Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade - Yuffie DLC (Part 3)


Today on FFVII-R...our heroes deal with the aftermath of Scarlet pressing the Hot Button, as Intergrade unfortunately draws to a close. It turned out to be pretty cool.

Huh, it turns out that all she did was activate Deepground (Shinra's top-secret paramilitary force).

Their leader is Weiss, the final boss of Dirge of Cerberus. That hasn't happened yet, so here he is lurking in the basement at Shinra Corp. They want to clone him for the VR simulator or something.

Slightly more importantly, his brother Nero is also activated, and summoned to go help Scarlet. Nero...is a murderous bastard, and not to be fooled with.

Elsewhere, Sonon and Yuffie have tied Scarlet up.

That's right, Scarlet's bound and completely at their mercy. ...don't get turned on. Why are you getting turned on? Stop it.

Deepground rushes in, breaking up this party. Scarlet gets away, of course.

Scarlet gave up one important bit of information first: Sector 7 is about to go boom.

Sonon is infuriated by this turn of events...and they don't even know yet about how it's going to get blamed on them.

Sonon helps Yuffie up after they dispatch Deepground. Unfortunately, their problems still aren't over.

Scarlet has a runway-ready walk. She just sashay's right on past her troops, disappearing from sight and entirely avoiding justice.

Next up is this weird miniboss lab-mutant that looks like it was supposed to be a much bigger deal / challenge than it is. Maybe another unused boss model from the base game?

After that, our heroes notice that the next hallway is full of corpses...that they're not responsible for.

Yep, someone did some damage in here. This isn't like Sephiroth fighting through the place while making his escape. This is more like...someone just killing for the hell of it.

That someone is Nero, maybe Dirge of Cerberus' most memorable foe. And here he is, metal wings and all, to make Yuffie's life miserable.

What follows is the last and by far the hardest mandatory fight in the DLC. Nero is an absolute beast and dishes out even more punishment than Scarlet's mech.

His attacks utilize Dark-element, and we don't have any Holy attacks to retaliate with.

This guy is basically a Metal Gear Solid refugee on top of everything else, consuming souls for sustenance while manipulating things with his brain.

Gotta say I'm very surprised to see this guy turn up as the DLC's final boss. Of everyone in the extended FFVII universe... this guy would have been like the 50th to come to mind for an appearance in this DLC.

After the DLC's toughest fight, our heroes turn to walk away when...

...Nero sneak-attacks them. Sonon jumps in the way and gets impaled before Nero disappears.

His blood flies onto Yuffie and he tells her she has to keep going and stop the plate collapse somehow.

Holy shit.

Poor Yuffie has to run out of here on her own after Sonon pushes her into the elevator as it closes.

Yeah, absolutely brutal turn this took. And since it isn't the main game, death actually means something here.

Sonon is visited by his sister.

Another flashback. Man, they really let you have it with this stuff. We didn't have much time to get attached to this guy, but still. The fact that they're fleshing out the Wutai conflict in these remakes is much-needed. The original game barely touched on the fact that the world had just gone through a large-scale war.

Sonon continues to hallucinate his sister as he collapses. Nero's knife had some sort of shadow-goop.

We'll see him again...in Dirge of Cerberus? Yeah. I wonder if anyone went and replayed that after this. were we intended to?

Yuffie steps out onto a Shinra Tower balcony just in time to see...

...the entire plate collapse right in front of her. Well, this turned into a nightmare.

That's it for this Yuffie story, as she gets the hell out of Midgar and heads for, presumably, the Chocobo Ranch.

She's quite morose now compared to her peppy self during the rest of the DLC. Little did anyone know that she went through massive trauma right before she met the rest of the team. Maybe she can spend some time at the Chocobo Ranch and start to get back to normal. Either way, we'll see her again in FFVII-R Episode 2.

The fact that we got this DLC is a pretty good indicator of what that next episode will contain. AKA probably not much more than Yuffie as far as new characters go. Red, Yuffie, maybe Cait Sith. I expect Episode 3 will be the one with Cid and Vincent, and we'll get more Dirge of Cerberus tie-ins before it.

Oh hey, this was unexpected. The team is hoofing it away from Midgar, as they did originally. No sign of the Whispers or the Kingdom Hearts DBZ Space Battle. Not even any mention of it. It's like they just got off the highway. Maybe they're just gonna ignore that whole thing?

I really liked Barret's character in the original FFVII and thought he was the most sympathetic person in the game overall. This remake doesn't disappoint at all in that regard. Look at the guy, he's seen some shit.

