Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII: How Snow And Other FFXIII Heroes Changed

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.


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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_ffxiii_sept_xiv_10 lightning_returns_ffxiii_sept_xiv_19


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.

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  • Kairo Fujima

    Interesting to hear. Hopefully we’ll get more info on possible DLC later on.

    • Somber

      There will be no story DLC but you can expect costume DLCs.

      • Lelouch Vi Britannia

        Going the Same way Namco is doing with the “Tales of” series. Costume DLC is what Namco has been doing since Tales of Vesperia.

        • Somber

          It won’t be. But it will be cool if they provide additional costumes for future Final Fantasy characters.

          • Kairo Fujima

            I’m glad there’s no more story DLC. that was a terrible decision on SE’s part to include that in XIII-2. Costumes would be nice as long as they’re a throwback from the previous series.

  • Sardorim

    I really wanna know why Hope is a kid form again and not adult form.

    Did Hope revert his age because he thought Lightning liked a younger Hope?

    • Somber

      He didn’t want to. Bhunivelze sapped his emotions and turned him into his younger form.

      • Sardorim

        So… Lightning to the rescue!

    • Yvonne Tsang

      No competition for Toriyama in the battle for his waifu. How dare any goodlooking adult male get all close with her without being punched!

      I’m honestly a bit disappointed that Lightning never gets intimate with anyone though, romantic or otherwise. She feels very distant and it’s hard to see if she even cares for the playable cast of FF13.

      • Rishtopher

        I have that same feeling about her. Honestly, it makes it hard for me to relate to her. She always seemed really cold. I’ve gradually warmed up to everyone in the cast except her. That makes me kind of sad.

        • revenent hell

          I agree with both of you.
          Actually the only reason I warmed up to her was because of Dissidia…. She smiles and has “warm” type moments in it that make her likeable….which is kind of sad that “her” own games don’t relate it as well….

      • Uso Ewin

        Don’t worry, that’s why we have fanfiction.

    • echokanon

      So that they can have wider audience reach. Besides, adult who still uses boomerang is a little silly at times

    • Lelouch Vi Britannia

      Hope didn’t revert his age. Shit just happened. He’s not a lifeless being like “Mithos” was in Tales of Symphonia. Mithos is able to change his physical appearance completely at will.

  • Bell

    I really like this depressing turn the series has taken, especially regarding Noel and Snow. I knew those two would eventually break down.

    Also, Lightning looks damn classy in her dress. It’s good to see that she has costumes that aren’t blatant fanservice.

    • Devinja

      I hear ya, but think its such a drastic turn from the ending of XIII. If I had to guess Lightnings gonna cause a time paradox making the events of XIII never happen though. (I mean, thats how Chaos was ended in FF1)

      • Lynx

        Unless it’s reversed.

        Perhaps this sets the events in motion for XIII. Not XIII-2 though.

        • Lelouch Vi Britannia

          This makes it the what 3rd Square Game dealing with Time travel in a sort. the same can be said about the Tales of series starting with Tales of Phantasia, Tales of Destiny 2(PS2), and Tales of Xillia 2, though I won’t give away any TOX2 spoilers.

      • Setsu Oh

        WAIT!! is there a tie btw 13 and 1????

        • Nice Boat Quatro

          No, he means that Chaos was immortal thanks to a time paradox. Even the plot of Final Fantasy 1 was confusing.

  • Frederick Anchores Panahon

    Hope x Lightning, let’s go!

    • Arcana Wiz

      Fang X Lighting, Let’s go!

      • Narrator 1

        Lightning x The End of the World, let’s go!

        • Lelouch Vi Britannia

          Milla Maxwell x Lightning as a Team Lets Go.

    • TheBlackRabbit

      S-Sarah X Lightning g-go!

  • Arcana Wiz

    This games looks interesting… could be a great end to the XIII series, at least looks ambitious with freedom choices… i’ll pick it up.

  • CptPokerface

    I remember being turned away by X-2, even with the job change system because the whole thing came off really girly at the time. ( granted this was years ago when this game is new but..)

    There seems to be a real nice balance between fanservice costumes and the “cool” costumes in this game. so I’m really looking forward to it.

  • Freya2012

    I am sad and happy to see this series comes to an end.

  • Loli Summoner

    That whole time thing is lame,though they gave a lot of time,I still don’t like to be timed I’mma feel a need to rush.

