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In Final Fantasy VII, I'm near the end of the 2nd CD: I would like to level up my characters in order to have chances to defeat Weapons.

Where I can find monsters that give a good amount of EXP (better if easy to beat)?

Can you suggest some alternative strategies to accomplish the grown of my characters? (I use Cloud, Tifa and Barret).

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Dag nab it... Now I'll likely go home and dig out my PS1 again... Thanks alot, dag. See what you've done?! :-P –  Aeo Jul 21 '10 at 16:09
    
@Aeo: you'd better let the PS1 on your desk 'cause from time to time you NEED to play FFVII!!! And whoever played it should do that! :D –  dag729 Jul 21 '10 at 16:17

6 Answers 6

up vote 21 down vote accepted

The best place to level up in ff7 is the Swamp area in the Northern Crater, it is in the final dungeon of disc 3, but is by far the best place to level. If you are leveling to fight the optional weapons (Ruby, Emerald, Ultima) then i would just progress until you can level here. The enemies you want are Movers, they have little (0?) exp but insane AP and are easily killed, and Magic Pots give great exp and ap, but require an elixir to kill (must give it to them first). You can steal elixirs from Gighee Which is also found in the swamp.

General method in the swamp is Steal Elixirs from Gighee (Or just use W-Item Duplication on Elixirs), use Elixirs to kill Magic Pots. Also, while hunting these two be sure to kill Movers great AP, and just run from everything else. This place is so good I usually end up putting my save crystal here.

If that isn't preferred, where you currently are I would recommend Mideel area, the Spiral and Head Hunter (found in forest) enemies give good exp and ap for that part of the game.

If you want to auto level you can fight the Midgar Zolom (Just stand inside the Midgar Swamp with X taped down, turbo might be needed). You can also auto level on certain beachs by holding down, your character will run up and then down the beach in constant motion. Again having X taped down will auto kill monsters. For these methods you might want to consider Sneak Attack materia in your setup.

Hope this helps

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But when you enter the final dungeon, it's still possible to go outside? Because just two minute ago I faced another issue: I went to fight with the flying Weapon, won the first battle, then followed him, but I crossed Midgar and the team parachuted inside...I had to reload the game! –  dag729 Jul 20 '10 at 14:51
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@dag Yes, you can exit the final dungeon after entering. If I'm not mistaken, it's actually necessary, anyway, for getting some items. –  Grace Note Jul 20 '10 at 15:12
    
@dag, Grace Note is right, heres a vid on where it is. youtube.com/watch?v=fvQBMq0-syQ –  Josh K Jul 20 '10 at 15:18
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Yes the benefit with the Zolom is you can set things up and then go do something else while you level. Auto-leveling is all about not being there (sleep, work etc) and still leveling –  Josh K Jul 20 '10 at 19:07
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Northern Crater has better exp/ap per hour, but I've always used the W-Item to dupe elixirs and then just ran from anything that wasnt a magic pot/movers. Magic Pots give 8000xp per pot and sometimes come in pairs. Movers give 800ap and always come in threes –  Josh K Jul 20 '10 at 19:26

Highest EXP/AP gains:
For simply getting as much AP and EXP as fast as possible, the Swamp area of the Northern Crater is the best because you can fight the Movers (which give very high AP) and Magic Pots (high EXP gains) there.

You'll need to give lots of Elixirs to the Magic Pots, but you can just duplicate them using the W-Item materia bug: equip W-Item, select Elixir, use it on someone or a Magic Pot, then for your second item select Elixir again, then deselect it and you'll have 1 more in your inventory. Select Elixir again, deselect it again, and you'll have another; keep repeating this as necessary.

Character Stat Boosting with Sources
If you want also wish to improve your characters by collecting sources (Power, Magic, Mind, etc.), the best area to gain levels and source items is the Sunken Gelnika.

Sources:
As a recap, sources come in several varieties, and when you use a source item on one of the characters, one of that character's stats will be increased by 1 point (depending on the type of source). Sources are very rare in the game, and there are a mere handful of enemies which morph into sources, but the Gelnika is the one area in the game where all enemies you find can be morphed into sources, and each type of source can be gotten by morphing at least one type of enemy there.

Here's the list:
Power source = +1 Strength (do more physical damage)
Guard source = +1 Vitality (take less physical damage)
Magic source = +1 Magic (do more magical damage)
*Mind source = +1 Spirit (take less magical damage)
Speed source = +1 Dexterity (get faster turns in battle) Luck source = +1 Luck (have more luck, where luck is a factor)

*A special note about Mind sources and Spirit: since the game is bugged, the Magical Defense attribute of equipped armor is never used in the game's calculations, so Spirit is the only thing which actually protects your characters from magic attacks. Thus, Spirit is a very important stat, and the only way to increase your defense against magic attacks is to use Mind sources.

Morphing Enemies into Sources
1. Get Morph
You get it from the Temple of the Ancients. It is missable so if you didn't get it then...too bad.

2. Get Yuffie Since Yuffie is an optional character, I guess it's possible for you to not have added her to your party, so refer to this guide to find her. Search for {OPT-1} to jump to the relevant section.

3. Go to the Sunken Gelnika
Get in the Submarine, travel to the south of Costa del Sol near the Gold Saucer. Dive and look out for a sunken airplane, while making sure to avoid the Emerald Weapon if it's lurking nearby. Steer your submarine into the sunken ship to enter it.

