After concurrently being revealed in both PAX Prime in Seattle and the 25th Anniversary of Final Fantasy event in Shibuya, the world now knows what a second sequel in the Final Fantasy XIII series of games is called.
Instead of calling it Final Fantasy XIII-3 (though for all intents and purposes it really is), the game has been given the moniker; Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. Wouldn’t ‘Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns’ sound better though? Meh, what do I know? Anyway, details concerning the title were also announced at the reveal which you can see after the jump.
Obviously, as the title implies, everybody’s favourite grumpy, bubblegum hair coloured heroine is back.
Yep, Lightning has returned and she is none to happy because when the game begins, she has just thirteen days to prevent the Doomsday Clock from ending the world. So yeah, serious stuff.
The game is said to primarily take place on a group of four islands, currently known as Navus Partus, with access between these isles made possible through good ol’ fashioned monorail. Visually, the islands are meant to deliver a myriad of designs inspired by both European cities as well as more fantastical and sci-fi inspired settings.
Gameplay-wise, details are a little thin on the ground, but what we do know is that the game supposedly has a bigger focus on exploration than other games in the Final Fantasy XIII group; with mention of an expansive world to wonder around and explore.
Playing into the title again, Square-Enix have also said that the return of Lightning herself is a big deal here; indicating that the character we will see here has much more in common with her original Final Fantasy XIII incarnation than her Final Fantasy XIII-2 one. Further to this, costumes are available too; roughly twenty of them in fact, allowing players some decent creative latitiude as to what threads our heroine struts about in.
Combat-wise, Square-Enix have announced precious little details about this side of things but have said that one crucial aspect to the gameplay will be that weapons can actually transform now. What this means for the gameplay is anybody’s guess, but if I had to make one myself, I would say that the transforming weapons mechanic would be the next evolution for the paradigm system; allowing players to swap out roles for individual characters by manipulating the weapons that they are using in battle.
Lightning will also be a lot more agile in battle this time round. Apparently, she can scale surfaces and leap over obstacles mid-fight, but yet, despite this, the game will not go down the action-RPG route.
I must admit, chiefly, i’m liking the idea of a more expansive play area with which to explore. I’ve always believed that non-linear exploration was a key aspect of the Final Fantasy series since the year dot and as such, it’ll be great to choose where I put my feet, instead of being constrained by tunnel-based maps and invisible walls. Regardless though, Square-Enix seem keen on providing us another Final Fantasy XIII installment that like Final Fantasy XIII-2 before it, will be markedly different to what came before it.
Hopefully then, they’ll go the extra mile here and give us a game that truly addresses the faults and foibles with the Final Fantasy XIII series of games that turned off so many long-term Final Fantasy stalwarts in the first place.
At the Shibuya event, a trailer was supposedly shown but the publisher had forbidden any sort of photography because they don’t want us to have nice things. With that said however, Square-Enix have confirmed that more details will be announced in three days on September 4th, so hopefully, we’ll catch a glimpse of some media at that tine.
Until then though, have a video of Yoshinori Kitase, producer of the Final Fantasy games developed by Square Enix’s 1st Production Department, holding a crystal and waxing lyrical about the history of the Fabula Nova Crystallis (Final Fantasy XIII) series as well as some of the ideas he has for Lightning’s new adventure:
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will arrive on 360 and PS3 platforms sometime in 2013