David is a freelance writer who primarily writes about video games and fitness topics. He is currently working on a Dark Epic Fantasy novel.
The main story in the Final Fantasy 7 Remake will take dozens of hours to complete depending on how many side quests you do. Personally, it took me almost 50 hours to finish! I completed most of the side quests and played on normal. Normal is much more difficult than easy or classic. After finishing all 18 chapters, hard mode will be unlocked via the chapter select in the menus.
Items cannot be used on hard mode, MP is not recovered at benches, and enemies are stronger. Benches will restore HP, though. The hard mode is no joke in the Final Fantasy 7 Remake! You'll need to be adequately prepared for tough battles and boss fights. If all of your characters run out of MP, it will be extremely difficult to prevail in battle. Don't waste MP on weaker enemies that can be defeated with Triple Slash.
Before starting hard mode on Final Fantasy 7, make sure all your characters are level 50. Master as much Materia as possible. Spells like Cura and Revive (Arise specifically) are essential. Elemental spells should be mastered because they can be used to exploit weaknesses.
Play chapter 16, the Belly of the Beast, to level up fast and obtain AP. It's a good way to master your Materia and acquire experience points. Equip Materia that has not been mastered. Defeat the Shinra enemies in the garage area, then replay the chapter. The arenas are also a good way to level up. Remember, battles will give you double EXP and triple AP after completing Final Fantasy 7. Use boosting Materia for EXP, GIL, and AP to speed up the process. Once you level up enough, begin hard mode.
Because MP is so essential in battles, make sure that each character is equipped with two MP Ups that are mastered. You'll get double the amount of MP that way. In between battles, smash any crates for MP. It's possible to save and reload the game after smashing crates to obtain more MP. It's tedious, but a method that might be useful if you're in a predicament.
Healing the Party
Since you cannot use items on hard mode, you'll need to rely on spells to keep the party healthy. Equip every single character with Revival Materia and Healing Materia. Prayer is even better than Healing Materia in some regards. Not only does Prayer heal the entire party, but it does not cost any MP! Unfortunately, you will need two full ATB bars to use it. For maximum effectiveness, Prayer must be fully upgraded to recover the most HP. You can acquire a second Prayer by finding Corneo's stash by completing a side quest.
An unconventional way to recover HP is by linking HP Absorption Materia to a spell. You'll recover a percentage of HP based on how much damage you deal with the linked Materia. It's almost like you're a vampire!
Determining enemy weaknesses in Final Fantasy 7 is paramount. Using the wrong Materia wastes precious MP. Most of the human enemies are weak to Fira spells. Robotic enemies are usually weak to Thundara spells. Using the strongest version of a spell is not always wise because they consume more MP. The strongest versions should be reserved for bosses. Lastly, weaker spells cast faster.
Use Elemental Materia and link it to one of the four elements to deal extra damage with a weapon. Let's say you're fighting a boss that's weak to Lightning Materia. By linking Lightning to Elemental Materia on a weapon, you'll deal significantly more damage with basic attacks. Bosses will be much easier to defeat when both your attacks and spells deal double damage or more.
Dealing Damage and Raising Defenses
Counterstance is an Ability you can learn from obtaining the Twin Stinger sword during chapter 17 in the Final Fantasy 7 Remake. It allows Cloud Strife to unleash a powerful counterattack on an enemy. It's quite useful to use against some of the enemies on hard mode.
Using the First Strike Materia increases your ATB gauge at the start of battle. Triple Slash and offensive spells work great with the First Strike Materia. Cloud can deal some serious damage before a battle even begins. Anything that boosts your ATB faster will help tremendously on hard difficulty. With Steadfast Block Equipped, the ATB will fill faster and you will receive less damage when guarding against physical attacks.
During tough boss battles, cast Manawall, Regen, and Haste on every party member. Your defense is paramount because Phoenix Downs, Eithers, and other regenerative items cannot be utilized. It's beneficial to link Magnify to Manawall or Haste to build your ATB or defenses faster.
Always try to stagger the larger and more powerful enemies when given the opportunity. Some Abilities increase the enemy's stagger gauge. Barret's Focused Shot, Cloud's Focused Thrust, and Tifa's Focused Strike all help to stagger an enemy. Spells can also stagger an enemy in Final Fantasy 7 if they are weak to the element.
For more spell damage, equip a couple Magic Ups to each character. The Materia should be fully upgraded, otherwise, the damage increase will be relatively low. Sometimes Skill Points can be attributed to weapons to increase spell damage as well.
Cloud's Punisher Mode will help tremendously when fighting some of the bosses like Reno or Roche on hard. Blocking while in Punisher Mode allows you to parry. It's very effective against Shock Troopers or enemies that block regular attacks. Using the Disorder Ability makes Cloud deal a devastating attack before entering Punisher Mode immediately, dealing more damage overall. For tough battles, especially one on one, use Punisher Mode.
Don't overlook the Poison Materia. Bio only costs a few MP and can be extremely effective when fighting bosses like Hellhouse. Bio poisons the enemy and does continuous damage over time.
Limit Breaks in the Final Fantasy 7 Remake are powerful and flashy moves that can turn the tide in battle. Refocus Materia is one of the best Limit Breaks in the game because it splits the ATB gauge into three bars, making it easier to utilize Abilities. Using Refocus in conjugation with haste allows your characters to attack swiftly and aggressively, not giving your enemies much time to retaliate.
Reprieve is indispensable on hard mode. It allows a character to survive a fatal blow once per battle, leaving them with only 1 HP. Certain weapons have the Reprieve Ability. For example, Tifa Lockhart's Purple Rain gloves have a slot for it. Purple Rain can be found in chapter 16 when you're controlling Tifa. You have to monkey bar your way over to a chest after she falls from the chandelier in the Shinra HQ.
The hard mode on the Final Fantasy 7 Remake can be really tough, especially when fighting bosses. The key to surviving is boosting, conserving, and recovering MP. Maintain the party's HP and unleash your best abilities and spells. You must play strategically and sometimes conservatively. Adjusting Materia may be necessary before you fight a boss or face enemies that are weak to different elements.