Then again, this whole crew has seen some stuff, that's kinda what brings them together. In any case, they mull over stopping to rest, then decide that they want to get as far away from Midgar as they can first so they can't smell it anymore.

That's not weird at all.

What IS weird is that the game doesn't let you record or screenshot these ending cinematics.

I like how Barret is physically leading the group on their pilgrimage to Kalm here. They've got 12 more hours of walking to do, roughly. This is what happens when the devs get rid of the overworld map!

Cloud shows a rare moment of personality, taking a jab at Barret for being OLD. Barret's 35, but it IS a Japanese game. 20 year old Sonon was a Grizzled War Veteran.

Phoenix - or at least I think it's Phoenix - is spotted flying by. I predict that it'll be the big Summon of Episode 2, since they already dropped Bahamut on us prematurely. Ifrit, Titan, and Phoenix will most likely be the main Episode 2 summons, plus whatever new ones they design.

Turns out walking to Kalm wasn't gonna work, so the ladies try to get them a ride while everyone else rests. Here, Tifa fixes Aerith's hips.

I mean, she's kinda getting it. Though Tifa is the absolute master of stopping traffic.

Barret has his own way of doing things, which includes LEAPING INTO TRAFFIC.

Our heroes get a ride to Kalm, except Barret has to ride in the truck bed with the Chocobos due to his large size.

Cloud and Red are back here too, since Red is a barn animal himself and Cloud has the manners of a goat.

The ladies get to sit upfront, which is only fair considering they were the ones doing all the work while everyone else rested. Barret is pissed, though. What do you want us to do, man?

They hit a pothole and Tifa falls on the driver. She apologizes and he's like "no apology necessary" and quietly begins aiming for more potholes.

He turns off, presumably in the direction of the Chocobo Ranch, which leaves our heroes near Kalm Town. Yep, there it is. I wonder if there are any other Episode 2 clues we can infer from this. Getting the impression that it'll heavily use warps to bypass the lack of overworld, rather than having the characters run from place to place.

I'm intrigued by what exactly Episode 2 is going to include, where it'll end, etc. Worst case scenario I think it'll end with the party arriving at Costa Del Sol. Best case it'll end with them arriving at Nibelheim. Most likely it'll end somewhere in the Corel / Gold Saucer scenario. Maybe Barret vs. Dyne will be the final fight? Hard to say. I did the math, and Remake Episode 1 covered about 20% of the original game's runtime and assets. I'm expecting this to be a five-part series. The next 20% would end right around the Corel / Gold Saucer scenario.

Find someone who looks at you the way Aerith is looking at whatever she's looking at.

...oh, it's Tifa. Of course.

Unfortunately this is all we get for the continuing odyssey of the main party. They succeeded in getting me pumped for Episode 2, at least. And now, the wait begins.

BUT WAIT! Remember that whole thing where Zack's death got randomly undone? Well, look who we've got. He's on his way to see Aerith, which is what he was on his way to do when he got killed originally. Of course, in this world, he didn't actually die, and won the fight with Shinra's assassination squad. The man was guilty of nothing more than wanting to go home, and here he is.

He barges into the church, ready to surprise Aerith, when...

...he sees that the church is now full of orphans and refugees from the plate collapse.

He has no idea what happened, or what's going on, but it looks bad.

I'll admit it, they've succeeded in getting me interested in seeing what happens with this, too. I was none too pleased that they trivialized Crisis Core and its amazing story by basically un-doing it. Now, though? I want to see what happens. This is another character who really didn't deserve to die when he did, and seeing how he reacts to the way things ended up has a lot of storytelling potential.

That's it for this DLC, which turned out to be WAY more robust and eventful than I thought. There's a lot more to do with it, too. Optional uberbosses, sidequests, Hard Mode, maxing out your characters/materia, etc.

At level 36, I might as well grind her up to level 50 in case levels carry over to Episode 2. But first... I'll check out one of the new uberbosses. Weiss the Immaculate is the villain of Dirge of Cerberus, and he's available to fight in the battle simulator of the main game now. That's right, beating this DLC unlocks a new boss in the main game.

The other uberboss is Top Secrets, who you actually do fight with Yuffie and Sonon. It's a significantly scaled-down version of the same Top Secrets fight from the main game, but it's equally difficult with two characters.

Before I fight Top Secrets, I'll be fighting Shinra's Dark Secrets a lot. It is hands-down the best way to level up in this DLC.

The battle simulator doesn't even appear in Chapter 2 of the DLC until you've finished the DLC once. Shinra's Dark Secrets is so much better for leveling than the rest of the DLC, that it isn't even worthwhile to grind levels anywhere else. Just finish the DLC, then go back and grind out levels here for Hard Mode (or just to max out).

