Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Aiming For Open World Structure

By Sato . July 19, 2013 . 7:20pm

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will be the third and final chapter of the Lightning saga, where you’ll be playing as Lightning herself in an open world, which Square Enix boasts will be more active than ever. Recently, Dengeki spoke to design director Yuji Abe regarding key points and new features of the game.


According to the design director, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy originally had a steady flow of active time, but after gradual changes, this has changed. One of the biggest changes comes from an ability that allows you to stop time during play, which he feels will vastly change how the game is played.


“The gauge on the lower-left part of the screen is called GP, which is something like a convenience point system,” Abe explains. “This can be used during battle, to teleport to specific areas on the field, or to even stop time. For example, if you have a lot going on (and not enough time), you’ll be able to stop time. So, if you go ahead and use GP without any hesitation, your playthrough will surely be easier.”


“It stands for Glory Point, which can be acquired upon clearing battles,” Abe responds to Dengeki’s question about the abbreviation. “Originally, it was part of the Radiant Power (points given to the Tree of Life, Yggdrasil, to extend the lifespan of the world) but that would weigh in on the balance of the world’s life span, so we separated it so as to not cause any hesitation. Now, it can be used without having to worry about the world’s life span.”


Dengeki points out that there are players who will try to beat the game without participating in regular battles, to which Abe gives a little insight.


“I believe there will be a huge hurdle to doing that; however, Lightning will be able to level up by simply clearing key events, which will increase her parameters. Again, if you want to increase her parameters by a larger amount, you can also purchase equipment.”


In regards to equipment, Abe also mentions that it will have a huge impact on Lightning’s parameters. Furthermore, you can even purchase the most expensive gear sold at the first shop in the game, which will be good enough to last you until the last boss, but it won’t be a simple task to gather up the money to buy it.


Additionally, Abe talks about how it will be possible to grasp everything in a single playthrough, but that it will be difficult, especially if it’s your first time playing.


Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII boasts fields larger than any seen in previous Final Fantasy title, including more freedom to explore. According to Abe, the two main points behind the development were that it’s okay to have some parts that won’t be seen by players on the first try, and to make all visible areas as accessible as possible.


The dungeons will have many structures that will bring plenty of differences in elevation, which will allow players to go from areas that are located to the top, all the way to the very bottom.


“Our games have never put too much consideration into the idea of ‘being able to go to areas that look accessible,’ so we’ve made it our goal to take that part a step higher,” says Abe. “Covering 100%  in those regards might be a little difficult, but I’d say that you’ll be able to go to about 90% of all visible areas.”


In addition, the game will also be played in a seamless, open world structure for the most part, with the only loading screens being when you teleport to a different location or if you’re relocated during a story event. Other than that, you’ll be able to walk your way through all the continents in seamless fashion, with another exception being the loading screen that appears when you get in a vehicle.


Lightning Returns’ battle system may look a little more difficult to some players, but it’s actually very simple, according to Abe, who says that the easiest way to put it is pressing buttons to perform attacks and to guard when being attacked. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll have to perfect your guarding skills in order to win fights, as it will still follow traditional RPG methods by allowing you to win fights easier as long as you’re stronger.


As mentioned in our earlier reports, you’ll also get to target enemy parts and destroy them, which results in an advantage for you and additional rewards upon winning the battle.


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  • Kevadu

    I feel like with this game S-E is just throwing every buzzword they can think of at the wall and seeing what sticks. And then vaguely relating things to FFXIII somehow…

    • You’d think that would be a bad thing, but this game is looking halfway decent.

  • epy

    Open world games, open world games everywhere.

    • Juan Andrés Valencia

      People used to bitch about games being way too linear, now it’s time to bitch about games being too open.

  • Raze

    Active huh?
    Can Lightning do the pole dance with that pole?

    • epy

      Maybe, for the right price (DLC).It’s S-E after all.

  • KingGunblader

    “Glory Point”

    …Nope, I got nothing.

  • Quacker

    I hope there is some cool bonus for not using a lot of glory points like a true ending or something

    • Moofarbubu

      If that were the case they wouldn’t have separated it from Radiant Points. They’ve clearly stated they want you to use it.

  • Pekola

    I know this is off topic, but is it possible to switch Schemata without changing costumes?

    And do you miss something by not using the alternate ones?

