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Lightning Returns will include a Hard Mode for advanced players By Erren Van Duine on July 16, 2013 at 8:53 PM

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.

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  • William Bartee

    ok square need to use the time of that delay to 2014 to get this game together because im notliking some of the things im reading just because they say its the last lightning saga game dont mean make it crappy.Dont make it much of a movie dont make the game too short or easy and then doing a new game plus doing the same

  • Sothe Zephyr

    Very nice to see some updates 😀 Sounds like some interesting new additions to the battle system too!

  • Storm

    We can stop time during exploration? I’m ok with this.

  • NewestType

    Ok Square need to lessen the time of the release date to get this game out becuase I amliking some of the things I’m reading. Also, it would be nice if they made other games in this fashion…not in terms of development… just make more games that I like.

  • ultromega

    Hard Mode it is. Bring it on. :)

  • Ehren Rivers

    The 2014 release date is only for the non-Japanese versions of the game, which will see an actual release mid-November of this year. Currently, the development team has no plans to use the localization period to add, alter, or edit any content barring catastrophic bugs being discovered post-launch.

  • Ehren Rivers

    This extinction mechanics sounds fascinating. I need to know more!

  • Anime10121

    I think this is the most hyped I’ve been for a game in the XIII series since the E3 trailer back in 06 (barring what was then vs. XIII). And although I the original XIII failed to live up to that hype (still a good game though), and I was a little apprehensive about XIII-2 thanks to the protagonist changes, XIII-2 actually became one of my favorite FF’s period!

    And then, we get to LR, where I start off hesitant, as Lightning returns (pun intended) as the sole playable character in the game, but every piece of news since has seen my hype SOAR!!! I think I may like this the most out of all the XIII series games due to everything its including, and hopefully they make me like Light herself a more too, considering they’ll have an entire game to develop her character!

  • ultromega

    Same here! I’m particularly interested in what makes the last one of the species “extremely strong.” I wonder if that last enemy results in a boss battle or if that enemy gains additional abilities…

    Also, I wonder if there’s a way to gauge how many of a species is left, or if you just have to keep fighting an enemy until you come across the last one.

    I’m so excited for this game!

  • Sapientia

    Thank ETRO!
    FFXIII-2 was way too damn easy IMO. So you can bet your granny’s ass I’m starting this baby up on Hard mode! 8D

  • miss chel

    Same here! It’s a good concept imo.

    (also Ehren, if you could be on Skype that would be great. I want to talk a bit about the recent news on Light’s outfits.)

  • NRool

    Perhaps it will be like, the Albino monsters from XIII-2
    Tonberry had Don Tonberry, etc

  • Panos Dek

    Ridiculously easy! XIII-2 had really fast battle elements and after a sort period of time it became a bit boring, no challenge at all. XIII battles were boring only before the party changed to l’Cie. After that it was great. LR seems promising! It’s like SE made a game just for the fans of the series not for themselves at all! xD

  • Noctis Caelum

    hm strange…I tought about a hard mode for this game yesterday,
    because I watched the japan expo demo and it was a little bit to easy (it was in normal mode).

    And now here it is, just as if on cue. xD

  • Panos Dek

    -Lightning: “Come! We will make sure every single monster becomes extinct from this world! Live the rest of the days of this world with me! We will put down Snow, revive Noel’s heart, save Serah, reunite with Fang and Vanille, take Hope again to the elemenatry school! I’ll change even clothes in front of you as we fight just for you! I will be your deity!”
    -Me: “Or you can be my date instead, then you can marry me!” 😛

    Seriously this game will be a dream that comes true! No point to argue to buy or not to buy! “It’s not a question of can or can’t. There are some things in life you just do!”

  • LightningF

    Well, I am Etro so you is welcome ! 😀 Or am I Lightning? Suspicious…

  • LightningF
  • LightningF

    I’m going to extinct all those damn niblets first. They look so irritating with their squeaks, and I will enjoy every second of beating them up collectively >:)

    I hope the last monster is GIGANTIC compared to the normal ones and looks different; that would be just fabulicious!

