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Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns – The Game XIII Should Have Been

Final Fantasy XIII was a flop! There’s no use sugar-coating it, you know it, I know it, and Square Enix definitely knows it. Described as the worst Final Fantasy to date, it was unbelievably linear (sacrilege for a RPG) and its characters aside from Lightning were devoid of any depth or interest. To right the wrongs, Square Enix released Final Fantasy XIII-2 which was marginally better but whilst it broke the linearity, XIII-2 was messy and featured everybody’s least favourite characters, so I hear you ask why should we bother with XIII-3?

Lightning Returns will be the game XIII was supposed to be, Motomu Toriyama (director) has promised the game will be the most complete and polished in the Final Fantasy series, but also XIII-3 will be a fresh start. Lightning wakes up 500 years after the events of XIII-2 from crystal stasis to once again save the world from destruction. Instead of being story-driven like the first two games, Lightning Returns will be world-driven which means exploration that we all love doing so much will be back but it will be the world that dictates what the player can and cannot do. This is achieved by making the world ever-changing and strongly time conscious, for example a woman will only dish out a mission when she’s on her way to work.

Combat is also being totally overhauled, the player will only control Lightning. That’s right, no teams or monsters! This new feature sets to make combat blisteringly fast as it all takes place in real-time. There is still some strategy involved though with the inclusion of guards and immunities. Furthermore attacking monsters opens up the landscape for battle so Lightning can actually be moved around the whole space if required. The player can also choose to fight every monster if they choose to and even cause extinction of a particular “breed” of monster if enough are killed!

Dress spheres are back but before you check out, this aspect has also been improved. A number of outfits are available to Lightning throughout the game which have slots for abilities and unique stats. Reminiscent of FF7‘s materia assignment system, the level of customisation is massive. Lightning is allowed to take 3 outfits into battle which can be switched on the fly so she can dish out a flurry of attacks without ever stopping! Toriyama has stated that there won’t be a Sphere Grid or Crystarium  for leveling up; in fact, he hasn’t revealed anything at all, but it’ll be something that reflects the singular playable character dynamic and will be wholly new!

Lightning was designed to be the spiritual successor to Cloud from Final Fantasy VII but most players found her to be cold and alienating. There is a pinpoint focus on Lightning with all other characters reduced to a supportive role but this time Toriyama wants to cast her in a different light, “cool” in fact is how he described her! Personally I found Lightning to be the most intriguing character from FFXIII and least annoying, I am very much looking forward to learning more about her and I’m very excited about the slew of changes XIII-3 brings about.

Bonus: As a true successor to Cloud, Lightning will be inheriting his Buster Sword.

Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Returns will released on the 21st of November in Japan and early February for English-speaking territories.

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  1. Powan says
    July 18, 2013, 5:16 PM

    Flop? Define flop. Selling more than 7 million copies must be too low for you. And while many hated 13, a lot also liked it and considered it a rather successful experiment to the Final Fantasy series.

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    • Murad says
      July 20, 2013, 6:53 AM

      You’re clearly not understanding the idea of flop in terms of the FF series. FF 13 only sold 7 million copies because everyone expected it to be as good as FF 10, or even 12; when in reality, the game was a complete mess to true RPG fans. This means title like The Lost Odyssey was even better than FF 13, but received little to no attention from anyone because unlike SE’s famous franchise, The Lost Odyssey didn’t have the popularity to back up it’s claim.

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  2. July 21, 2013, 4:35 AM

    Definitely a flop, let me explain. FF13 was in development hell for 6 years and for 2 consoles that had 2 totally different architectures, how much do you that’ll cost SE? Whilst I didn’t hate FF13 I didn’t love it like the others either. Some aspects of the “experiment” paid off like the battle system and wow did the game look insane and I enjoyed the premise but it just lacked that familiar FF magic, I mean come on Hope was soooooo whiney and Vanille? Wish I could’ve left her behind, Sazh I could’ve also done without and Snow was just a jock! I do agree with Murad FF13 overshadowed everything else as well like all Final Fantasy’s, remember Vagrant Story? FF14 looks like it’s shaping out to be back to form and Lightning Returns is also a step in that direction.

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  3. August 12, 2013, 1:22 PM

    […] While it promises to take you back to the good old days of JRPGs, back before things grew… Complicated, some things look very different from what we’re used to seeing in traditional JRPGs, and […]

  4. September 15, 2013, 6:30 PM

    […] hard to say, but if it was released and became a commercial success, it might’ve changed the direction the series is currently heading towards. Maybe the Final Fantasy XII universe, the world of Ivalice- maybe we’d see more things set […]

  5. Jacky D says
    February 11, 2014, 8:25 PM

    I’m really glad the Lightning saga is finally coming to an end. It managed to ruin my favorite series of all time with its crappy story and characters and two poor excuses for sequels.

    I’m really hoping it bombs with consumers as much as its doing with critics. SE keeps feeding us crap and the most loyal and rabid fanboys keep giving them more money for their piles of crap with the FF name on them.

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