    • Quacker

      if both the schema have the same costume then it wont have to change(i think)

  • Detrimont

    for some reason, i’m hoping for interactable environments
    i just want to see lightning swing that giant sword looking thing in the background of the first image though.

  • Guest

    I don’t know about a few people, but I like the direction where this is going…. :-)

  • ndjn3979

    Ill get it when its $20

    • John Pena

      Lol, that’s what I do to for every final fantasy game now. There not the same anymore.

    • Dominic Hunter

      ..You get burned on that too with FFXIII?

    • Herok♞

      I’ll get it when it’s $60 and if it has a Limited Edition I will pay more for it.

    • Ok cool but we’re here to talk about the article not how much you plan to buy this for because..well no one cares :/

      • RisukuAozora

        I dunno, with that many upvotes, someone must… o.O’

        I haven’t gotten my hands on either XIII or XIII-2, but then again, i’m not really a fan of much Square Enix stuff post-merger.

        • ndjn3979

          I’ve gotten both sub-$20, with XIII-2 as the limited edition. I got my money’s worth.

      • ndjn3979

        good point. no one cares about you being butthurt :/

        • You’re an idiot, how is that being butthurt? over what? That I visit this site to read article and user’s thought on it but ending up getting some asshat who wants everyone know that he will buy this game when it’s cheap? Oh cool good for you but no one gives a fuck.

          • ndjn3979

            Last time I checked I can post my opinion anywhere I choose on the internet. I did not post my opinion to get a rise out of people or any other kind of reaction; it was simply the first thought that came up after reading that article. Just as many people may express positive opinions, I am entitled to express a negative opinion. Though, in this case, I see mine as a neutral one.

            Let’s analyze the situation here. I put up a comment that may be considered caustic and crude towards the developers. However, it’s still a general statement which has nothing to do with you, a random internet person.

            You come in with that snide comment to demean my opinion. You claim that you shut down my comment because you want to discuss the article. Very well. Except…I think you could have taken the time you took to attack me to actually discuss the article with someone else. And I don’t see you doing it.

            Thus, I reach the “butthurt” conclusion, because you chose to attack me, when you could have easily ignored my comment if you didn’t like it.

            Then comes the “idiot” and the “asshat”. Perfect comebacks. I’m guessing I hit bullseye?

            Unfortunately, I don’t have a superiority complex like you; I don’t give a **** if someone likes or dislikes my comment, or whether they think it’s relevant at all. If someone wants a discussion, they will get it. I also don’t feel entitled to having or any other site only display information and comments that match my tastes. It’s the ****ing internet, son, you are one in a billion. Grow a pair and deal with it.

    • Monterossa

      I’ll get it when it’s $60 and I’ll buy a used copy of XV.

  • Higashi no Ame 東の雨

    If Square Enix can do this for Final Fantasy series….then why they cannot do for Star Ocean as well.

    • Haven’t you seen the simply /brilliant/ innovations for the next Star Ocean game? It’s so powerful that it’s being released exclusively on mobile devices and the next-gen battle system had to be relocated to cards. ~_~;

  • Wykydtron

    So… an open world game that has a time limit with a continuously ticking clock, gg Square Enix, Making a game open world whilst keeping a time limit on is pointless.

    • Thrasher429

      Majora’s Mask would like a word with you.

      • Wykydtron

        MM succeeded, no question, however it was the only game like that to do so. I think that SE making a game as successful or as good as MM especially in their current state is next to impossible, their piss poor track record of late comes to mind.

        • Thrasher429

          Yes SE has been doing horrible lately and show no signs of improving given that Star Ocean social game that was announced. However with game consoles getting more powerful it’s unlikely anyone SE or otherwise would be able to achieve what MM did. With the limitations of the N64 the world was small enough that the few NPC’s it had were almost never static instead doing something different depending on the time making the world feel more alive. Which I think would be difficult considering the size of worldmaps in games these days.

          • “no signs of improving”

            FFXIV: ARR would like a word with you.

          • Thrasher429

            …….You know I completely forgot about A Realm Reborn which is pathetic considering the amount of hours I spent over the beta period playing it. I retract that statement with ARR, FFXV and (hopefully) Lightning Returns things are looking good for SE

          • Daniel blue

            “However with game consoles getting more powerful it’s unlikely anyone SE or otherwise would be able to achieve what MM did”

            That’s not the point. Technically, Squeenix may very well build a game inspired by Majora’s Mask’s mechanics. They don’t need next gen tech to do so.

