Crisis Core: How to Level Up Materia fast
Materia makes a return in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, which goes to great pains to bring back all of the most memorable mechanics and elements from the original FF7 - even if in a very different form. So Materia returns, but Materia leveling is very different in this game.
As we explain in our general guide on how to level up in Crisis Core, the stat increases in this game are largely driven by the Digital Mind Wave - the DMW - which is the slot machine that runs in the top left of the screen. Yep, that's right - this is real random stuff, with the game literally giving a great degree of priority to an actual slot machine that was inspired by some of the key developers' love of Pachinko machines. However, we do have a fool-proof, hands-off way to level up materia fast. Read on...
Leveling up materia is an important way to keep Zack ahead of his enemies in terms of dealing damage. In the original Final Fantay VII, leveling materia dealt with fighting monsters to gain ability points. In Crisis Core, materia levels up based on the roll of the game’s slot machine mechanic, the DMW. Depending on what the DMW rolls, when the numbers match, the materia in the slot that corresponds with the number will level up.
Specially, what needs to happen is that your DMW needs to be in 'modulating phase', which is when the character picture images are matched up. Then, you need two of the three numbers to land the same. If you get all three numbers the same, even better. The pair of numbers determines which slot levels up.
So, for instance, images of Sephiroth and the numbers "744" will result in the materia in your fourth slot leveling up. Images of Angeal and "111" will result in the materia in your first slot leveling up. You can read more about this in our full Crisis Core DMW System guide, and our primer on how Zack levels up.
This all sounds very random, but we do in fact have a solution for leveling up pretty much any materia in the game, in a hands-off way, removing some of the random grind. Unlike how you level up Zack, the materia level up grind can be gamed and manipulated, removing some of the pain of the DMW's randomness.
With this trick, it’s recommended that you try this after a couple of chapters, just so you have a good supply of materia to level up. Even better, you could hold off until you have unlocked the two extra materia slots, which happens naturally as the story of Zack's SOLDIER journey progresses.
However, the trick can really be done as soon as you start the game. This requires no difficult boss grinding or obtuse equipment setup, in fact you won’t even have to pick up your controller or touch your keyboard! Here's what to do:
- First off, you will want to set the materia you want to level up in your materia slots.
- Next, go to your mission menu and select the very first training mission (mission M1-1-1). This will pit Zack up against three waves of standard, no-frills, Shinra Sentry troops.
- Dispatch all of the enemies until you get to Sentry G and H. Take out one of them, leaving the final enemy alive.
- With one enemy left, now you can just walk away and let Crisis Core play itself. The longer you let it run, the more chance you'll have mastered all your equipped materia.
The remaining Sentry won't kill Zack, which means you can just let combat run - you won't be killed or knocked out, but the DMW will keep on spinning. Every single spin gives a chance for your Materia to level up.
Come back a few hours later, or especially when you wake up, and you will have a bunch more SOLDIER Points and a full set of mastered materia, perfect for materia fusion!
This is a great trick, and is invaluable. It works in both versions of Crisis Core - the PSP original, and Crisis Core Reunion on modern platforms. The only time it won't work is if all your Materia are already mastered, or if you have the Cursed Ring equipped - as it disables the DMW.