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Lightning Returns English Demo Impressions By Ehren Rivers on February 4, 2014 at 8:05 PM

The North American release of Lightning Returns is in just one week, so what better way to get people excited than a quick set of impressions (and screenshots) from the English demo?

To start with, the opening CG sequence is (as many of you have already seen) gorgeous. It’s followed up by a pretty concise scenery-shot primer narrated by Lightning herself, which covers a few connections and refreshers such as Serah’s death. The demo dives pretty much immediately into things after that, with a battle that teaches you how to use the Style Shift system. It was relatively easy to grasp the basics, but I took the tutorial anyway just to be through.

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After you fell your first enemy, one of the Anubys creatures seen in the opening, you are locked in a room with three separate enemy troops and told how to do things like manually attack on the field, or perfect guard in battle. Once I managed to get rid of all three, a pop-up proclaimed that I had unlocked Schema customization. I took a few moments to look around though, and check out the NPCs running around nearby. There were definitely some surface textures that looked low resolution when I was up close, but from my couch I didn’t really notice anything major. NPCs, on the other hand, are standard XIII series fare- Not-quite-transparent spaces between the strands of hair, seemingly painted-on collar bones and skin tones. The new Yusnaan soldiers were pretty cool though, and the monsters were well animated.

Satisfied with my surroundings, I turned to the Schemata customization menu and dug into what the demo gave me access to. Six outfits, enough weapons and shields for each, a smattering of abilities, and even a few decorations for me to take out for a spin. The default setup had Dark Muse (A strength-based attacker) and Black Mage (which comes with two powerful locked spells) in addition to the starter garb; The stat-balanced Equilibrium. In reserves were the classic Red Mage and Dragoon looks, as well as the Locke Cole-inspired Heartstealer garb. You can change the colors of your outfits (some have few options compared to others), and you can freely rename Schema using text entry.

I’ve played the demo quite a few times now and done all sorts of mixing-and-matching, but this time around I had a tip from community member and import player Ultromega. With my goal being to defeat the draconic boss of the demo was quickly as I could, I set up the following Schema:

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Sap and Salvation

  • Garb: Equilibrium
  • Weapon: Scramasax (Strength-oriented)
  • Shield: Double Cross (ATB Speed-oriented)
  • Triangle: Deprotect (Magic +40)
  • Square: Mediguard (HP +150)
  • Circle: Attack (Locked)
  • X: Blitz
  • Max ATB: 100/100
  • HP:Β  2250
  • STR: 370
  • MAG: 310
  • ATB Speed: 110

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Zaltysbane

  • Garb: Dragoon
  • Weapon: Wyvern Lance (Strength-oriented)
  • Shield: Dragoon Gauntlet (Strength-oriented)
  • Triangle: Lancet Lv3 (Locked)
  • Square: Attack (Strength +40)
  • Circle: Beat Down (Strength +80)
  • X: Heavy Slash
  • Max ATB: 60/120
  • HP:Β  2000
  • STR: 640
  • MAG: 320
  • ATB Speed: 105

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Permafrost

  • Garb: Black Mage
  • Weapon: Crimson Blitz (ATB Speed-oriented)
  • Shield: Double Cross (ATB Speed-oriented)
  • Triangle: Blizzaga
  • Square: Guard
  • Circle: Rapid Fire Lv2 (Locked)
  • X: Quick Freeze Lv2 (Locked)
  • Max ATB: 112/150
  • HP:Β  2100
  • STR: 330
  • MAG: 363
  • ATB Speed: 115

As I trucked along the small area of the demo taking out creatures as they appeared, I found myself enjoying the constant conversations between Hope and Lightning. We’ll see how I feel about them in the full game, but what otherwise might have been a lonely dash for the finish ended up being pretty engaging. Hope has been around the world of Nova Chrysalia for a significantly longer period of time than Lightning, so he’s pretty knowledgeable about the places she goes and the people she meets. He’s quick to tell her just how Snow came to be the “Patron” of Yusnaan, although he comments that the l’Cie warrior doesn’t really do anything like ruling anymore.

An outburst of Chaos heralded an encounter with Lumina, the mysterious girl (aptly described by the developers as “a capricious little demon”) who shattered Lightning’s sword during the opening. After sarcastically pointing out that Lightning can’t be one of “God’s regular lackeys”, she summons the dragon Zaltys and I am pushed into the fight I spent most of my demo time preparing for. Despite having several potions and full EP (Energy Points), I decided to feel the creature purely on my own power, to try and get used to the basic strategy. The end result was a 4-star score and a battle time of just over 3 minutes, but I knew I could do better.

