|Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII|
|ライトニング リターンズ ファイナルファンタジーXIII|
Raitoningu Ritānzu: Fainaru Fantajī Sātīn
|Developers||Square Enix, tri-Ace|
|Release dates||PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360|
|Game modes||Single player|
|Ratings||CERO: Ages 15 and up|
|Platforms||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360|
- “How will you spend your final days?”
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is the direct sequel to Final Fantasy XIII-2, part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy series. Intended to end the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, it features Lightning as the main protagonist. The game takes place five hundred years after the events of Final Fantasy XIII-2 and shows Lightning in her final battle against a new deity while saving the souls of humanity in a doomed world heading for destruction.
According to Square Enix, the game will feature "a brand-new story, world, characters, and an enhanced gameplay system". The game's retail version will contain the complete story, meaning players won't have to purchase downloadable content to see the end of the story like in Final Fantasy XIII-2. It has been stated that, unlike its predecessor, the game will feature just one ending. Square Enix has said fans of characters from the previous Final Fantasy XIII games will be happy with the characters' stories in Lightning Returns, and that loose ends will be tied up.
Players will take control of Final Fantasy XIII's main character, Lightning, as the sole playable character. She will traverse freely over the game's variety of terrain and can jump on obstacles, such as telephone poles, and use elements of stealth. Her abilities differ based on her elevated height. The developers have aimed for a world where the players would be able to reach almost everything that is visible on the screen, and it has been said there are no load times between areas unless the player either teleports, uses a vehicle, or there is a storyline event that transports the player somewhere new.
The game has an open-world structure and the open world area is much bigger than what has been seen in previous Final Fantasy titles. The world is said to be so large the developers don't expect the player to visit everywhere on their first play-through. It has been said that if the player wanted to run across the whole world, it would take 45 minutes even without the interference of battles, and would still only offer a brief glimpse of the world.
The player can either walk between destinations or use the monorail for faster travel. Chocobos will be available to use at some point in the game.
Monsters will range in size and can be enormous. They will appear in cities. Although many enemies return from previous titles, it has been said about half of the monsters in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will be new. Because of time's ever-flowing nature, the non-player characters' locations will keep changing. When the player travels Luxerion, the non-player characters change behavior throughout the day: in the morning the streets are sparsely populated, and later in the evening people will be commuting home.
The Crystarium System will not appear in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII; instead, Lightning's stats are increased by doing story events and side quests. The player can buy abilities, equipment, magic and items, and visit restaurants to buy food items that restore HP or status effects. The more souls the player rescues the powerful Lightning becomes. Anything that requires depletion of EP will be learned by Lightning herself. General abilities are associated with whatever garb is equipped, or obtained through item drops by monsters.
Enemies are found on the field and Lightning can sneak up on them to perform preemptive strikes, and if Lightning can strike first, the enemy will lose 10% of their starting HP. If Lightning can strike an enemy from behind, they'll lose 25%.
The battle system will be a heavily modified version of the Command Synergy Battle system the two previous games used and will feature real time features, such as freely taking control of Lightning's movements and attacks, and a real time block, dodge and counter system. The new combat system is named Style-Change Active Time Battle (SATB).
Players can assign four commands to the controller's face buttons and instead of selecting commands, players will press buttons that correspond to the individual abilities. There will also be timing-based mechanics. Though the battle system is of an action-RPG, it will feature an ATB gauge and every action depletes this bar. Players will have access to several different custom-made paradigm-like Schemata that change Lightning's assigned skills on-the-fly.
Each Schema has its own ATB gauge, meaning the player can swap between Schemata and maintain constant action while allowing the other Schemata to recharge. If the player runs out of ATB and they cannot perform any actions, the gauges will gradually refill as Lightning idles. By tilting the left analog stick, the player can move Lightning on the battlefield.
Lightning will have a variety of different weapons, but they will all be close-range ones; magic is reserved for ranged combat. Lightning will move automatically to the correct range to execute the desired attack.
Lightning will be customizable with wide array of costumes, weapons, and different battle styles. Schemata allow players to put together a weapon, a shield, accessories, and abilities to create different skills and attributes for battle. These abilities do not include just commands during combat, but also actions taken on the field. Lightning will be able to collect and customize her equipment through completing quests and synthesizing them from components found in the world, shops, or battle. Players can preset different Schemata and change between them, similar to how Paradigm Shift worked in earlier games. Gameplay director Yuji Abe states there is plenty freedom in terms of customization, so the player can create a well-balanced character or an all-powerful one.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is said to feature tougher enemy types and boss battles with the key being destroying various body parts on the monsters. Enemies will have multiple weaknesses so the player can knock them down in multiple ways making for less repetitive gameplay.
The knockdown system replaces the stagger system seen in Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2. The icons under an enemy's HP gauge are attributes that govern its strengths and weaknesses. Lightning can assemble a Schema that exploits the weak points. Via the knockdown system, Lightning can juggle an enemy in the air with her attacks.
Status ailments inflicted on Lightning will not be removed after the battle is finished, but the player can go to restaurants to restore her lost HP and heal her from afflicted status ailments. Lightning will regenerate HP by idling, providing a cheaper, yet time consuming, alternative for recovering health.
Lightning will have a variety of movements and will be able to climb, jump, crouch, take cover behind walls and objects, climb over and hang off ledges, and a variety of other moves both in and out of battle.
