The lights are on
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
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 Joe Juba, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.
So definitely not getting back to the FF roots in this one! Sounds interesting at least. I would prefer a return to form but I suppose I am intrigued by this new direction.