4. Get the Conformer
The Conformer is found on the Gelnika, which is nice and convenient, since you'll need it. You can find the Conformer hiding in room straight ahead of the room with the Save Point. The Conformer is in the chest on the lower level of the room, in the upper-left corner, hidden from view by a pipe.

5. Morph enemies with the Conformer
The method of obtaining unlimited sources on the Gelnika is to use the Morph command (gained by equipping the Morph materia) on the enemies you fight here. If you kill any of the enemies you find on the Gelnika with the Morph command, they will be transformed into a source, depending on which type of enemy you killed.

Normally, the Morph command does 1/8th the damage your normal attack would have done, which would make getting sources very difficult indeed. The trick to Morphing enemies easily is to have Yuffie in your party, and equip her with her ultimate weapon, the Conformer.

The Conformer does damage related to the level of the enemy you attack with it, bypassing many normal damage calculations, including the damage-reducing effect of Morph. Since the enemies on the Gelnika are all at very high levels, Yuffie's Conformer can easily hit them with Morph for 7000-8000 damage, making it easy for her Morph attack to be the killing blow.

6. Surviving in the Gelnika
A good way to make the tougher enemies in the Gelnika (mostly the 'Unknown' ones) more tolerable is to keep your characters in the back row and equip them with Ribbons or anti-Confuse/anti-Poison armor/accessories (anti-Confuse is more important). This way, your characters will take less damage and do less damage, which means they will have less chance to accidentally finish off enemies. Yuffie's should of course already be in the back row, since her Conformer (like all long-range weapons) will still do full-damage from the back row.

Also, if you are at somewhat low levels and find yourself relying on limit breaks to soften up enemies or simply to survive, buy a bunch of Hypers. Besides 'curing' Sadness* (which some of the enemies here can inflict), using an extra Hyper on your characters will give them Fury status, which means they will get their limit breaks twice as quickly. Honestly, Fury status is almost always useful during the rest of the game, so stocking up on a bunch of Hypers is always a good practice. (Don't forget that you can get as many as you need with the W-Item trick.) The only downside to Fury status is that your physical attacks will miss a bit more frequently, but I find the decreased accuracy usually isn't noticeable. If you're bothered by the reduced accuracy, you can just use magic to attack, which won't miss...

*On the other hand, having your characters in Sadness actually has an advantage as well: your characters will take 30% less damage. If you prefer Sadness over Fury, buy (or duplicate) a bunch of Tranquilizers.

Which enemies give which sources
Power sources come from Unknowns
Guard sources come from Unknown2s
Magic sources come from Unknown3s
Mind sources come from Serpents
Speed sources come from Poodlers
Luck sources come from Bad Raps

Other places to Morph enemies into sources
There are other places to get sources which may be more effective if you are looking to only increase 1 type of stat quickly. For more details, refer to this guide and search for {PER-2} which will take you to the stat maxing section.

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Thanks a lot for this explanation! I went to the Gelnika, and I took everything...but I really hate the monsters that I encountered there! Now I'm trying the Mideel area (that seems good - easy, and lot of exp/ap) but I'll go soon to the Northern Crater. (maybe also to the Gelnika...) –  dag729 Jul 28 '10 at 22:21
    
Wow. I started playing through FF7 again as stated in a comment above... and I also dug out my old guide book I got with the game. I think you just gave me more useful information than the whole book combined. Thanks! –  Aeo Jul 30 '10 at 13:22
    
In response to your comments, I've added section 6, which has a bit of useful advice for making fighting in the Gelnika easier. The back row is tragically often overlooked, as is Fury status, although I understand people's confusion about the latter, since the game acts as if Fury is a 'negative' status that can be 'cured' with Tranquilizers. Actually though, Sadness isn't too bad to have either, but I generally prefer Fury. –  Ian Aug 2 '10 at 17:19

I vaguely remember leveling off of the big worm (The Midgar Zolom?) SE of the Chocobo farm, near Midgar. It was an impossible monster before, so it gave lots of experience, but at this point in the game, it wasn't too bad, and I could attack it repeatedly.

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Thank you for the advice but, as I said above "The Midgar Zolom gives only 250 EXP...it'd takes forever to level!"... –  dag729 Jul 20 '10 at 19:06

On your way to the under water reactor hit the alarm on the wall just before leaving junon to go to the reactor. Run around and fight the enemies, best place to level I found at that point in the game.

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The earliest place to get good exp is Junon. In the hall that leads to the underwater reactor, there is a switch next to the group of Shinra goons. Press that and it makes mobs spawn. I've read that if you're on Disc One, this will produce creatures from the beginning of Disc 2.

I was able to get all my limits to level 3 and max out 2 "all" Materia (which sells for 1.4 gil). Seeing how there is an Inn that charges a whopping 30 gil a night and has a save point, this is by far the best place until you get the Tiny Bronco. Then you can go to Mideel and kill the head hunters.

As a side note Cloud at this point should have gotten or able to get his Double growth weapon (Force Stealer). The use a platinum bangle that gives double growth as well.

If you like power leveling then Junon is the place to be. You will also still have all your party members.

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Forest area by rocket town 90% of the time 1500+ exp and monsters are very easy to defeat power lvd there and gain 30 lvls per character in no time by the end of disc one had loads of materia mastered and nearly all characters lvl 60 +

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