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.

  • 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 :

    Scan Famitsu :

    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.

  • 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


  • 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.

  • 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


  • 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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