How I Saved A Chocobo in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

By Kris . September 24, 2013 . 11:58am

Sometimes a time-traveling god-like hero needs to work on a smaller scale. In my demo of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning was tasked with looking into what was eating nearby chocobos by some chocobo ranchers. After getting the gist of the situation, I wandered from the expansive safe field to the areas where monsters roamed.


Having played through Final Fantasy XIII and very little Final Fantasy XIII-2, it was somewhat surreal to wander out into a big field and actually get a little lost with Lightning. However, once I got on track, things moved pretty quickly towards my ultimate goal.


Battles were significantly different than I expected. Enemies wandered around the fields, and if you struck them with Lightning’s sword, they would start the battle with less health. Hit them as soon as you see them and they’ll start the battle with 30% less health. Hit them a bit later, and they’ll lose 10%. If they get the jump on you, you’ll lose some health before the fight begins (which is pretty dangerous, since this is the first FFXIII in which health doesn’t fully recover after each battle).


Combat isn’t quite what we saw in FFXIII, but it’s not quite your average action RPG either. For instance, while FFXIII’s beloved/hated stagger system didn’t seem to have a direct analog here, hitting an enemy hard, repeatedly, or with the right element would lead to a “knockout” which would leave them stunned for a while and (in the case of the weak slimes most of my demo had me fighting), open for a quick kill.


While attacks used a number of the same animations as they did in FFXIII, executing them was quite different. Skills were mapped to face buttons of the controller, and linked to each costume Lightning was wearing. For instance, her default outfit had Guard, Thunder, Attack, and Sparkstrike; but swapping over to her dragoon outfit would give her access to a Jump and a Slow spell. I realized with Slow, that (for the most part) as long as I held an offensive skill button, Lightning would keep performing that skill until she ran out of AP for that particular costume (each attack uses a set amount of which facilitates costume switching to stay on the offensive as your unused costumes restore their AP automatically).


Curiously, holding the Dragoon’s Jump after the fact would change that attack into a series of strikes called “Beatdown”…


Battlefield placement was also significant. The left analog stick would allow you to slowly strafe around your locked target or close or increase distance. Unlike Final Fantasy XII (which also let you move your characters around in combat), melee attacks wouldn’t strike your enemies if you were several feet away. Melee attacks would automatically send Lightning running toward her target. I found it was best to hold back as long as possible and pepper close-range enemies with spells until they ran up to me and I could guard against their attacks.


With the right timing, I could negate the entire attack. If I was a bit early, it would just soften the blow. While most of the costumes I could use in my demo had some form of guard, Heart Stealer (which looked a lot like Zidane from Final Fantasy IX from behind, given its tail) could dodge out of the way of incoming attacks, and Red Mage charged its AP.


Finally, I ran across the Chocobo Eater (yep, that was its name) brutalizing a white chocobo. The fight was a challenging one. Even though his main form of attack was trying to take a bite of Lightning with his giant mouth, I couldn’t quite get the guard timing right. In between attacks, I tried shifting from costume to costume (with a tap of L1 or R1) to maintain a constant stream of aggression and ensure that I didn’t use any of the electric attacks he was strong against, but my impatience ended up leaving me mostly drained of AP to the point where I couldn’t even block and left myself open to being bitten. I actually had to use the one potion the demo provided me to get through this fight.


After a cutscene involving the chocobo ranchers tending to the bloodied chocobo, I had a little bit more time to explore, but my progress was quickly halted by a Behemoth. However, my brief time experimenting with the costume changing combat definitely makes me curious as to how the game will play when all of the costumes are unlocked.

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  • Lusankya

    Actually, this doesn’t sound bad.

  • CptPokerface

    The second i saw “chocobo eater” i immediately thought of FFX’s chocobo eater.

    • abysswalker

      The second I saw your comment, I looked up “chocobo eater” (haven’t played FFX) What a badass looking monster

      • CptPokerface

        Oh definitely. Oddly proportioned but the face alone is an easy +1000 bad ass points. Always did like the fiends from FFX. Very primal and powerful looking.

    • Notquitesure?

      I liked using ifrit against it especially with the epic Hellfire.

      • CptPokerface

        X really had , in my opinion, some of the best designs for the summons in final fantasy, not to mention my favorite look for bahamut. So regal and imposing. That megaflare was just amazing on the ps2

  • Go2hell66

    I bet chocobos are delicious

    • Dark Zerato

      If you can eat a living fur ball, then chocobos are delicious.

    • Your avatar really sold the whole statement there.

  • Rogerrmark

    The way Lightning moves on this game looks similar to the Semi-Auto from Star
    Ocean,aparently. Although SO is action RPG,and this game not.

    If you use a melee attack from
    distance,she automaticaly moves toward the target.

    Looks pretty interesting,I really missed expansive worlds in most nowadays JRPG.

    • Lynx

      It’s possible Tri-ace could be helping out with the game.

      I know they helped with Danball Senki W and that was completely unexpected.

      • Rogerrmark

        Cool,I’m aware SE outsourced XIII-2 for Tri-Ace,and they helped a lot on it.
        But I’m not sure about this game.

  • Ehren Rivers

    Any chance we could get you to comment on the framerate? I’ve heard good things from most testers/players, but at least one person who has had direct contact with the demo seems to think it’s terrible.

  • AnimusVox

    (First screen)
    ‘Come at me brohemoth’

    • Vash bane

      lmao I just noticed that

  • Learii

    the battle might be fast huh?

  • So it´s like FFX-2 costume changes? Changing her costume makes her being able to use different spells/skills?

    Nice Square-Enix!

    Or maybe not. I thought the costumes were supposed to be just a design, not change her personality and give her different skills…

    • icantstandthisindecision

      The costumes don’t really change her personality; certain costumes change the way she carries herself, like Spira Summoner, Flower Girl (is that what it’s actually called?), and First Class SOLDIER, because they’re costumes of other Final Fantasy characters. But they’ve been pretty clear that the costumes AREN’T just for aesthetics from the start. They do, indeed, give her different abilities.

  • Gael Summers

    Heart Stealer reminded you of Zidane, and not Locke?

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