  • LightningF

    Interesting. No really, we care so much.

  • LightningF

    Hey what do they mean by the weight of equiment is considerably large? Do they mean it’s heavy for her or something? xD

  • LightningF

    Hey what do they mean by the weight of equiment is considerably large? Do they mean it’s heavy for her or something? xD

  • Daniel

    I think that’s what was missing in Final Fantasy XIII-2, the game was pretty cool and all but it was way too easy. I hope LR makes me wanna throw my control outta the window XD.

  • TheCandyGiraffe

    Hopefully there’ll be in-game rewards! Hard mode from the get go all the way! 😀

  • Ehren Rivers

    I think what you meant to say was…

    “Here it is, just in time for the final act. Right on cue.”

    😛

  • ultromega

    XIII-2 Hard Mode: going into the Coliseum with an underdeveloped party. :)

  • Ehren Rivers

    It means for the purposes of her in-combat stats, equipment matters a LOT.

  • Ehren Rivers

    I will be on momentarily, and remain on all day. I have only just returned from my vacation and have obligations, but I’ll be around whenever I can.

  • Ehren Rivers

    XIII-2 was definitely easier for me overall. There was a pretty sharp difficulty spike during the last chapter, but other than that it was a pretty mellow difficulty. I think that’s part of the reason they decided to add Coliseum DLC: They knew the main story wasn’t going to be a challenge, so they wanted to have an external way of adding harsh fights should certain endgame battles seem too easy for players.

    I still say anyone who thinks the Paradox Battle against Caius (with just Serah and her monster) is easy is, well, crazy. Or cheating.

  • ultromega

    For me, Gilgamesh was particularly frustrating even with maxed out stats on Noel, Serah, and the monsters in my paradigm pack. Ugh. I’m so thankful he dropped the crystal the first time I defeated him.

  • LightningF

    Ahh okay 😀 Thanks for clearing that up :)!

  • juma086

    Easy except for the Caius battles. And some of the DLC.

  • juma086

    oh god that battle. I literally split my controller in half because of that fight.

  • Sapientia

    I thought XIII has the perfect difficulty, even in the battles before they became l’Cie. On more playthroughs, I found ways to make it more interesting, as you can sort of manipulate the battle system to “dodge” your opponents. If that makes any sense. So, I was having fun the whole time.
    Now, XIII-2? I think Yomi was the most irritating, and he wasn’t even hard, just tedious.

  • Sapientia

    Even with all of the Farrons I had trouble. -_-

  • Sapientia

    I thought the DLC wasn’t necessarily hard, just long and tedious…I was never in danger of dying, but the whole “regeneration of health” BS is what made it frustrating, especially for Jihl.

  • Sapientia


    Ehren Returns. 😀

  • Panos Dek

    Tottally agree with you! Many people believe that XIII was only “Auto-Battle”. That’s not the case! I hardly ever pressed that stupid button. Abilities and the precise time to unleash them made the combat system pretty awesome! These Eidolons…!!! :3

  • Sapientia

    Oh m god, can you imagine if you actually had to take Hope to school?!?!
    xDDDD
    Anyways, better watch what you say about Lightning. Toriyama will eat you alive!

  • Sapientia

    Exactly! Those people must have never cut their attacks early with triangle/Y. There were some times, like I mentioned, where I could cancel an attack at the right time and of course, Lightning backflips out of the way, so really, you kind of could dodge a physical attack.
    Edit: AND not to mention if you used Auto-battle AFTER the party became l’Cie, and you unlocked -strike abilities, Auto-battle would stack up a que of those stupid “Thunder-Sparkstrike-Thunder-Sparkstrike” so THAT itself is a reason not to use Auto-battle!

  • Ehren Rivers

    When I awoke from my long flight, I was just in time to witness the end of the article.

    “The commenters here know that it’s almost over.”

    “Yeah… Only Thirteen Posts to go.”