            The problem pointed by the original comment was how well they’ll manage to merge the open world and time-related mechanics without one conflicting with the other. That involves carefully balanced design, which is exactly the kind of think SE has sucked at the last few years.

  • Daniel

    If there is a meter draining while time is stopped, how is time stopped at all? It doesn’t address concerns since it’s just a stop gap measure. Unless you can theoretically stand still forever and not have the time flow it’s worthless.

    • Steven Higgins

      It probably just stops enemy movement. Y’know, exactly what the Stop family of spells does.

  • Vash bane

    for me this sounds kinda complicated >.> lol

    I mean VP I couldn’t even beat that game in a short amount of time… mostly cuz it confused me( at the time I was REALLY new to games with a time limit…. and miss able characters)

  • sakusakusakura_nyo

    It sounds like this game is going to be better than Final Fantasy 15.

    • Syn

      lol, its nice to dream isnt it

    • Moofarbubu

      I don’t get why it has to be better than 15 for a lot of people. I’m hoping they’re both hits.

    • revenent hell

      Everyone has their own favorite games.
      I know most people who adore a game get miffed when someone says they dislike it (normally I just get amused) but no two people will love the same game.
      I personally almost hate every main FF game past X-2 so im just kind of hoping XV redeems the Final Fantasy series for me though I think at this point its not quite possible since even certain aspects of that game aren’t really making me hyped at all

      • sakusakusakura_nyo

        I loved every Final Fantasy game except for X-2.

  • JunHoward

    Well If it’s like ff12 scale, but better then I won’t complain.

  • SunOatBoatMatadorQuattro

    Wasn’t it that making an open world was too hard for Square which is why the latest FFs were more linear?

    • revenent hell

      Technically this isn’t an open world. They are just kind of using the words to make people think it will be something its not imo. They basically mean it in the sense of little loading screens and few or no invisible walls but it doesn’t necessarily mean “free roaming” since the clock makes that not possible by its mere being. You cant do as you see fit wandering wise if you have to adhere to the laws of the clock mechanics.

  • Masa

    i dread the story of this game as XIII-2 was abysmal.
    I’ll be skipping this as i’m not a fan of dress up Barbie games.

    • whatinthewolrd

      No one cares about your misogynist taste in games.

      • revenent hell

        Its not being a misogynist because the person said he disliked the first story and because he said he wasn’t “a fan of dress up Barbie games” Considering the amount of news about the costumes I get why the comment was made.

        Not everyone is going to “love” or like this game and they are entitled to speak their mind as well

        Sheessh are “we” going to start calling people racists because they don’t like a certain character to? Heaven forbid the character be plain old shitty to a person.

        • GGear0323

          the point was made because Lightning is a female character that can change clothes. nothing more. in other FF games, the characters looks change depending on their job. in most WRPGs, the character on screen can change his looks depending on the armor they are wearing. some JRPGs do this now as well. either way, the point is the same. different looks come with different abilities and those changes are reflected on screen. but people made fun of it in FFX-2 because the cast was all girls and because of the ‘dressphere’ description and he did the same here.

          • revenent hell

            That has nothing to do with calling people names for comments. Its jumping the gun and silly to do without proof of which I have not viewed.

            Its ignorant to call people things like that over a silly comment and im naturally adverse to seeing them.

            While I happened to like the dressphere system I know a ton of people did not and found it silly (even though a ton of games change looks based on armor/jobs) But it doesn’t mean they are anti woman.

            I personally get the Barbie comment because most girls played dress up with Barbie which is pretty much the bulk of whats been mentioned for Lighting…. Playing dressup with costumes.

  • Martian Wong

    I had read this before, o yea, it was one of the article regarding to Final Fantasy Versus XIII, being able to anywhere except the mountain and seamless travel except loading for the larger areas.

  • Best game in the XIII series =^_^=

  • “Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will be the third and final chapter of the Lightning saga”

    Thank God…

  • revenent hell

    This is an oxymoron.
    Open world and a continuous running clock really don’t go hand in hand unless they have plans to turn off the clock while your running around, which I don’t think is the case from what news is out about it as of now

    • XaviIniesta

      It goes hand in hand if the world has a dynamic flow of events for you to follow, interact with and change by reversing time. And FF XIII-3 does allow you to reverse time.

