In Chapter 7 of the Final Fantasy VII Remake, Avalanche makes another strike against Shinra, but this time, they were expected. There are a lot of challenges waiting for them in Mako Reactor 5, not least of which is its final guardian: a custom fighting robot created by Heidegger himself.
Here’s how to defeat the Airbuster boss in FF7R on both Normal and Hard modes.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Hard Mode: Defeating the Airbuster
The Airbuster is unique among bosses in FF7R, in that you can make several choices beforehand to weaken it before you have to fight it. We’ve got a full guide on the subject here, but what it comes down to is a choice between making the Airbuster easier to fight or giving you extra rewards a little later on.
If you’re having trouble with the Airbuster, go back and make different picks with your Keycards. The easiest way to weaken it is to reroute as many AI Cores as possible, which dramatically slows the Airbuster down. You don’t get anything unique for leaving the Airbuster at full strength, so there’s no reason not to stack this deck while you have the chance.
You can find the first Elemental Materia in the game during Chapter 6, by taking a short detour in the Sector 4 Plate Interior. It’s well worth the extra time to get, as it’s a genuine game-changer. We’ve talked about it in several other FF7R articles, mostly having to do with Hard Mode, but Elemental can be combined with other Materia to grant a character resistance to certain types of attacks, or to gimmick a weapon to inflict pure elemental damage.
This comes in handy against the Airbuster, as it’s a mech, which means it’s vulnerable to electrical attacks. Barret has to carry a lot of the mail on this fight anyway, as the Airbuster is airborne during its first phase, so install Element and Lightning Materia into his gun. He’ll do extra damage, especially with Overcharge and Focused Shot, and rapidly fill the Airbuster’s Stagger meter.
Maintain Barrier and Regen spells on your party to help cut the incoming damage, and wait for your moment. Keep landing Thunder spells, and when it’s knocked off its pins, use Tifa’s Unbridled Strength attacks to ramp up the damage.
The Airbuster announces its second phase by retreating down the catwalk and leveling everyone in front of it with Tankbuster. You can’t do anything about this besides back up and get out from in front of the Airbuster. If the laser hits one of your characters, they’re probably dead, so it’s time to break out the Phoenix Down.
From here on out, the Airbuster deploys its arms to attack independently of itself, while still occasionally firing the Tankbuster laser. Use Cloud and Tifa to take out the arms, with Barret continuing to focus on the Airbuster’s body, and keep an eye out for Tankbuster. Once both its arms have been destroyed, the Airbuster will stay downrange, so swap to Barret and keep firing.
When it’s on the ropes, the Airbuster will try to take you down with it by deploying Big Bomber. It can only use it once if you redirected its shells, but once is enough to inflict a lot of damage. It’s a good idea to save your best attacks, like charged Limit Breaks and your Summon Materia, for this last phase, to get the Airbuster down before its damage output overwhelms you.
Like the Crab Warden before it, the Airbuster is the last fight in its chapter, so you can afford to spend MP on your biggest attacks. Having a second Element Materia in your arsenal means you can send either Cloud or Tifa into the fight equipped with lightning-enhanced standard attacks, which should help you fill the Airbuster’s Stagger bar even faster.
On Hard Mode, the Airbuster’s arms in phase two gain the ability to grab and bind one of your characters, forcing you to switch over and use another party member to break them out. That’s not that hard, especially with endgame levels of firepower, but the real problem is if an arm keeps your character in place long enough to get hit by Tankbuster. That’s an almost guaranteed kill, and forces you to burn valuable MP on recovery.
In addition to Big Bomber, the Airbuster gets a second desperation move when it’s low on health: firing Tankbuster twice in rapid succession. It’s a nasty surprise if you haven’t seen it before, since you’ll probably dodge the first and run face-first into the second, but if you know it’s coming it’s a big window in which to heal up or queue up a few Thundagas.
You receive a Titanium Bangle for defeating the Airbuster. On Hard Mode, it also drops Vol. VI of the Sharpshooter’s Companion, a Manuscript for Barret.
We’re putting together an exhaustive master-level guide to all the challenges and hidden secrets within the FF7 remake. Take a look at our game hub for more, such as:
- Here’s what to expect when you’re moving into Hard Mode
- Where to find the ultimate accessory, Gotterdammerung
- Become a Dancing Queen with our trophy guide
The Airbuster is just the latest giant robot boss in the Final Fantasy VII remake. Sooner or later, Shinra’s going to think to build one that’s insulated. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t give them any ideas. Contribute more unwise tactical advice meant for geocidal corporate monsters via our official Twitter, @PrimaGames.