Via the Lightspeed ability the player can teleport to specific areas on the field, or even stop time if there are too many things going on at once and not enough time. The Energy Points gauge is on the lower-left part of the screen and Energy Points can be acquired upon clearing battles. Originally this system was part of Eradia (points given to the Tree of Life, Yggdrasil, to extend the world's lifespan), but the developers decided to separate it and now players can use the points without having to worry about the world's lifespan.
The "Doomsday Clock"Edit
The game plays on the world-driven concept with a "doomsday clock" element that determines how Lightning needs to prevent the world's destruction within thirteen days. The player is initially given seven days to explore the world, but this can be extended to thirteen days by completing sidequests.. Players can turn back the clock by defeating enemies or performing certain actions and completing certain missions posted on bulletin boards. Sometimes if Lightning helps people it will reduce the life of the world. There is an ability to stop the flow of time momentarily to give the player a chance to explore, and there is also an easy mode with no time-punishment for fleeing battles and where more time is given to save the world. A countdown timer indicating the time left until the end of the world will be displayed in the upper-right corner of the screen.
A day in the world of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII lasts twenty-four hours, like in the real world, as after the Day of Ragnarok in Final Fantasy XIII, two hours were lost. This is to make up for the clocks in Nautilus and Oerba's schoolhouse in Final Fantasy XIII that were 13-hour clocks, and for Mog in Final Fantasy XIII-2 having a 12-hour clock to show the change in a day's length. The length of an in-game day is 2-3 hours in real life.
The player may want to be in specific locations in specific times where black haze called Chaos Infusions will appear, indicating the area has become monster territory, where the player will find the toughest opponents. Defeating monsters gives items used to strengthen equipment as well as points to extend the time on the doomsday clock. Shops will be tied to NPCs with schedules during night and day. Lightning will only be able to hold six items at the start of the game, but this will increase when the player progresses. Depending on which day the player battles certain storyline bosses, their stats and/or appearance can change.
Because the play time can be extended, it allows for a player-specific game experience, and different choices yield different events. It will not be possible to see every cutscene in one playthrough and the time management structure means players can have different experiences each time they play the game. However, Yuji Abe has stated he acknowledges players want a 100-hour RPG experience and that is possible with Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.
- Main article: List of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Quests
Instead of being divided into chapters, like the previous two games, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII's story is told in the form of five main quests. Side quests are available to increase Lightning's stats and Eradia for Yggdrasil to prolong the apocalypse. Both Main Quests and Side Quests are rewarded with stat increases, Eradia and Item rewards.
A new function will be incorporated in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII so players can post screenshots or messages on a community board via social networks. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will let players share game updates onto Twitter and Facebook, such as upon defeating in-game bosses; the updates would include the player's overall score for defeating said boss. The outerworld communication allows the player to make snapshots with the possibility of excluding Lightning from them.
The game is set in a world called Nova Chrysalia, known in the Japanese version as Novus Partus (Latin for "New Offspring", "New Births", "New Cocoon", or "Rebirth"), a world created when Gran Pulse and Valhalla came together. It is composed of four continents (two natural and two cityscape) surrounded by a Sea of Chaos and connected by a monorail system.
The game is said to contain traditional RPG elements such as dungeons, towns, and shops. Nova Chrysalia is said to be an active open-world with many platforming elements. Art director Isamu Kamikokuryo has said players have a high degree of freedom and will see new roads and cities from tall landmarks and can easily get lost.
Nova Chrysalia has been designed similar to a "tourist guide style" seen in MMORPG's and each team presented the continents in this style. Yuji Abe has stated that in Final Fantasy XIII many areas were places the player could only pass through, but in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, there are many places to explore. Keywords for the world's design are "gothic, mechanical, and fantasy".
According to director Motomu Toriyama, the world will face constant changes by the hand of a new weather system and day/night cycles, with monsters becoming more vicious at night time. The world is said to be finely detailed and to change in real time along with the passing of day and night and is said to have links to the real world, and "will see setups with the world of Final Fantasy entering into our everyday lives".
Nova Chrysalia will contain a complete mix of architecture ranging from medieval-style to modern. One example is in Luxerion, the largest city in Nova Chrysalia. The city will have clocks in various places so the player can see the progression of time. The pleasure city of Yusnaan is designed as a place of entertainment. The new Cocoon, Bhunivelze, floats in the sky over Nova Chrysalia, and inside it lies the Ark.
The remains of Academia and Valhalla are now a part of the Wildlands, a continent comprised of vast and open forests, plains, and mountains, including small villages to explore. The Dead Dunes feature dungeons and ruins containing relics from ancient times, alongside a vast desert said to feature unique action/adventure gameplay. The world is said to be the most vicious setting yet seen in the Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy series due to the results of Chaos infecting the planet.
The people alive during the ending of Final Fantasy XIII-2 have not died due to the world's merger having affected the Chaos dwelling within human hearts as per the Fabula Nova Crystallis lore, stopping humans from aging and reproducing, though they have not gained true immortality. While most accept the phenomenon, there is at least one group which questions it and rebels against the rest of the citizenry.
NPCs dress up in a variety of ways: some wear long robe-like black and white garbs with golden masks and mechanical backpacks, while others, such as thieves, dress up in a "cyber-style". The citizens of the world are aware of its impending doom, but only few know how much time there is left. Depending on the continent, people react to the impending apocalypse differently: the people in Luxerion accept it and wish for Bhunivelze to create a new world, while those in Yusnaan celebrate it with lavish festivities.
- Lightning (ライトニング, Raitoningu?) - The main protagonist. After sleeping in crystal stasis for five centuries, Lightning awakes in Nova Chrysalia and is chosen by Bhunivelze to be a savior of souls. She learns the world and its inhabitants face oblivion in thirteen days and fights to save them and reunite with her late sister Serah.