      “She will be able to gain or lose time, depending on what she does; saving one person could roll back the clock, while saving another person could move it forward”

      Something similar was done in Zelda: Majora’s Mask, as well as in Ephemeral Fantasia, where you could follow Person A’s daily routines during three days, and if you change these events on Day 2, then Person B’s actions on Day 3 will suddenly be different (because A and B Interact on Day 3), leading to you acquiring a letter that lets you change the fate of Person C at some point on Day 1 by accessing an area that was previously not accessible at that time. And so on.

      The fact that the clock was still running outside of town contributed to making this an interesting feature, as the time it takes you to get from point A to B could impact your ability to solve some of these ‘puzzles’. For example, if you have to leave town and defeat a group of bandits in a forest, then you’ll miss your window of opportunity to interact with certain NPC’s which you normally would have had to do during that time span. Until you later learn to travel between those points much faster. And helping all those NPC’s in one go on top of defeating the bandits could open up new opportunities.
      Also, as you eventually get used to the flow of events, you’ll associate them to the current hour you’re on, remembering what happens in town to certain people while you’re out on a mission. Like, if you defeat a boss in some dungeon at 03:15, you’ll remember, Oh, this is when the shopkeeper gets robbed. I should do something about that.
      It was a very interesting system in Zelda and in Ephemeral Fantasia, and and I’m looking forward to seeing how this one turns out in FFXIII-3.

      • revenent hell

        Having an open world and yet having it restricted by events is silly.
        I don’t really have a problem with the clock or the events per say but for the bulk of games you can wander around freely without this worry for open worlds (unless you trigger an event) with a count down to everything you do it makes it not really “free roam able” Its not really an open world if your required to complete events to keep your time from running out.
        Like I said the method of clock and events don’t bother me really, but I think its kind of along the lines of “dumb” to have an open world yet it be restricted. Open worlds are very rarely restricted or if they are they are more or less event based for the ones ive played and its on a more or less temporary basis that the “world” may be restricted for.
        This whole game is based around the clock time and events occurring, it seems to me like they are trying to give the “illusion” of an open world while keeping it linear. I suppose playing the game will determine this, though I suspect the whole clock thing is going to get very old quickly for people who like to ubber explore and grind.
        Frankly out of the three games I think this one will probably be the only one i’ll like…. That is IF they don’t have a level cap until you hit a new area or some such thing. I detested that……..

        • XaviIniesta

          I think perhaps you’re getting a bit caught up on your definition of “Open world” and how you imagine the game will be like. In this case, when they talked about open world in the interview, they said it will be played in a ‘seamless open world structure’, which could simply mean a world similar to Final Fantasy 12’s, but without loading times in between areas.
          I at least very much doubt that this game is going to have anything close to what Skyrim has when it comes to the the volume of terrain to roam and explore. If a grand feature like that would be part of the FF series for the first time, then they would most likely want to highlight it more, but they haven’t shown anything like that in the trailers or demo’s so far. Nor have they talked about the details. Which makes my expectations of it be more of a feature out of convenience that will make the world seem bigger and more open. Perhaps so that you can always see the sun/moon/weather and NPC’s affect your entire surroundings. But not close to a Skyrim scale. The fact that they want you to be able to go to areas that look accessible could also include all the ladders and poles they’ve placed out throughout the cities and dungeons. (You see Lightning climb up and down containers very fast when chasing Snow in the demo), and perhaps less about being able to visit the continent you see miles off shore in the horizon.

          Also, you mention the stress of having to complete events to prevent the time from running out. I don’t think it’s wise to presume that there won’t be other ways to control time in the game, or reasons not to stress about the final day. For starters, they mention Glory Points in this articles which you acquire from clearing battles. (Possibly any random battles.)
          But they also explain how it was originally planned to be able to expand the lifespan of the world as well, but they removed that portion of it’s function as to not make people worry about using it.
          That mentality tells me that they don’t want people stressing out too much about how they use their time constantly throughout the game. So I wouldn’t presume to know exactly how the time control is going to work yet, as there may very well be multiple other systems implemented. For example, what if on the final day, if you reach the final hour, it’s not a forced Game Over, but that you’re instead able to return back to Day 1? That would probably leave you plenty of time to explore and relax, on top of whatever abilities to control time they implement.
          I’m not sure how long 1 hour in the game will be, but if we assume that 1 hour in game is 1 minute of real time, then that gives you 5,2 hours to explore without touching the game clock at all. That’s a lot of time to explore, even by Skyrim’s standards. Especially if you’re able to go back to Day 1 again.

