Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (Preview)Published on 09.19.2012 by DragonHeart
In early September, Square Enix revealed a new upcoming title: Lightning Returns, the final game in the "Lightning Saga" that began with Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2. The game, which was revealed to be only about 30% completed, is nonetheless slated for a 2013 release in all regions.
The game's concept, as explained by game design director Yuji Abe in the announcement presentation, is that of a Doomsday clock. From the time Lightning awakens, there are 13 days until the end of the world. As such, time will play a major role in the game. It flows continuously but can be reversed by certain events, such as defeating enemies. There is also mention of a "toll of time' that Lightning will pay for performing certain miracles, though this, like so much else, has yet to be explained.
Lightning Returns will take place on the world of Novus Partus, which is itself four large islands surrounded by the Sea of Chaos and beyond that, an abyss. New Cocoon hangs in the sky above, though it's not yet been revealed whether it will play any part in the story. Novus Partus is not a new world, though it is being created as one—it is what was Gran Pulse before being consumed by Chaos, set hundreds of years in the future.
Novus Partus is designed to be an active, expansive world that players will have the freedom to explore at will. It will be constantly changing, with the residents going about their daily lives as time passes and areas of the game becoming accessible (or in some cases, inaccessible) based on the time of day. Enemies are also more likely to be encountered at night.
Lightning is the only playable character in the game, but characters from the previous games may make appearances. So far the only character confirmed to appear in the game alongside Lightning is Hope Estheim.
There are hints of some unusual concepts in the gameplay elements, with Yoshinori Kitase, the producer of the project, explaining that the game will be world driven in a way that will change the experience for every player. There are hints that Novus Partus will actually have some as yet undefined connection to our world using tools, such as Facebook, to connect and expand the experience.
The battle system will be similar to the previous games, however it will be less restrictive and more active. As Lightning will be the only character in battle, it is not confirmed whether the paradigm system will still be utilized. Lightning's customization will play a large role in battle, however. She will have a large variety of selectable costumes that will change parameters and affects. Weapons will also be more variable and may have an effect on Lightning's movement and actions. One possible addition to the battle system will be the ability to change equipment instantaneously during battle, opening up many more possibilities for strategy.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will be Lightning's final battle, and the end to her journey.
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