Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s combat system is sublime. Blending together real-time, action-RPG fights with turn-based elements is a stroke of genius. Some would call it, this humble writer included, one of the best combat systems in any RPG. Of course, with a combat system this good, Final Fantasy 7 Remake likes to challenge the player and force them to master the ins and outs of combat in order to see the credits roll. As such, here are seven combat tips for the FF7 remake that will help you make your way through Midgar in one piece.

Start Every Battle with Assess!

Early on in Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Cloud is given the Assess Materia. This is something you’ll want to always have equipped. Activated with one ATB charge, Assess reveals the elemental weaknesses of new enemies and gives the player an overview of the enemy’s strategy. This is vital information to have. You’ll always want to fight smarter, not harder as battle encounters will often pit the player against several different enemy types with different weaknesses.

Staggering Enemies is Essential

While you can brute force your way through some of the fights in the game, utilizing the stagger system is a must for the tougher encounters. By damaging an enemy, their stagger bar begins to slowly fill up. When their meter is full and they’re staggered, attacks do exponentially more damage and the enemy is temporarily stunned. In addition to pummeling the enemy, this can be a good time to heal. Of course, the stagger bar is most quickly filled by using attacks that the enemy is weak to, something that is revealed by hitting an enemy with Assess. See why that Materia is so useful now?

Equip a Range of Materia Across your Party

Since the game throws many different types of enemies in each combat encounter with different enemy types having different elemental weaknesses, you always want to be prepared. Make sure that between your party members, you have Fire, Blizzard, Aero, and Thunder accounted for. The Auto-Heal Materia is critical too, as the AI partner who has it equipped will automatically spend some ATB to heal up critically damaged teammates. In the heat of the moment, this will save you from having to waste a valuable potion.

Punch the Air!

ff7 remake combat tips in game screenshot

This may seem like a strange piece of advice, especially on a guide for combat tips in the FF7 remake. However, using attacks, whether they land on an opponent or not, charges the ATB bar. In some fights such as the Air Buster fight, physical attackers like Tifa are unable to reach the boss during certain phases. Ranged attackers like Barret are the star of the show here, but since he is the only one who can hit the enemy, his ATB bar is more valuable than the others in the party. Attack the air with the less helpful members to build up their ATB bars, and use those charges to heal Barret with potions or ethers. That way, Barrett can use his ATB meter solely for powerful magic attacks.

Save Limit Breaks for Staggered Enemies

If a fight is coming down to the wire and you have an ultra-powerful Limit Break saved up, it is very tempting to use it immediately to take away a large chunk of health. This isn’t worth doing, however. Timing the usage of Limit Breaks is key. Since staggered enemies can take upwards of 160% damage per hit, this is when you want to unleash your Limit Breaks. In most fights, you will only be able to build up one Limit, so make sure it isn’t wasted!

Don’t Heal out of Battle Until You Have To

Your party can take quite a beating in combat, and it is very tempting to spam items to recover fully after each fight. However, Final Fantasy 7 Remake is fairly generous with its placement of benches. Sitting on a bench fully restores HP and MP, so even if your party is gravely wounded, don’t heal until the next battle is directly upon you, as you may run into a bench first. Even when enemies are on screen, you have to get very close before a fight will initiate, so you can really wait until the last moment to use potions. Since Gil can be sparse and items/Materia can be expensive, using what you do have in your inventory in a judicious manner is very important.

Switch Characters Often

It is very easy to get tunnel vision in combat and stick to one character you particularly like. However, while your AI-controlled teammates will assist you in battle, they will not use their abilities or Magic attacks without direct player control. Considering that these ATB-linked systems are key to success in combat, it is vital that you jump between characters often to gain the upper hand. Plus, each party member has a different playstyle, so getting a handle on the differences between characters can be a fun way to keep the combat fresh and add variety.

If you keep these seven combat tips in mind while playing the FF7 remake, you’ll have no trouble sticking it to Shinra and protecting the planet’s supply of Mako. For more helpful Final Fantasy 7 Remake guides, check out our tips for beating Jules in the notorious pull-up challenge right here!