Tinkering With Lightning’s New Repertoire In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII - Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII - PlayStation 3 - www.GameInformer.com
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Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

Tinkering With Lightning’s New Repertoire In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

Update: Square Enix has just released the game's E3 trailer. Take a look!

The world is in rough shape by the end of Final Fantasy XIII-2, (spoilers incoming) and Lightning has to pick up the pieces in the next entry. She only has 13 days before the apocalypse strikes, a time limit represented by a countdown timer that runs as you play. I played an early version of the third chapter in the Final Fantasy XIII saga, testing out the more action-oriented combat. Lightning Returns moves away from the multi-character, role-swapping battle system of past games, but still provides a good time.

This preview also appears in Game Informer issue #243

Lightning is alone this time, but the basic flow of combat feels familiar. During my hands-on demo, I stalked through a chaotic city on the trail of FF XIII hero Snow, who Lightning is pursuing for mysterious reasons. I sneaked around foes, jockeying for position to strike them from behind. Sneaky assaults like these grant you advantages in battle, like enemies starting with 10% fewer hit points. Once engaged, battles play similarly to previous games, but with an added sense of urgency. In past FF XIII games, players had to wait for a meter to fill before casting magic spells or attacking. In Lightning Returns, players can wail away on their foes until their ATB (Active Time Battle) meter drains. Attacks like lightning strikes or dashing blade thrusts are mapped to face buttons. If you press the corresponding button, Lightning attacks immediately. Once an ATB bar is depleted, you can swap to a new schema (this entry’s version of paradigms) for a fresh assault. Meanwhile, the ATB meters of Lightning’s other scheme replenish.

These schema let Lightning instantly swap between a selection of offensive and defense maneuvers. A magic-based schema lets her damage enemies with frost or fire-based spells, while a melee-focused option lets her choose between heavy and light sword strikes. Like Final Fantasy X-2, these combat modes are linked to various outfits, but I was too focused on the action to notice Lightning’s skimpy costume changes. Each schema I used included a block command, which allows players to mitigate damage from incoming assaults with a quick button press. Swapping between schema and doling out attacks feels like a snappier version of the previous games’ battle systems. Up to three schema can be equipped at a time.

Near the end of the demo Lightning crosses paths with a female antagonist cloaked in a veil of dark magic. The woman prods and taunts Lightning verbally. The mysterious lady is eventually revealed as Lightning’s sibling, Serah. We suspect the sisters launch into a battle here, but we’ll have to wait until Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII hits February 11, 2014 for more answers. If our hands-on time is any indication, this encounter will be a frenetic trial of Lightning’s new skills.

Watch us try to make sense of Final Fantasy XIII's ending in an episode of Spoiled, or learn about five big changes to the series here.

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  • I miss the times when the Final Fantasy brand meant something.. Let's hope they turn it around with Versus.
  • Yes!! This game looks amazing! Can't wait to pick it up.

    Got a little while before it drops. Until it does looks like I'll be playing the other two over again. Sweet!
  • So it looks like a good game, but not a Final Fantasy game.
  • Thats cool and all but there is something vaguely sexist about having to change outfits for different abilities lol. Maybe because its easier to make female characters look cool in videogames so being creative with the outfits is easy but still..
  • Only reason I never enjoyed the later FF titles is because I hate the turn based battle system. If you can indeed fight in real time, I will definitely get this. The graphics and story are going to be amazing I'm sure.
  • I wish that they had another game continuing with Yuna. FFX was my favorite game of the series. I'd love to see a return to them.
  • And they square wonders why they are having money problems. It isn't games like Tomb Raider its these crappy excuses for FInal Fantasy games they keep putting out. Lets go back to good versions like 3 and 7
  • Can 't believe the irony that the worst game in the series gets the most sequels.
  • I must say, this sounds like a mash up of Crisis Core and FF 13. I will certainly pick it up as I enjoyed the other 2 entries to the saga, but I am interested to see where Square go from here.

    Still wish it was called 13-3 though so my game case spines would match up better

  • Yeah, I might skip this one too. I thought 13 was only ok, but I have no urge to play XIII-2 or even this. Idk, that 13-day time limit kind of kills it for me. Kind of ironic considering Majora's Mask is my favorite game of all time, but that game at least allowed you to restart the time cycle.
  • Cool I can't wait to play.

  • So lyou weren't used to ff13 system. Because you didn't have to wait for the atb to fill up. Triangle is your friend. Pretty sure paradigm system was my favorite battle system in ff series.

    I mastered the crap outta the full free bar for switching paradigms
  • This game sounds pretty good. I can't wait to play it. I still think Versus will be far better though.
  • This game is going to piss so many people off just like FFX-2 did... I'm not saying it's going to be a bad game, but it isn't going to be the game people want.
  • I loved both game's and I'm sure I will love 13-3 Lightning Returns. All the hate on these game's are about ridiculous. If it wasn't for Final Fantasy XIII (First FF Game for me) I never would have tried any of the other's. I'm glad I did though because the game's are amazing. I understand where people come from saying it's Linear and all that but the game was real good & the story wasn't as confusing to me as some other's believe it was. Overall Can't wait to see how this game turn's out. ALL HAIL LIGHTNING!
  • I'm so sick of the Final Fantasy XIII world. Bought the first one and never even finished it. Not even close to past Final Fantasy stories in my opinion. Please move on to Final Fantasy XV.

  • Was 13 1 and 2 any good? Strangely enough I like RPG and JRPG but I've never played either of them.
  • I am very excited for this game. Lighting is one of the best ff characters in my opinion. The last 2 installments took a lot of criticism but i loved them. At lest they took a risk and changed things up for better or worse, a lot of series don't do that and just do the same thing over and over with no innovation.
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