There are few video game weapons more iconic than Final Fantasy VII’s Buster Sword, the absurdly oversized blade of Cloud Strife. As you might expect, the blade plays a central role in Crisis Core Reunion as well, even divulging the surprisingly humble origins of the weapon. There’s even a brand-new mechanic that revolves around the Buster Sword, giving Zack a new “Battle Stance” for more powerful attacks, as well as a new stat called Buster Sword Proficiency. Leveling and powering up Zack has always been confusing, so here’s a detailed explanation of how to level up and increase Buster Sword Proficiency in Crisis Core Reunion.
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How to level up in Crisis Core Reunion
The most obvious way of powering up Zack is through raising his level, and while leveling might initially seem random that’s not actually the case. Zack will only gain a level whenever the slots in the DMW line up with three 7s (7-7-7), but the game actually has an invisible experience meter. Zack gains experience from every enemy he defeats, but unfortunately, there’s no way to know what your experience is at, and if you’re speeding through battles super quick, you might not have a chance to level up. This can lead to cases where you level up two or three times in the same battle.
Still, because you do gain experience from every enemy this does mean that you can grind, and there’s one mission that’s particularly good in that case. Mission 1-1-6: 1000 Shinra Troops has you quite literally fighting 1000 troops. The mission is quite easy but takes a long time to complete, and it’s a great way to wrack up a lot of experience and SP.
How to raise Buster Sword Proficiency
Zack’s new Battle Stance is incredibly similar to Cloud’s Punisher Mode in Final Fantasy 7 Remake, letting him use a few-hard hitting blows while also reducing the damage he takes. This stance is unlocked at the start of Chapter 6, and in order to use it you need to hit the attack and dodge buttons at the same time, which will also expend a bit of AP. Buster Sword Proficiency corresponds to how well Zack can use the sword, and there are three specific ways of raising it, which you can see below.
- Defeat an enemy with a strong attack (in Battle Stance)
- Defeat an enemy with a Command Materia move (used while in Battle Stance)
- Block damage while in Battle Stance
Each time you fulfill one of these requirements you’ll raise your proficiency by 0.2-0.7 percent, but it’s important to note that you can only raise proficiency by a total of 0.8 percent in each battle, so once you’ve hit that cap in any given battle you won’t get any more. This means that raising Buster Sword Proficiency is going to be a lengthy process, and on top of that, each of the three methods also have a cap on how much they can raise proficiency.
Interestingly, Buster Sword Proficiency caps out at 95 percent and there's currently no way to get it to 100 percent, which might be a fun little nod that Zack isn’t the true master of the sword, but Cloud is. This means that each of the three ways of raising proficiency can only be used for roughly 32%. Unfortunately, like most things in Crisis Core, there’s no way to tell how much percentage you have in each of the three methods, so you’ll simply have to do some trial and error to figure out when you’ve met a cap.
Now as for what you actually get from raising Buster Sword Proficiency, it comes in the form of abilities.
What are Buster Sword Proficiency abilities?
Raising proficiency doesn’t increase damage or anything, but reaching certain thresholds can grant Zack some powerful abilities. The final ability is unlocked at 47 percent, however, so it seems like there’s not much incentive to increase the proficiency beyond that. Here are all the abilities you can unlock.
- Strong Attack (0%) - Execute a powerful attack while in Battle Stance.
- Enhanced Guard (0%) - Zack’s guard now reduces damage by 80%, both in and out of Battle Stance.
- Necromose (0%) - Zack regains a bit of MP and AP every time he defeats an enemy.
- Damage Limit Break (23%) - Any attack or Command Materia used in Battle Stance can break the 9,999 damage cap, without the use of accessories like Genji Gloves.
- Barrier Piercing (47%) - Any attack or Command Materia used during Battle Stance now completely ignores an enemy’s Barrier, if they have one.