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Lightning Returns Combat & Mechanics Detailed

July 16th, 2013 by Tony Garsow

Lightning Returns gameplay from Japan Expo starts at the 25-minute mark.

In an interview extending from the newest issue of Dengeki PlayStation, Dengeki Online had a chat with the Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII battle director Yuji Abe. The creator of the game’s Doomsday clock element, and many other concepts, he elaborates on what the player will experience in combat and what the final thirteen days in the Final Fantasy XIII saga will be like.

By consuming Energy Points (EP), Lightning can stop time itself and teleport to different locations in Nova Chrysalia. You’ll be able to collect this resource by completing battles efficiently, much like in the game’s two predecessors. The team originally planned to have Energy Points be directly tied to Yggdrasil, a tree of life that determines how long the world has left before the end, but these mechanics were eventually separated. In other words: gaining EP will be related on your battle performance rather than based on the time remaining.

Energy Points will also allow Lightning to perform her special Lightspeed ability in combat, which will give her a considerable edge when the time is right to use it. Also, since Lightning has no ready access to healing other than items, Energy Points will let you cast Cure and Raise spells. Conservation will be key, as Lightning does not recover HP after battle.

Lightning’s parameter growth will also be tied to non-battle events, and it’s possible to complete the game quickly without participating in many menial battles. Equipment including weapons, armor, and accessories will have a heavy impact on Lightning’s stats, and if you save up enough gil in your travels to buy her the best gear early-on, it’s possible to complete the game with powerful equipment available from the beginning. The catch is that it’s quite expensive investment, which hints that gil will be a very valuable resource.

Just because you can potentially get strong equipment at the start doesn’t mean you’ll breeze through the game. The team has designed your first play-through to be challenging, but it’s possible to do everything one run if you’re willing. Multiple playthroughs, though, are still a healthy option that the team has made design decisions for.

The battle system most like the original Final Fantasy XIII, but here you’ll have the option to directly guard or evade against enemy attacks with a button press. Moving Lightning around on the battlefield to avoid enemy attacks and behavior will be advantageous. Abe commented that skilled players who master these concepts will be able to play quite brilliantly. You won’t have to worry about losing fights if you don’t guard or evade every attack, though you’ll need to bear in mind Lightning’s more limited healing options.

Another layer of strategy in dealing with your opponents is to lop parts of them off — literally. Abe stated that players will be able to maneuver Lightning into positions where she could dismember an enemy’s tail to exploit a weakness and gain better victory spoils. Lightning will also be able to use a decoy (which consumes EP) to hold an enemy’s attention while she moves about. Taking advantage of this mechanic to deal extra damage or inhibit an enemy’s ability (such as a tail swipe) from being used.

The Stagger system in previous Final Fantasy XIII games returns as the Stagger Wave, and its readings fluctuate when Lightning exposes an enemy’s weakness. Through exploiting such weaknesses, Lightning can eventually force an enemy into a Break state, where they will be vulnerable to massive damage. If you keep an eye on the Stagger Wave while you perform different abilities, you’ll be able to detect which ones correspond to an enemy’s weak point.

The game will have multiple difficulty levels, and on “Easy” you will expend less EP and take less HP damage. Standing in place will also allow you to slowly recover. For those of you who want a challenge, you are not forgotten — a “Hard” mode will have enemies hit for more damage and will have more weak points that you will need to exploit before you stagger them into a “break” state.

About 90% of the visible area you’ll see on maps is traversable, and the game’s dungeons will also feature height variations where it’s possible for Lightning to drop down to the lower-most levels — presumably from a decent height. Traveling through Nova Chrysalia‘s four regions will be seamless (without loading screens), but if you use a vehicle to travel to another area, a loading screen will commence. If you’re familiar with open-world games with a fast travel option, this seems somewhat similar.

You’ll start out the game before Yggdrasil in Hope’s Ark with seven days remaining before the end of the world. Every day at 6:00am you’ll return here to offer up power to Yggdrasil that adds time to the countdown clock. This power that is accumulated through completing quests throughout the day will let you extend your time left to a maximum of thirteen days.

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will release on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on November 21st in Japan, February 11th in North America, and February 14th in Europe.

What aspect of the battle system are you most interested to see? Will you try to see all the sights on the first playthrough? How about Easy or Hard Mode? Leave your thoughts in a comment below!

Via: Dengeki Online
Re: Game Jouhou


  • alexsam

    I think that in Hard Mode, they should just keep time flowing during battle, giving us a more difficult task. Also, the idea of Lightning standing around doing nothing while regaining HP sounds unappealing to me. That’s not to say I like the game any less than I did before, it’s just that all these little tweaks are things that could further improve the game and instead are being left out.

  • nobody cares

  • AnimaMagna

    I was hoping they would put in multiple difficulty levels. Sounded like the perfect game to have them from the start. Once again sounding like a nice gameplay challenge. I hope the world turns out to be a decent size, given how much they say we can explore.

  • Daniel Masterson

    I am digging how much I am caring about this game. The graphics still look great, the battle system looks very fun and im excited to see what kind of missions there will be.

  • Tiax

    @ Boshi, A lot of people care, believe it or not.


    This game is looking incredible. The only real reason anyone has anything against it is because it’s associated with XIII. If it were anything else, hell, just taking out any XIII references,a lot of people would be loving this. It’s a shame, really.