Why The Team Behind Final Fantasy Think “Lightning Returns” Will Be A Game Worth Playing

In an interview with 4Gamer, the team behind Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII–producer Yoshinori Kitase, director Motomu Toriyama, lead designer Yujii Abe, and art director Isamu Kamikokuryou–give a little more insight into their newest installment, and why it’s one of the most innovative games you’ll be playing.

The team remind us early that this is not Final Fantasy: XIII-3: Lightning Returns is seen as a completely new type of game, going in a completely new direction. This means that that Lightning Returns can be enjoyed without having played Final Fantasy XIII or Final Fantasy XIII-2, but this doesn’t mean that Lightning Returns won’t reflect the previous games at all.  Lightning Returns will certainly be based on the mythology of Final Fantasy XIII, but the team strongly suggested that this new idea–of having a limited time left to live in the world–is what makes Lightning Returns so unique and compelling.

The idea that most games are story-driven or player-driven is powerful, but what the team is going for in Lightning Returns is a game that is “world-driven.” With a world that is constantly counting down to doom, the team believes that time management will add a certain amount of tension–perhaps even panic–to Lightning Returns‘ gameplay. Especially considering that certain attacks and actions will decrease the time Lightning has left.

The story of the game will start with the destruction of the world, Dattari, leaving Lightning 13 days to save it. Everything Lightning does changes the life expectancy of the world itself, so that by day 13, the world may or may not be destroyed. Between the first and last day, players will have an immense amount of freedom in exploring the world, encouraged to make the game their own and discover it at their own pace.


So far, the team estimates that a day in Lightning Returns is approximately 1-2 hours in real time. In that time, players can experience whatever events they come across, but obviously there’s not enough time to partake in all the events the game offers. This–similar to Heavy Rain, the Mass Effect series, and The Walking Dead–is meant to encourage two things: conversation between players on what they’ve experienced, and replayability. Unlike those other games, though, Lightning Returns allows players to replay the game without starting over on a new save.

Similar to The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, players will have the option to bring Lightning back to the first day, although the team haven’t clarified how this works in the game. Nonetheless, they’ve made a distinct comparison between Lightning Returns and the traditional RPG, through literature. A long RPG–we’re talking 100+ hours–would be like a long book: it would take a lot of time to complete it just once, time many people don’t have nowadays. And after completing it the one time, there would be little desire to read it again anytime soon. Instead, Lightning Returns is designed like a short novel, one that can be finished within a relatively short time, but reread for fun and discovery. Like a good book or movie, the team hopes that replaying Lightning Returns will bring new content and experiences for players to discover.

The battle system is the most overhauled aspect of the game, with the team ditching the party system entirely to focus the game on Lightning. In Lightning Returns, the game will focus all on Lightning, with the team saying they wanted to change the way battles felt. They felt trying to control a team tactically in real time was somewhat complex, and wanted to simplify combat structurally while adding in depth and strategy through refinement.


The change in battle mechanics also affects the type of gameplay Lightning Returns offers. The game’s four island locations have development teams dedicated to each section, with each mission offering a variety of new enemies and objectives. Some involve stealth missions, some involve mysteries for Lightning to solve, but each are meant to be unique, and more than what has been offered before in previous installments.

Overall, the team seemed really excited on the prospect of having such a new world to offer players, and hope that creativity and discovery will encourage gamers to keep playing in the Final Fantasy universe.

How do you feel about Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII? Let us know in the comments below, and as always, stay tuned to DualShockers.

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  • Feels like they are trying to cater to the whiners to be honest.

    I hope they succeed at least. I’m still waiting for a GOTY version of XIII-2 that has all the DLC on disc before I play it.

    I wish more games were like FFXIII. But of course everyone hates realistic characters who behave realistically in situations that would cause any normal person to near lose it(EG. They are “whiny”). People hate stories in games that are actually incredibly well paced and have most of the game focused on the story and character development rather than the player doing whatever the hell they want. (Even though like most all FF main games. This is no different, after a certain point you can go do sidequests. And in XIII there are tons of things to do if you want to.)

    And people hate having the illusion of freedom taken away from them. Even though the battle system has an incredible amount of freedom in how you can play and strategize, much like FFX, if you use manual battle of course. Auto battle was a bad choice IMO. No FF main game has really been non-linear with a few exceptions
    (II-couldn’t actually go where you wanted without being buttraped by mobs. X-2-done well since it’s essentially the epilogue to X, XI-MMO,XII-see below, XIV-MMO),.

    Why does XIII get hated on when other completely linear FF games get a free pass? The difference is the illusion of freedom, instead of being guided in a world map corridor(illusion), it’s more up close and personal instead(Non illusion). You can still play the game’s battles with a large amount of freedom just as with most other FF main games. Why was XII “Teh worst FF game” when it came out (When it is pretty much exactly the kind of game that people criticized XIII for not being)and now everyone loves it?

    The problem this creates is who does the creators listen to for future direction?
    You can’t possibly please everyone. There will always be those who prefer one thing or another who won’t like certain things for certain things. Just as there will be those who treat each one as a unique entity and enjoy it for it’s unique strengths. (After all, isn’t this a series that is about constantly changing or reinventing itself?)

    I don’t mind doing new things honestly. Just as long as they aren’t copycatting western designs to try and please people.(Like Dialogue Trees. I can’t stand the ones that are really the only main method of advancing the story. I don’t mind the occasional ones like in older FF games)

    /Yeah go ahead. Flame away.

    • Anon

      Actually agree with many of your points, don’t think there will be GOTY version though.