    • revenent hell

      I think a lot of people feel this way.
      I myself am not a big fan of it since I tend to multitask gaming when I am doing other things so I tend to let a game just run on end for a while. Thankfully in most games I have played that have the whole “Time moving on” thing isn’t a big deal since its mostly aesthetic changes or when you can find certain people so its not a big deal…..Here it doesn’t as of now sound as if that’s the case so I am probably going to miss a lot of stuff

      • Ehren Rivers

        Yoshinori Kitase actually commented on that earlier today. When asked what happens if you fall asleep or have to leave unexpectedly Kitase said, “If Lightning remains motionless for more than a minute, the game will automatically pause, so don’t worry.”

        • revenent hell

          Oh, very cool.
          Thanks for mentioning that.
          At least I wont feel like my “wandering” will end up having me miss something I’d rather not.

  • Tiredman

    I would hope one thing they learned from ff 13-2 is quit hiding arena battles and story content behind dlc. I haven’t bought ff 13-2 entirely because of the crap with the arena combat battles being dlc.

  • Guest

    So basically Majora’s Mask, right? Doomsday countdown, collectible
    masks/garbs, everyone’s mopey and depressed. The similarities are pretty
    obvious, SE.

  • Rhayve

    Sigh, why the damn requirement of playing through the game twice or more times just to see everything? Statistically, most people only complete games once, and the story’s unlikely to be different enough for most people to bother watching it again. Basically wasted resources to provide several alternatives that will never be seen by the majority.

    • revenent hell

      A game I love I can play and replay but for the majority I have not, even If I adore the game in most cases they tend to be so long (since frankly I am addressing rpgs/jrpgs here) that a replay is just to long when so many new games come out its almost not convenient to play them with as much time as item hunting,grinding and not to mention story elements themselves take…..

      If a game is 8-12 hours long, I say go for it make it impossible to get everything in one play threw but if a game is like most RPG’s and takes over twenty something hours to complete, just don’t do it….
      Make it hard to do but make a way for it to be done in one play threw.

      Multiple endings; Go for it! but for the love of all that’s holy don’t force me to play a game multiple times just to do everything in it, especially if its an RPG….they are long enough.
      I highly value games with replay value, but not at the cost of forcing a replay, I should want to replay it simply because I find it a good game to play not because certain things are deliberately held back from the first play threw. I get they want to give encouragement and value to play the game again but that could be done by starting the game with all items/levels/outfits/whathaveyou unlocked from the beginning.

      Maybe in my younger days I wouldn’t mind so much but as a working adult with barely enough free time to finish the unopened games I currently have its a little annoying to hear to do everything in a game I absolutely HAVE to play it again……Not to mention im not by any means a raging fan of this particular trilogy of games doesn’t give incentive that I will want to do so here….
      Maybe I will love the game but even then RPG grinding isn’t a joy and as much as I loved past Final Fantasy games I still haven’t replayed them since they take to much time to do.

      • Rhayve

        My exact sentiment. Thank you.

        • revenent hell

          Your welcome!
          Most see statements that don’t go gaga for a game as blaspheme …. But since I like to actually be literate on occasion I will randomly read something and grasp where the poster is coming from.

    • FlyingPony

      I don’t really mind it.. especially if grinding is optional and I get to keep my armor + item in NG+.

      Just do a speed run to watch the alternate ending.

  • bushin

    Really looking forward to this, I thoroughly enjoyed XIII and im looking forward to seeing how the rest of the characters have changed. My god Fang is the best looking character I’ve seen in a video game in a long time!

  • Sesshomaru

    I can’t wait to play this. I should go back and play XIII though. Again. I finished it once.

  • Lelouch Vi Britannia

    Kinda like how in Tales of Xillia there is a problem with Spyrixes. Trying not to spoil TOX2 though butit deals with Origin king of Spirits.

    I kinda see some story Similarites between FF & Namco Tales in a few ways.

  • Lelouch Vi Britannia

    How about this for a XrossOver
    “Milla Maxwell & Lightning” 2 Focused individuals who’ll do whatever it takes to finish their Mission.

  • Leonard Norwood Jr.

    Finally this will end everything in Final Fantasy XIII and I’ll be looking more forward to FF15. I’m not even trying to be negative, the FF13 went number 3 sequel. I know people are still looking forward to this game, but this Final Fantasy game ended up one of my least favorite FF games for a few reasons. Well I’ll try to play this game, only if to see how FF13 all ends.

  • Lelouch Vi Britannia

    Same can be said about Jude Mathis, Alvin, Leia, Elize, Rowen, and even Milla Maxwell changed personality wise from Tales of Xillia to Tales of Xillia 2.

  • Lelouch Vi Britannia

    Lightning Returns characters have to deal with 13 days left.
    In Tales of Xillia 2 they main characters have to deal with reducing the number of timelines since Origin King of Spirits can’t handle the abundance of spirits.

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