of tying stat customization to the weapon on hand seems a peculiar way to alter each character's capabilities, as any nodes you unlock on that particular weapon's skill tree are exclusive to it and do not apply to any other weapon in your inventory. That means if you want to increase your HP, amp up your attack damage, or grab notes that give you other benefits, they only apply to your character when they're using that particular weapon. Your other weapons, however, still earn the same amount of SP the more you level up and increase your max SP, so you never have to go back and grind to get them in the right shape. Each weapon simply has different types of skills to unlock that suit their unique strengths in battle.
Once you've familiarized yourself with the combat system and your party's strengths and weaknesses, you're going to want to build out their weapon specs to improve their statistics to match different roles. Fortunately, each weapon's base stats naturally fulfills a role, so you won't have to spend too much time figuring out how to specialize them. Still, the more methodically you spend the finite points you earn to upgrade a weapon, the better your party will be.
Cloud The Adaptable Damage Dealer
Cloud is naturally your go-to when it comes to damage dealing due to his natural strength, speed, and defense. He's who you want on the frontlines taking the heat and charging at enemies to smash them with his devastating attack abilities. But if you ever need him to support with spells, his weapons offer plenty of upgrade options that buff his magic attack.
Since Cloud is always in your party, you generally want him to be your jack-of-all-trades, so you'll want to focus on bumping up both his attack and magic power. His first two weapons, the Buster Sword and Iron Sword, mainly cater to that role in their upgrade trees. With max HP and defense at mid-range compared to Barret and Tifa, you'll want to improve those stats to ensure he can still take a few hits before being in the red.
Later on, you'll gain access to weapons that allow you to better specialize Cloud in either attack or magic. Still, in the early hours, prioritize making him as balanced and versatile a fighter as possible.
Barret The Long Ranged Tank
Barret is also someone you want to keep balanced across both attack and magic. His humble long-ranged attacks and abilities make him an ideal fit for supporting your party from afar, and you'll want to enhance that ability steadily on the skill tree. You can rely on Barret to stun enemies mid-attack without the need to close the distance, and despite having the lowest max MP, he's still a competent spellcaster in a pinch.
You're mostly stuck with Barret's Gatling Gun during much of the early game, so there are no other specialized roles he can fill, but the role he does fill is essential. Due to Barret's natural resilience against damage, it's vital to keep bumping up his max HP and defense, so you can ensure he's still standing to either cure or revive your party after they take a massive blow from a powerful boss attack.
Focus on expanding Barret's max HP and on improving on his attack and magic strength, so that he always packs a sizable punch when you need him to.
Tifa The Scrappy Stagger Expert
At first, you might consider tailoring Tifa weapon upgrades to make her a more balanced character, and with the Leather Gloves' balanced array of upgrade unlocks, you'll probably be inclined to do so. However, she's far more useful when you upgrade her attack power and speed. As a scrappy melee fighter, Tifa can be a tremendous asset to you, maintaining pressure on enemies with a constant flurry of attacks, which can be chained for even more damage with her Unbridled Strength ability. She's especially effective when an enemy is staggered, so you'll want to improve her speed, attack, and Unbridled Strength damage to help Cloud deal out massive punishment during those phases.
You don't want Tifa to be a glass cannon, though, so you'll also want to invest in upgrading her max HP. She has the lowest health pool compared to Cloud and Barret, so make sure she has enough to survive most attacks.
Despite having the lowest magic attack in the party, Tifa can be of some use casting spells, and you'll generally want to improve her capabilities early on due to its functionality to the party, but try not to prioritize it. Because once you get Tifa a pair of Metal Knuckles during Chapter 5, you're going to want to go all-in empowering what she does best, and that's laying down near-constant damage with everything in her repertoire in all situations.
Aerith The Back Row Mage (From Mid-Game Onward)
You don't get Aerith until later on, so you won't have to worry about how to upgrade her in the early game. As a preview, she has natural proficiency at keeping the party's HP topped off, which helps to eliminate the need for all your party members to slot Healing Materia.
Aerith is primarily a mage, and even her normal attack is firing ranged blasts of magic, so you want to think about how you outfit her in terms of not just how she can heal people, but what damage she can do. The question of how to spec her usually comes down to what kind of role you want her to play: Aerith can often get boosts to her elemental spell damage, allowing you to use her as a straight damage-dealer or to exploit enemy weaknesses, or you can spec her to specialize in buffs and debuffs. Either way, Aerith is a formidable magic-user, and you'll want to stack her Materia slots and increase her MP as much as possible.
Aerith's downside is that she has a fairly low health pool and low defenses, making her bad in a straight fight. Boosting her HP and defenses helps a lot, but regardless of the spellcaster role you put her into, it's good to outfit her with Healing Materia so she can keep herself and the rest of the team strong.
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