- Hope Estheim (ホープ・エストハイム, Hōpu Esutohaimu?) - Reverted to his 14-year-old self from Final Fantasy XIII by Bhunivelze, Hope helps Lightning in her mission to save the world by providing her with intel on a wireless communicator from his base in the Ark.
- Lumina (ルミナ, Rumina?) - A mysterious girl with unknown motives who resembles Serah in appearance and possesses the power to harness Chaos. She views Lightning and the world's inhabitants as playthings, and will sometimes help Lightning, but at other times get in her way.
- Snow Villiers (スノウ・ヴィリアース, Sunou Viriāsu?) - After escaping the Coliseum in the Void Beyond, Snow has become the head of the city of Yusnaan, and is the world's last remaining l'Cie, charged with protecting the fal'Cie that sustains Yusnaan. Harboring regret at his failure to save his fiancée Serah and dangerously close to becoming a Cie'th, Snow is on an unspecified mission that brings him into conflict with Lightning.
- Noel Kreiss (ノエル・クライス, Noeru Kuraisu?) - Noel is affected by the Chaos's influence and suffers from a heavy burden in his heart, racked with guilt for his role in Serah's death and the world's destruction. Based in Luxerion and now calling himself the "Shadow Hunter", Noel sets out to right the wrongs that have been done to the world. He is in conflict with Lightning because of a prophecy that says she will destroy the world, believing himself to be the hero destined to stop her.
- Oerba Dia Vanille (ヲルバ=ダイア・ヴァニラ, Woruba-Daia Vanira?) - Freed from crystal stasis, Vanille has been gifted with the power to hear the voices of the dead, an ability that makes her of great interest to those who oppose Lightning's mission. Now called "the saint", Vanille is being sheltered in Luxerion by the Order, a religious group who worships Bhunivelze and has a strong hold across Nova Chrysalia.
- Oerba Yun Fang (ヲルバ=ユン・ファング, Woruba-Yun Fangu?) - Also freed from her crystal stasis, Fang leads a gang of bandits based in the Dead Dunes called Monoculus in search of a long-lost relic called a clavis.
- Serah Farron (セラ・ファロン, Sera Faron?) - Lightning's younger sister and Snow's fiancée. In Final Fantasy XIII-2, Serah embarked on a journey with Noel and Mog to correct the timeline. Like Yeul, she possessed the Eyes of Etro, which claimed her life moments before the Chaos of Valhalla infected Gran Pulse and formed Nova Chrysalia. Lightning is on a quest to save Serah's soul and ensure her rebirth in the new world.
- Mog (モーグリ, Mōguri?, lit. "Moogle") - A former companion of Noel and Serah. Mog wandered the Void Beyond until he was reunited with his fellow moogles. They built the Moogle Village in the Wildlands, and Mog, who runs the village, is plagued by guilt for his failure to protect Serah.
- Sazh Katzroy (サッズ・カッツロイ, Sazzu Kattsuroi?) - Sazh lives with his son Dajh in the Wildlands in a house converted from the remains of a crashed airship. While he was once cheerful and easy-going, a shadow has fallen over Sazh's heart, for his beloved son remains trapped in a state of sleep, never to wake, his soul in another place.
- Bhunivelze (ブニベルゼイ, Buniberuzei?) - The main deity of the Final Fantasy XIII universe and creator of the fal'Cie, who wishes to create a new world and tasks Lightning with saving the souls of the old world.
- Caius Ballad (カイアス・バラッド, Kaiasu Baraddo?) - In Final Fantasy XIII-2, Caius sought to kill the goddess Etro to free Yeul from her curse of death and rebirth. He corrupted the timeline and came into conflict with Lightning in Valhalla, and Serah and Noel as they journeyed through time. He was defeated but he ultimately succeeded in his goal and was resurrected by Chaos after Etro's death. Caius is linked to the dark energy now destroying Nova Chrysalia, and prepares to fight his old adversary Lightning once again as she fights for his soul.
- Paddra Nsu-Yeul (パドラ＝ヌス・ユール, Padora Nusu-Yūru?) - A young seeress once "gifted" with the Eyes of Etro, now free from her curse due to the end of time. She resides with Caius in the remains of Etro's temple in the Wildlands and approaches Lightning with the request to save Caius from his suffering.
- Cid Raines (シド・レインズ准将, Shido Reinzu Junshō?) - The dead have chosen Cid Raines to be their representative, and through their strong will, he appears once again before Lightning with a request.
- Chocolina (チョコリーナ, Chokorīna?) - The human form of the Chocobo Chick belonging to Sazh Katzroy's son Dajh. In Final Fantasy XIII-2, Chocolina was a time-traveling merchant who aided Serah and Noel on their journey.
- Dajh Katzroy (ドッジ・カッツロイ, Dojji Kattsuroi?) - The son of Sazh Katzroy. When Chaos infected the world 500 years ago, Dajh lost his soul and remains trapped in a state of sleep, never to wake up. Sazh watches over Dajh in the Wildlands, where he has built a house out of the remains of a crashed airship.
- Adonis (アドニス, Adonisu?) - A member of Monoculus who first contacts Lightning and gives her the task of dispelling God's Wrath.
