Push to switch between battle modes when controlling Cloud. Operator mode offers a good balance between offense and defense, while punisher mode gives Cloud an offensive advantage at the cost of agility. In punisher mode, his standard attack changes to Strong Attack.Loading screen tip
Punisher Mode is one of Cloud's two combat stances in Final Fantasy VII Remake, along with Operator Mode. Punisher Mode greatly increases Cloud's offensive potential, changing his normal attacks to faster and more powerful slashes, as well as allowing him to counter enemy melee attacks, but disabling blocking. However, Cloud does not run or dodge-roll in Punisher Mode, making him unable to close the gap to enemies at a distance. Trying to dodge-roll while in Punisher Mode will revert him to Operator Mode.
Punisher Mode should be switched to when Cloud is in range of an enemy. Normally when under Punisher Mode Cloud attacks much faster, allowing him to also build his ATB gauge faster. However, with the Nail Bat, Cloud instead attacks a lot more slowly, delivering a single swing that deals considerable damage and may knock enemies away.
Another benefit to Punisher Mode is that it allows Cloud to counter enemy attacks in melee range with while reducing damage taken by 60% when doing so, further than the usual 40% when normally blocking. This only works against melee attacks, though, and under Punisher Mode, Cloud cannot resist ranged projectiles. Guarding against a tonberry's Chef's Knife attack while in Punisher Mode nullifies the instant death effect. Holding the attack button while in Punisher Mode will have Cloud do an overhead swing and stab his sword in the ground—doing so will briefly put Cloud under the Berserk status. This can be a great maneuver to perform right before unleashing a Limit Break.
If Cloud is close enough to an enemy that he is not quite in melee range of, pressing will cause him to jump towards an enemy and attack them. Additionally, Parry Materia allows Cloud to dodge and remain in Punisher Mode when he is not normally capable.
Punisher Mode should be used when an enemy is knocked down, pressured, or staggered, as this is when they are most vulnerable to attacks. With Nail Bat, this is the only time Punisher Mode is viable. In other cases, Punisher Mode can also be used when Cloud is in proximity of a group of enemies, as Cloud's broadsword attacks provide him strong area-of-effect damage that can be devastating to enemies clustered together. This should also be used whenever a larger enemy is mostly stationary, but on more mobile enemies, Cloud should remain in Operator Mode.
Switching to Punisher Mode uses up some animation time, and can put a pause on Cloud's damage, however, the player can time the activation of it with an enemy melee attack to instantly counter their attack and simultaneously switch to Punisher Mode. In addition, the Disorder ability allows Cloud to quickly switch from Operator Mode to Punisher Mode and vice versa without compromising his damage per second. This means he can run up to an enemy and open on them with Disorder to first deal damage while immediately switching to Punisher Mode, cutting animation time and allowing him to deal damage straight away away. Disorder can also be used to switch back to Operator Mode as a finishing blow to one enemy, to switch to another straight after.