  • Sapientia

    Okay, okay, that was good. xD

  • Panos Dek

    Hahahhaa!!! Seriously Lightning is not just a character, she’s an IDEA! Something unique! Wish she was real! I would never insult her!!! 😛
    As for Hope, that image of taking him to school popped-up the moment I saw his baby face again! I was expecting him with beard, not child teeth again changing diapers! Not that I have a problem with that! He is really cute! I would love to see him kissing Light in the end though as 25 years old… xD

  • TheTux94

    What does it mean “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.”? Thanks in advance

  • Panos Dek

    Dodging a lethal Behemoth attack… EPIC!

  • Ehren Rivers

    Yes, it seems the article might be in need of a bit of a re-write. The literal translation can be a bit confusing. What it means is that dungeons are not just a flat area or a tower requiring teleports to move up it. You can enter a dungeon from the top (perhaps ground floor in the desert), and if you’re careless with where you walk you could fall all the way down to the very bottom. Think of it like holes in the floor, or a small cliff-face where you can see more ruins below.

  • TheTux94

    Yeah that’s what I thought. I was just not too sure.

    More I know about this game more my hype grows. It doesn’t look that bad considering it’s a low budget and rushed game, does it?

    Well I guess only time will tell :-). Are you gonig to import it?

  • Ehren Rivers

    It’s actually not low budget. I think you’re confusing development budget with marketing budget, which they have cut for the West due to the decision to delay it until February outside of Japan. I think it looks pretty awesome, myself.

    If I have the money, there’s a chance I will import it yes. I have great difficulty understanding Japanese, but I’ll try.

  • TheTux94

    What I mean is that the game hasn’t been managed like a mainline numbered FINAL FANTASY like XIII. It’s just a spin-off. Probably I didn’t explain myself very well.

  • Ehren Rivers

    Ahahaha, no. It’s not “just a spin-off”, it’s being treated as an important entry to the series. It isn’t being rushed, its management is the same as the first two… I’m not really sure what you’re trying to drive at. The first XIII game was plagued with developmental issues, which is the only reason it was in development for so long. The team behind Toriyama has simply learned to be more efficient with their work, and have been striving toward the goal of pushing Final Fantasy development back down to the times of the PS1/early PS2-era games.

  • TheTux94

    When I saw the first trailer I felt like it was a low budget and rushed game because there were some really bad things like 2D trees and not very great graphic compared to XIII (being said that I don’t care much about graphic, I think gameplay > graphics) plus the framerate was bad like Academya in XIII-2.

    XIII-2 is also what I consider to be a “low budget and rushed game”, for example the main story was “just” 20 hours long instead of 40 like in XIII.

    Probably we just have different ideas of “low budget” and “rushed”.

    Anyway I hope Square will be able to deliver one “triple A” FINAL FANTASY per year.

  • Ehren Rivers

    The first trailer was a look at late alpha/early beta footage, where the team hadn’t done any kind of focus on graphics or optimization because their main concern was getting the primary systems into place. It was the earliest in-dev footage shown of any Final Fantasy ever, so of course it looked rough. It was a show of trust for the fans. The length of a game, though, does not indicate size of budget or being rushed. The difference here is that in XIII the bulk of content was part of the main story while in XIII-2 the content is split almost 50/50 between main story and optional experiences.

    Somehow I doubt it. They’ve managed to get their releases down to about 1.5 to 2 years, but this is with games that are running on the same engines and already have a heavy amount of assets created for them. The further we go into large-world, free choice HD games the longer initial development times seem likely to get. Unless they’ve started XVI and maybe even XVII now, we’ll likely be waiting several years again between the releases of XV and XVI.

  • TheTux94

    By triple A I didn’t mean mainline numbered. By the way you’re right, the first trailer was clearly from a probably even pre alpha build and surely making games for HD consoles is becoming harder and harder (and more expensive).

    For example you can see how in the Japan Expo demo the graphics look really great (in my opinion, of course).

