Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
The Staff Answers Your Questions

March 11th, 2013 by Tony Garsow

In January I attended a media tour for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII where director Motomu Toriyama and producer Yoshinori Kitase presented the game concepts and an early build of what we’ll be playing later on this year. You can read up on all the juicy details by clicking here for our three-part First Look.

I got a chance to follow up with Motomu Toriyama after the event, and after compiling some of the questions that were sent to me via Twitter, our forum, or asked in our previous articles on the game — I return to you with five answers. Remember to weigh in by leaving your comments below! Without further ado:

Final Fantasy Network: Can you explain more about the story progression, where does the doomsday clock come into play, and what things can players do to play efficiently?

Director, Motomu Toriyama: The setting of the story indicates that the “remaining world time” is 13 days, but at first, Lightning is not necessarily going to be able to use all 13 days as she wishes. As Lightning saves people’s souls as the “Savior,” carrying out the works of a god, you can extend the remaining world time by one day. In the game, there is a clock UI that constantly shows the time of day. The player is to decide what course of action to take by referring to the clock and planning for any side-quests or events. It’s not really about using a sort of scheduler to map out efficient time management, but more about experiencing the world and letting it sink in naturally.

FFN: Is the gathering of equipment and abilities for Lightning’s Styles the main approach to making her stronger during her journey and are there other growth systems in place?

Toriyama: The main approach for making Lightning stronger will lie in obtaining weapons and outfits. In this installment, we are putting a lot of effort into Lightning’s customization. And one concept that’s part of the direction we’re taking is to link the growth of Lightning’s ability with the customization of her look. So in other words, by obtaining visually appealing weapons and outfits, the character becomes that much stronger.

FFN: Are the different areas of Nova Chrysalia being designed to offer unique gameplay experiences? Can you provide some examples?

Toriyama: As you may already know, Nova Chrysalia has 4 major continents. And each continent does have its own individual concept in terms of gameplay experience. For example, in Luxerion, there is a quest in which the player will have to act as a detective to solve a murder mystery. While you are on that quest, Lightning will be able to sneak around and hide behind objects in order to follow the culprit without being discovered.

FFN: Are there plans for a digital release of the game?

Toriyama: Yes, we do plan on releasing a digital download version.

FFN: What is the most rewarding part of working on a Final Fantasy title like Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII? What part of development do you enjoy the most personally?

Toriyama: More than anything else, this title is part of the first trilogy ever in the FINAL FANTASY series. I am very happy that we were able to create the character Lightning, who has become so popular over the years, and the world in which she is involved. I also enjoy taking a different approach with the game with each installment, like we did for this trilogy.

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will be coming to your PS3 and Xbox 360 in Fall of this year.

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  • AnimaMagna

    I never knew someone could say so much and so little. The piece about the download was interesting, while the pieces about the 13 days and the equipment gathering seems like it could well turn into a very interesting experience. The question I would certainly have asked is: “When are you planning to show the fans more?”

  • Ehren Rivers

    I would have asked some different questions since a few of these have been answered to death. Interesting to hear about the digital download, but I personally will be getting a physical copy of the game as I have a love of casing and discs. Thanks for the article though!

    Oh, one question as an aside. Do you know if there will be another Q&A type thing later? If so, I’d like to start submitting questions sooner rather than later.

  • Tony Garsow

    @Ehren
    Most of the questions I saw from our readership were a bit more straightforward or directly answerable (Is it coming out for 360? Is Noel in the game?), so I tried to pick ones that were trying to get more information about a specific gameplay system.

    However, the answers are indeed as “safe” as they come — so I can’t answer on Toriyama’s behalf! It should be noted that they are really tight-lipped about revealing story and character details, so I didn’t want to waste everyone’s time with a “please look forward to it”.

    I’m not sure when the next opportunity will be to have more QA time with the team, but I’ll be glad to consider any questions you guys come up with.

  • Ehren Rivers

    I see. Perhaps if you get another shot in the future, it might be a good idea to include a list of FAQs so people submitting a question will know if it’s already been answered? I’m also curious to know where of the mentioned places is best for us to send our questions to you.

    I am, as always, interested by the focus on the customization system. I know we won’t be getting ranged weapons, but so far there have been a number of weapons shown/discussed. While all have been swords of some type, it’s worth noting that the same sword type has yet to appear twice. Equilibrium is shown with a Greatsword-length weapon equipped, Shadow’s Dust appears to have a standard shortsword, Dark Muse has a cleaver with some kind of throttle, and the purple evening gown mentioned in one of the Famitsu or Jump articles is supposed to have a rapier.

    If you get another chance for asking questions, I would be interested to know if they have an idea yet on the full variety of weapons available to Lightning and whether there will be fighting styles beyond just sword-and-shield. I believe it was briefly mentioned in the article containing the rapier information that it looked as if Lightning’s fighting style changed with her equipment; It would be nice to get confirmation that her movements and skills did indeed change between using a shortsword and greatsword.

  • Tony Garsow

    @Ehren
    You can send questions to me via email or my Twitter, which I have listed on our staff page. The nature of the email QA/interviews is just that — we send in questions and get responses back.

    In regards to your questions (and I’m not speaking on behalf of the team or Square Enix here) but they may ask me to broaden the scope of what I’m asking in terms of the customization types or fighting styles. However, those are areas of common interest I’ve seen with fans, so I’ll be sure to ask more about them next time (if they aren’t answered by then).

  • knok_j

    I posted some questions (mainly concerning gameplay) in the other article, but I’ll just repost them here:

    How much of lightning’s movements are controllable in battle? As in, will we be able to move and position her to attack from the side or target specific areas?

