When you play the Final Fantasy VII remake on Hard Mode, it's not quite a different game, but it does mark a substantial priority shift. You can't rely on your stash of items to get you through the game, and MP gets a lot harder to replenish in the field.

Every boss also gets that much harder, adopting new strategies and becoming much more difficult to beat. We're going to go through them all one by one, for new players and veterans alike.

Final Fantasy VII Remake Hard Mode: Defeating the Scorpion Sentinel

The Scorpion Sentinel is effectively the final boss of Chapter 1. It serves as what's essentially an extended tutorial for the remake's new combat system, complete with Cloud and Barret angrily explaining game features to one another.

On Normal mode, it's a lengthy fight that serves as a trial by fire; on Hard, while it doesn't get any more mechanically complex, the Sentinel's damage output spikes dramatically. If you can't survive against the Sentinel's onslaught, you aren't ready for the rest of Hard Mode yet

Normal Mode

You may not feel like you're doing a lot of damage at first, and the Sentinel does a lot more damage than the simple guards and drones you've been fighting so far, but you should have more than enough assorted potions and ethers to survive.

The fight against Sentinel goes through four stages, with each stage clearly labeled by a short cutscene and a dramatic shift in the Sentinel's tactics. From 100% to 75% health, it mostly smacks you around with its claws and tail while firing barrages of missiles. Use Barret's Thunder spell to target the Sentinel's weak point while Cloud beats on it with his sword. It's easier to block the missiles than to try to dodge or outrun them.

When the Sentinel acquires a force field at 75% health, switch to Cloud so you can run around behind it and target the Sentinel's generator. One Fire spell should be enough to take it out, but until you do, you can't do much to it at all.

It subsequently brings out its tail laser. It's tempting to do some extra damage while the Sentinel is winding up to fire, but that's dangerous if you're playing this fight for the first time. It's safer to position both your characters behind the convenient piles of debris, which will fully absorb the laser. It's also a good time to top off your health, using potions or Barret's Cure spell.

At 25%, the Sentinel engages its auto-repair unit. You need to target and destroy its Left and Right Legs to stagger it and finish it off before the auto-repair brings its health back up. Fortunately, neither of them have a lot of health.

While it probably won't get to use it more than a couple of times, the Sentinel can also grab one of your characters and start to grapple him. At this point, switch to the other character and target the Sentinel's arm to break its hold. (This is also your first opportunity to get the Bonds of Friendship Trophy.)

If you're having trouble with this fight, the problem is likely that you're trying to rush through it. This is about patience and learning the system. Keep healing, watch the Sentinel's patterns, and be ready when you have to act quickly.

Hard Mode

As in all of Hard Mode, preparation is key here. Make liberal use of HP and MP Up Materia to raise both your characters' health and mana pools; survivability counts for a lot more than raw damage output.

Equip both characters with Element and Lightning Materia so their basic attacks inflict electrical damage, which targets the Sentinel's weak point. This saves you ATB that could otherwise be going towards Magnified Cure spells. Your primary concern here is keeping both characters alive through the Sentinel's storm of missiles, bullets, claw swipes, and electrical fields, which should always take priority over inflicting extra damage on the Sentinel.

No matter what you do, this will still be a long-ish fight, and remember, you've got a few rooms of Shinra goons to go through after this. It may be tempting to try and burn the Sentinel straight down with Thundaga, but instead, focus on staying alive and whittling it down. Just like in Normal Mode, the Sentinel on Hard Mode is a rude introduction to the new status quo.

Your reward for beating the Sentinel on Hard Mode is Sharpshooter's Companion Vol. IV, a special item that grants 10 SP to Barret.

Next up on our boss tour, we'll check in with the Huntsman in Chapter 2. If you need help with something else, our game hub has an ever-increasing number of short guides to virtually every facet of FF7R, including:

The Scorpion Sentinel is your first real challenge in Final Fantasy 7 Remake. How long did it take you to beat on your first time through? Check in with us on Twitter @PrimaGames.