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By Spencer . November 15, 2013 . 5:25pm
Lightning returns along with many other characters, but Snow and Vanille are quite different in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. Siliconera spoke with producer Yoshinori Kitase to talk about how the characters evolved and why they added Final Fantasy crossover costumes.
If the theme of Final Fantasy XIII is breaking away from an unjust fate and the theme of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is quite different. Why did you center the story around salvation?
Yoshinori Kitase, Producer: Throughout the Final Fantasy XIII series, we told the story of the conflict between a god-given fate, and the people who struggle against that fate. With this last installment, we kept consistent with that theme of fighting against destiny, but Lightning will be depicted as a savior who will rescue souls of the people in this dying world. Lightning will act as a servant of god, and she is sure to rescue her own self from the pain she hides in her heart, through rescuing people. Please look forward to finding out what happens when she gets there.
How have Lightning and Snow changed as a character between Final Fantasy XIII to Lightning Returns? Snow, in particular, seems far from the impulsive hero he was in XIII.
After the events of Final Fantasy XIII-2, the world is consumed by Chaos and the end begins to draw near. In this installment, a few hundred years have passed since then, although people have stopped aging. Lightning has been asleep inside a crystal, and her heart is still pure; however, people like Snow and Noel, or any of her old allies lived through all those years while shouldering the burden of causing harm to the world, or not being able to protect the ones they loved the most. Just like the Chaos consumed the world, darkness has burrowed into their hearts as centuries passed by them. Snow is no longer an optimistic hero, instead, he finds himself struggling with all his might to keep himself from falling apart from the sadness of losing Serah. Lightning’s first mission is to save Snow.
It seems like most of the returning characters from Final Fantasy XIII have sad stories. Sazh is coping with his son’s condition, Mog’s village is under attack, and Noel is consumed by Chaos. Why are all of the stories for the returning characters a downer? Is it because Lightning is fighting for their salvation?
This installment takes place in Nova Chrysalia, a world that is faced with a sad and imminent end. People that reside in this world are constantly reminded of the darkness of Chaos that would be brought forth by death, while they continue to live in a world where they have stopped aging. The worldview and the base of the story have a sad tone, but because of that, the fact that Lightning is going to save people will lead to the hope of a new world. Of course, with the side quests, not all of it would have a sad tone, either; you will be able to see a range of scenes, from Lightning and the townspeople’s everyday lives to cute moments as well, so we hope you look forward to that.
Can you tell us more about Fang, Vanille, and Caius’s roles?
At the end of Final Fantasy XIII, Fang and Vanille became encapsulated in giant crystal pillars that held Cocoon up. 13 years before the beginning of Lightning Returns, they awake from that state. They were being protected as people who hold the fate of the world by the Order of Salvation, worshippers of the god Bhunivelze. What their roles are, and what happened in the 13 years they’ve been awake will be disclosed within the narrative of this installment.
No one knew the whereabouts of Caius, or whether he was even alive, after the previous installment; however, he can be found at a place called “temple of the goddess” from Valhalla, which appeared on the largest continent of the Wildlands. The Wildlands is what once was the center of Gran Pulse, as well as where the Chaos from Valhalla, the world of death, first appeared at the end of Final Fantasy XIII-2. Why he continues to live on, and the truth behind a certain mystery left at the end of Final Fantasy XIII-2, will be told through the story of this installment.
Why did you change the battle system to focus on Lightning and where did the idea for the “wear” system develop from? What kinds of new attacks or magic with Lightning have in this game aside from the Overclock ability?
Apparently, there were many gamers that found the battle system of the Final Fantasy XIII series to be difficult to understand. So while I kept the thought process behind the strategy of the battle, I wanted to make it a bit easier to see what the player should be thinking and to have a direct response to that, and that’s how the idea of having one playable character came about.
In terms of the various garb, there was always a request from the development team to be able to change the look of the characters when their roles switched; at the same time, some system memory resources opened up with switching to one playable character. That’s when we found a perfect match.
The concept of changing outfits didn’t come first; it naturally found its way there based on the compatibility between how the game mechanics were set up.
With regard to obtaining abilities:
Anything that requires depletion of EP will be learned by Lightning herself
General abilities are associated with whatever garb is equipped, or obtained through item drops by monsters
There are certain garb that are based off of Final Fantasy jobs, and players can experience abilities with a slightly different feel in the way the character moves. We have already revealed the “Dragoon” garb, whose special ability is the “Lancet,” and the “Rapid Fire” ability on the Black Mage allows for the player to repeatedly cast a spell at a fast rate, so each have a very different feel.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII seems to have a lot of Final Fantasy fanservice with the Cloud costume, Yuna costume, and FFXIV wear. Why did you add these elements to Lightning Returns and can you give us a hint at any other nods to the Final Fantasy series in the game?
The White and Black Mage outfits, available as DLC in Final Fantasy XIII-2, were very well received; and there were also a lot of demand from the fans to bring back past Final Fantasy titles. These outfits were in response to that demand. With regard to the Miqo’te outfit from Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, the leaders of each project came together to make this happen since the release dates for both Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII were fairly close to each other.
What kind of consumer feedback did you take away from Final Fantasy XIII-2 that influenced the development of Lightning Returns? What did you want to do differently?
Amongst the feedback we received from people who played Final Fantasy XIII, was the desire to have more freedom in the gameplay experience. In Final Fantasy XIII-2, we expanded on that freedom by having the player create episodes in history with their own hands. Now, with this installment, we have expanded even further on that freedom by introducing a new concept we call “world-driven.” Within a world that is free to explore, we also strengthened the idea of the passage of time over a 24 hours period. Even if the player chooses not to do anything, the world around them will continue to bustle on. By actively exploring this world, the player will be able to enjoy an adventure they have never experienced before.
Being an open world game Lightning Returns is quite different from other Final Fantasy titles. How did this change the approach when planning the game and the quests? How does the world change as time passes in game?
Having an open environment heavily impacted the way we developed the world map. We placed a lot of weight on how much of the restrictions that a traditional Final Fantasy set for the sake of making the world look beautiful we can remove.
With that in mind, I also had each of the teams handling the different areas think long and hard about how we can keep players to not stray too far off track, or in other words, make it difficult to get lost.
If you never get lost, it’s no different from being linear, but if you become totally lost, then it would cause stress and frustration; I think we were able to get to a happy medium, just in between those two extremes.
In terms of creating quests within the plans, I feel that the latter, element of time, was quite a challenge. Up until now, quests in a Final Fantasy game would be a one-dimensional point within the overall flow of the story; however, with this installment, it felt like it was two-dimensional. When we were creating the quests, I asked, if it was at all possible, that we allow for different ways to get to the solution for each quest, and so the team had to struggle to make the implementation make sense.
Since Lightning Returns has a set time limit, players won’t be able to see everything in one run through the game. Will there be a new game plus mode or extra scenes players can only see in a second lap?
With only a limited amount of time left on this world and a concept of “world-driven,” in which time continues to flow in 24 hours, there are more side quests than can be completed in one playthrough. Not only that, but there are plenty of garb, weapon and armor and other gameplay elements that become unlocked when you start a “New Game+” on certain difficulty levels, and so I feel that this game ended up becoming something you can enjoy playing through multiple times. I recommend doing the first playthrough on Easy Mode, to enjoy the overall narrative. Then from the second playthrough and beyond, go into “New Game+” and try using garb and equipment you didn’t use in the first play through to find something new and interesting during battles. The more you play the game, the more you will find replay value, and so I hope you power up Lightning as far as you can go.