          They mentioned that you can buy the best gear in the game in the first shop (but you won’t be able to afford it early on) which could also be a sign that they intend to also have most areas of the game accessible for you to reach from the start, as long as you spend the time getting there. But your options there may be limited depending on your progression in the game. Similar to Final Fantasy 12.

          In both Zelda and Ephemeral Fantasia you could return to Day 1 again, and it wasn’t a forced Game Over if you reached the final hour. It’s rare for a game to be that punishing, that you could ruin your whole save file by saving near the end of a timer that has been ticking down for the whole duration of the game. (One example of that is Breath of Fire V: Dragon Quarter, which was considered a very punishing and difficult game.) But I wouldn’t assume for that to be the most likely outcome in this game. Especially since they already changed one system in the game to avoid players being punished for using Glory Points.

          Also, I see you mention a few times now about this system forcing linearity. But that’s not at all how I imagine it. In Zelda and Ephemeral Fantasia it did the exact opposite, as most of the NPC’s quests and how this system affected other areas accessibility was mostly optional. You could go about these in many different orders, or skip most of them entirely (I believe in Zelda you could even skip all), and because of that your play through would most likely be different from another person’s.
          I imagine they allow you to control time in order to make the questing less linear, and not the opposite.

  • Syed Sameer Rahman

    Now I’ll have to play 13 and 13-2 all over again, just to make sure I got the saves for Lightning’s previous garbs when this game comes out :)

  • Skode

    Am i the only one who prefers to make my own pace in RPGs… always having a ticking clock will likely frustrate me more than actually add to the experience

    • revenent hell

      I like to wander around a lot (I like to horde items and whatnot :D) So im just planning NOT to play the game the way I want.
      Im pretty flexible depending on what “type of game im playing but when I do hear of an “open world” I think “I can roam as I please” which here is obviously not the case….
      While I don’t mind events and such controlling how I play a game it bothers me they want to make people think this is by some means an “open world” game when in actuality its not since everything you do is controlled by a clock.
      Like I said Im really not adverse to the idea of the clock and stuff since I think even linear games can be fun but trying to make people think a game is something it is not is kind of like betraying a gamer in my view.

  • ShadowDivz

    I love lightning’s default(?) costume. (Well, the costume we usually see her in. I think it looks really nice.)

    I actually think all the costumes look awesome, i don’t know why people keep complaining. In Tales of Symphonia i LOVED getting alt costumes for everyone.

    Whatever, i look forward to playing this and hope there’s a demo to try and convert the nay sayers.

  • revenent hell

    I meant to mention this before but I detest the idea of “events” or scripted scenarios “leveling up/increasing parameters” of my character (unless its a genuine reward for completion of event)

    It really makes me think there’s going to be level caps until you progress to a farther point and im not a fan of level caps either since the first game was capped until you completed an area this makes me think the same thing will be implemented here to.

    I wouldn’t mind it so much if it was a stat increase for clearing the event, as in here’s your reward for doing this, but considering how the first two games played I have to say this highly makes me think its not just a reward but the main way of “leveling” in the game…. I would hope this is not the case but honestly as of late I have so little of it as far as FF goes.

  • AndyLC

    “Open World”+”Continous world clock”+”Go everywhere you can see”= MAJORA’S MASK RETURNS: LIGHTNING FANTASY CREED XIII-3

  • BenderIsGreat

    How does an open-world game make senses when you have a countdown clock limiting your exploration time?

    Also: Glory Point.


    Am I right fellas?

    • XaviIniesta

      They won’t necessarily limit your exploration time, as we don’t know if there will be other systems implemented, such as being able to return to Day 1 like in Zelda: Majora’s Mask and Ephemeral Fantasia.
      Also, I wouldn’t presume that this means it will be an open world in the sense of having a gigantically huge world like in Skyrim. Not until they showcase that in a trailer or describe it in an interview.

  • Raze

    They might as well make a new Musashi game using this system…

    It will be pretty great

  • John McDaniels

    Do they even know what an open world is skyrim is a great example of an open world. I want an open world final fantasy xii if they can make it final fantasy xiii needs to learn from xii

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