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Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

5 Big Changes On The Way For Lightning
by Joe Juba on Jan 17, 2013 at 02:01 AM
Platform PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Publisher Square Enix
Developer Square Enix
Rating Teen

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.

Products In This Article

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIIIcover

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Release Date:
February 11, 2014 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360), 
December 10, 2015 (PC)