5 Big Changes On The Way For Lightning - Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII - PlayStation 3 - www.GameInformer.com
Switch Lights

The lights are on

What's Happening

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

5 Big Changes On The Way For Lightning

We got a taste with a trailer last month, but now we have hard facts to back up the speculation surrounding the third and final entry in Lightning's story. After seeing a live demo of the game in action and talking to development team, we noted these five major changes on the way for Square Enix's upcoming RPG.

1. Lightning is the only playable character
Don't count on having a partner by your side, or on the ability to summon monsters to assist in combat. Lightning is flying solo this time. She encounters characters from previous entries, however. We saw her fighting Noel in one scene, and a woman named Lumina (who is dubbed "mysterious" by Square Enix) looks identical to Lightning's sister Serah. Despite these cameos, Lightning's journey is primarily a solitary one.

2. Combat is action-oriented
Battles may look similar to the two previous games, but combat requires you to take a more active role. Instead of selecting commands (or hitting "auto-battle"), each of your button presses corresponds to an attack. You might hit one face button to block, another to attack, and another to cast a magic spell. It isn't an action game; it doesn't go so far to that side of the spectrum. Even so, it is a substantial deviation from the previous combat system -- largely seen as the greatest strength of Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2.

3. Paradigms are gone
With only one party member and a new focus on action, the old paradigm arrangements wouldn't do much good in this title. A new kind of job system takes the paradigms' place, and it focuses on what Lightning is wearing. Players unlock an array of outfits, some of which have inherent strengths like increased attack or magic power. In addition to customizing the colors of these outfits, players also assign each one an array of commands to use in combat. One of these clothing/ability setups is called a schema, and Lightning can bring three schema into a battle and rapidly cycle between them to access her full capabilities.

4. The world is different
Things went south at the end of Final Fantasy XIII-2, and the state of the world reflects those catastrophic events (which took place several centuries ago). The goddess is dead, people are unable to age or die naturally, and Valhalla has merged with the reality to create a new world called Nova Chrysalia. Split into four continents connected by monorail, Nova Chrysalia provides a variety of settings to explore. Deserts, forests, and cities are some of the environments Lightning encounters in her role as savior.

5. The clock is ticking
As Lightning awakens from her sleep, the world is 13 days from ending. Her role is to guide the souls of everyone to a new world before the impending apocalypse. An in-game clock ticks off the hours of the day at an accelerated pace; you won't be playing for 13 actual days. The world changes depending on the time of day, like people offering quests only at certain times, or train stations being more crowded during the morning commute hours. Players need to keep an eye on the clock to plan their efforts and make sure that they are using their time wisely.

Of course, change isn't necessarily a bad thing, but fans can expect Lightning Returns to be a larger departure than Final Final XIII-2 was from the original. The game looks fun, but we'll have to wait until its release this fall before we know how it compares. In the meantime, check out the brand new screens below.

Email the author , or follow on , , and .

  • Sounds like the combat style will be similar to Kingdom Hearts.... Guess I should finally pick up the first two so I can get into this one.
  • This actually sounds good, except for her being the only playable character. Im looking forward to this
  • I kind of want this game and kind of don't.

  • I'm excited for it. I loved the first one. 2nd one was on the border for me. The story just didn't excel like I thought it would. However, Aslong as Ali Hillis is back for the Voice of Lightning I'm good. Day 1 buy for me

  • Considering she was the only interesting character from FF13, the flying solo thing doesn't bother me. What does worry me is the time limit. Few games make that time constraint work (the best example of time limit being Majora's Mask) so that is making me skeptical. Ironically, only time will tell if they do it right.
  • Mother of God... Lightning has become Erza
  • Mysterious is mysterious.

  • I'm hoping the storyline is amazing. If it's not, then I'm going to have a problem with only getting to play as Lightning. I feel like it's going to get repetitive.

  • Yeah this just went from day one buy for me, to probably not buy at all.  Sorry loved the battle system in the last two games, and believe it or not I do like having other characters around.  So if you have to heal and the enemy is doing massive damage time after time, how are you supposed to attack?  Sorry final fantasy to me has and always will be a "team" game, i'll be back when it becomes that again.

  • As someone who liked both the previous instalments I'm not sure how I feel about some of these changes, most notably the time limit and combat change.

    Personally I loved XIII-2's combat system, it built on the already interesting paradigm system and perfected it. The addition of interchangeable monsters kept battle fresh, and it was a fun side to try and collect monsters for your team. The time limit isn't that big of an issue, as long as it isn't too restricting. I'm assuming a day might be an hour - so 13 days becomes 13 hours.

    I'll wait to pass judgement on these changes until I've actually played them, who knows they may actually be better, and will pick the game up regardless to finish the story.
  • The time thing sounds intriguing, but not in a good way.

  • How can this game even be called a final fantasy if there is one playable character and a more action focused combat system? This series is going in all the wrong directions. P.s. Lightning was unlikable in the first game so why not just give her her own game? :P
  • It's interesting to see the changes that have taken place between all of the XIII games. It's almost like they're testing the waters and trying to see how everything works and what people like or don't like for another game.

  • I'm personally for a more action-oriented combat system cus the ones for XIII and it's sequel were way too automated for my tastes. I felt forced to use the auto-battle command and just use paradigm shifts as my sole means of modifying strategy because I didn't have enough time to pick individual actions. I mean, X-2 was fast paced, but I still had enough time between enemy strikes to make choices and set up combos. Speaking of X-2, yay dress-spheres. Best job system ever. Too bad the story, pacing, and irritating percentage score that required the use of a guide to ensure that you didn't miss something minor that doesn't seem like it would matter prevented people from noticing the super great combat, and I hope some of that makes it into this game. The combat, not the campy - bordering on sexist - story.

    The time limit concerns me. I like being able to explore and do everything a game has to offer. If the game arbitrarily ends before I get a chance to do cool stuff and tells me I should restart and do stuff I've already done to get the opportunity to do stuff I was forced to miss I'm gonna be pretty annoyed. Majora's Mask handled it well because the timeline was short enough and progression gates are quick enough, in addition to retaining major items and masks, that completion was always clear and possible. And every major event, sidequests included, could be feasibly completed in one run once all the items have been collected and bosses beat at least once. The race against time becomes less of an issue the further you progress, and you can restart the cycle whenever you feel like it. I'm getting the impression that the way time works for this game won't be nearly as elegant, especially the way the developers decided time travel works (changing the future affects the past? No, that's exactly backwards) for the last game.
  • Looks like it's taking a more Kingdom Hearts direction, I'd say that Square is trying to make the game they wanted to with FF13. I remember the first trailer from E3 2006, there was a lot more free movement and real-time combat in the battle-system but I don't think they could figure it out with more than one character.

  • Sold. It sounds enough like Majora's mask for me to warrant purchasing. Shallow reasoning I know, but at least I'm honest here.
  • Mixed feelings here. I will probably play this game, but I'm not looking foward to it. I haven't really enjoyed any final fantaies since 10 (I've played them all). Change isn't always a good thing. Square needs to go back to its roots and what made fans of the series like myself love it in the first place. Don't fix what isn't broken.
  • well, this is interesting. solo, limit, and more action.

1 2 3 4 5 Next ... Last