In the year 1000 AF, five hundred years after the ending of Final Fantasy XIII-2, Lightning awoke from crystal sleep in the world of Nova Chrysalia, which is doomed to be destroyed soon. Bhunivelze — the god who created the fal'Cie deities Pulse, Lindzei, and Etro — chose Lightning to be the savior tasked to free burdened souls and lead them into a new world before they cease to be. In return, Bhunivelze assured Lightning he would resurrect Serah. Lightning teams up with Hope Estheim, who has physically regressed to his teenage state and now lives within the New Cocoon tending the tree, Yggdrasil, which acts as a preserving force for the world, keeping the Sea of Chaos at bay and extending the world's life to the maximum of thirteen days in exchange for an energy called Eradia, obtained whenever a soul is saved.
As Lightning sets out on her quest she encounters many of her former allies. Snow Villiers, depressed over Serah's death and still a l'Cie, has become patron of the pleasure city of Yusnaan. Noel Kreiss, tormented by his role in Etro's death causing both Serah's death and the world's current state, has become a vigilante in Luxerion. Also in Luxerion, Oerba Dia Vanille is being sheltered by a cult that worship Bhunivelze, and is being hailed a saint for having gained the ability to hear the voices of those who died before Nova Chrysalia's creation. Having also awaken from her crystal stasis, believing the Order are using Vanille to suit their ends, Oerba Yun Fang leads a band of thieves in the Dead Dunes to obtain a relic the Order is after. In the Wildlands, an untamed region where the creation of Nova Chrysalia took place, Sazh Katzroy grieves over his comatose son Dajh while Mog leads a settlement of moogles. Caius Ballad, the man responsible for Nova Chrysalia's creation, resides within the ruins of Etro's Temple where the Chaos is bleeding from with only the various incarnations of Paddra Nsu-Yeul for company. Lightning also encounters the mysterious child-like entity Lumina who resembles Serah in appearance, and whose agenda is unknown.
A cult known as the Children of Etro believes Lightning's task is the same as sending them to their deaths, and thus believe her to be the harbinger of the oncoming apocalypse. Lightning must fight some of her former allies to relieve them of their burdens, with Noel believing he must kill Lightning to ensure the coming of a better world while Snow desires death as penance for his failure to protect Serah. Lightning provokes Noel into attacking her to disperse the darkness within his heart, and afterward Yeul's spirit talks to him and asks him to help Lightning. In Yusnaan Lightning proves to Snow she is not an impostor by recognizing the engagement necklace he and Serah wore after deciding to marry. Snow wishes Lightning to kill him after absorbing the mass of Chaos at the center of the palace he has been keeping contained for much of his time as Patron. Snow transforms into a Cie'th hybrid but is defeated in battle, and Lightning reverses his transformation by convincing him that Serah's soul still wishes to be with him. Snow chooses to continue hoping and his emotional burden is lifted.
In the Dead Dunes, Fang tells Lightning how the Order seeks the relic known as clavis for a ritual that only Vanille can perform, but despite their efforts to claim the relic first it falls into the Order's hands. On the final day, Fang infiltrates the Luxerion cathedral to help Lightning save Vanille from the ritual that would kill her as part of the Order's intention to destroy the souls of the dead and free those still living from remembering their past regrets so they may live in perpetual bliss in Bhunivelze's new world. After being coaxed into listening to the dead, Vanille learns that, despite their suffering, they carry the hope of being reborn. Vanille stops the ritual, and Snow arrives and destroys the clavis with Fang's spear. Together, Fang and Vanille guide the dead to the Ark to be reborn in the new world, with her and Vanille's souls as their guiding light. Once Lightning's purpose is fulfilled she learns Hope became a puppet body that Bhunivelze has been using to better understand mankind as part of his scheme to purge it of their emotions and free will for his new world. Bhunivelze planned to have Lightning become the new Etro and protect the of world balance. Lightning rebels against Bhunivelze as she desires a world free of gods where humans can decide their own paths in life.
Though at first she intended to die with Bhunivelze in a sacrifice to free the souls he consumed, Lightning finally accepts the part of herself that wanted to be helped, which was personified in the form of Lumina and now reintegrates back into her. Joined by her allies when they escape the deity's hold, Lightning frees the souls that Bhunivelze consumed and uses their power to defeat him. With Bhunivelze dead, Nova Chrysalia is destroyed. While the various incarnations of Yeul decide to remain behind to take over Etro's role as the keepers of balance between the world of the dead and the world of the living, Caius allows the final incarnation of Yeul leave with Noel. With the old world no more, the Eidolons and Mog bid their farewells and fade away while Lightning, finally reunited with Serah and all of their friends, leave for the new world to begin a new life.
The music for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will be composed by Masashi Hamauzu, Naoshi Mizuta, and Mitsuto Suzuki, who previously worked on Final Fantasy XIII-2. The game does not have a vocal theme song, but the ending theme is composed by Hamauzu, Mizuta, and Suzuki.
"Crimson Blitz", the track from the JumpFesta announcement trailer, was released on December 23rd, 2012, on iTunes as part of the game's promotion campaign. Hamauzu says that "Crimson Blitz" was composed in Le Locle, Switzerland, during his Europe tour as the church bell rings every fifteen minutes, and that reminded Hamauzu of the passing time in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.
Another promotional track released on iTunes was "The Savior", a track featured on the E3 trailer. Composed by Naoshi Mizuta, the track was released on iTunes on June 6th, 2013, and will be used in the game as a battle theme.
Each of the continents has its own composer, and depending on the time of a day — morning, afternoon, evening, and night — a different song will play.
Original soundtrack was released in November 21th, 2013.
