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Lightning Returns gameplay systems detailed

December 28th, 2012 by Tony Garsow


This week, Famitsu sat down with Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII staff for another detailed interview about the upcoming finale to “Lightning’s Saga”. Present were producer Yoshinori Kitase, director Motomu Toriyama, and gameplay director Yuji Abe. When asked what impressions fans had from the official site launch after the reveal in September, Kitase replied that they used sites like Facebook to get direct feedback including comments like: “Show us the trailer already”!

When asked about why they chose “Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII” instead of “Final Fantasy XIII-3″ for the title, Kitase enthused that this title has such an intimate focus on Lightning (a “resurrection” of Lightning) and is much different than its predecessors that they felt the title was appropriate.

In Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning was designed by Tetsuya Nomura — and for the sequel Isamu Kamikouryou designed the armor Lightning was gifted by Etro. Nomura returns to design her newest outfit to director Toriyama’s specifications, which included an emphasis on the colors red and white. Using that as a reference, as well as the themes of the game, Nomura designed the default outfit we see today.

Lightning’s goal is to free the souls of humanity as the final thirteen days before the end of the world expire and lead them to a new world. Similar to how Etro gifted Lightning with her power in Final Fantasy XIII-2, it appears Bhunivelze has awoken to give Lightning her task. Bhunivelze, some may remember, is a god who destroyed his mother Mwynn to gain control of the world. He created the fal’Cie Pulse, Lindzei, and Etro before retreating to his crystal hibernation until the end of time — where we presently find Lightning.

Each of the four continents that comprise Novus Partus will exude distinctly different feelings. We previously detailed that the city of Luxerion has been rattled by murders, carried out by a group opposed to the will of god (Bhunivelze). The citizens of Luxerion are aware that the world is coming to an end, but they are unsure when; despite this, they carry out a quiet existence amidst a world increasingly distorted by the power of Chaos. Luxerion itself has an air of mystery, and by Toriyama’s implications “maturity”, because of these events. In the five hundred years since the end of Final Fantasy XIII-2, people have ceased to age though they are not immortal despite their lifespans. This may be due Chaos that dwells within every human heart as per the Fabula Nova Crystallis lore. Unfortunately, new life unable to be born, crippling the so-called “circle of life”.

Director Toriyama was asked about the other three continents you’ll be traveling to, but he couldn’t speak about them quite yet as the maps are being finalized and will appear in future announcements. He added the Square Enix motto: “please look forward to it.” The monorail connects all four of them, but in addition to that, you’ll be able to make use of a chocobo to get around. Lightning, according to gameplay director Abe, will be able to make use of jumping, climbing, and sliding down poles (for example) to get around in Luxerion. Since the world has a time limit, exploring every detail of the world may not be feasible, and through this mechanic there will be a fair amount of trial-and-error. It should be noted that Lightning Returns was designed for multiple playthroughs from the beginning.

Abe is still refining the battle interface and what we previously detailed as “Cool ATB”, the battle system in Lightning Returns. A heavy element of action has been incorporated, as evident by Lightning’s actions being mapped to face buttons to be executed with proper timing rather than queued. Mastering defensive abilities like guarding and evasion will properly prepare you to take on tougher foes that may have previously been outside your comfort zone. Observing enemy behavior will also be useful. The break system will return, albeit in a different form — you’ll have different requirements to break an opponent than before. Abe confirmed that there will not be any QTE events in battle, but when asked if there will be any elements like Lightning’s “Scene Drive (Army of One)”, Abe said there will be something presumably like that.

Different enemies appear at different times of day, and tougher foes will appear at night or with an outbreak of Chaos. New enemies will appear in the series as well, such as Anubys, and creatures described as “bat hairballs” called Gappuru/Niblet(s).

Famitsu asked if Lightning will make use of a weapon like a gunblade for short and long-range fightning, to which Abe replied that she will have access to a variety of weapons, all of which will be for short-range combat. Magic, he added, will play a role for fighting at a range. According to Kitase, “Cool ATB” gives a player a sense of action and strategy in one, and despite only controlling Lightning, feels as though you are controlling more than one type of character through the different “Styles” Lightning can use during battle. Short or long range, Lightning will move automatically when the command is selected to execute the ability. We’ll have to wait for more information on more of “Cool ATB”‘s mechanics.

In some early screenshots from Famitsu, we were able to determine that Chocolina was returning — before she was seen in the trailer in several locations. Director Toriyama confirms she’ll have a role to play in the game, but it isn’t selling you items like in Final Fantasy XIII-2. Chocolina has a different yet-to-be-revealed purpose in this outing. Shops will be tied to NPCs with schedules during night and day, so you’ll need to be aware of the time in his aspect too. The flow of time will stop when you open the main menu.

Lightning will be able to collect and customize her equipment through completing quests and synthesizing them from components found in the world, shops, or battle. Abe couldn’t reveal much about this system yet, but more will come at a later date. You’ll even be able to create equipment like Lightning’s sunglasses seen at the end of the first trailer.

In closing, Abe commented that making a game that felt “half action/half [time-based] RPG” resulted in the creation of “Cool ATB”. Director Toriyama enthused that Lightning Returns will feel like a complete package minus any scenario DLC that was present in Final Fantasy XIII-2. Producer Kitase added that Lightning Returns will provide a fresh experience for fans of Final Fantasy XIII and the franchise as a whole. To paraphrase Kitase’s closing comments: “the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy’s story and characters will end in a satisfying way” and to “keep your eyes peeled for new information”.

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII releases for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2013.

Via: Famitsu


  • Tony Garsow

    Small editing update: removed a line where it said “the game will restart at the end of 13 days”.

