Well… If you’re reading this then you likely want to skin a certain overgrown eel. Luckily, this Leviathan Boss Guide is all you need to turn this fight from “Gyarados” to “Magikarp”. This guide focuses on the materia and party members available to you if you want to beat Leviathan ASAP – That’s Cloud, Tifa, and Barret at Chapter 13.
Preparing for the Fight
This can seem impossible If you want to beat this ASAP (Chapter 13, without grinding), but believe me it’s possible. Some prep work and knowledge of the fight is all you need!
Tidal Wave – 99% of the fight
The main roadblock to beating Leviathan is Tidal Wave: Leviathan’s ultimate (which he repeats, by the way). When I took on Leviathan, Tidal Wave obliterated somewhere between 90% to 100% of my HP. So obviously, you can’t just “hope you won’t die”.
The most obvious tip to survive Tidal Wave is through Manaward (or Manawall) from Barrier materia. It halves magical damage taken for the duration of the buff. Sadly, I can see many players not having this spell unlocked as it’s from Barrier L2.
How often you cast Manaward is up to you – each time it’s expiring is safest. And “predicting” when Tidal Wave is coming up is your other option… heh.
If you don’t have Manaward, try to grind some AP nearby as it’s from Barrier L2. I only had one person with Manaward on my team, but this could be a lot easier. There’s never a downside to grinding three of a certain materia so if you need to grind for Manaward you might as well level 3 Barrier materias.
If you play loosely… Manaward is useless if you’re half dead, right? So play carefully and always be at 80%+ HP. This is recurring good advice for most bosses, but almost mandatory if you want to beat Leviathan.
Why? Tidal Wave punishes greedy play. If you’re blindsided by a Tidal Wave cast and you either can’t cast Manaward or heal up fast enough… Guess what? You’re dead.
So yeah, prevent wasting your time by playing REALLY CAREFULLY against Leviathan.
Lifesaver. Possible Cheese?
I tried out Barret’s Lifesaver during Tidal Wave once. It “saved” Cloud and Tifa and Barret was left at 1HP. I really don’t get it (unless damage from Life Saver doesn’t kill Barret which doesn’t seem right).
Either way, I didn’t test this further but it did work the one time I tried it. Try it our for yourself, as it’s a HUGE CHEESE TO SOLVE TIDAL WAVE if it always works.
Of course, it’s up to you if you want to maximize this or get 100% satifsaction of beating Leviathan with a “legit” strategy.
It’s a long fight – You’re gonna need MP
No matter what you do, it’s going to be a long fight. MP becomes a problem. One of the main reasons you’ll run out is Manaward, and a crapton of healing…
You’ll need to do everything you can to preserve your MP, and make the most out of it. If we’re talking about our options right now, Item Master materia (if you have it) is your best bet. Even at level 1, I would use this materia as each Ether you use nets you another spell and a half or more.
Restoring MP actually uses an ATB charge so don’t underestimate being more efficient about it. Of course, don’t forget you need to buy / stock up on Ethers.
Of course, RESTORATIVE ITEMS like Mega Potion and Hi Potion shouldn’t be forgotten. If you need to top people up indirectly saves you MP by not using a cure. It also benefits from the previous tip – Item Master Materia. So yeah, stock up.
Since Cure might be a little weak and Cura a little too strong (and a waste of MP) try using the appropriate potion instead. It has a faster animation, too, if you fear the Cure cast animation will kill you.
Prayer is damn good at almost any stage of the game. Here more than ever. It’s the most efficient way to “top up everybody for Tidal Wave” and just good at AoE healing in general. Not only does it save MP and items but you only need 2 ATB charges to heal 3 people. Value. Prayer materia is godlike, especially vs Leviathan.
Chakra? Is questionable in this fight and I wouldn’t touch it unless it’s maxed out, which I doubt most people have that right now… While, technically, it’s an MP saver, it’s most likely worse than a Hi-potion each time.
MDEF, HP & damage reduction.
Before you go ham theorycrafting your party setup – get this out of the way first, then fill out the rest of your build after. All these tips are useless if your strategy to beat Leviathan all wind up with you being DEAD.
Reset your weapon upgrades to first stack as much HP, MDEF, and Materia slots (and leave unspent points for now, before you finalize your party setup). Again, you have to reliably survive Tidal Wave AND not be desperate to heal up from critical HP.
The weapons I recommend (that are available right now) are probably:
Tifa – Leather Knuckles are amazings since they give +HP. Or Feathered Gloves for crazy ATB gain. Leather Knuckles are the easiest option if you find Tifa dying too often.
Cloud – Iron Blade has amazing tank upgrades. Increased self-healing when low is the most important one. Tradeoff is also ok (Gain MP when taking large hits).
Barret – Get as tanky as you can with Light Machine Gun.
Armor & Accessories
You want to favor the armor items with high MDEF. In this stage of the game you have choices between: Gothic Bangle, Mesmeric Armlet or Sorcerer’s Armlet. The “all around” ones are good, too, like Titanium Bangle.
For accessories, just go with whatever you have. HP+ on Tifa is probably mandatory to survive Tidal Wave. Something like Champion’s Belt.
If you’re lucky enough to get both the Crescent Moon Charms in the game at this point, put them on your planned non-active characters. Or, at least, make sure they are non-active when Tidal Wave hits. I used one on Barret, as I had double Champion belts at the time for Cloud and Tifa.
Active Character? Party Setup?
You WILL end up using Barret in the Leviathan flying phases, so be prepared for that. Then you’ll have to choose Tifa or Cloud as your active character for everything else.
During the Leviathan flying phase you will essentially be FORCED TO USE BARRET until Levi gets staggered.
Try to make this phase as painless as possible by giving Barret physical damage upgrades on his weapon. Giving your entire party Healing and Thunder materia also helps with this phase to speed it along.
I personally chose Tifa as active character for one simple reason – she gains ATB at a crazy rate. Between healing, making sure I can Manaward, and using items…. Tifa was a choice I didn’t regret.
She also makes great use of ATB Assist and Prayer.
Make sure you have one or more +HP modifications for Tifa. Either from weapons, Materia, or accessories.
Cloud, as always, is a basic but reliable choice. Using Iron Blade, the unique passive upgrades Tradeoff (gain mana when heavily hit) and improved self-healing when critically low are amazing – this is probably your best weapon in this fight.
Aside from that, he can use anything Tifa uses albeit a little less “fast”.
Bring 3 Healing materias. One for each character. No point not having the option. There will be scenarios where you have to quickly heal up for Tidal Wave and having the OPTION to use Cura or whatever is better than not, right? It comes at such a small opportunity cost of a single materia slot.
3 Thunder materia? So-so. I brought them along for my first kill, but I don’t know if it’s worth it. It gives something for Cloud and Tifa to do during the flying around phase but that’s about it. If you have space, I would bring them in for the flying phase. But I found Thunder magic to be useless during the ground phases.
During the Fight
Really 99% of this fight is in the preparation work. If you can reliably survive and recover from Tidal Wave, you’ve already won. But in any case, you still can’t slack off in there – here’s what you need to know WHILE you’re fighting Leviathan.
Surviving Tidal Wave is discussed heavily in the preparation segment. In the fight, as long as you play carefully by keeping yourself topped up and having Manaward when able is the best you can do.
Leviathan Phase – Grounded (normal)
DO NOT STAY FAR AWAY FROM LEVIATHAN during this phase. If you do, Levi spams a beam attack that does huge damage and a knockback. I found more success keeping close – even if he has the AoE knockback. I quickly learned this when I first tried using Barret as my main attacker.
Stay safe at all times and keep your HP up. It’s not just Tidal Wave that hurts but the dive attack also chunks you hard (and does physical damage, too).
I have never seen Leviathan in the pressured state. So spam attacks that increase their stagger bar instead of focusing on damage.
Leviathan Phase – Flying
Since you really can’t do much with Cloud or Tifa during this phase, you’re essentially forced to use Barret. It’s not fast, but you’ll eventually get the job done.
Leviathan spawns fountains that follow you and BLOCK PROJECTILES (including Barrets bullets). These are more annoying that painful.
USE THIS PHASE TO GET BACK IN FIGHTING SHAPE! Recover your MP, HP and buffs as this phase is about to end. Basically, do as much damage control as you can before he goes back to normal mode.
Phases repeat – general advice
Just remember, SAVE YOUR LIMIT BREAKS and prepare for MASSIVE DAMAGE DUMPS each time Leviathan is staggered. If you do not know by know, Tifa’s triangle skills increase stagger multipliers so set up your burst well.
I didn’t feel summons to be that good versus Leviathan but SUMMON DURING THE GROUNDED PHASE as I don’t think you get the maximum possible damage during the flying phase.
Before you win, expect to see 2 to 3 of each phase and 2 to 3 Tidal Waves. So prepare for a slugfest – bring the appropriate amount of Ethers!
A massive part of this fight is determined by preparation. Either you beat Tidal Wave efficiently, or it beats you. Be prepared with lots of healing materia and MP restoration items as this fight can be long.
Leviathan cycles between two phases: ground and flying. Obliterate him quick during ground phase and use the relatively calm flying phase to recover your HP, MP, and buffs!
Play safe and don’t stress out. Many strategies work to beat Leviathan but you’ll have to RESPECT the mechanics. Tidal Wave is the defining factor of your success. Second is the dives – so be wary of both.
Hopefully, our guide helped you swimmingly with the Leviathan boss fight! Good luck!
Click here for more FF7R guides!