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Beating the red dragon unlocks the ability to encounter him over again if you keep running around the room, so I prepared myself and waited for him to appear. With some quick reflexes I managed to get behind him and avoid the swipe he performs when he first spawns, so I was able to do a “Great” preemptive strike and start the battle with 1/4th of his HP already gone. This time I pulled out potions that granted Enfrost, Bravery, and Faith alongside some pretty heavy Quick Freeze spam. Liberal use of Overclock saw me win the battle in just 57 seconds, owing partly to my failure Guard against a few of his attacks.

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All in all, I found the demo to be pretty fun. The voice acting is still quality, the combat shows more need for strategy than the previous two entries, and the customization of schema is really well done. The meat of the Lightning Returns experience, the time management system and exploration, didn’t really feature so for now I’ll have to say I’m optimistic about the final product. Please look forward to the in-depth English review, which will be done based on multiple completions of the main game and discuss New Game+ features such as Hard Mode and the weapon upgrading system. Until then!

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  • Sothe Zephyr

    Iv played this lovely demo about 32-33ish times now haha πŸ˜‰ Suffice to say, i need to play the full game, NOW!

  • Sapientia

    The Sap and Salvation Schema is obviously the coolest one you created~ ^^
    Nice write-up and a good look into the battle system and customization of the game. About when can we expect your review to pop up, since you’ll be playing through the game several times?

  • Heartless γ…€

    What’s those NPCs doing around in the demo? How are they selling me stuff? Can I sell stuff too to them? What’s outerworld? How does submitting scores work? Is there a ranking? What rank are you? Where can I see it?

  • Sothe Zephyr

    Outerworld is a sort of “social networking system”. It allows you to send items out with messages to other players along with a snap shot. You can link your twitter/facebook to outerworld by following the instructions given in game, they direct you to their site at which you enter a code they provide in the game. Submitting the scores is literally a press of a button. While on the score screen, with the 5 stars, you press Y (i think it is) which takes you to a page where you can enter a message and send an item out into the outerworld for players to see/read/buy (buying mainly for in game screenshots). As far as i know, there is no ranking system. You can see other people’s scores and battle ratings through their screenshots posted on FaceBook/Twitter/OuterWorld

    EDIT: The NPC’s are predesigned characters given to people who submitted stuff via outerworld. They come to sell you the items which they donated to outerworld for you/others to purchase

  • Ehren Rivers

    Oh, I’m sorry. the NPCs wandering around are Outworld NPCs, and I’m honestly not sure why they are running around there. I think they are just supposed to appear around the world, but for the demo they needed to be in that place. When you submit a message online, though, you get the chance to send an item which other people can purchase. You can’t sell stuff to them this way though, and honestly I don’t think you get money from the item you send off either.

    You can submit scores by pressing Square on the screen seen above. You have to enable Facebook or Twitter communications as well as accept the Outworld terms of service. It’ll ask you for login information for Facebook and do a confirmation code for Twitter. I have not checked to see if I made the ranking, but I know the JP version has ranking tables for various boss fights.

  • jambawok

    Every time I try to activate the outerworld services, it downloads for a few seconds and then says a system error has occurred. Has anyone else had this problem?

  • Ehren Rivers

    Bwahahaha, thank you! As for the review, that will take some time. It depends on when I manage to get my copy (I purchased my own), and how much time I have to myself to play. I am hoping to have a review up around two weeks after the game comes out, but I will take as much time as I need to be thorough.

  • Sothe Zephyr

    YOu might want to check your internet connection o.o may sound ridiculous but worth a shot haha

    Also resetting internet might help as well. Otherwise i have not had this problem, good luck!

  • Sothe Zephyr

    Thats awesome! I wouldn’t want a rushed review, as many with many people. I look forward to your review, but please take all the time in the world! (lol) i want this to be a spectacular review!

  • jambawok

    yeah I’ve tried turning off my firewall and antivirus and it downloads the news info just fine when the game starts. Its just outerworld that seems to have a problem for some reason. I think I may need to do some port forwarding but I don’t know what ports LR uses for outerworld.

  • Sothe Zephyr

    Is the problem occurring on the console? If so, disconnect the internet from there and reconnect. That usually does it for me when i run into these problems. Also reset the network settings if that other one fails.

  • jambawok

    I think I’ve already tried that but I’ll try again just to be sure, thanks.

