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Our Best FF7 Rebirth Combat Tips For The Early Game

A fusion of real-time reaction speed and tactical decision-making, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth’s combat system is both speedy and strategic. If it’s been a while since you’ve played 2020’s Final Fantasy VII Remake, or if you’re jumping into Rebirth as your first modern FF7 experience, this guide will help you gain control of the game’s sometimes hectic combat system and its many layers.

Clear Your Calendar For Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

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Read More: Everything We Know About Final Fantasy VII RebirthPre-order Final Fantasy VII Rebirth: Amazon | Best Buy | Target

This guide covers the combat as it appears in the publicly available demo for Final Fantasy VII Rebirth and will be updated to reflect any additional information when the full game launches on February 29, 2024.

The general flow of Rebirth’s combat

In Rebirth, your goal is to attack, Pressure, and then Stagger every single enemy while managing any number of active status conditions. Once staggered, enemies are helpless to your attacks, which now deal extra damage during this down-but-not-out state. You’re also moving your characters toward better and better attacks.

Read More: Final Fantasy VII Rebirth’s First Three Chapters Rocked My Socks Off

You’ll freely attack with square or triangle, which in turn charges up your ATB gauge which grants you access to powerful individual attacks. Use of your ATB gauge may fill up your Synergy gauge depending on the attack, which will grant you access to powerful combined attacks between party members. As you take damage and Stagger your foes, you’ll fill up your Limit Break gauge, which lets you use an even more powerful individual attack.

Rebirth’s combat is about building momentum, making your enemies weaker by Staggering them while making your party members stronger by way of more powerful attacks. It can be a little bewildering and confusing at first, and will demand your full attention, but it’s a rewarding system to gain mastery over.

ATB (Active Time Battle) explained

Combat takes place in real time in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. You can move around freely and attack with square. Triangle activates a unique ability which varies from character to character. For example, Cloud changes up his combat stance once you hit triangle. R1 blocks attacks.

Read More: Everything You Need To Know About Final Fantasy VII, Before Rebirth

As you land attacks, you’ll fill up an ATB gauge one charge at a time. You can spend a charge to activate an ATB Ability (often a special attack), cast a spell, or use an item. Some very powerful abilities can use two ATB charges.

Synergy Skills and Abilities explained

When you are fighting alongside another character, you can activate Synergy Skills by holding R1 and pressing a corresponding button. While holding R1, you can also press the touchpad to read up on which Synergy Skills are available to you and what they do. Synergy Skills don’t just deliver pretty strong attacks and effective defenses, they also raise two characters’ ATB gauges at once.

While normal attacks and unique abilities do raise your ATB meter, Synergy Skills are typically faster. They’re a great way to deal increased damage while filling multiple ATB meters at once.

Synergy Abilities have their own separate gauge that sits under the ATB gauge and looks like five columns. As you use certain ATB Abilities (you’ll note that the lower left-hand corner will show a pair of charges) you’ll fill up your Synergy gauge. Once two characters have enough of their Synergy gauges filled and have a corresponding Synergy Ability, you can activate it in the menu without spending any ATB charges.

Pressured and Staggered explained

Attacking an enemy’s vulnerability (which you can find by using the Assess command once you acquire the requisite materia in the Nibelheim chapter) will put them in a Pressured state. This fills up their Stagger meter. Once filled, an enemy will “Stagger,” which will render it unable to attack and will see an extra damage multiplier in effect. You’ll also fill your Limit Break gauge by Staggering an enemy (and taking damage yourself).

Tip: Read up on your fighting abilities in the combat settings menu

In the main menu, navigate to Party, highlight which character you want to read up on and hit triangle. This will give you a full list of all abilities, be they ATB Abilities, Spells, or Synergy Skills, with definitions for each.

Tip: Lock on to an enemy as soon as you combat starts

Though Final Fantasy VII Rebirth places a target reticle on enemies you’re fighting, locking on is the sure way to focus your camera on your foe and it will allow you to switch between targets by flicking the right analog stick left to right. But you won’t lock onto an enemy when combat begins. You’ll have to do it manually.

