Cloud Strife is the main playable character in Final Fantasy VII Remake. He wields Broadswords. Cloud's unique ability is to switch between fighting styles with his broadsword, and his main strength is in his ability to deal raw damage with a wide area-of-effect, his ability to counter enemy attacks with attacks of his own, and his versatility provided by balanced attributes.
Cloud leads the party throughout the majority of the story, and is the most frequently played character. He is also present for every Odd Job sidequest. Because of this and his well-balanced attributes, Cloud can fill a variety of roles in the party roster depending on the player's need.
Cloud is a melee damage dealer whose large broadsword provides him a wide area-of-effect damage that can hit multiple enemies at once. Though his movement speed is not as fast as Tifa's, he has strong durability and an ability to counter enemy attacks. Cloud's main strength is his versatility, able to play a variety of roles in a party composition and his ability to deal raw burst damage to dispatch enemies quickly, giving him a solid crowd control.
Cloud's unique ability is to switch his combat style mid-battle using . He can change between Operator Mode (default), which balances attack and defense, and Punisher Mode, which deals more damage while drastically reducing his movement speed and preventing normal guarding; instead, he reduces melee damage by 60% but counters them, though he cannot counter ranged attacks, such as bullets or magic, and will take full damage. While in Punisher Mode, he also cannot perform aerial attacks. Dodge-rolling while in Punisher Mode reverts Cloud to Operator Mode, and if Cloud is close enough to an enemy he is not yet in melee range of, pressing will cause him to jump towards them and attack. Nail Bat changes the attack during Punisher Mode to a baseball swing.
Cloud's attacks usually comprise a combo of five attacks: a sword slash from left to right, a slash in the opposite direction, a slower overhead slash that deals higher damage, a shorter upward slash, and a slower swing attack that deals the highest amount of damage. Holding when using basic attacks has Cloud perform specific moves depending on which stance he is in: while in Operator Mode, he'll swing his sword in a wide arc that can hit multiple enemies; while in Punisher Mode, he'll do an overhead swing and stabs his sword in the ground, briefly putting Cloud under the Berserk status.
Cloud's attributes are overall balanced, allowing him to fulfill both the role of a physical fighter and a spellcaster tank. His Strength is the highest in the game, his Magic and MP pool are the second-highest after Aerith's, while his other attributes are above average. He has the second-highest HP, and his durability and ability to counter enemy attacks make him a viable alternative to Barret in the role of tanking damage and drawing fire away from the rest of the party. Though his physical attacks and ATB charge rate are slower than Tifa's, his attacks deal damage in a wider radius, and his individual attacks are stronger.
Cloud wields large swords and other two-handed weapons. His default weapon is the Buster Sword, a versatile weapon that increases his physical damage and spellcasting potential equally, with some improvements to his durability also. Cloud's broadswords usually consist of the same basic moveset, with the exception of the Nail Bat, which changes the Punisher Mode stance combo into a single strong baseball swing that keeps Cloud rooted in place, but can knock down opponents. Cloud's weapons are versatile, and offer some of the highest balanced attribute increases. Cloud can earn SP for his weapons with The Art of Swordplay manuscripts.
Cloud's weapons each suit a different playstyle. For a physical attack playstyle, the Hardedge provides the highest increase to his raw Attack Power, and Nail Bat provides great increases to his critical hit rate. The Hardedge boosts Cloud's physical damage, with a few improvements to his durability, but compromises his spellcasting potential. The Nail Bat has low attack power, but makes up for it with its critical hit rate. It provides greater increases to Cloud's durability, but locks him into the physical damage role due to slow materia slot growth and even poorer magic stats.
Other weapons for Cloud lean harder into a spellcasting playstyle, with greater increases to his Magic Attack attribute, namely the Mythril Saber and the Iron Blade. Between these, the Iron Blade compromises Cloud's physical damage less and is a more defensive weapon overall, providing great increases to Cloud's durability. The Mythril Saber, on the other hand, provides Cloud the highest raw magic attack increase of any weapon, as well as improvements to his MP regeneration.
