Nearly five years after it was first announced at E3 in 2015, Final Fantasy VII Remake is finally here. Square Enix's latest brings a lot of changes to the game's much-loved combat and character progression systems. Unlike the original game, you won't be buying and selling dozens of weapons all the time. Instead, each character has six possible weapons, which cannot be sold. Some are easier to find than others, and all of them contain their own unique skill grid to allow you unlock upgrades in the order you choose.
While there's plenty of room for exploration and experimentation, we found some weapons suited a particular character's innate strengths better than others. Here's our picks for the best weapons and essential ability unlocks for Cloud, Barret, Tifa, and Aerith – and which you can afford to skip.
FF7 Remake weapon upgrades: General tips
FF7 Remake's weapons system is all about flexibility. There's no right way to customize each one, and the only wrong way to use it is to forget to allocate your skill points! It's easy to do if you're getting into rapid-fire fights in a dungeon, or when a boss fight is followed by a chapter break or a lengthy cutscene.
If you find this happening routinely, consider automating upgrades by highlighting a weapon name and pressing the Triangle button. You'll see three options: Balanced, attack, and defense. Attack makes the most sense for Cloud and Tifa, while we opted for balanced with Barret's spare weapons and defense for all of Aerith's rods. You might not want to do this for everything, but it's fine for the equipment you don't use as often.
One general tip that applies to every member of your party: you'll get a whole lot of Materia in FF7 Remake, more than you can possibly use. For every weapon in your arsenal, we recommend that you unlock new Materia slots ASAP. Sure, it might not be as flashy as an extra 250 HP, but Materia gives you even more flexibility to tweak each character to your specifications.
Best weapon upgrades for Cloud in FF7 Remake
In case the six-foot sword wasn't a dead giveaway, Cloud is primarily a close-range attacker. Most of his arsenal is geared toward boosting his strength stat, though two late-game blades (the Mythril Saber and Twin Stinger) boost his magic stat considerably.
I didn't use those much, instead favoring straightforward melee setups for the Buster Sword and Hardedge, which boost Cloud's attack stat at the expense of his magic power. You'll probably rely on the Buster Sword early on, and it make sense to prioritize HP, attack, and defense boosts for your upgrades.
Later on, the attack boosts for the Hardedge are truly outstanding, and offset the blade's limited number of Materia slots (a maximum of four in two pairs). Prioritize all the boosts to attack power and equip the Elemental Materia on the blade to deal with foes with weakness to magic. Let Aerith or Barret be your caster instead.
Best weapon upgrades for Barret in FF7 Remake
Barret also has two melee weapons, the Steel Pincers (available from the Moogle Emporium) and the Wrecking Ball (a sidequest reward in Chapter 14). The latter offers a big attack boost, but really hampers his magic stat. Like Cloud's magic blades, we didn't use these much, but they could be fun to play around with on a second playthrough or in Corneo's arena.
I used Barret's base Gatling Gun for much of the early game despite having other options, as it offers a nice balance between attack and magic, letting you keep Marlene's big daddy away from the fray. Since he'll need to absorb a lot of damage for the party early on, use your skill points to improve his HP and defense stats first.
You'll get access to Big Bertha in Chapter 13, from the Sector 7 weapon shop guy. Again, prioritize HP and defense boosts here, and make sure to unlock the "self-healing 50 percent boost with low HP" node for 12 SP as soon as you can.
Best weapon upgrades for Tifa in FF7 Remake
Like the two dudes on the squad, Tifa has two items that boost her magic stats significantly, if you're tempted to make her a spellcaster. I wasn't, because Tifa's speed makes it really easy to chain abilities into devastating combos.
Early on, the Metal Knuckles are a solid pick, but the magic stat sucks and the Overpower ability feels redundant. Speed and attack power are what you want to focus on here. (Speed will make her ATB gauge fill faster, making combos a breeze.)
Once you find the Feathered Gloves in Chapter 10, switch over to those. They're not as powerful as the Metal Knuckles, but they make up for it with a little boost to magic and a much more useful ability in Starshower, which deals a lot of damage and quickly closes a gap between Tifa and an enemy on the battlefield. Get the ATB Charge Rate 10 percent Boost for 10 SP first thing, then prioritize speed and attack.
Tifa's ATB bar charges quickly enough that she can stagger enemies with low-damage magic, then pummel them with her fists. Unlike the original FF7, you don't need to have a high magic stat to make spells worthwhile in FF7 Remake.
Best weapon upgrades for Aerith in FF7 Remake
Aerith's upgrade possibilities are among the least interesting of the bunch, because all her weapons are pretty similar to one another. Don't bother with the 5 percent elemental damage boosts: her magic stat is already the highest of the team and this barely moves the needle.
You can get the Silver Staff shortly after she joins the party from the Moogle Emporium in Sector 5. Focus on magic attack power boots and HP boosts to make her a little less delicate. Two 14-point boosts reduce the cost of Attack and Healing spells respectively, and are worth the investment.
You'll find the Mythril Rod in a treasure chest during a dungeon in Chapter 11. The upgrades here are mostly killer – boosts to magic attack, MP, and loads of bonus Materia slot – but you can skip all the conditional High HP / Low HP boosts, which won't have a noticeable impact. The Reinforced Staff is also a nice option due to its ATB-charging ability, but is saddled with a lot of filler "upgrades" and arrives very late in the game.
Tell us what you think Mako smells like, right here.