Our review of Final Fantasy VII Remake that the game is “an utter joy to play from start to finish”. Thanks to certain global happenings bolstering the amount of free time we all have, a lot of people have already finished the game off on Normal.
Finishing the game isn’t the end though. Doing so unlocks Hard mode and all of the fun end-game stuff that comes with it. However, you shouldn’t just jump straight into Hard mode without a little bit of prep, or you’re going to have a bad time.
Hard mode doesn’t just feature enemies with more health than usual. While they’ve been following Tuff to the gym to get swole, or whatever it is that monsters do when they return to the planet, they’ve picked up the odd trick along the way. Hell House, for example, now spawns Tonberries. Thank you, whichever sadist at Square Enix thought up that boss.
Anyway, here’s a quick guide to getting through Hard mode as easily as possible.
- Grinding is your friend
Finishing the game unlocks Chapter Select, allowing you to replay any chapter at any difficulty. It also gives you a permanent 2x EXP and 3x AP boost, which will shorten the grind dramatically.
I finished the game on Normal at Lv40. The game caps at 50, so that gives us 10 levels to grind over at the colloseum. Head on over to Chapter 9 (or 14 if you’d rather use Barrett and Tifa). AP is more important than EXP, so your main goal is to level up all of your green Materia max. Doing so unlocks Bahamut in the VR battles, granting you the ultimate summon in the game. If you have spare Materia slots, focus on upgrading your MP Up and Magic Up Materia, because…
- MP doesn’t restore at benches and you can’t use items
Easily, the hardest part of Hard mode is that the benches scattered throughout the game no longer heal both HP and MP. Also, you’re not allowed to use items, so you can’t use Ethers to restore your valuable MP. This means that the only way to restore MP outside of battle is to smash Shinra crates and to finish the chapter. Given that almost every chapter ends in some sort of boss fight, your MP is suddenly at a massive premium.
- Save your MP for boss fights
This doesn’t mean don’t use your MP — just use it wisely. Rather than Curing yourself after every battle, wait until you’ve lost enough health that casting Cure will restore almost all of your health. Every MP matters in some of the harder chapters, and you don’t want to find yourself facing something like Hell House without the MP to win the fight.
- Don’t forget to block
I played the game on Normal, hacking and slashing my way all the way to the last boss. Blocking, though useful, was an afterthought.
You will die if you don’t block on Hard.
Try to get into a rhythm of attacking or blocking at all times. Land two or three blows, evade and immediately raise your weapon to block. This is especially important on bosses like Rude and Reno, where Reno can get knocked off balance easily if you time your blocks well.
- Use your memory
If you played the game properly on Normal, you probably Assessed everything you came across. Now that you know what boss is coming up in each chapter you can easily set the right Elemental pairings for your hardest-hitting characters ahead of each boss fight. Remember, if you forget who is weak to what, you can check your Battle Intel in the pause menu and make sure you set up well for the next boss fight.
Most of the bosses will be simple enough if you follow this advice. However, there are a couple of bosses which really up the ante. Here a few more specific tips for the bosses which need a more strategic approach.
This boss was bad enough on Normal, but this time around it is nothing short of an absolute nightmare. With the right strategy, you can demolish this bad boy in a solid 10 minutes, as you can see in this video here:
If you want to skip the video, however, here’s a rundown:
- You need Ice, Fire, Thunder, Wind, Poison, Raise and Cure Materia at an absolute minimum, but MP UP and HP UP are a massive boon.
- Aerith is your main character (set this in Battle Settings)
- Summons aren’t important, but can do a fair bit of damage if you’re lucky. Use Bahamut.
- Get your ATB bars up ASAP because the boss will spawn 3x Tonberry pretty quickly. Unleash two rounds of your AoE abilities (Sorcerous Storm/Triple Slash) to kill them ASAP.
- Cast ATB Ward as soon as you can. Keep to it as much as possible.
- Bolt the house with the right mana at the right time — Thunder when it’s green, for example. This is the same as Normal, but make sure you use the lowest level spell each time. It’s quicker, costs less and has the same effect on the stagger bar, which is more important than the boss’s HP at this point.
- If the house sucks you in with Hospitality, immediately hit it with your other character’s attack ability; this will make it spit out your friend.
- When it enters God Mode, save your ATB for the second it lowers its guard. Blast it with the right spell ASAP.
- Save Aerith’s limit break for when the boss brings out the two mechs at the end. As soon as you realise they’re coming out, cast Planet’s Protection to give yourself a temporary immunity from damage. Immediately bolt the mechs with Thundaga.
- It’s plain sailing if you can get to this point. Just keep doing what you’re doing.
The boss at the end of the Train Graveyard is quick to give you a hard time. The worst thing is that there are two bosses in this chapter, including the Ghoul a few minutes before which requires Magic attacks to fill its stagger gauge. Try to save as much MP as you can for Eligor.
The worst thing about this boss is his propensity to Silence your party with his physical attacks. Make sure that two of your three characters (though ideally all three) can cast Esuna. You also really, really want Raise, Aero and Blizzard, because the boss is weak to the last two, with Ice being his biggest weakness. Make sure someone has Shiva equipped.
This boss ruins your day by casting Reflect on your team, roughly halfway through the battle. This means that when you cast Curaga on Tifa, it’ll bounce off and restore the boss’s health to max, which is enough to make even the most seasoned veteran cry. When you see your character gain reflect, let them die and then, once Risen (or ideally Arisen), you can pop Regen on them and leave them be.
Despite Rufus and his guard dog, Darkstar, being a bit of a pain, hthis boss fight is surprisingly doable with the right layout. I managed to beat him without using any MP, relying on Chakra as my healing materia.
This is especailly important if, like me, Jenova Dreamweaver managed to sap your MP like some sort of magic sponge. Here’s a quick video on how to take this boss down in less than five minutes, without using any MP. Stick to this method, and use any MP you have for Curaga, and you’ll be sorted.