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Final Fantasy XIII-2 E3 Teaser Trailer Analysis

June 3rd, 2011 by Sharjeel Hanif

With just a single weekend left until E3 2011 and Final Fantasy XIII-2’s big debut, Square Enix released a teaser trailer for the game to get us geared up for next week. (You can watch the trailer by clicking here). FinalFantasy.net provides an in depth analysis of the trailer below. Despite its abrupt length, we have analyzed the trailer frame by frame, shedding light on new gameplay and story details. Check out the analysis below!

Please note: This text includes speculation on what can be seen by analyzing the trailer, as such, nothing is confirmed. Furthermore, this article may contain spoilers from the original Final Fantasy XIII, so please read at your own risk.

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Story Details

Serah has a much larger role – Despite being the iconic female lead of Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning seems to take a back seat, at least in this teaser video. Lightning is seen at what seems to be a shrine of Etro and she raises a hand towards an emblem on her new armor. However beyond this, we only see her running away at the end of the trailer. Instead, there seems to be a much bigger emphasis on Serah’s story, as she looks for her older sister.

Introducing Noel – XIII-2 appears to have a new male lead, named Noel. According to a recent press release, it has been confirmed that Noel is a “mysterious man” who comes to Serah’s aid when a newly built Pulse village she chooses to live in is attacked by monsters. All the footage we see shows Noel as the party leader, ie the character walking in the field. This leads us to believe that Noel will indeed be one of the primary protagonists in XIII-2. Tony notes that we see Noel using magic such as “Ruin” in the trailer, however whether or not this confirms that he is a l’Cie is yet to be seen. It is interesting to note that many fans have commented that Noel looks remarkably similar to Fang, which according to interviews, was originally designed to be a male character.

Moogles are in – Despite being a Final Fantasy icon, moogles were rarely seen in Final Fantasy XIII, only being mentioned in one of the games digital stores. However it looks like the always adorable moogle is back in XIII-2. These moogles appear very similar to their Final Fantasy IX brethren: small in size, with large, deformed heads. These moogles are reminiscent of an older Final Fantasy design, likely a throw back to earlier titles. We can also confirm that the moogles will somehow be incorporated into the gameplay. In the trailer, we can see a moogle following Noel around. The exact function of the moogle in XIII-2 is yet to be seen.

Team NORA is alive, haven’t changed – Every single member of Team Nora is seen in some form in this trailer. We first see that Maqui and Yuj have survived the crystallization of Cocoon at the end of the first game. Gadot has also survived, though we see him for a split second. Lebreau of NORA is seen with Serah with a not-too-pleased expression on her face, perhaps scolding Serah for leaving the settlement? With Team NORA joining the party as guest characters during the early parts of Final Fantasy XIII, it is entirely possible that we will see them again fighting alongside the main cast, although the trailer does not support this theory.

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Gameplay Details

New Party Members – Noel and Serah both appear as new party members in Final Fantasy XIII-2. Unfortunately we know very little about how the two fight in battle. We can clearly see however that both use sword like weapons in combat and that both have the ability to use the Commando paradigm.

Most of Final Fantasy XIII’s battle system remains intact – Even from the few seconds of battle footage in this teaser, it can be assumed that most of Final Fantasy XIII’s battle system elements remain intact in the sequel. The user interface has shown relatively little change, with the command synergy battle ATB system still present. In the trailer we can see that it is still possible to change paradigms mid battle. It should also be noted that the Break system from the original game is seen here functioning similarly.

The game has some form of towns- This is one fans have been clamoring for. There appears to be some semblance of towns in XIII-2. In the teaser, we see Noel running around in what appears to be a small beach front village, probably one of the newly built Pulse settlements that Cocoon citizens now inhabit. It is very obvious this village is on Pulse, as we can see the beautifully rendered, crystallized Cocoon in the background. (Feel free to enlarge the screenshots above to take a look yourself). A quick look at the minimap reveals a host of details. We can see our player icon is followed by two light blue dots, signaling party members just like in the original Final Fantasy XIII. We also see green dots representing NPC characters that can be talked to.

We may be returning to Cocoon –
The following tidbit is provided by NeoGaf member miladesn, referring to the ruins in this screenshot:

This location is in Cocoon, that’s Cocoon[s] alphabet on the ground (or could be Cocoon people using it on pulse) going by my guide it says:
RUINS
FIRE EXIT

Chocobos are back – In the same “town” screen shot, we also notice that very familiar feather symbol on the minimap, alongside the backside of a Chocobo not far from Noel. It is difficult to tell whether this is Chocobo is of the Pulse or Cocoon variety (although we are led to believe these are the better looking Cocoon Chocobos), however we can at least confirm that we’ll be able to use the birds to traverse the (hopefully) large, varied and non-linear terrain of Pulse.

