Square Enix’s recent release, Final Fantasy VII Remake (FF7R), has been a big deal for many players across the globe. So many of us are jumping back into Midgar after over 20 years, whilst others are seeing the city for the first time.

Although both old and new players alike will find a lot has changed from the original — with new mechanics, systems, and ideas all present in the Remake.

So today on Culture of Gaming we’re going to break down what players need to know in FF7R. There are a lot of unexplained mechanics, or essential details that are buried in one of the many pop-up menus that players will understandably miss. If you’re just starting the game, or thinking about picking it up, this is for you.

How Materia Works

In the world of Final Fantasy VII Remake ‘magic’ attacks are chosen by selecting Materia. Most will know that there are different types of offensive elemental, defensive, and passive materia. It goes without saying then that whoever you have in your party should have a good spread of different attacks and ways to keep your party safe during battle.

Both weapons and armour can offer up Materia slots. So depending on a party members play style, be sure to experiment with what a weapon offers against how many materia you can equip on it.

From ‘Materia and Equipment’ in the menu you’ll find all your types of Materia when you choose to ‘set Materia’ by pressing triangle. The best way to accommodate anything FF7R throws at you is by having a constant spread of Materia.

Make sure you have as many different elements equipped on all your party members. When you’ve done that, any Materia space left should be used for passive buffs that suit your play style. Do you tend to use more magic attacks? Then use materia that gives you more MP.

This advice might sound simple enough, but certain enemies can be incredibly difficult to fight if you aren’t using the right types of attacks, and you can’t change Materia mid battle. So be sure to be prepared.

Assess Enemies

One type of materia you will always want equipped on one party member is ‘Assess Materia’. Given to you by Chadley in the early game, and at the cost of one ATB, it allows you to study your enemies. Every time you encounter a new enemy and use this Materia in your ‘Abilities’ menu you’ll be told their strengths and weaknesses, and how they attack.

Using this early in any new encounter proves incredibly useful. Not only should you able to more efficiently dispatch of your foes, but after reading their assessment screen you should know exactly how to avoid them too. This is why having so many elemental attacks spread across your party is essential. You can’t change materia during a fight, so you’ll need to be ready for whatever an enemies weakness is, and then exploit it.

Whilst some weaker enemies in FF7R don’t have much in the way of explanations, looking at the yellow text along with the right hand side of the assess screen is essential. Here you’ll find out exactly how to survive, and easily beat the enemy. On top of that always check the bottom right for what they drop, incase you want to farm those items.

Upgrading your Weapons

This can be an easy one to miss, but is something you need to be doing every time you level up.

When you do level up you’ll earn SP for all weapons. This can then be spent in the ‘Materia and Equipment’ menu on some much needed upgrades. It isn’t impossible to progress if you save up a lot of SP. but considering how much upgrades can cost there’s incentive to keep checking all characters weapons.

Once you pick a weapon with SP available to spend (which can be reset by Chadley). You’ll be met with a Milky Way looking screen. Once here you’ll see that each weapon has a Core, and sub-cores will be unlocked. You need to choose what you’ll spend SP on. Typically you can choose between extra materia slots, increased health, resistances, and damage reduction/increases.

Keep in mind in FF7R that each weapon will have slightly different sub cores. So it’s definitely worth checking each weapons upgrade possibilities to suit how you want to play. We recommend investing SP into extra Materia slots where you can. As mentioned above, having a spread of materia makes combat encounters much easier.

Stock Up

FF7R is a JRPG, so this one should go without saying.

Due to the games linearity it’s necessary to make sure you get any items you need when you can. There are some absolute essentials you’ll need. Ethers to restore MP. Potions (and their better counterparts) to restore health. Phoenix Down’s to revive allies, and other stat buffs and de-buffs.

The actual reason we say this is because of vending machines. When not in populated area’s you’ll find vending machines and benches. Make sure to use them. The benches fully restore HP and MP, whilst the vending machines act as mini shops. If you have some Gil spare, always make sure you buy some potions. After all, you’ll never know when you might need a stash.

It’s also worth noting that, in combat items cost one ATB point, so watch that gauge as you fight.

Combat and Ability Usage

Combat in FF7R is unique. It blends together action game flair with slower turn based mechanics. This means you need to be using both styles concurrently, and not relying on one over the other. Attacking normally will also fill your ATB gauge, incentivising ‘risk versus reward’ gameplay.

As you attack and fill your ATB gauge you can use either set abilities, spells, or items. Keep in mind to fill a characters ATB gauge quicker it’s much easier to switch to them and attack.

Now this will feed into everything mentioned in this guide. Be aware of what each party member can do, and don’t be afraid to use abilities where necessary. Our biggest piece of advice would be to fill up an enemies stagger gauge, after assessing them. When they are staggered they take extra damage and can’t fight back. Meaning focusing in on one enemy at a time yields results.

If you do everything in this guide, and prepare for combat encounters, you’ll likely find the games systems challenging but still rewarding.

In the coming days we will also be doing more in depth guides for some of the complexities of these mechanics and systems . So stick around for those!

Are you playing FF7R? If you found this guide useful let us know in the comments or on Twitter @thecognetwork. We also have some guides for the early game of Final Fantasy VII Remake so be sure to check them out here. As always, thanks for reading COG!

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