In Final Fantasy 7 (VII) Remake you unlock Hard Difficulty upon beating the story for the first time (all 18 Chapters). It doesn’t matter on what difficulty on finish the story.
You do not need to beat it on Normal. Beating the story on Classic or Easy also unlocks the Hard Difficulty.
Once you’ve finished the story, load a completed story save game (it will say “Chapter Selection” on the save). Press Options-Button > System > Chapter Selection. Then you can choose Hard Difficulty.
If you go to the Title Screen and pick “New Game” it will NOT let you pick hard difficulty. You can only select hard mode via chapter select on a completed save game.
Hard Difficulty Explained:
- Items cannot be used (no items of any kind, including healing items).
- HP is only restored at Rest Spots (however, you can still use Spells and Abilities to regenerate health during combat).
- Certain Manuscript Collectibles are only available on Hard.
- Certain Bosses, Combat Simulator Missions, Item Rewards, Enemy Skills are only available on Hard Difficulty. This means you cannot 100% complete or platinum the game without finishing hard difficulty.
- Enemies become even stronger.
- You get to keep all of your equipment (it’s basically New Game Plus). All your Items, Materia, Character Level etc. carry over into Hard Difficulty.
- You earn twice as much XP and three times as much AP.
- Level 50 is the Level Cap.
For more FF VII Remake info, check out our full Final Fantasy VII Remake Wiki & Strategy Guide.