Downloadable Content and ExtrasEdit
The localized version of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will receive a DLC package that will feature both the original Japanese dialogue and Japanese lip-synching, providing "a more natural and localized game experience". The DLC package will be free to download for the first two weeks after the game's western release, but will require a payment after that. This is the first time a localized Final Fantasy console game has featured both English and Japanese voice tracks.
If the player has save data from Final Fantasy XIII and/or Final Fantasy XIII-2, they can unlock Lightning's outfits from those games (her Guardian Corps uniform from Final Fantasy XIII and her valkyrie armor from Final Fantasy XIII-2) as garbs and buy them in the Rewards Shop.
Noel's outfit will change depending on which outfit is Noel wearing in the most recent Final Fantasy XIII-2 save file.
Square Enix registered a domain name for Final Fantasy XIII-3 on September 7, 2011, but no development plans were announced. A representative of Square Enix noted the filing was to protect the Final Fantasy XIII IP and was not indicative of a new title. During the interview with 4gamer in early December 2012, Yoshinori Kitase said the team decided not to name the game Final Fantasy XIII-3 as it "would give the impression that it was a direct evolution of XIII-2, rather than the 'new experience'".
The Final Fantasy XIII-2 Ultimania Omega book released on June 21st 2012, contains an interview with Yoshinori Kitase and Motomu Toriyama that sees the pair suggesting a successor to Final Fantasy XIII-2. Kitase stated (the last part about Lightning's DLC Episode) that "explaining 'XXX Years Later' would be pointless. It might seem that the line 'To Be Continued...' means that Lightning's chapter will continue in more download content, but we are doing it in a different interpretation".
In a scenario interview with Toriyama and Watanabe, Toriyama said that although Final Fantasy XIII-2 did not bring the happy ending for Lightning he promised before in Final Fantasy XIII Ultimania Omega, he hopes to tell more stories from the Fabula Nova Crystallis.
The development for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII started soon after the global release of Final Fantasy XIII-2. The developers have later said they always had a concept of expanding the story of Final Fantasy XIII since the start of Final Fantasy XIII-2 project but weren't fully decided on whether to make it a trilogy.
In August, Square Enix launched an official website regarding the new entry into the saga and at the Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary event, the Final Fantasy XIII stage took place at 11:30 on September 1st, titled "Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Saga: New Developments Presentation", where Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was announced. Motomu Toriyama, Yuji Abe, and Isamu Kamikokuryo each presented an element of what the game would be about yet only disclosed that Lightning's new appearance, designed by Tetsuya Nomura, would play on her light, speed, and elegance.
As of September 4th, 2012, the game was confirmed to be 30% complete. As Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is the third title on the current generation hardware, Motomu Toriyama has said it to be the most complete and polished game in the Final Fantasy series.
In a developer interview with Famitsu on September 6th, 2012, Kamikokuryo stated that Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is using newly designed assets to build the game and that Nova Chrysalia was being built from the ground-up.
On October 10th, 2012, Nomura reported he has finished the designs of the outfits for Lightning and Snow Villiers and that his work in the game had been completed. In terms of technology, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII shares the same elements from Final Fantasy XV, while sharing a few gameplay and design elements of Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2, as well.
On November 22nd, 2012, Yoshinori Kitase gave a development update on the Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Facebook and Twitter accounts, stating the first part of the game had been implemented to a certain extent, and that they had been collecting play test feedback.
In January 2013, Square Enix embarked on a global media tour for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, where various media outlets were invited to witness an early but playable build of the game and have a QA session with the developers. This is unusual in light of past Final Fantasy games' development, as usually Square Enix has been secretive about the progress of their projects and the version of Lightning Returns shown to spectators during the media tour is the earliest build of a Final Fantasy game showed publicly. This version had many placeholder assets, models, and music being substituted in.
On May 29th, 2013, Famitsu revealed that Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was at 70% completion. In the E3 trailer, it was announced the game would be released on February 2014 in North America and Europe. After Gamescom, where the game was exhibited, Yuji Abe revealed that Lightning Returns would be next revealed at Tokyo Game Show 2013, and that at the event, a wholly new character would be introduced.
When designing Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII the developers wanted to implement player feedback the previous titles in the Final Fantasy XIII saga had received, namely the criticism Final Fantasy XIII received for its linearity. Thus improved player freedom and the growth of character while exploring the world became important facets when planning for the gameplay. The idea was to create an expansive world, but simultaneously make it so the player wouldn't be thrown into it haphazardly. Thus the element of time management was included so the player would pay attention to the world, and think how to interact with its inhabitants. Having an open environment heavily impacted the way the world map was developed. Weight was placed on how much of the restrictions that a traditional Final Fantasy game sets for the sake of making the world look beautiful could be removed. The teams handling the different areas were told to ruminate on how to keep players from straying too far off track and get lost.
At the beginning the developers received negative feedback for the "doomsday clock" system, because the original time did not even allow the player to reach the end of the game. Adjustments were made to arrive to a satisfying amount of time. At first there was a countdown running towards zero on the upper part of the screen but based on player feedback this was changed to a clock.
With Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII the developers wanted to improve on the freedom of moving around in the field compared to previous entries to the Final Fantasy XIII saga, and thus various actions were added so Lightning can make the most use of the three-dimensional map's structure. Motomu Toriyama has said the aim was not about adding more action elements, but about providing a wider range of traveling methods so the player can efficiently move around in a world that has a time limit.
Many players found the battle system of the previous Final Fantasy XIII series games difficult to understand, and so with Lightning Returns developers wanted to make it easier to see what the player should be thinking and to have a direct response to that, which ties to the idea of having just one playable character.