  • kiyohime

    use firefox as browser turn off the animations via upper right part of the app (the one with a 4 box) it would help

  • kiyohime

    Fun demo… currently running at min of 180000 battle score and 14 seconds πŸ™‚ current score today is 186000 NA ps3

  • Ehren Rivers

    Oh? Would you be so kind as to share how you achieved the 14-second time? πŸ™‚

  • kiyohime

    checking the app, it has a ranking system for Demo Zaltys fights. there is a tab at the side of the screen that shows ‘rankings’. the rankings are divided into two regions, NA and EU, and each of them is divided per platform…

  • Sothe Zephyr

    Oh cool thanks!

  • kiyohime

    just the time average? 14 seconds usually due to warrior potions + enfrost potion. but the whole garb setup depends on the stats i have. the normal ones, i just mix and match (since i use different mixes) and when am cool with it i just start battle with -25%. this way, the hp is reduced then at start of battle, cast deprotect, use potions, stagger then whack it with light slash.

    my current fastest kill is 10seconds though :/

  • kiyohime

    if you are using PS3 and NA region, look me up πŸ˜€ nickname’s zaki-kun

  • Ehren Rivers

    Odd, I haven’t been able to get it to stagger before 20 seconds in at the soonest.

  • Sothe Zephyr

    I wish, im a 360 guy haha

  • kiyohime

    the jump function of dragoon helps alot in stagger. its the very first thing you need to do in order to deal massive damage.

  • kiyohime

    you can change platforms to check scores πŸ˜‰ it’s in the settings.

  • Sothe Zephyr

    The stagger rate of jump is….ridiculous…

  • Heartless γ…€
  • Ehren Rivers

    Ah, so you start the fight with the Beat Down/Jump combo and it basically auto-staggers?

  • Sothe Zephyr

    oh haha πŸ˜‰ Il look u up in the full game haha

  • kiyohime

    Destrain is that you? XD yeah 10 seconds is easy now once you get the right mixes. am aiming for 8seconds that some japanese player did.

  • Ehren Rivers

    Oh, I see. That person has at least two Dragoon Lances, hmm. Interesting setup, I’ll have to try it. Even Light Slash looks pretty brutal with Dragoon Lance and Overclock.

  • Ehren Rivers

    Wait, Zaki? It says that you have a weapon called “Kikuichimonji” on your Red Mage. How’d you manage that in the demo?

  • kiyohime

    hahaha ya noticed? honestly, i don’t know. i was just walking around and someone is selling one. so i bought it and damn it’s the best weapon in demo. πŸ˜€ there’s another person holding that weapon too so incase people does say am cheating i have a few proof am not. (i have picture of the seller)

  • Ehren Rivers

    Wow, crazy. Now that you mention it, I do remember a popup saying to buy powerful equipment from the Outworld NPCs in order to increase your score. I hadn’t seen anything but other equipment already give to you by the demo, so I didn’t think anything of it. I wonder what else is hidden in the demo…

  • kiyohime

    maybe it’s that weapon? i dunno… but if it is, better get it since it’s really powerful. stats is overwhelming for a demo.

  • Heartless γ…€

    I’m not Destrian. What’s the stats on Kikuichimonji? And can you share that image? Noticed any other weapons?

  • kiyohime

    nah, aside from that sword I didn’t see any other weapons.. the stat of the sword is +500 in str. hence why it is in red mage.
    sorry i thought you’re destrain since i keep on seeing that person in the vids you post πŸ™‚

  • Heartless γ…€

    The 10 sec vid wasn’t done by Destrian. And thanks for that stat info. Do you know who the NPC was? This might make us attain that elusive 190K score.

  • kiyohime

    possible 190k, am trying to get to that with added stats boost from abilities.. the seller has a weird tag on it’s name, easy to spot if you walk around. elusive? anyone did that in demo? last time i check, there’s no one above the current top rankers…

  • Heartless γ…€

    You said you had an image of that NPC?

    And Japan has 190K as their highest score. Everywhere else is 186K.

  • kiyohime

    yeah 186K is the current score i saw. i had a downtime of 5 days coz of internet failure so i wasn’t able to keep up before. dang japan! XD the rumored 8seconds and now 190K? now we have a nice goal huh?