The key to victory here is to just run right into the enemy pack and unleash Yuffie's Windstorm attack. With First Strike and a leveled-up Magic Up equipped, you can do this right away AND it'll probably one-shot the entire pack.

Past the initial pack of jobbers that give a ton of EXP/AP, there are also fights with tougher foes that follow. They're worth fighting too, or you can just pause and exit out of the simulator after one-shotting the first round and repeat that over and over. Not sure which is faster. The first round definitely gives the most EXP/AP.

Until Magic Up is leveled enough for Windstorm to automatically one-shot the enemies, you can dual-tech with Sonon to unleash Synergized Windstorm instead which generally one-shots them even without Magic Up.

Loading up on materia and just maxing out all of it is a good strategy here, even the things you think you won't need. Also it's a great opportunity to get some battle shots of Yuffie unleashing hell.

I love that PS5 games seem to have Photo Mode as a standard thing now.

Makes it so much easier to get a perfect shot during a fast-moving battle.

The very last thing I maxed (well after getting level 50) were this assortment of HP Up and MP Up materia. You only need four total of each (two for each character). Once you've finished the game, they can be bought from vendors, so it's very important to make sure you grab these before you start grinding. Don't do what I did and discover them after you're done leveling/maxing materia (causing me to have to go back into the simulator to level up these by themselves).

There we go, maxed-out Yuffie and Sonon, each with one HP Up equipped. Their HP can get even higher with two HP Ups equipped, possibly even 9999.

Here's the uberboss, who I eked out a win over. More on this in a minute.

I've got one more thing to do in this game: Face Kyrie in a SASS-OFF.

Of course, Yuffie wins. Nobody can contend with her level of sass. Look at that sassy pose!

I was never really a big Yuffie fan in the past. Well, this DLC did it.

Actually, the last thing I need to do is finish the Fort Condor minigame. The final few battles on Hard Mode are nearly impossible, so I had to resort to some pretty cheap tactics.

Noted oddball weirdo Chadley is once again the final Fort Condor opponent, and I gimp my way to victory.

"My preciousssss" she says while pocketing the materia.

Last thing to do, check out the Weiss battle in the normal game. Pretty sure the character designers got some inspiration from Broly.

It's pretty weird to see an uberboss above the Top Secrets fight that gave me so much grief in the past. At least it's on the same difficulty level, whatever that means. This fight nets you two Gotterdammerungs, to go with the one you get from Top Secrets. Having a party with 3 of those basically makes you indestructible in FF7R. I wonder how quick a speed-run of the game would go at that point. It's something to try eventually, maybe during Episode 2's hype phase.

Weiss is only one boss, unlike Top Secrets which is a gauntlet. So at least there's that. However, he's much meaner than anything in that gauntlet.

Basically, this guy makes Sephiroth look like a chump (at least, in the context of this game). He's on his own difficulty plateau, and completely stomps a maxed-out Cloud while I struggle to even put up any kind of offense.

I'd say the key here is probably to play defensively with counters, and/or switch characters a lot since he gets hyperfocused on obliterating one at a time.

After he completely chews through my party, I take a look at my progress. Did his health bar even move?

Well, that's just something else to do later, along with Hard Mode of the DLC, the other uberboss, and a speedrun with 3 Gotterdammerungs.

Video Time:

The Easiest Platinum Ever

Yuffie's limit break, versus Nero

Here's how to completely gimp Fort Condor. I had to use these tactics for the last couple of fights. And given how much time I spent doing the Difficulty-5 Fort Condor fights before that, I wish I'd found this strategy sooner.

Here's the final boss fight with that punk Nero. If he's Weiss' brother, then is he...Brother Nero? I'll show myself out.

Here's the uberboss fight with Pride and Joy Prototype 0.5, the Yuffie version. Would have been much easier if I'd equipped Fire + Elemental materia beforehand. I had Lightning + Elemental equipped to nullify Ramuh, only to find that apparently none of his attacks counted as Lightning element. The hardest part of the boss rush was Bahamut, like in the normal game. Once I finally got past that, I beat Pride and Joy Prototype on the first try (seen here). Maybe Bahamut should have been the uberboss instead.

Lastly, here's the uberboss fight with Weiss the Immaculate, done with the regular party. I found this to be much tougher than the other uberboss. This requires you to make heavy use of Parry for the first time all game, and there's no other route to victory that I can see. It was touch and go right up to the end, and for that last minute or so I was desperate to finish the fight before he used Immaculate End again. Do I start setting up for it by casting Manawall on people, or just go for the kill? That was the question. Absolutely insane fight and I'm glad I never have to do that again.

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