It's here! Final Fantasy VII Remake is finally here. Well, at least the first part of it, anyway. While it's possible that you got your hands on a physical copy early, if you pre-ordered digitally, or happened to live in one of the areas where it didn't ship out prior to launch, welcome! The water is fine. There's plenty to do in the video game, and while your mileage may vary on those different aspects, there's one thing you won't be able to avoid: combat. With that in mind, we've broken down some important tips and pointers for how to make the most of it in Final Fantasy VII Remake.
Now, to be clear, nothing beyond this point really constitutes anything resembling story spoilers, but it will provide some insight into some of the game's many different overlapping systems. If you're wanting to go into Final Fantasy VII Remake without any prior knowledge, you're probably reading the wrong article. But if you're looking to really see how to optimize some strategy from the start, read on to check out everything we've compiled!
"The world has fallen under the control of the Shinra Electric Power Company, a shadowy corporation controlling the planet’s very life force as mako energy.
"In the sprawling city of Midgar, an anti-Shinra organization calling themselves Avalanche have stepped up their resistance. Cloud Strife, a former member of Shinra’s elite SOLDIER unit now turned mercenary, lends his aid to the group, unaware of the epic consequences that await him."
Final Fantasy VII Remake is now available for PlayStation 4. Retail copies of the game could potentially be delayed thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, though some areas also had it delivered early instead. It's currently unclear exactly how many games the Final Fantasy VII Remake will be comprised of, as it's known that it will be releasing in distinct chunks. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the title right here.
For the love of everything, use Assess
One of the earlier materia you receive access to is Assess, and it is absolutely imperative to use it whenever possible. While it doesn't actively provide a direct benefit, using the materia in battle will net you weaknesses, immunities, and other helpful information about your enemies that you can then implement. Fights are far from a foregone conclusion in your favor, and anything you can do to lighten the load will help.
For example, Assess will tell you whether a particular enemy is weak to Fire magic, or if they have some sort of shield that prevents physical attacks from being effective, or if something specific will raise stagger them more quickly. Not using Assess will almost certainly double the amount of time it takes to end fights and use up precious resources. Once you've used it on a particular enemy, feel free to not bother in future battles, but if you haven't before? Do yourself a favor. (It also helps you get materia from an NPC, which is invaluable.)
Do not be precious with items
Items are meant to be used, and in Final Fantasy VII Remake, it is paramount that you understand that. From early on, you'll pick up items like Elixirs and Ethers and the like, and it might be tempting to save them for a particularly gnarly encounter down the road, but the reality is that the game will continue to provide you with enough of these things to actually use them when you need them rather than save them for a rainy day that'll never come.
It's become something of a trope for folks to hoard precious items for some far-off problem that never materializes. In Final Fantasy VII Remake, that "far-off problem" is absolutely whatever the next boss battle is. If you're not paying attention, juggling commands where necessary, enemies will mess you up in a heartbeat. If you've got it available to you, use it. This isn't to say every battle requires an Elixir use, mind you, but if it'd be helpful in your current situation, well, it's there for a reason, folks.
Find which combat mode works for you
From the very beginning of the game, you can set what type of combat mode you want to use. There are, as previously mentioned, three different modes available to players at the start: Classic, Easy, and Normal. Normal and Easy are both the action-oriented slugfests with some menu navigation that you've probably seen in videos, while Classic basically puts characters on auto-attack while players largely navigate menus and make choices about how to continue.
For what it's worth, I've been playing through the game on Normal, and while fights are absolutely challenging -- and in some cases, devastating -- it makes every instance of combat feel serious. But there's absolutely no shame in going through the game on Easy or Classic. If you're not the kind of person that likes constantly having to tap a button just to get through fights like this, or feel frustrated by the action-oriented direction, or have some accessibility options that make it useful, Classic is a blast, and is just as viable an option as any. Everyone I've spoken to about combat difficult has had a different opinion, and all are valid. Play the game how you want to play it.
Make sure to use every bench available to you
One of the changes that might not be immediately apparent in Final Fantasy VII Remake is the addition of blue benches all over the place. These aren't just delightful pieces of scenery, either. Instead, they are integral pieces of how combat encounters flow, and should be used at every opportunity.
Basically, certain places will let your characters heal up without using any items or spells. The usual suspects, like beds, will do this, but more often than not, it's the blue benches you spot all over the place, typically next to vending machines, that you'll come across. These benches regularly dot the various locations that are full of enemies, and are an inexpensive (time is all it takes, really) way to heal to full before taking on the next group of baddies. There's literally no reason not to.
Staggering is your best friend
Part of the whole action-oriented combat shift is the addition of the ability to pressure and stagger opponents. Essentially, the more you wail on enemies, the higher the gauge goes up, and once it's full, they are considered staggered. Staggering opponents is a necessity, as you do wildly more damage to them when they are, but it doesn't last long so be sure to get all of your most powerful hits in while they are down.
Another important part of staggering? When opponents are staggered, they basically cease to function and just stand there. For the bigger battles, this is an absolutely necessary reprieve, and will allow you to heal up or otherwise plan for the next stage of the encounter however you like. For the most part, staggering will come naturally as you just beat up critters, but some special circumstances can let you fill the gauge faster -- shout out to the Assess materia -- and should be used whenever possible.
Be sure to set up combat macros
If you do decide to go the Easy or Normal route rather than Classic, one thing you can do to save time and headaches is set combat macros. Every playable character will allow you to assign menu-specific actions to a combination of buttons (R1 + one of the four buttons above and to the left of the right analog stick) in order to speed that process up. When you enter the menus, time slows down, but it doesn't stop, and sometimes those few moments make all the difference.
These can be activated abilities like Cloud's Braver or spells like Cura, and not having to go into your menus just to get at this with a moment's notice is extremely handy. Now, granted, if playing on Classic, there's less use to combat macros, but I assure you they are still useful. In the heat of battle, when everything is going totally off the rails, knowing exactly how to get Aerith to save the entire party with a couple quick button presses feels exceptionally good.
If all else fails, flee0comments
For most battles that aren't limited to a static place -- like pretty much all boss battles -- you can just... run away. This isn't some complicated strategy or a one-size-fits-all solution, but there's been more than enough times where I've been overwhelmed and just wanted to set everything back to status quo to try again, and fleeing will let you do exactly that.
Take this scenario, for example: you're fighting some particularly gnarly monsters, have used Assess, and are generally making smart choices, but lo and behold, these critters are weak to Wind and you didn't come with that particular materia slotted. You can run away by literally just leaving the combat space -- a big notice will pop up to let you know you're currently fleeing once you've gotten far away -- reslot your materia, and come back to a much simpler fight altogether. Run away, live to fight another day. Or, as is the case in most of my fleeing instances, about a couple minutes later.
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