  • Heartless γ…€

    8 sec is not hard to do. I can definitely get 9 for sure, and 8 would be attainable with better equips like a 2nd Dragoon gauntlet. If you add this sword to the mix, well, 7 or maybe 6 seconds? XD

    I’d really love to see that NPC image you were talking about πŸ˜›

  • kiyohime

    yups, that’s the plan really. I can’t upload the pic XD (am using company pc so fb is not open)

  • XYFEIR

    Neat overview Ehren! My fastest time was 28 seconds along with a score of 172,250. it took multiple tries but I did it without overclock I’m very proud πŸ˜› I had to sneak up on him and I probably fought him about 5 times in the one demo before I finished it. I like your screenshots too. Your Black Mage looks totally fab :>

  • Heartless γ…€

    Okay cool. I’ll check back later if you get it uploaded later. Cheers for finding this new weapon. Btw, come to Etrosgate forums if you’d like to discuss strategies ;]

  • Ehren Rivers

    Thanks! I haven’t really taken advantage of the Outworld system it seems, so next time I try the demo I shall be on the lookout for some of that equipment. I didn’t realize what a heavy difference a second Dragoon spear could make, and I must admit I underestimated the power of Beat Down/Jump.

  • kiyohime

    hahaha in all of honesty, watch your vids recently but i never check the whole strategy. my lil brother is the one who come up with what i should do. πŸ˜€ Oh since i can’t post it yet, try to look for the NPC that has a different color of name (it’s pinkish bordering to purple) color. that’s the npc

  • Heartless γ…€

    Okay cool. Thanks!

  • XYFEIR

    Oh yeah, totally! Dragoon has been in my schema set since I got it in the full version. <3 P.S. I also didn't know you could get better weapons in Outerworld, I'll have to keep a lookout. (That'll explain why my time's haven't been under 20 sec. XD)

  • RoxasXIIIK

    Awesome job! πŸ˜€
    So far my fastest time against Zaltys is 17 sec! πŸ™‚

  • Nice write up, Ehren. I’m really looking forward to your in-depth review after several play throughs.

    Thanks for the mention! I hope I didn’t annoy you with my emails. Hehe.

    I didn’t know that you could buy more powerful weapons using the Outerworld service. No wonder people were getting crazy low times.

    In case anyone’s interested, this is my setup to defeat Zaltys under 30 seconds and without defending.

    See? πŸ™‚

    https://twitter.com/facetimepolice/status/429458131085570049

    (Note: I sent the following to someone who was new to LR and FFXIII, so I explained some basic game mechanics for her)

    ———————————-
    My set up:

    Black Mage:
    – default weapon and shield
    – Quick Freeze (built in ability)

    (The Savior) Equilibrium as your default:
    – change the weapon and shield to the ones that Dark Muse had equipped
    – Blitz ability
    – Deprotect ability

    Dragoon
    – default weapon and shield
    – Beat down ability (already equipped)
    – Heavy Slash ability

    Make sure you have at least one Enfrost potion and one Warrior’s potion.

    – Use the Enfrost potion as soon as the battle starts. This attaches ice damage to your attacks. Ice attacks do more damage to Zaltys.

    – Cast deprotect and immediately use the Warrior’s potion. You could probably interchange the order of this step and use the potion first. The Warrior’s potion casts Bravery and Faith on yourself (it makes your physical and magic attacks stronger). Deprotect makes Zaltys weaker (you do more damage while deprotect is inflicted on him).

    – Switch to Black Mage and blast Quick Freeze until your meter runs out.

    – Switch to Dragoon and use Beat Down to quickly stagger. The second consecutive hit should stagger Zaltys.

    – Switch to Equilibrium and use Blitz 3 times. Blitz extends the stagger time.

    – Switch to Dragoon and use Heavy Slash as much as you can before using the Overclock ability (you might need to wait a second for your meter to charge to get in at least one Heavy Slash attack).

    – Keep using Heavy Slash while Overclock is in effect, and when you come out of Overclock, your meter is refilled, so you can continue to use Heavy Slash attacks until Zaltys is defeated.
    ———————————-

    Lastly (sorry for this long post), just for kicks, check out this little contest I held to help promote Lightning Returns to my followers (the contest is now over): http://www.facetimepolice.com

  • XYFEIR

    Thank you! πŸ˜€ And ARGH! I haven’t been able to get any faster! XP I might try again later. (I love competing against everyone for scores) XD

  • XYFEIR

    Aw man, I didn’t know you hosted a contest, I would’ve entered. XD Flawless job too, especially considering you did it with an injury. ^.^

  • kiyohime

    too bad,,, I would like to join in that contest of yours πŸ™‚

  • kiyohime

    try Heartless’ or mine’s fastest kill. 10 seconds πŸ™‚ and for current scores… ermmm hahaha all i can say is mine’s in the PS3 NA leaderboards

  • Gust

    30 seconds that’s impressive

  • Heartless γ…€

    Btw, did you encounter that NPC anywhere in particular? Or just that starting area?

  • waku waku

    True. Jump has a high stagger rate, and one of the stagger conditions for Zaltys is to hit its head. That skill is just good against that boss; no other way to put it.

