After the cliffhanger ending of Final Fantasy XIII-2, everyone expected another installment in what Square Enix has come to call the “Lightning Saga.” Of course, Square Enix seems to have a thing for convoluted names lately, which means that instead of calling it Final Fantasy XIII-3, they’re going with Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. Oh well, there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on with the game, and Famitsu has just revealed a lot of it.
If FFXIII was “story driven” (pulling the player along) and FFXIII-2 was “player driven” (the player choosing where to go), then Lightning Returns will be “world driven,” with players reacting to a changing world. The game revolves around time, with clocks everywhere, because the world ending due to the influence of Chaos in thirteen in-game days whether or not the player has reached the end. (One in-game day is only one to two hours in real-time.) Certain events and game mechanics may reduce that time, and sometimes even helping someone may reduce that time. However, certain quests may be able to restore time to the dying world. Even running out of time may not be the end, as the game is meant to be replayed multiple times before reaching the singular ending, which is supposed to be a final, happy ending.
Moving away from time mechanics, Square Enix notes that Lightning has become a more “refined” person, which hopefully means that she has more personality. She won’t have aged though, as due to the effects of Chaos, people have stopped aging and don’t get old; people from FFXIII-2 haven’t died. Unlike previous games, she is alone in battle, being able to move freely around the battlefield and attack the enemies. An ATB system returns, though attacks aren’t selected from a menu. Instead, abilities are mapped to buttons.
The game is only 30% complete, and no word has been given about the return of most other characters from previous games, though Hope is confirmed to be in contact with Lightning via wireless. Surely more characters will appear, even if they’re not in her party. I’m sure Square Enix will continue their usual drip of information right up until the game releases, whenever that is.