By now we’ve all seen the trailer for Final Fantasy Versus XIII, but details still may be hazy or scarce. Famitsu has been running a series of interviews for all three of the upcoming major Final Fantasy titles, one of which is Versus XIII. In it, they talk to director Tetsuya Nomura on just about every topic you would want to know about. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.
The Story – It’s All About an Evil Empire, Where Have I Heard That Before?
We know about the two main characters – Noctis, and his friend Ignis. The story revolves around the country of Niflheim (sound familiar?). Here, Noctis is the Prince, which makes his father the King. Niflheim is being invaded by a rival kingdom to the point where Noctis has to escape with his friends. Being the egotistical boy that he is, Noctis doesn’t view himself as being chased, but, instead, views himself as the one pursuing the enemy.
An interesting thing to note is that, since this game shares the same mythology with Final Fantasy XIII (and, presumably, XIII-2), we will hear some similar terms, like l’Cie and such. Versus XIII is a more modern take on things, though, so, according to Nomura, the language and the way certain terms are used will appear more modern. What that will entail exactly is anyone’s guess, but it may have something to do with where Versus XIII takes place in the stream of time compared to FFXIII, and how the terms have changed throughout the years.
The Battle System – Kingdom Hearts Meets Final Fantasy
The battle system is much removed from what we’ve come to expect from FFXIII. It is much more action-based and reactive, even being compared to Kingdom Hearts by Nomura himself. The battle UI contains many elements that are pretty standard to RPGs, such as status gauges, attack buttons and the like.
Viewing the trailer, you’ll also see a Summon command, and Nomura backed that up by confirming that there will, indeed, be summons in the game. You’ll also be able to ride around in vehicles, armored mechs and chocobos, possibly even in battle.
Magic attacks seem to be a huge focus of the battle system, as well as the story itself, with other characters only being able to use magic because Noctis is around (and he’s mandatory for combat, so he will always be around, sans story elements that may remove him from the group at times). It seems your overall party make up works a lot like in FFXIII, where you have a leader, except this time it is always Noctis, as he is mandatory, and then two other characters fill in the other spots. Earlier in the game, these characters are chosen for you for story and tutorial purposes, but as you progress, you’ll be able to fill out the party to your liking.
Unlike in FFXIII, during battle you can switch and use whichever character you like. However, just like in FFXIII, if Noctis dies, it’s game over. I’m not quite sure I like that concept being in yet another Final Fantasy title, it’s a bit obtuse.
A large part of the enjoyment that comes from this battle system will be players working out their own strategies in combat, figuring out which characters fit together for the play style that the player will be most comfortable with. A combination of unique abilities on the various characters work together to make battle a seamless activity. Noctis himself can use a variety of weapons, along with magic, but each of the other party members are restricted to only certain types of weapons.
The World of Final Fantasy Versus XIII
In a complete 180 from the offerings in Final Fantasy XIII, Versus XIII gives players a huge, open world to explore and lots of freedom. Nomura postulated that there is so much to explore that players likely won’t find everything on their first play through. Is that a challenge?
There will also be other large kingdoms to visit aside from Niflheim, as well as smaller villages, towns and a myriad of other places to visit and explore for both the main quest and many side quest opportunities.
Many objects in the world will be destructible, depending on both player and enemy action. One of the things highlighted, which you can see in the trailer, is when Noctis walks over a bridge, a behemoth suddenly shows up and takes the bridge out. If Noctis never walked over the bridge, the monster wouldn’t have appeared and the bridge wouldn’t be there. This leads me to believe that these aren’t mandatory story-related events, but just random events throughout the world that happen, not unlike the random quests that show up in Red Dead Redemption or that will be in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
All this sheds a lot of light on this once mysterious game – however not everything is cleared up. Nomura said to expect more reveals around E3 2011, which takes place in early June of this year. I’m betting the game’s full reveal and possibly even a Japanese release date will happen there, but you never know. Let’s hope they shoot for a simultaneous worldwide release. Wouldn’t that be something?