    I probably don’t know English enough to explain what I meant lol (I know that this is a triple A project for Square Enix and it is really important to them), I hope they’ll do something to fix the frame rate (Academya in XIII-2 was pretty irritating).

  • Sapientia

    *Academia*cough cough*
    :)

  • Sapientia

    You’re asking way too much lol.

  • Panos Dek

    I know :(

  • vagrant_soul

    Moe Light……In need of blood transfusion…

  • Ksar

    Scan Jump :
    http://i.imgur.com/ywyVIYC.jpg

    Scan Famitsu :
    http://i.imgur.com/Xt8adn8.jpg

    Damn. She drives me crazy.

  • LightningF

    Haha mine would be:

    “When I awoke from my dreamless sleep, I was just in time to witness the post man without my package” :'(

  • LightningF

    She so fab right? LOL

  • Sapientia

    That is, uh…one REALLY sexy pose in the top left of Light in Miqote get-up…and I’m not even a male…O.o

  • Sapientia

    “When I awoke from my dreamless sleep, I was just in time to witness the end of the world. And then I said, ‘F*ck that! I need my beauty sleep!’ ”
    And so the world descended into entropy because of my laziness.
    8D

  • juma086

    Don’t even get me started on Gilgamesh. O.o Thank god I got his crystal the first time. I don’t think I ever want to do that fight again.

  • juma086

    I ain’t complainin. haha

  • Sapientia

    Oh my god, that fight was – excuse my language – BULLsh*t.
    I fought that piece o’ sh*t for like twenty minutes, and he didn’t even drop a crystal the first three times!! >.<

  • LightningF

    Haha, I will eat him too xD

  • LightningF

    THAT DAMN INFERNO MOVE >:(

  • LightningF

    LMFAO ur killing me xD

  • Sapientia

    I’m the epitome of laziness, what can I say?

  • Mihel

    “GP can also be used to create a shadow image of Lightning to take hits in her place”

    Lightning is a ninja confirmed.
    KAGE BUNSHIN NO JUTSU!

  • Mihel

    People complained FFs in general were too easy.
    SE made FFXIII harder than average FF.
    People moaned FFXIII was too hard.
    SE made FFXIII-2 easier and added an easy mode for XIII.
    People cried FFXIII-2 was too easy.

    SE includes Hard mode for LR…

    Sometimes FF fans are… “special”, to put it lightly.

  • Mihel

    But if there wans’t an auto-battle option then people would have less stuff to complain about!
    Nevermind the fact that auto-battle is not mandadory in any part of the game.

  • Sapientia

    Sometimes I’ll use Auto-battle if it’s something like I need to get an attack going FAST (like before an Adamantortoise stomps or whatever) or if I’m fighting something really easy. So, for the most part it can be handy. But people blow its presence WAY out of proportion.

  • Mihel

    People that complain about an optional feature are most likely the ones that abuse it most.

  • Sapientia

    Agreed, very much agreed.

  • ultromega

    Yes! It would cool if Hard Mode would reward the player with weapons, outfits, and access to areas that aren’t accessible in Easy or Normal mode.

  • ultromega

    Well, Lightning is a fighting dreamer. 😛

  • ultromega

    Yomi… Once my party was maxed out, I came back and hit it with a SAB SAB SAB paradigm with Jihl Nabaat as the 3rd party member.

    That felt soooo good.

  • Mihel

    She likes to troll monsters.

  • Izzy

    ” if you’re not careful you may fall straight to the bottom of one of them”
    Reminds me of FF9 when you have to find Kuja. I spent 2 hours getting stuck in that desert. Oh the joy of barely understanding English.

  • Ksar

    NEW TRAILER GUYS
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

  • Storm2356

    I didn’t think it was that difficult. Well, you know, at level 99 for all roles and monsters like a level 99 Twilight Odin, level 13 Lightning, and a level something-or-other Bunkerbeast. And no, I wasn’t cheating in any way, so therefore I’m crazy. Which I am.

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