You can recruit monsters to fight alongside you in battle (Unconfirmed) – (Refer to screenshot two above). During a battle sequence, we see Noel and Serah fighting alongside a common Final Fantasy XIII enemy, a Pulseworker machination. Next to the Pulseworker’s portrait and stats, we see two other enemy portraits. This leads us to believe that XIII-2 includes enemies that can be recruited to fight alongside the party. (This idea is not entirely new to the Final Fantasy series). If this analysis is correct, this also means the party can carry more than one (possibly up to three) monsters alongside them.

Cinematic Action/Puzzle Sequences? – During game play segments of the trailer, we see Noel performing various actions while the text “Cinematic Action” or “Unstable Rift” are displayed in the top left corner of the screen. During the “Cinematic Action” sequence, we see Noel perform actions that appear very similar to QTEs, or quick time events that are common in games today. During the “Unstable Rift” segment, Noel is running on highlighted squares (gives me the feeling of Final Fantasy X’s temple puzzles mixed with Dissidia’s chess-board like navigation). As he runs past certain icons, they glow as if he was collecting them. Perhaps puzzles have finally returned to the Final Fantasy universe.

Final Fantasy XIII Composer – This is not related to the trailer, but is good to no nonetheless. According to J. Parish’s twitter, Final Fantasy XIII composer Masashi Hamauzu is making a return to compose for Final Fantasy XIII-2. Since deciding to work freelance, it was unknown whether he would return for the sequel. This is great news for fans of the XIII soundtrack.

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Special thanks goes to Tony for helping me compile all these points. Is there anything you caught that we may have missed? What info has you most excited about the game? Comment below to let us know!

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  • Jeels

    Thanks for responding The_Badass.

    I’m starting to think like you are, it is very likely that with a monster recruiting system that there will only be two party members. I am hoping this is not the case though since I want to play as Sazh, Hope, and Snow again, but we’ll find out soon enough.

  • Jeels

    That chocobo track was very off beat from the usual Final Fantasy chocobo tracks but I still loved it!

    I too hope Lightning is not just a secondary character. In some way it is reminding me of FFX-2, and we might end up spending the entire game looking for Lightning.

  • lalik

    Yes Serah will be cool to play but I hope Lightning comes in alot sooner then we think she will. I really wanna play her.

  • Tim Larkin

    New Game + mode is desperately needed. More money and exp would be nice, too.

  • valleyshrew

    You can take a very similar screenshot from XIII at team nora HQ, and that’s the only town in that game (i.e. doesn’t have monsters in it). For towns truly to be back there needs to be more than 1 of them this time. I hope there is a gold saucer type area, as nautilus park which was hyped to be was nothing of the sort in the end. I think you’re being overly optimistic. Unless they held back some of this deliberately, there hasn’t been enough time for them to make a full quality game with towns and minigames. FFXIII took 4 years & Versus is taking at least 7 while this is only taking 2. New Vegas was made in 18 months so they certainly can make a deep game in a short time period on a lowered budget, but I don’t think Japan is any longer capable of creating deep games. The Yakuza series is probably the best out of japan atm, but the map size is about 1/20th of GTA. Everything else from Japan is slow, over budget and dumbed down. Gran Turismo 5 for example. There isn’t a single other japanese game I know of with a deep setting since lost odyssey. Every RPG that comes out is a dungeon crawler because it’s so much easier than creating a proper varied world.

    Also that the battle system is largely uncharged is extremely disappointing as it discarded the majority of the complexity that had accumulated such as: limit breaks, MP, spell library (steal, bribe, throw, etc. plus the traditional weakness strategies are redundant with autobattle + libra), armours, controlling all your characters, save point purpose (no longer need them except when you’re turning the game off, shops and upgrades are a complete waste of time and my first completion I never bothered with them and found it easy…plus you’ve got regenerative health now and no gameover) and about a dozen other things. Leveling up merged into a linear ability system when all games before had a streamlined leveling system and a more open ability system. The way they did it to expand the primitive crystarium just ends up wasting literally 3 hours of your time holding x to fully level your squad. They need to put back levels 1-99, and a proper non-linear and varied ability system. They need to get rid of the style over substance summons and battle animations and take away archaic battle transitions that FFXII should have put an end to. It’s without a doubt the most different and dumbed down battle system in the series, because XII still had limit breaks and a good spell library and the ability to control your whole party through both gambits and switching leaders on the fly.

    People think XIII is more fast action but it’s an illusion. It’s the longest battles in the series, they just increased the hit point numbers 10 fold and the number of attacks that get queued up to make it look faster. By any objective measure it is slower – by the total game time and percentage of game time spent in battles, and by the amount of inputs a player has (your characters do 15 moves with the press of only 1 button). All the jumping around is silly when you can’t even move your characters, and the break system was particularly pathetic with only a few monsters changing significantly in appearance when broken. The entire spell library boils down to about 10 commands. Velocycle, mission 64, attacus and a couple of others required manual spell selection, the vast majority did not. Autobattle + the paradigms except in very rare circumstances is 6, then summoning, phoenix down, steel guard, cure poison and death. That’s the only 12 inputs you need to complete the game comfortably. I’d guess FFVII-XII each had over 50 useful spells to manually select. At least in XII the autobattling system was entirely designed by the user, with limits, rather than done automatically as if the game was on easy hand hold mode. I calculated the figures for the gambit and paradigm system and as you would expect gambits have exponentially more complexity. 4.67645983 × 10^46 more gambit possibilities to be exact!