The developers talked with the Final Fantasy XV development team, who utilize an action-rpg-based system for their game, and got some inspiration. The plan was still to retain the strategic elements from older Final Fantasy games as the foundation for the new battle system. To achieve dynamic fights the developers took the paradigm-system from the two previous entries to the trilogy, and chose them as a set on four buttons for four different actions to create a style of gameplay that is simultaneously tactical, yet dynamic. The game was designed so the flow of play would not be disturbed by the battles. In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII the player is able to dodge and block enemies' attacks; when Lightning's outfit was created the shield came into the design, and the developers thought to utilize it in battles by allowing her to block attacks. This also enabled the creation of various fighting styles, as it is possible to be more offensively focused with the sword, or play defensively with the strengths of the shield.
Player reaction to the downloadable costumes in Final Fantasy XIII-2 was mixed, as some players felt the effect should be more than cosmetic. Thus in Lightning Returns the different outfits Lightning can wear were designed with this in mind to offer stat boosts and other battle advantages. With the previous games as well, there was always a request from the development team to be able to change the look of the characters when their roles switched, and with new system memory resources opening up with switching to a single playable character, this became possible with Lightning Returns. However, the concept of changing outfits didn't come first but naturally found its way into the game based on the compatibility between how the game mechanics were set up.
A number of artists are involved with crafting the world, particularly the city of Luxerion with careful detailing in crafting specific sofas, chairs and telephone booths. Isamu Kamikokuryo revealed the gothic feel and the monochromatic color scheme of Luxerion were chosen to represent a surreal twilight. The city's style merges gothic, medieval, modern, and fantasy designs.
The city's colors are mainly composed of white and black, symbolizing light and darkness, as well as featuring the ethereal green seen in Valhalla from Final Fantasy XIII-2. Toriyama said the city's grim tone symbolizes "the strong awareness of death in a world that has lost its concept of mortality." It's been said that Luxerion has a Western look, similar to that of Paris. The city's style has been called "Mech-Goth", alternatively called "Mechanical Gothic". Yusnaan was inspired by a blend of Renaissance and Middle Eastern cultures. The Dead Dunes and the Wildlands were designed to allude to some elements of the classic main Final Fantasy titles, such as the dungeons and open fields which the players could freely explore.
Kamikokuryo said the concept of a dying world in which technology is deteriorating was the foundation of the artwork. Motifs from 19th century London during the industrial revolution, Asia, and the Middle East will appear in Nova Chrysalia depending on the location. To contrast the high-level modern civilization depicted in Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will have a more retro feel.
Producer Yoshinori Kitase has explained the title logo was revamped because the team wanted to convey the "newness" of the installment compared to previous Final Fantasy games. The intention was to use an emblem with sharp edges and a symmetrical design. The idea was to draw up the logo from scratch and create something different from the usual Yoshitaka Amano outing. They went through many different designs until deciding upon the concepts: "lightning" and "metallic." The symbol will also appear in the game, for example: Lightning's default outfit.
The overall theme of fighting against destiny, the united theme across all Final Fantasy XIII games, remains in Lightning Returns with Lightning having been once again tasked by a deity to perform a special mission.
The main theme of the story is "the salvation of souls". Having awoken from her crystal sleep, Lightning has become their savior, and is tasked by Bhunivelze with freeing people from the darkness in their hearts and guiding their souls to the new world that will be born when Nova Chrysalia ends after the final thirteen days. The concept of religion is prominent, as shown by the worship of Bhunivelze in Luxerion.
Another main theme is the "rebirth of Lightning", defined by Lightning's appearance in each game in the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, and that being the reason why the game is called Lightning Returns instead of Final Fantasy XIII-3. Toriyama has the story focused on Lightning to show her in a different light for players to get to know her better. In the beginning of the game, Lightning is more closed off and distant than she was in the previous two games, but as the story progresses, more details about her internal struggles, thoughts, and true feelings are revealed and she becomes more human and vulnerable as she once again chooses to defy her destiny to save her sister.
Another theme is how much Hope has grown and matured in Lightning's "motherly" point of view. In Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning acted like a surrogate mother to Hope, and has not interacted with him since the original game. Now that Lightning has Hope helping her in her new mission, she gets to see how much he has changed.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was released in Japan on November 21st, 2013. A special edition called "Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Ultimate Box" was released at the same time.
The Ultimate Box contains the following:
- Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Blu-ray games
- Play Arts Kai figurine of Lightning.
- Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Ultimate Box Special Soundtrack' (3-disc)
- Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Art Works
- Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Ultimate Box Special Stand
A special Hori controller also accompanies the game's release.
The downloadable PSN version of the game is 9.8 GB large. On November 19th, players were able to pre-load the game so they can play Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII on the launch day without delay. Those who picked the downloadable version, will get SOLDIER First Class garb for Lightning.
A trilogy boxset is planned for the Japanese market.
North American releaseEdit
In the United States, as a pre-order bonus, players will receive Cloud Strife's SOLDIER 1st Class Uniform and Buster Sword. With these, players will also hear the victory fanfare from Final Fantasy VII. Lightning will perform Cloud's iconic victory pose in this gear.
The game will be released simultaneously as a boxed release and on the PlayStation Network.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Collector's Edition will be available exclusively through the Square Enix Online Store. It has a different cover art and includes an 80-page hardcover art book. The book is wrapped in a dust jacket featuring character designer Tetsuya Nomura's original drawings and will have a foreword by art director Isamu Kamikokuryo. The set also comes with a silver embossed pocket watch inspired by the game's theme that revolves around a countdown doomsday clock. Aerith Gainsborough and Cloud Strife DLC sets are included as well.