  • AnimaMagna

    This game is looking better by the week. By the way, did anyone notice before? The strange symbol on her chest armor, it’s where her l’Cie brand was in XIII and that eagle thing was in XIII-2. I wonder if it’s a symbol linked with Bhunivelze. And why on earth, or rather why on Novus Partus, has Lightning allied with the god which perhaps created the Chaos in the first place and drove Etro to her death?

  • MrSensei915

    Sq Enid motto: “please look forward to it”. The ultimate middle-finger to fans…

  • AgitoXIII

    sounds like there finally admiting to reputiating the disgusting XIII-2.

    Saying this game will end in a “satifying way”, game has no QTEs

  • Wyvern

    @AgitoXIII: Eh you need to stop trolling/overreacting. Far from disgusting, and a lot of people enjoyed the QTE’s.

    Sounds great. Sucks theirs no QTEs.

  • Novuis

    well the fact they got rid of QTE’s is a good and bad thing. I heard many ppl don’t like the qtes being very unnecessary in many moments but still, SE still doesn’t have all info released and there’s more to offer in the coming months.

  • AgitoXIII


    nobody was trolling. just because you don’t agree with someone elses post doesn’t make it so. So grow up.

  • Shinybob

    @ AgitoXIII: While it is true that you may not have been trolling, Wyvern also said “/ overreacting” which you certainly were doing to a certain extent with your inclusion of the terms “reputiating” and “disgusting,” as well as telling him/her to “grow up” in response to his/her criticism of your nonconstructive post which served only to state your opinions – which you have already made known – as if they were facts, which they are not. And while it is true that his/her statement that the game is “far from disgusting” is also an opinion, it is a fact that many people enjoyed them, and he/she certainly has the freedom to disagree with you.

    Also, I believe the term you may have meant to use is “repudiating,” unless you meant to type “reputing,” which is the correct form of “repute” to be used in the given context.

  • Wyvern

    @Shinybob: Thanks. And yeah, it was my opinion.

    @AgitoXIII: I actually have reason to think you are trolling considering your previous comments. Why are you posting if you’re only going to comment with such an overreaction? Sure, if you were a bit more down to earth about it, but you’re only wasting your time on something you supposedly hate so much.

  • AnimaMagna

    I’ve got a nasty feeling things are going to turn nasty in this game between Lightning and Noel (they’re being, in a sense, warriors of opposing gods).

  • Yunie


    I doubt think things will turn nasty between them. There is no reason for it.
    Also Noel isn’t a warrior, he’s a Guardian.
    Lightning on the other hand was Etro’s warrior.

    This new information is interesting though. Especially the part on how the trilogy’s story and characters will end in a satisfying way. I also look forward to seeing what kind of outfits Lightning will have. We did see two different ones in the trailer.

  • AgitoXIII

    I technically wasn’t trolling because my comment had to do with the story at had. Just because you dont agree with it doesn’t mean it’s trolling.

    If I had posted a positive note on the story you wouldn’t have said anything because you would have agreed to it. So if you dont like my post, ignore it and get the hell over it.

  • Wyvern

    @AgitoXIII: Well, in the case about a positive comment for QTE’s, then yes I would agree with you because I did like that aspect. If you mentioned something I didn’t like, I wouldn’t like it.

    But the way you wrote your comment was unnecessary, so yes I had to reply to it in the end. And I will once you let go. 😛

  • Wyvern

    @Yunie: We actually saw 3 in the Japanese trailer. One with a really cool-looking sword.

  • alexsam

    @Yunie I’ve also got the impression that Noel will turn evil in this game. So much so, that he might actually be one of the boss fights. Remember, Noel has received the heart of chaos from Caius, he is now the one and only guardian and Yeul’s protector. It will be very interesting to see how this unfolds.

  • AnimaMagna

    @alexsam That was one of the Paradox Endings, not the main ending. This game leads from the main ending. Who knows, Caius might still be alive. And remember, the Heart of Chaos was destroyed. If it wasn’t, Etro would still be alive and the world would not be in this ridiculous situation. I never said he would turn evil. I’m only thinking that he might feel betrayed by Lightning.

  • alexsam

    @AnimaMagna Yes, but what happened in that paradox ending, did eventually come to pass (most of it anyway). Noel is the new guardian even though Etro is dead and Yeul has been released from the curse of being reborn through the ages. She is alive though, as is Caius. I’m actually considering a lot of what Noel said during the “Heart of Chaos” paradox ending where he says he realizes he is Caius’s true successor, and that he can’t escape that fate. On the other hand, in Caius’s case, I can see him being all remorseful like “Omg, what have I done?”. But all these are just my assumptions based on the story of XIII-2. We’ll have to wait and see. Happy new year everyone!!!

  • Leaferian

    @Alexsam: Incorrect. As the game makes mention of several times INCLUDING in the paradox ending, there are two outcomes of a potential Guardian fighting Caius. If they are not strong enough, the Heart of Chaos passes to them and they become ‘cursed’ in the same way Caius was cursed. If they are strong enough, the Heart of Chaos is destroyed, and with it the Goddess Etro.

    The Paradox ending is one where Noel is not strong enough to destroy the Heart, but is strong enough to beat Caius. The canon ending of XIII-2 is where Noel is strong enough that the Heart is destroyed and the Goddess dies. He may technically be the Guardian of the Seeress for having beaten Caius, but that’s all.

  • What ever happened to Sazh Katzroy, Oerba Dia Vanille and Oerba Yun Fang in the end of the Final Fantasy XIII-2 Sazh Katzroy saved Fang and Vanille from the Crystal pillier before the Old Cocoon Crashes on to Ground and Sazh and Dajh must be still around What happened to Gadot, Lebreau, Maqui and Yuj?