In a new interview with Dengeki Online, Lightning Returns game design direct Yuji Abe shared some new details on the game’s battle systems, worldview, dungeons and more.
One of the new elements to the FFXIII series is Glory Points (Energy Points in the English version) – gained by completing battles and used to stop time on the field or teleport to specific area on the map. At first GP was shared with Radiant Power – points sacrificed to Yggdrasil – but now, according to Abe, are separate and repercussion on the world’s lifespan.
Because Lightning will advance in stats outside of battle as well due to the completion of event scenes, it’s possible to clear the game straight away without going out and fighting enemies. As for parameter changes in the category of usual play, the weight of equipment is considerably large. Strong weapons will be sold at the beginning of the game and Lightning will become stronger as a result. For example, if you buy the strongest one, you’d be okay using it against the final boss, however the price of it is so high you wouldn’t be able to afford it without doing your best first.
Abe says the first play-through of the game is actually quite difficult, although players can in theory experience everything in one go-around. The world of Nova Chrysalia is said to be quite vast – to the point where any point visible on the map is explorable, about 90% of it in total. Dungeons scattered throughout the world have many high and low variations and if you’re not careful you may fall straight to the bottom of one of them.
Lightning is able to explore the world seamlessly anywhere she can walk. Each continent can be walked though seamlessly, however if you ride the game’s monorail you’ll still encounter loading as it’s considered a warp function.
The battle system itself is still based largely on Final Fantasy XIII in that it still revolves around pushing a face button to attack. Despite the addition of action elements, Abe says once you play the game for yourself you’ll find it similar to a normal RPG. Movement in battle is conducted in real time, and by keeping check on your actions properly you can avoid enemies when you notice them form up into attack patterns.
Enemies can be brought down in one shot, although Lightning can still break/stagger them as well. While playing, when the enemy’s HP gauge produces a wave-like pattern called Stagger Wave – that’s the signal you’ve hit a weak point. You can tell the outcome of attacks depending on the variations in the wave’s movement and color until they are knocked out.
But battles aren’t as cut and dry as they were in XIII and XIII-2. Certain enemies can now be taken down piece by piece. For example, you could cut off their tail by attacking them from behind, although this is quite difficult. GP can also be used to create a shadow image of Lightning to take hits in her place, which should make distractions easier. About 1/4 of the monsters in the game will be breakable like that, including some brand new to the series. As a reward for downing a monster’s tail the drop items will typically change as well. Cutting off pieces of them has other advantages, such as ultimately causes the enemy to become weaker int he process.
As for healing, Lightning won’t be making use of Cure or Raise as a normal ability. GP must be spent instead, and Lightning will not immediately recover HP after battles either.
Lightning Returns centers on a lot of action, but even if you don’t have the time to guard during fights you can still win like in a regular RPG. On difficulty, if the game is set to Easy then enemies will be weak, Lightning barely consumes GP, and HP can be recovered simply by idling in the field. Tuning the difficulty to Hard will introduce stronger enemies and additional elements. If you continue to defeat the same enemies, they’ll become extinct, however, the last one of a species is extremely strong.
The flow of the game itself is very systematic in a way. The player will start on the Ark where Hope dwells, you adventure as Lightning for a day and return to the Ark. When it becomes 6AM the player is forced to return to the Ark to offer all the Radiant Power you earned during your day to Yggdrasil and thus the world’s lifespan is lengthened. Lightning earns Radiant Power by clearing quests. It’s offered to the holy tree which signifies the world’s lifespan – something like branches and leaves indicating the days grow each time it’s given a fixed amount. The tree’s lifespan can only be extended to a maximum of 13 days.