    Are we able to equip buffs and debuffs to the four buttons as well? In the trailer it did seem restricted to ravager type spells like thundaga and blizzard.

    Did they give any confirmation about what the small gold/silver squares under the enemy’s health bar stand for?

  • TheBadass

    I’m just going to be blunt:

    You should have asked if FFXV has started development yet, even if the Q is off-topic. FFXIV started development in 2005, which is 8 years ago. If they haven’t started FFXV at this point then their production cycles are in shambles since Sakaguchi left.

  • TheBadass

    As for a question about the actual game, I would like to know the following:

    1) Roughly how open world is each of the 3 islands other than Luxerion? Are they roughly the same size as the Archylte Steppe in FFXIII or twice or even triple the size?

    2) Who is the scenario writer and who is the event director?

  • atma909

    Will there be a limited edition like there was for FF13-2 and will there be perks to having FF13 and FF13-2 data in your storage when you begin the game?

  • alexsam

    Any of these questions are all but relevant, we’ll eventually get to see what the game looks like, whether it’s this month or at E3, it will be shown. And let’s not forget, there’s not that long ahead for it’s release. 6-8 months, at most. So, just being a little patient will go a long way. I actually wouldn’t mind going into this one as a brand new experience, knowing as little about it as possible. As for a question, I would like to ask how far along in production the game is? Like, a 70%?

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  • Tony Garsow

    @TheBadass
    In regards to a “Final Fantasy XV”, that’s something they definitely wouldn’t have answered. Are you trying to get the Square Enix ninjas to assassinate me? ;P

    If this were a QA with Shinji Hashimoto, then you bet I would have asked!

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  • TheBadass

    @Tony
    Well, thanks for your honesty. I’m sure the fact you run a website dedicated to FF means you’re just as frustrated as I am about how the offline, mainline series seems to have stagnated at XIII for an entire console generation.

  • Tony Garsow

    @TheBadass
    In a sense that’s how the fandom at large feels: anxious to move on.

    I’ve enjoyed the Final Fantasy XIII games thusfar, and I am excited as hell for A Realm Reborn to get going — but it’s really time for the series to start making its next move.

  • Cape_Town_Guy

    Kupo1705 is an asshole!
    Also, have square enix said anything about summons returning in this game?

  • Ehren Rivers

    There have not been any mentions of summons in LR as far as we currently have been shown. Since Lightning is fighting alone we’re pretty sure they aren’t going the Monster Summoner route of XIII-2, and if the Eidolons really were the heralds of Etro there’s actually a chance that they no longer exist now that she’s dead. This game seems like it might be a little hard to fit summoning into, unless they go the route of older games and just have a summon appear for a one-off attack/ability.

    Or I guess there’s always the possibility that she’ll be able to summon things for travel. It’s be kind of awesome if she had a Chocobo whistle~

  • Cape_Town_Guy

    Its going to suck if Lightning doesn’t have Odin :(

  • Ehren Rivers

    It would be kind of sad, yeah. But then again, the Odin in XIII and the Odin in XIII-2 are different beings so it wouldn’t be the first time she ‘lost’ him. I just hope that if you DON’T get Odin, you get equipment based off of him. It’d be awesome to wield his sword and shield, maybe with some horse-and-thunderbolts motif armor.

  • AnimaMagna

    I would actually like some kind of secret level that is set in the repaired world more than a summon. It could Lightning just going round and talking with people she saved, while traversing the new world and finding little assurances that the catastrophe from XIII-2 will never happen again. But, thinking about it, they might include, late in the game, the ability to call some kind of Chaos monster to her aid. But, as with all things in the future, we will have to wait and see.

  • Cape_Town_Guy

    I hope we get to fight the ffxiii summons again since there is an area that looks like Valhalla so summons would fit in there. They could easily give Lightning an outfit that resembles Serahs “Summoners Garb” and allow us to control summons like the Aeons of FFX.

    Also, I read somewhere that monsters will drop materials that can be used to make weapons and accessories like in ffxiii-2 (Chocolina probably plays a role in this). I hope that we can synthesize Behemoth type weapons and accessories since it would be really badass to wield that giant pizza cutter :D.

  • xYunax

    @Ehren Rivers

    Really they aren’t the same Odin?
    All I know is that in Fragments After it tells us that the Eidolons that appear in Valhalla once belonged to other l’Cie and that Twilight Odin is a manisfestation of memories from the real Odin.

  • Ehren Rivers

    @xYunax: Correct. In Fragment After, Lightning fights with an Odin on the shores of Valhalla shortly after arriving. Before the fight begins she believes it is her Odin, but during the fight discovers that it is another being altogether. In Valhalla, fighting is synonymous with talking basically and every blow landed shares memories and experiences. She comes to realize it is not ‘her’ Odin, and that this Odin once had a l’Cie of his own. Odin isn’t the only Eidolon of which there appear to be multiples, either; The white-colored Bahamut she rides at the beginning of XIII-2 is one she fought in Etro’s Temple and is distinct from both Caius’s Bahamut and Fang’s Bahamut. Also in the opening are seen a version of the Shiva Sisters that instead of being Gray/Blue/White are Red/Purple/White, and Lightning rides Odin with several other Gestalt Mode Odins riding behind her.

    Twilight Odin is yes, the memories of Lightning and Hope’s conflict with Odin given life by the permeation of Chaos and a warped timeline.

  • xYunax

    @Ehren Rivers

    Thank you for clearing that up for me! I’m really grateful.