Square Enix outdid themselves with their remake of FFVII, albeit more of a reimagining than a straight up recreation. The combat system is a major part of the game that has also been reimagined. If you’re unfamiliar with Square’s more recent FF entries, this real-time action combat system might be a bit difficult to come to grips with. Don’t worry. I’m here to help.

Upgrade Your Weapons Thoughtfully

The weapon upgrading system in this game is basically how you can give assign a character with a particular class or job in combat.

The flexibility of this system is fantastic if you use it wisely. For example, if you want Barret to be your tank, dump his SP into Physical Defense and Magic Defense before anything else. Then dump the leftover to buff his attack, or MP so he can use Barrier or Manaward to make himself even tankier.

Note that no weapons in this game seem to be any better or worse than others. When a character earns SP, all of their weapons will gain the same amount, regardless of what weapon is equipped. This makes any weapon a viable option throughout the entire game. Though, some weapons will naturally be better for certain roles in the party.

And don’t worry about if you don’t like how a weapon came out. You can always visit Chadley to reset the weapon, getting all your hard-earned SP refunded.

Materia, Materia, Materia

The materia system of the original FFVII is one of the few parts of the new combat system that has remained relatively unchanged. If you slot a character’s weapon or armor with a Fire materia, that character will be able to use the Fire spell, and if they continue to use that materia, they will level it up, and eventually gain access to Fira and Firaga.

This is another system you have to approach thoughtfully. If the character you’re focusing on is playing the role of a black mage, equip them with the elemental materia, and equip another character with materia that will enhance their physical attack prowess (like Steadfast Block and Deadly Dodge), or materia that they can use to support your other party members (like Barrier and Item Master).

There are a huge amount of options to play with here, and some combinations will be more effective in certain battles. Be sure to re-slot materia frequently, to find arrangements that compliment your play style.

And don’t forget about Chadley’s Battle Intel Quests. Completing these can net you some of the most useful materia in the game.

Blocking

Blocking is extremely useful in this game. It is important to block incoming attacks.

Before an enemy uses a particularly dangerous attack, the name of that spell or ability will appear a

Don’t Forget to Switch Party Members

Now that we have a role for each team member, and finally got out of all those menu screens, we can get to the combat.

In the beginning of the game, I was doing fine with the combat. I had one character to control, and a couple bad guys to cut up with my Buster Sword. Easy.

But as I progressed in the game, I quickly got control of other party members, and I found myself having to battle multiple enemies, while I was controlling multiple characters.It was overwhelming to me at first, because I was still controlling Cloud nearly all the time, and hoping that my other party members would do their part. They didn’t.

If you upgrade your weapons and slot your materia thoughtfully, each character will have an easier time dealing with certain enemy types. For example, if you’re battling against a bunch of robots, using Cloud and mashing the attack button won’t get you too far. Instead, try switching to your mage and blasting that enemy with some Thunder. Once their staggered, switch back to Cloud, go into Punisher Mode and go to town.

Fill Those ATB Gauges

The ATB gauge is another system that returns from the original FFVII. You have to wait for this gauge to fill up before you can use any abilities, spells, items or summons.

Knowing how to fill your ATB gauges quickly, can be the difference between success and failure in this game.

The flexibility of the weapon and materia systems gives you a lot of different ways to do this.

One option I find useful is to equip your support character with a First Strike materia as well as a Time materia. First Strike will give that character an increase in their ATB gauge at the start of battle. I then use that initial ATB bar to cast Haste on another party member, drastically increasing their ATB fill rate. If that character’s weapon is upgraded with Buff Duration boosts, that’ll just make their ATB fill up faster for longer.

Switching control to a particular party member will aslo raise their ATB gauge far more quickly than a non-player-controlled character. This can be useful if you want to have a certain ability or spell ready for when the enemy is staggered or under pressure.

Access Materia/ Pressuring and Staggering

Another important part of combat is staggering enemies. This will put the enemy into an extremely vulnerable state, allowing your party to deal massive damage.

It’s important to have one of your party member equipped with Access materia. This can be used to scan enemies, revealing a lot of useful information like the enemy’s weaknesses, resistances, as well as an explanation of how to put them under pressure and eventually stagger them.

Once your enemy is staggered, your party will deal 160% damage. This is only the starting point and can be increased upon. When the enemy is staggered, if you switch to Tifa, she can increase the damage percentage by using Whirling Uppercut, Omnistrike, and Rise and Fall. To do this most effectively, use her Unbridled Strength ability a couple times to max out her chi before staggering the enemy.

Tifa’s weapon ability, True Strike, as well as Aerith’s Ray of Judgment are also valid options to raise the damage percentage of staggered enemies.