The Collector's Edition set will be available through the Square Enix Online Store on February 11th, 2014 for $89.99.
PAL territories releaseEdit
As a pre-order bonus European players get a limited edition steelbook including downloadable content token giving access to the SOLDIER First Class and the Buster Sword.
Another pre-order bonus is a Lightning Samurai three-piece set that includes "Shogun", "Sohei Savior" and "Flower of Battle" items.
The Nordic Limited Edition, includes: Cloud Strife's SOLDIER 1st Class Uniform and Buster Sword, and Lightning Samurai Set Nordic Edition, which includes "Shining Prince", "Utsusemi" and "Dark Samurai" garbs.
The game will be released simultaneously as a boxed release and on the PlayStation Network.
Asian territories releaseEdit
A limited edition Dualshock 3 featuring a Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII design will be released on November 21, 2013 exclusively on the Asian region. Additionally, a "Dualshock 3 Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Edition Bundle Pack" containing the said controller and the Chinese/Korean version of the game will also be released.
Sales and ReceptionEdit
Japanese magazine Famitsu gave the game 37 score with the four reviewers giving 10, 10, 8, 9 respectively.  When the first sales figures were published after the first week of the game being out, Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII had sold 277,082 copies for the PS3, the lowest of the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, but was still the best-selling game of the week.
|Main Programmer||Naoki Hamaguchi|
|Art Director||Isamu Kamikokuryo|
|Main Character Designer||Tetsuya Nomura|
|Costume Designer||Toshiyuki Itahana|
|Game Design Director||Yuji Abe|
|Music||Masashi Hamauzu, Naoshi Mizuta, Mitsuto Suzuki|
|Lightning||Maaya Sakamoto||Ali Hillis|
|Snow Villiers||Daisuke Ono||Troy Baker|
|Hope Estheim||Yūki Kaji||Vincent Martella|
|Sazh Katzroy||Masashi Ebara||Reno Wilson|
|Mog||Sumire Morohoshi||Natalina Maggio|
|Noel Kreiss||Daisuke Kishio||Jason Marsden|
|Caius Ballad||Hiroshi Shirokuma||Liam O'Brien|
|Paddra Nsu-Yeul||Mariya Ise||Amber Hood|
|Oerba Dia Vanille||Yukari Fukui||Georgia van Cuylenburg|
|Oerba Yun Fang||Mabuki Andō||Rachel Robinson|
|Serah Farron||Minako Kotobuki||Laura Bailey|
|Cid Raines||Yūichi Nakamura||Erik Davies|
|Chocolina||Seiko Ueda||Julie Nathanson|
- The winner of Square Enix's "Final Fantasy Superfan" contest will have their name credited in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.
- The logo of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII initially appeared as an icon for the website of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster, as a placeholder, until an official icon was used.
- ↑ http://www.siliconera.com/2013/11/13/nora-wont-return-lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii/
- ↑ https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=498164696872327&set=a.245624862126313.60381.244940588861407&type=1&theater
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 http://sgcafe.com/2012/12/lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii-styles-place-paradigms-costume-colours-changed/
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 http://www.siliconera.com/2013/07/19/lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii-aiming-for-open-world-structure/
- ↑ Interview with Motomu Toriyama and Yuji Abe for the German gaming site Spieletester
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/?p=3897
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 http://www.finalfantasy.net/lrff13/lightning-returns-gameplay-systems-detailed/
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII - Preview Part II The Developers Explain the Latest in the FFXIII saga
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8 Interview with Motomu Toriyama and Yuji Abe for German gaming site Spieletester
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII: How Snow And Other FFXIII Heroes Changed — Siliconera
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 http://www.novacrystallis.com/?p=3465
- ↑ http://www.joystiq.com/2013/01/18/lightning-returns-carrying-the-adventure-solo-as-final-fantasy/
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 http://www.novacrystallis.com/?p=4192
- ↑ http://www.siliconera.com/2013/07/09/lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii-makes-money-easier-to-get-and-other-details/
- ↑ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXR05K1OOug
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/2013/06/lightning-returns-square-enix-members-exlcusive-interview
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 http://andriasang.com/con2l3/lightning_returns_details/
- ↑ http://www.siliconera.com/2012/12/26/lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii-can-be-extended-beyond-13-days/
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/2013/07/luxerion-shops-actions-and-difficulty-details-for-lightning-returns/
- ↑ http://www.finalfantasy.net/lrff13/chaos-infusions-lightning-returns/
- ↑ http://gematsu.com/2013/07/lightning-returns-vanille-fourth-continent-more
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 http://www.polygon.com/2013/7/24/4552060/lightning-returns-final-fantasy-13-includes-social-media-integration
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/2013/06/lightning-returns-square-enix-members-exlcusive-interview/
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/?p=3311
- ↑ http://www.4gamer.net/games/182/G018237/20121202001/index_2.html
- ↑ 26.0 26.1 26.2 Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Interview with Motomu Toriyama
- ↑ 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 27.5 http://uk.ign.com/videos/2012/08/31/lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii-announcement-presentation
- ↑ http://www.siliconera.com/2013/01/04/rebels-want-lightning-dead-in-lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii/
- ↑ http://www.finalfantasy-fxn.net/index.php?page=article&article=Hope-Estheims-New-Look--Lightning-Returns-Screenshots--1957
