Square Enix has recently hosted a media tour for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII with Motomu Toriyama and Yoshinori Kitase. I would like to start this with generously thanking Square Enix for providing me with this opportunity to participate. During the event we had the opportunity to view a demo of the game, learn about their vision for the series, and we also had a chance to do a Q & A session. In this first part, I will be covering my impressions on the demo.
The demo starts around the area of the recent Jump Festa trailer with Lightning getting off the train. An area title appears announcing you are now entering Luxerion. With this bit of information we learned that this new world, Nova Chrysalia, is split into four continents – Luxerion, The Wildlands, The Dead Dunes, and one more that is still unnamed. You can travel between all of these by train at any time.
Soon after she arrives a girl is murdered and a Lightning doll is hung from the clock tower. Lightning mentions that there’s been three murders in three days. Hope tells Lightning that her best option is to look for clues around the city which causes Lightning to go into a detective like mode. After exploring some for witnesses, Lightning eventually finds a group of suspicious people.
To follow them Lightning goes into stealth mode which involves hiding behind walls to remain hidden. Do take note that not all quests are like this and that actions are allocated based on your current quests. She soon finds these people performing a ritual and she decides to go search for codes in the morning.
Speaking of time, there is a constant timer counting down by the mini-map in the top right corner. Also by this timer is a clock showing the present time of day. The world of Lightning Returns is very dynamic in that certain things will only happen at certain times of day. For example, the train will only arrive at certain times of day and people will be commuting to work at certain times of day. This will allow for the player to be very strategic regarding how they end up spending their time within the world.
Within the town there are various shops including the addition of restaurants (and food stalls) which will heal you if you visit them. Speaking of shops, abilities within Lightning Returns aren’t gained through leveling and so on – they are gained through purchases at a shop.
A little after it hit 8am in the game the code hunt began. It seemed that people were gathered within an alley, which as it turns out is the location of our first code. While getting this code, Noel appears in the corner and then leaves. After she gets it, Hope guides Lightning as to what to do next. While getting the code though time was still passing. It seems, however, people are now scared and are running away from some enemies.
While hunting for these enemies, the demo showed off various tricks you can use to get around Luxeria, along with things that happen while there. The town is constantly changing – monsters will appear in various areas based on time.
Within battle, you have full control over Lightning – you can freely dodge, guard, move around, and attack (provided you have enough ATB). However, to make battles go as smoothly as possible, you will need to work on getting the right set of abilities and outfits. Lightning can equip three “styles” at once and each features their own ATB while in battle. You may freely change between them to optimize your ATB usage. Lightning has various outfits available to her, though how you unlock more of them is unknown at this time. She has outfits such as the Sorceress, Shadow’s Dust, and Heart Burglar. You may also change her weapon and shield to what you feel is best.
Other battle changes include a huge change to the stagger system. The stagger system has been changed into the “knockdown” system in which you hit various weak points on the enemy to knock them down. Well timed counters can also knock them down. Ability animations have been enhanced.
Side quests are available and are assigned by those in town, though their wish and such are determined by time. Within the demo they eventually picked up one to kill a Behemoth, and once killed it ended the demo.
After the demo we were shown a small clip of some other battles, including the introduction of another effect from the frozen time. People have begun to get a heavy burden on their hearts, and this isn’t just limited to random characters in the world. Lightning will have to face people, comrades even, to free them from their burden. This includes one of the controllable characters from Final Fantasy XIII-2 – Noel. Noel is shown in this as a “Shadow Hunter” and accuses Lightning of not being real because she’s “already dead.” All of the heavy burdens on Noel cause Lightning to face him in battle to free him.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is currently set for a Fall 2013 release worldwide. Stay tuned for part 2 which will be coming shortly.