Squall and Quistis stand before Ifrit's lair

Final Fantasy VIII: The Fire Cavern

Written by:
Avatar photo
Andrew is a freelance writer that is based in the UK. He has spent an unhealthy amount of time playing Final Fantasy VIII but he also enjoys playing other games occasionally as well. When he's not playing games, he can often be found playing and making music.

Reviewed by:
Avatar photo
Marshall is a seasoned writer and gaming enthusiast based in Tokyo. He's a prolific wordsmith with hundreds of articles featured on top-tier sites like Business Insider, How-To Geek, PCWorld, and Zapier. His writing has reached a massive audience with over 70 million readers!

Table Of Contents

    Preparing Your Party

    Before you venture out to the World Map, it’s recommended that you review your characters’ junctions and manually set the abilities that each GF is learning.

    Shiva’s junctioning abilities (such as STR-J and VIT-J ) and her unique refining ability I Mag-RF are all good starting points. Quezacotl’s Card and Card Mod are also very useful throughout the game. Note that you’ll need to learn Card first before Card Mod appears.

    You can refine items gained from Card Mod for large stocks of potent magic early on and you can also use these items to craft weapons, including Squall’s final weapon, the Lionheart.

    The Party Menu with the GF option selected.Quezacotl learning 'Card' on the menu.

    Exploring Balamb Island

    You can go to the Fire Cavern as soon as you leave Balamb Garden. With that being said, it’s possible to obtain AP, items, and magic from the nearby monsters to help prepare your party for what’s ahead.

    You’re also able to explore Balamb Town and the shops therein. However, as you’ll be heading there after the Fire Cavern anyway, you might want to save yourself the second trip and this guide will focus on Balamb Town after the Fire Cavern.

    Whatever direction you end up taking, you’ll almost certainly end up fighting Bite Bugs. In your first fight with them, Quistis will give a brief explanation on how to use the Trigger command. The Bite Bugs themselves can drop M-Stone Pieces which you can refine into different magic depending on the refining ability you use.

    Quistis talking to Squall about the Trigger command whilst facing off against Bite Bugs

    Glacial Eyes can also be fought on the plains near the mountains. You can draw Cure and Blizzard from them and they can also drop the item Artic Wind. If Shiva has learned I Mag-RF, you can refine the Artic Winds into 20 Blizzaras each. This makes them a useful encounter before entering the Fire Cavern.

    Quistis drawing Blizzard from a Glacial Eye

    Acquiring AP is vital for your GFs to learn new abilities but once an ability is learned immediately after a battle, the remaining AP does not carry over. It’s also worth noting that the boss in the Fire Cavern will yield 20 AP. Use this information to plan how much or how little you want farm AP now.

    The current best source of AP is by fighting Fastitocalon-Fs on the beaches at Balamb. They give 3 AP each and are often fought in pairs. Additionally, you can draw Sleep and Blizzard from them, and they can also drop Fish Fins. Fish fins can be refined into 20 Waters each with Shiva’s I Mag-RF ability. Water is good for junctioning to your stats, particularly STR, at this early stage.

    Squall standing at the beach at BalambSquall draws 'Blizzard' from a Fastitocalon-F

    In the forests, you are likely to encounter Caterchipillars. It’s possible to draw Thunder from them, as well as Cure, and they also have a chance to drop the item Spider’s Web. This item allows Quistis to learn the limit break Ultra Waves when used.

    Beware of running into T-Rexaurs in the forests west of Balamb Garden. Whilst they can be beaten at this stage, the battle may be difficult and the unique item they drop, Dino Bone, can’t be refined yet so this guide will look at beating T-Rexaur after the SeeD exam.

    Squall concealed in the forest at BalambQuistis draws 'Cure' from a Caterchipillar

    Entering The Fire Cavern

    Once you’re ready, head to the Fire Cavern. As mentioned by Quistis before you left, it’s to the east of Balamb Garden, past the forest.

    Squall stands on the road coming out of Balamb and faces the forest in front of the Fire CavernSquall stands in front of the Fire Cavern on the world map.

    Once there, Quistis will give a brief overview on junctioning stocked magic. She’ll then ask Squall if he knows how to use his gun blade. If you select “…I guess I’ll review it” here, Quistis will go on to explain the Character Status Screen and Squall’s limit break settings.

    Quistis asking Squall if he knows how to use his gunblade

    Outside the entrance of the Cavern, 2 members of Balamb Garden’s faculty await. They will ask Squall to choose a time limit for defeating and obtaining Ifrit.

    You shouldn’t need more than 10 minutes here. This prerequisite counts towards the final score on the SeeD exam and note that the less time left on the clock when it stops, the better the added score will be unless you run out of time completely. If you run out of time, you’ll get no additional points awarded to your final score.

    Be prepared to face random encounters here. There’s nothing here that should pose too much of a threat at this stage. However, if you want more time, you can retreat from these encounters before fighting Ifrit.

    You can draw additional Blizzards from Buels. Other enemies such as the Red Bats and Bombs can be turned into useful cards with Quezacotl’s Card ability. It’s recommended that you card these enemies after you defeat Ifrit.

    Squall drawing Blizzard from a Buel

    Proceed further into the cavern and you’ll come across a crossroads of sorts. If you head to the right, you’ll find a draw point with Fire. However, you can obtain this on the way back, as it’s not useful against the upcoming boss. Keep moving further into the Cavern and eventually, you’ll find the first boss, Ifrit.

    A Draw Point for the magic "Fire" in the Fire CavernSquall and Quistis stand before Ifrit's lair
    Ifrit landing a physical attack on Squall

    Boss: Ifrit

    Level Range: 6
    Max HP range: 1068
    Draw: Fire, Cure, Scan
    Drops: G-Returner, Ifrit’s Card
    AP: 20

    It is unlikely that Ifrit will pose much of a challenge here, especially if you did some of the preparation mentioned before and stocked up on ice magic.

    Summon Shiva and use said ice magic to end the battle quickly. Draw Cure from Ifrit to heal when needed. With this advice, the battle is as good as won.


    After this fight, Quistis will give an explanation on Elemental Attack and Defence Abilities. She’ll recommend that you junction Blizzard to your attack using Elem-Atk-J. If you decide to do this, remember to remove it again once you leave the Fire Cavern.

    Back to Balamb Garden

    Once you’ve finished the Fire Cavern, head back to Balamb Garden. When you return to the front gate, Quistis will belatedly explain how to assign what abilities your GFs learn. She’ll then instruct you to change and assemble at the first-floor lobby.

    Quistis telling Squall to change and to assemble at the first floor lobby.

    Since you have obtained Ifrit’s Card (and potentially obtained additional cards from other enemies you defeated as well), you can use this opportunity to try and win the Minimog and the Quistis Cards.

    When you’re done, head to Squall’s dormitory at the back of Balamb garden. Get changed by pressing the confirm button next to Squall’s bed to proceed.

    The player wins the Minimog cardSquall gets changed for the SeeD exam.

    With this done, you are now ready to head over to the first-floor lobby to assemble for the SeeD Exam.