Many of Cloud's other weapons provide him mixed attributes for both types of playstyles, taking advantage of Cloud's versatility and adaptability. The aforementioned Buster Sword provides the second-highest attack power increase and third-highest magic attack increase of Cloud's weapons, but fairly middling unlockable abilities. The Twin Stinger provides slightly lower attributes, but many unique abilities focused more towards spellcasting and durability.
In terms of accessories, early on Cloud benefits from Power Wristguards to boost his strength, or from accessories that provide resistance to debuffs. Depending on the playstyle, Cloud is good candidate for either the Spectral Cogwheel or Transference Module, given his flexibility to be either a spellcaster or physical attacker, although these accessories may be better suited for Aerith and Tifa, respectively. The Champion Belt is also a great choice for Cloud, as improving his strength and HP simultaneously takes advantage of some of his best traits. He can also make great use of the Fury Ring for a high-risk-high-reward gameplay style to maximize his damage output, especially given jow his counter-attack mechanics through Punisher Mode and Counterstance reduce damage taken when countering.
For armor, Cloud should normally focus more on improving his durability than on increasing his materia slots in his role as a frontline bruiser, but can prioritize materia slots when serving a spellcaster role.
Cloud's unique abilities consist of varying sword moves that deal raw damage to the enemy in unique ways. His abilities are mostly straightforward, taking advantage of Cloud's increased melee range and power. The vast majority of his abilities are physical damage attacks.
Cloud's default ability, Braver, deals physical burst damage aimed at one target, with a decent area-of-effect. It is useful for Cloud early on, but is quickly outclassed Triple Slash and Infinity's End for different reasons.
Particularly for a melee damage playstyle, Triple Slash is a core ability for Cloud, in which he attacks three times against different random enemies. This not only deals great damage spread across the enemies (or a single target if only one is present), but tracks enemies that can otherwise run around Cloud, and helps build up stagger. Once obtained, Triple Slash is Cloud's best ability to start a battle with. Focused Thrust is another core ability for Cloud, which deals moderate damage compared to Braver, but can greatly increases stagger, especially against pressured enemies. In many cases, using it straight after Triple Slash can stagger many foes.
Disorder is a useful ability for Cloud's mobility in a melee damage playstyle. Cloud will perform an attack after leaping towards an enemy, switching stance while doing so. This can save animation time while switching to Punisher Mode when engaging an enemy.
Infinity's End is Cloud's only ability that requires two ATB charges to use, but deals immense damage, particularly to a staggered enemy, capable of reaching max damage when doing so. The downside is that Infinity's End has a high ATB cost and has a slow animation building up to it, which is not always optimal against enemies with short stagger duration.
For a spellcasting playstyle, Blade Burst deals non-elemental ranged magic damage with a wide area-of-effect, meaning it cannot be resisted and relies on Cloud's magic attack attribute. This gives Cloud the ability to deal magic damage without expending MP, as well an attack that cannot be resisted.
Counterstance is acquired late for Cloud, but is a versatile ability useful for Cloud in any playstyle. Cloud will brace for an attack, reducing damage taken by 80%, and immediately respond with a counterattack that deals considerable damage. This is great for dealing damage, for preventing damage, preventing Cloud from being knocked down, and canceling some enemy attacks. Using Counterstance mixed in with Punisher Mode and switching to Punisher Mode also allows Cloud to effortlessly counter enemy attacks and deal damage while not being vulnerable. A notable difference between Counterstance and Punisher Mode is that Counterstance can trigger on projectiles, although it won't work against certain unblockable enemy attacks.
Cloud begins the game with a Fire Materia. With his balanced attributes and being in the player's party most of the game, he is good for equipping almost any kind of materia. A wide variety of Magic Materia benefit from Cloud's high magic attribute, making a great choice both for dealing damage as a spellcaster, or for equipping the Healing Materia to heal party members to a great extent.
The Steadfast Block Materia is core to Cloud's abilities, with how frequently he will guard against damage. This allows him to both block a lot of damage and build his ATB quickly. Cloud can also equip Deadly Dodge Materia to deal stronger damage after dodge-rolling, leaning into his melee damage and durability. Parry Materia can also be useful to lean into Cloud's innate ability to counterattack, and provides Cloud the ability to dodge roll and remain in Punisher Mode.