Press R3 as soon as combat begins to lock on. You can also hit square when you see the red threat reticle upon approaching an enemy to get a First Strike on them.

Clear Your Calendar For Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

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Clear Your Calendar For Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

Tip: Switch characters as soon as you activate an ATB ability

You’ll get the most out of FF7R’s combat by rapidly switching characters, especially once you’ve activated an ATB ability.

While it is cool to watch a character’s move animation after executing it, you really should be switching to the next character as soon as you deploy an ATB ability. This will allow you to manually control another character to fill their ATB gauge faster.

For example, if you have 1 ATB charge filled on Cloud and activate “Braver,” switch to Sephiroth immediately after and start slashing with square for Sephiroth to start building his gauge. When his gauge is filled, select your ATB ability and swap back to Cloud to begin the process all over again. Cycling like this is a great way to keep the heat on an enemy while also ensuring you’re using the most powerful attacks possible at a given moment.

If you have two ATB charges filled and want to activate two abilities, you can activate the first, switch to another character, then hit L2/R2 to issue a command to the character you just switched from to use up that other ATB charge.

Also, I recommend using up and down on the d-pad to switch characters as opposed to left and right—it more closely mirrors the vertical character list on the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

Tip: Assess every enemy

Shortly into the Nibleheim scenario, Cloud will gain access to “Assess” materia. This allows you to get a bit of lore from an enemy, as well as the info needed to Pressure them, what rewards you can expect for defeating them, as well as what weaknesses, resistances, and other essential stats of theirs.

Each Assess screen is a mini-guide to defeating an enemy. Once you’ve assessed an enemy, you can reread this screen at any time by hitting the touchpad.

Tip: Use L1 shortcuts for less menu diving

While menu diving (initiated by hitting X) is a part of the flow of combat, and is often unavoidable in more demanding fights, you can speedily access go-to Spells and ATB Abilities by holding L1 and pressing one of the face buttons. You can set which shortcuts trigger what attacks in the main menu by going to Combat Settings.

Tip: Activate Cloud’s ranged attack by dodging and immediately attacking

Flying enemies got you down? Yeah, they’re pretty annoying. Good thing Cloud has a ranged attack that you may not have been aware of. Hit circle and Cloud will dodge, then follow this move with square immediately after and he’ll start swinging beams of energy from his sword that fly through the air toward whichever enemy you’re locked onto.

Cloud’s actually a pretty deft airborne fighter, too. Once you fly toward your enemy after executing a ranged attack, you can activate several of his attack abilities while airborne. You can also hit circle to dodge in mid-air. Note that many flying enemies don’t take too kindly to Cloud getting up in their face, so they’re likely to knock him down swiftly.

Cloud’s Triple Slash ability will also launch him toward his targeted enemy, which is another great way to close the distance and start landing attacks on distant foes.

Tip: Return Aerith to her Wards with triangle

Aerith is your go-to character for incredible magic utility and attacks. In Rebirth’s demo she gets access to two “Wards,” abilities that boost her skills within a given area. Arcane Ward lets Aerith cast two attack spells at once, while Radiant Ward makes Aerith invincible when casting spells and juices her main attack. It also lets her dodge more deftly while inside the Ward.

You can return to Aerith’s Wards should you or she leave by pressing triangle. This move can also be used to dodge attacks, but the timing can be a little tricky.

Tip: Use specific ATB attacks to ground flying enemies

ATB attacks with a straight or bent arrow on the lower left hand corner of the screen indicate that they’ll ground airborne enemies when executed. This is especially useful for flying enemies (both the demo and Rebirth proper have a number of them), and particularly beneficial for characters like Tifa who may struggle to land her attacks on flying enemies.

Note that more powerful flying enemies, like bosses and creatures from Fiend Intel assignments, won’t go down to the ground so easily.

Like Remake before it, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth’s combat is fast and tactical. These tips, however, should help you sort out the chaos and come out on top as you take on the Materia Guardian in the Nibelheim mountains.

Pre-order Final Fantasy VII Rebirth: Amazon | Best Buy | Target

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