- ↑ http://www.siliconera.com/2013/01/15/lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii-has-a-frenemy-and-changeable-costumes/
- ↑ http://www.takuchat.com/kh1-5-wont-have-a-secret-movieand-final-fantasy-versus-13-is-still-being-made/
- ↑ 32.0 32.1 http://www.siliconera.com/2012/10/10/lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii-finished-versus-xiii-still-in-development/
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/2013/06/new-jump-reveals-snows-role-in-lightning-returns/
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/2013/09/heres-a-look-at-the-opening-cinematic-for-lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii/
- ↑ http://www.ffandmore.com/?p=3456
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/2013/10/this-is-what-vanille-looks-like-in-lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii/
- ↑ http://www.dualshockers.com/2013/07/27/vanille-will-return-as-well-in-lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii/
- ↑ 38.0 38.1 http://lightning-returns-news.tumblr.com/post/60094906264/translation-location-previews
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/2013/07/fang-is-back-in-lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii/
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/2013/08/new-lightning-returns-screenshots-show-off-sazh-the-wildlands-and-more/
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/2013/07/the-first-hour-of-lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii-detailed/
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/2013/07/toriyama-and-kitase-talk-dungeons-difficulty-and-returning-characters/
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/2013/09/full-cast-confirmed-for-lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii-with-all-new-screenshots/
- ↑ http://lightning-returns-news.tumblr.com/post/60944242482/caius-and-yeul-will-also-return
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/2013/07/the-first-hour-of-lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii-detailed/
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/2013/11/famitsus-20-page-lightning-returns-report-contains-heavy-spoilers/
- ↑ http://www.finalfantasy.net/lrff13/lightning-returns-battle-ability-details/
- ↑ http://www.finalfantasy.net/lrff13/ffxiiixiii2-composers-return-lightning-returns/
- ↑ http://squareportal.net/2013/11/08/no-promotional-theme-song-for-lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii/
- ↑ 50.0 50.1 http://squareportal.net/2013/01/26/new-lightning-returns-soundtrack-details/
- ↑ http://squareportal.net/2013/06/08/the-savior-is-one-of-the-battle-themes-in-lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii/
- ↑ Lightning Returns: FFXIII out now in Japan!
- ↑ http://www.finalfantasy.net/xiii/final-fantasy-xiii3-domain-filing-protective/
- ↑ http://www.ff-xiii.net/index.php?page=article&article=As-the-World-Turns-So-Does-Lightning--1652
- ↑ 55.0 55.1 Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII - Interview with Motomu Toriyama and Yoshinori Kitase
- ↑ http://www.finalfantasy.net/xiv/square-enix-cto-comments-japans-projects/
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/?p=3767
- ↑ http://www.siliconera.com/2013/05/29/famitsu-provides-development-status-update-on-final-fantasy-games/
- ↑ http://uk.ign.com/articles/2013/06/06/lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii-release-date
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/2013/08/fang-wont-be-the-only-guest-character-to-join-your-party-in-lightning-returns/
- ↑ http://www.famitsu.com/news/201308/26038917.html
- ↑ http://www.vg247.com/2013/02/22/lightning-returns-final-fantasy-13-preview-closing-the-loop/
- ↑ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zf59-4reEcA
- ↑ http://www.finalfantasy.net/lrff13/lightning-returns-demo-interview/
- ↑ 65.0 65.1 http://kotaku.com/5950830/square-enix-divulges-on-bringing-lightning-returns-to-life
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/?p=3796
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/?p=4038
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/?p=4060
- ↑ http://www.dualshockers.com/2013/06/15/its-official-lightning-got-a-boob-job-for-lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii/
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/2013/11/pre-load-lightning-returns-from-the-japanese-playstation-store/
- ↑ http://blog.us.playstation.com/2013/07/02/get-clouds-buster-sword-uniform-in-lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii/
- ↑ Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Collector’s Edition Revealed — PlayStation.Blog
- ↑ 73.0 73.1 http://www.novacrystallis.com/2013/07/lightning-returns-european-pre-order-bonuses-announced/
- ↑ http://squareportal.net/2013/07/02/nordic-limited-edition-revealed-for-lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii/
- ↑ http://asia.playstation.com/sg/en/newsdetail?id=1133
- ↑ http://www.novacrystallis.com/2013/11/famitsu-weighs-in-on-lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii-gives-it-a-3740
- ↑ http://www.4gamer.net/games/117/G011794/20131127061/
- ↑ http://www.finalfantasy.net/lrff13/ffxiiixiii2-composers-return-lightning-returns/
- ↑ https://twitter.com/Drama_Khaleesi/status/371141865275281408/photo/1
- ↑ http://gamingunwrapped.com/first-final-fantasy-contest-for-all-you-superfans/
- Official Japanese site
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|Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy|
|Lightning Saga: Final Fantasy XIII - Final Fantasy XIII-2 - Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII|
Others: Final Fantasy Type-0 - Final Fantasy Agito - Final Fantasy XV
|Lightning Saga: Final Fantasy XIII Episode Zero -Promise- - Final Fantasy XIII -Episode i- - Final Fantasy XIII-2 Fragments Before - Final Fantasy XIII-2 Fragments After - Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Chronicle of Chaotic Era|
Type-0: Final Fantasy Type-0: Reaper of the Icy Blade - Manga - Final Fantasy Type-0: Change the World -The Answer- - Final Fantasy Type-0: Change the World -The Penultimate Truth-
|Bhunivelze - Etro - Lindzei - Mwynn - Pulse - Diva|
|Chaos - Crystal - Crystal Stasis - Etro's Gate - fal'Cie - Focus - l'Cie - Unseen Realm|