Cloud is among the best beneficiaries of Elemental Materia because his balanced attributes mean he can use the paired magic materia to not only deal powerful magic damage, but also to provide a strong bonus to his physical damage. Though elemental materia is a great choice on Cloud's weapons, it can be an equally strong choice on his armor to allow him to potentially absorb damage, making him durable in battle and leaning into his ability to tank.
Due to his magic attribute, Cloud is also the second-best user of Magnify Materia after Aerith. Cloud's high magic attribute means he can pair it well with healing materia to heal the party a great amount, or with damaging magic materia to hit all enemies with powerful spells at once.
HP Absorption Materia can be used in a wide variety of ways to improve Cloud's durability. Pairing it with Deadly Dodge or Parry allows Cloud to heal himself for free with normal attacks, while in a spellcasting role, pairing it with a powerful magic spell allows Cloud to heal himself while dealing damage to an enemy.
ATB Stagger Materia is a great choice to pair with Cloud's Infinity's End ability. As it increases the rate Cloud's ATB gauge builds against staggered enemies, this will allow him to build up Infinity's End faster, and then use it to deal tremendous burst damage afterward.
Beyond this, Cloud can equip a variety of Complete Materia to boost his attributes. HP Up Materia is as important to Cloud as any other character, as although his base HP is already high, improving it further is important against some powerful abilities in hard mode, and improving Cloud's durability for when counter-attacking often is always useful. In a spellcasting role, Cloud can equip MP Up Materia or Magic Up Materia to build his already strong spellcasting abilities further and deal even more damage, though both are interchangeable for him in this role and neither are essential. Lastly, Luck Up Materia can be particularly useful when using the Nail Bat, to further increase his critical chance.
Cloud's level 1 unique limit break is Cross-Slash, which consists of three powerful attacks to one enemy and any others within range. His level 2 limit break is Ascension, which consists of multiple slashes, and an impaling thrust which transitions into a jumping slash. Ascension deals significantly more damage than Cross-Slash and increases an enemy's stagger gauge significantly, but causes the limit gauge to take longer to fill.
Because both limit breaks deal melee damage, they are improved by any attribute boosts to Cloud's attack power and strength. This means that the limit breaks will benefit more from Cloud being geared towards a physical damage role, but will still deal significant damage when Cloud has more balanced attributes. Cloud can save his limit breaks for when an enemy is staggered to deal more damage, though his Infinity's End ability means this is often not necessary to optimize damage during an enemy's stagger, and he is safe to use them at any opportune moment.
Cloud can benefit from both the Transference Module or Spectral Cogwheel. These will increase Cloud's limit gauge when he uses expends ATB charges or MP, which Cloud will do often. Though either accessory is useful on Cloud, they may be better on Tifa or Aerith respectively. Once Gotterdammerung is obtained, it can also be given to Cloud to allow his limit breaks to be used much more frequently.
Cloud joins the party in the first chapter, "The Destruction of Mako Reactor 1." He remains the party leader throughout the majority of the story, with a few exceptions. In Chapter 13, "A Broken World," Cloud is absent from the quest "In Solitude" up to the end of the chapter, after which he becomes leader of the party again. In Chapter 17, "Deliverance from Chaos," during "Find the Others," Cloud leads his own party with Barret, but occasionally swaps to a party led by Tifa. Other than this, Cloud is only absent in a couple of quests.
Being the player character most often on the field, Cloud most frequently partakes in minigames, such as the Darts game in Seventh Heaven during Chapter 3, "Home Sweet Home," Whack-a-Box in "A Verified Hero" during Chapter 8, "Budding Bodyguard," and the Squats game at the Wall Market gym in "Burning Thighs," during Chapter 9, "The Town That Never Sleeps." Also during chapter 9, in "Aerith's Plan," the player partakes in a rhythm minigame at the Honeybee Inn. The player also controls Cloud during the motorcycling segments.
Behind the scenes
Triple Slash was Cloud's most popular ability among players at 39% among respondents to a survey, followed by Infinity's End and Counterstance tied at 14% each. The majority of players reported seeing Cloud's second dress (suggesting they completed Chocobo Sam's questline) at 60%z, followed by 35% who saw his third dress, and just 5% who saw his first.
- Square Enix (August 14, 2020). Results of the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Post-Play Survey. Final Fantasy Portal Site. Archived from the original on August 14, 2020.