Turn yourself into a 1st Class SOLDIER with these helpful hints.
By Duncan Heaney

The combat system in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is entirely new to the series. The combination of classic menu-based commands, with real-time action makes it feel exciting, unique… and unfamiliar.

The game’s no pushover either - even on Normal difficulty, there’s a lot to think about - and enemies play for keeps. Cloud, Barret and the rest of Avalanche have their work cut out for them if they want to defend the planet.

Fortunately, we’re here to help. We’ve put together some handy hints to help you get to grips with the game - follow this advice, and you’ll be sticking it to Shinra in no time.

ATB is the key to success

Abilities and spells are the most effective way to deal damage to enemies by far. Being over-reliant on standard attacks will get you nowhere - their primary purpose is to fill your ATB bars faster so that you to use your abilities and spells more often.

While you may be able to beat the first few Shinra troopers by spamming the square button, that’s not going to last. Tougher enemies will easily withstand these attacks, and hit back much harder.

Get into the habit of using combos to fill your ATB, and relying on abilities and spells to cause damage and stagger states. Characters under your direct control will generate ATB more effectively, so also get comfortable switching between party members mid-fight.

Make sure you block

In FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, offence isn’t always the best defense. Sometimes the best defense is… y’know, defense.

If you press R1, your controlled character will block and take less damage from enemy attacks. They can also roll out of the way to avoid taking a hit completely with a tap of the circle button.

You might think it’s better to focus on evasion over blocking - why take a bit of damage when you can take none, right? But blocking is a more reliable way to mitigate damage - a mistimed roll can leave you very vulnerable. Not only that, it’s more useful in some situations.

For example, blocking attacks fills ATB, allowing you to launch powerful attacks more quickly than if you’d avoided the attack.

What’s more, many enemies have area of effect (AOE) attacks that knock characters off their feet - the Scorpion Sentinel’s EM Field in the opening mission, for example. If you block these, you’ll take a little bit of damage, but you won’t be knocked down, leaving you close to your foe for the counter-attack.

Take advantage of enemy weaknesses whenever possible

Many enemies are weak against different types of magic. For example, Shinra’s troops tend to dislike being hit with Fire (which, in fairness, we would too), while its machinery is susceptible to electrical attacks like Thunder.

As you explore the slums and streets of Midgar, you’ll encounter foes that have lots of other weaknesses, such as ice or wind, and you should take advantage of those Achilles heels as much as you can.

Of course, it’s not always easy to know what an enemy is weak to, which brings us to our next point...

The Assess Materia is your best friend

Early on in the game, you’ll receive the Assess Materia. This is one of the most useful tools you’ll get in the game.

When equipped, you’ll be able to spend a bar of ATB to assess enemies and reveal their weaknesses and resistances. Not only that, it will often provide battle tips to help you interrupt their attacks or build their stagger gauge.

Assess everything you encounter. To make things easier, the upgraded Assess Materia will analyze every enemy in an encounter at once. Once scanned, you can check an enemy’s information at any time in the menu, or by pressing the touchpad while highlighting that enemy.

In short, it’s a game-changer and we strongly recommend always having at least one character with Assess equipped at all times.

Try to complete Battle Intel missions

Early on in the game, you’ll encounter Chadley - a young man who works for Shinra’s science division. He’ll ask Cloud to complete various tasks in battle - for example using Assess a certain number of times, or attacking staggered enemies in different ways.

It is well worth your time to complete these requests because they unlock new types of Materia - some of which are extremely powerful. The First Strike Materia, for example, lets you start fights with a chunk of ATB already filled - that’s indescribably useful in some tougher areas.

Check your battle intel regularly, and consider their completion requirements when in a fight to see if you can work them into the encounter. Because not only are the rewards worth it, they may also help you discover new battle techniques and strategies.

Heal between fights

Enemies can dish out some serious damage in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, so you need to make sure you keep your HP topped up.

You can use healing magic and potions mid-combat, but it uses a bar of ATB. But in-between battles, you can use as many items as you like as often as you like.

So it’s sensible to take the time to heal your party when you have a moment of downtime - that way, they’ll be ready for the next round and you won’t have to sacrifice a chance to dish out damage.

Also look out for benches. These are usually situated next to vending machines - if you sit and take a load off, you’ll refill your HP and MP completely.

Browse at every shop and vending machine

Whenever you pass a shop, go in and have a look at their stock. Different vendors hold different items, so you may be able to buy some new materia, a useful accessory or even a new music track to play on the jukebox.

Similarly, make sure you check vending machines whenever you can. They often offer sales on items, so you’ll be able to get a hi-potion or a tuft of phoenix down at a fraction of the usual asking price.

Add materia slots to weapons when you can

As you level up in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, you’ll be able to upgrade your weapons too. You’ll be able to improve their attack power, increase defense, make magic more potent and more.

It’s entirely up to you what you prioritize, but we found it useful to add more materia slots whenever we could. This upgrade lets you equip more spells and commands onto a character - and the more they can do, the more prepared you’ll be for the tougher fights.

Plan ahead for future battles

It’s not just the heroes and their weapons that improve over time - equipped materia does too. Many will unlock new spells or abilities, or their effects will become more pronounced.

You can see the upgrade path of your materia when equipping them, and we advise you take a look. Don’t just think about what you need now, consider what might be useful in the future - and if you have a spare materia slot, equip it.

For example, the Steadfast Block materia fills ATB faster when characters block attacks. Initially you’ll get just a small boost - handy, but not exactly game-changing. But if that materia grows a few times, that effect will become much more pronounced and useful.

That’s not to say you need to invest in that particular materia - different people will find different playstyles and strategies so find what works for you. The point is that even if a piece of materia doesn’t seem particularly useful now, it probably will be later.

Take your time and explore

You may be on a mission to save the planet, but that doesn’t mean you have to rush. Take your time and look around.

The areas in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE are full of things to find - and they’re all incredibly useful. Keep your eyes open for chests because they contain recovery items, new equipment and more.

Midgar is also strewn with Shinra crates. If you see that familiar logo on a pile of boxes, smash them up because there may be something good inside. For example, you may find an MP-restoring mako shard or a potion - it’s worth taking the time to find out. Even if you come up empty, smashing up crates with a giant sword is endlessly satisfying.

Finally, as per the unofficial rules of all videogames, if the objective marker is sending you one way, go another direction and poke around. You just might find something.

There you have it - some top tips to help turn you into a true SOLDIER (1st Class). Hopefully they prove useful - but have you discovered any tips and tricks of your own? Share the knowledge with the team on social media: