How To Defeat Rufus Shinra

In what has to be one of the more annoying battle sequences of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, President Rufus Shinra shows up to take Cloud on in a one-on-one match in the Gold Saucer in Chapter 12. As in Final Fantasy VII Remake, Rufus is a fast and deadly opponent. Yet he’s very beatable if you deploy the right techniques.

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Rufus’ fight will force you to dodge attacks more so than other battles in Rebirth, and you need to look for key openings to strike.

The three-step solution for fighting Rufus

You’re going to need to practice some restraint and patience when fighting Rufus, keying into clear windows of opportunity. His attacks deal an intimidating amount of damage, he’s fast, and he can easily counterattack and stun you. Here are three pieces of advice to keep in mind while fighting Rufus Shinra.

I’m telling you that you’re gonna have to dodge bullets

Get ready to mash circle a lot to dodge Rufus’ various attacks. In fact, I recommend spending time getting used to reliably dodging his attacks before you start landing attacks. Fighting Rufus is almost like multitasking, and you’ll need to rely on your dodges practically being on autopilot while you look for openings to attack him.

Once you start getting used to dodging his attacks, it’s time to make use of Cloud’s ranged attack to start raising your ATB gauge.

Fill up your ATB with Cloud’s ranged strikes

Cloud’s got a pretty decent ranged attack that, while not necessarily very powerful with each individual strike, does have a lot of utility. After hitting circle and then immediately hitting square, Cloud will unleash a beam from his blade that’ll fly toward a target (make sure you’re locked on to your opponent with R3). If you hold square, he’ll physically fly toward his opponent. That last bit can get you into trouble with Rufus as he’s likely to counterattack.

You can of course keep spamming circle followed by a few presses of square to keep attacking Rufus, but Cloud’s blade beams don’t deal a wild amount of damage. Instead, they’re more useful for raising Cloud’s ATB, which you should be ready to use as soon as Rufus starts reloading. After a while, Rufus will become immune to this attack as well, so you’ll want to strike just enough to fill up your ATB, then allow Rufus to make his own attack, after which he’ll likely need to reload.

Rufus’ reload animation leaves him wildly vulnerable

Rufus is vicious with his counterattack, but if you wait to strike him while he’s reloading, you can easily Pressure him. His reload animation (which is accompanied by the word Reload over his head) is your window of opportunity. Not only do you need to be constantly avoiding his attacks, you need to stay within range to be ready to land strikes. Using ATB Abilities Braver and Focused Thrust will also push him further toward a Staggered condition; it’s a good idea to setup and memorize the shortcuts for these attacks—especially Focused Thrust which will send Cloud surging toward him.

Gif: Square Enix / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

Also, if you wait to see him actually performing the Reload action, you may often be too late by the time Cloud pulls off his attack and find yourself just getting punished by Rufus’ counter. Just keep in mind that he always reloads after performing certain gun-based attacks. Provided you manage to dodge it, we found the moment right after Rufus deploys Guns Akimbo to be a particularly good opportunity to close in and score some hits.

A few other considerations

You can poison Rufus with Bio. It won’t do a tremendous amount of damage, but it can slowly drain him of HP. Also, it’s valuable to cast Haste and/or protective spells like Barrier/Protect on yourself. Note that Rufus doesn’t have elemental weaknesses, so feel free to use Cloud’s materia slots for materia that’ll buff his overall battle performance and healing spells like Regen.

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Note that you can access the main menu during the cutscene that takes place in between the Elena/Rude fight and Rufus’ battle by holding square. If you want to restart just the battle with Rufus, select “Retry From This Battle” after pausing the game and selecting Retry.

A dog-like creature with red eyes opens its mouth to reveal sharp fangs.

Screenshot: Square Enix / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

What to do with Darkstar

Rufus has a hound buddy that’s terribly annoying. He’ll join the battle once you knock Rufus down to around half his health. You’ll note that there’s a connection between the two, and breaking that link will Pressure the hound.

Focus on taking out Darkstar as soon as you can. Wailing on him will raise your ATB. I recommend that you avoid using Triple Strike as that’s likely to cause Cloud to strike Rufus, thus risking a counterattack from the president which will cost you HP and time.

The colosseum battle in Chapter 12 certainly borders on sensory overload with the loud music and constant chatter from the announcers. In some ways, that adds to the difficulty of taking down the former president’s son. But avoiding his attacks and striking when the moment is right will see you out of this battle and on your way toward the final moments of this epic RPG.

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