    Oh and the music was horrible. Totally unfitting of a FFXIII game. The composer even boasted that he liked dischordant sounds. Uematsu was all about memorable & pleasing pop and rock melodies. Hamauzu is all about cacophanous orchestral ambience and nauseatingly repetitive melodies, with the basic battle melody appearing in 8 different tracks. The few actually good songs on the soundtrack are used a single time truncated (e.g. hopes theme, daddy’s got the blues). The soundtrack is very unmemorable but I think he can do much better if given a better game to design for. Most of the best music in the series is from towns. Dungeon music has always been a bit dischordant, and FFXIII is just one large dungeon so that limited his ability a lot.

    It’s time to do away with a single battle track (and a couple of boss ones). It ends up that 70% of the game is spent listening to 1 song, while the better songs are barely played at all. To improve the game they need to add radio stations instead of the traditional soundtrack form. This needs to also include a good amount of talk radio, because it’s so much more interesting, but that would be beyond SE’s ability. If in XIII even the datalogs were a radio station read outloud during battles it would have been a better game. They can have it be that different towns have different radio stations by default, and that you only unlock them gradually by visiting new areas. If there is a large map, radio stations are a must or the world becomes exceedingly boring to explore.

    I believe that JRPGs are now too far behind having got more simpler, linear and reliant on CGI since FFVII rather than the accretion of new features or just keeping up the level of varied interactivity and exploration that FFVII had. FFXIII had the least of everything in the series. FFXIII had only 19 locations (VII had 52), and only 5 of them are revisitable (46 were revisitable in VII). Only 6 party members when VII had 9. Only 19 characters total when VII had 93. 55 limit breaks compared to 0. 16 summons compared to 6. 16 towns compared to 1. 35 different interactive elements compared to 4 in XIII. 30 minutes of non-interactive cutscenes compared to 9 hours. 0 palette swapped enemies compared to 80% in XIII. 17 sidequests compared to 2 in XIII (missions are only 1 long tedious battle arena). 12 vehicles and a world map compared to 2 vehicles and no world map in XIII. Graphically japan is way behind too. Compare Gran Pulse’s sterile natural world to far cry 2 or red dead redemption or even fallout new vegas. Funny that in cutscenes XIII’s got thick forests, rapid rivers, herds of creatures roaming and thick luscious grass, but the gameplay version is flat low polygon, low textured grass, with stagnant pools of water and close pop in monsters with only a few roaming about illogically going nowhere and no trees at all. The whole game is illogically walled in cliffs and floating sky bridges with black abyss or 2d skyboxes at the edges.

    However, I have been asking for monster recruitment and puzzles so at least there’s that. But if it’s done with QTE rather than proper puzzles, and if the monsters aren’t controllable or interestingly developed (through a monster arena system or just having high strategical purpose) then it’s not much of an improvement. I would urge them to make the game 20-30 hours, and higher quality instead of 50-60. FFXIII felt like a 5 hour game stretched to 10 times it’s duration through tedious battles and dull cutscenes. It actually had very little plot, with only 2 or 3 significant events compared to VII which had about 20. VII was genius for constantly immersing you in the plot through interactive set pieces such as a motorbike chase or climbing a snowy mountain then snowboarding down it, or getting locked in prison then having to win a chocobo race for your freedom. XIII was just one long linear dungeon with 13 different backgrounds, and at the end there was a boss fight then a long cutscene. It’s formulaic and lazy design, and doesn’t at all immerse the player in the world. Time to add some narrative decisions too. Even FFVII had a few varied outcomes like taking either barret/tifa/aerith on a date and who the don picked then there was optionally recruiting yuffie and vincent. It’s the thing that has vastly improved in the past decade, with games like heavy rain, mass effect and fallout having an exponentially greater level of volition and player agency. FF as an RPG needs more role playing, and less focus on non-interactive combat, corridors and cutscenes.

    FFVII-XII were my favourite games before this generation, but games like GTAIV, RDR, Fallout new vegas and mass effect have vastly improved upon what they accomplished, while SE have gone backwards in every area of game design but graphics. I had high expecations for XIII as the next entry in my favourite series but it ended up the most disappointing game ever. Thanks for reading and feel free to disagree :).

  • hideka

    you guys missed the flan ally @:17

  • Jubaer

    I also get the vibe that Noel’s clothing looks kinda like Fang’s clothing. Serah’s attire looks remarkably similar to Lightning’s attire in vanilla FFXIII, no coincidence. It invokes a sense of nostalgia, so that’s good. Seeing crystallized Cocoon in the sky just made my day. If it turns out that for the majority of the game your party consists of Noel + Serah + a captured monster, I would prefer to make Serah the party leader at some point if I could. I would also like if the captured monsters can be revived so if they fall in battle you don’t have to capture another one.

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