  • Somber

    http://fastkarate.tumblr.com/post/75602969736/final-fantasy-xiii-3-a-series-of-thoughts-largely

    This is a fan review. He finds “Time” mechanic lovely. Sweet.

  • Thanks, guys. I put the contest up mainly to get people who weren’t familiar with LR/FFXIII to play the LR demo, so that’s why I didn’t post it on any FF fansites. I got at least one person and her friends to try out the LR demo, so… mission accomplished. hehe. My band’s music is on all the major streaming services and I can provide you with some links to stuff, but that wouldn’t be fitting here…. so, please hit me up on twitter ( http://www.twitter.com/facetimepolice ) if you’re interested. I will say that we have a lot of diversity and on our latest album, I even wrote a metal song that was partly inspired by the Sazh DLC episode (FFXIII-2). πŸ™‚

    Wrist injury… oddly enough, the only games I can play right now with one hand are Final Fantasy titles. <3

  • Whoooa, that was awesome. Who would’ve thought that “Light Slash” would do so much damage? πŸ™‚

  • XYFEIR

    I read metal and you immediately got my attention. :v I’ll definitely check you guys out. c:

  • Alleo

    Lovely review πŸ™‚ and I agree with your points.

    I loved the parts of the CGI opening that I saw (want to keep the whole scene for the real game) and the fighting was really nice. Went into the menu as soon as possible and tried to recolor some clothes. IΒ΄m a little sad that not every costume can be changed completely but it was still fantastic and will keep me quite busy in the game. DonΒ΄t know how some can say that this has really bad graphics, it may not look like the first game, but still nice. Who knows maybe IΒ΄m just blinded by Light πŸ˜‰ (she looks really really good).

    I also like the conversations between Lightning and Hope, it really makes you feel not so alone. And itΒ΄s nice that the text is not lost if you get in a fight. πŸ™‚ They only should have made the font size a little bigger but thankfully we can change the size.

    Really looking forward to your review of the actual game. ItΒ΄s nice to have someone from the staff who still likes it =)

  • Heartless γ…€
  • Daniel Masterson

    So because he liked it you consider it a “fan” review. So if he hated it you would readily agree? and how do you know the time mechanic isn’t well done? have you played the final product?

  • miss chel

    Lovely impression, can’t wait for your review of the full English game!

  • miss chel

    Somber never implied those things…

  • iLoveLightning

    What?

  • You’ll be able to magnify the text in the settings. πŸ™‚

  • Okay… WOW. πŸ™‚

  • Ehren Rivers

    I believe there is a misunderstanding here. Somber is, themselves, a fan of the Lightning saga and much looking forward to Lightning Returns. The review in question is considered to be a fan review because it is not done by an official website or one of the big names in gaming media, and is basically just a collection of loosely related thoughts tossed onto tumblr. The opinion itself was unrelated to the distinction.

  • Ehren Rivers

    I believe there is a misunderstanding here. Somber is, themselves, a fan of the Lightning saga and much looking forward to Lightning Returns. The review in question is considered to be a fan review because it is not done by an official website or one of the big names in gaming media, and is basically just a collection of loosely related thoughts tossed onto tumblr. The opinion itself was unrelated to the distinction.

  • LittleDoom

    This demo was the reason i pre-order it! :p

  • Nice. πŸ™‚

    I couldn’t really tell from the video, but do you try to get that “perfect timing” on your attacks?

    Like a perfect guard, it’s signified by a yellow glow.

    http://www.primagames.com/games/lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii/piggyback_strategy/lightning-returns-final-fantasy-xiii-perfect-timing-perfect-guarding

    “Offensive abilities that you can link in a combo will be ever more powerful if you unleash them right as the last physical attack strikes or when the prior spell is unleashed. Perfect attacks deal more damage, but they require you to tap the relevant face button of your controller with the right tempo. They are, naturally, impossible to achieve if you hold the button instead.”

  • Heartless γ…€

    I missed the perfect timing on Jump actually. I do try to time Jump. But for Light Slashes, it’s not worth timing them in Overclock mode. I do time them when not using Overclock and going for a highscore.

  • Ehren Rivers

    Got my own time down to 14 seconds, but can’t seem to break any lower. I wasn’t able to find a second Dragoon Gauntlet though, and I only got one ability with Strength bonuses.

  • Heartless γ…€

    You can get are 3x +80 and 1x +40, but it requires a bit of resetting and luck. And yeah, not many people share Dragoon Gauntlet even though they are most important to get the highest scores now since Kikuichimonji.

  • Something just crossed my mind… does anyone know if you’re able to fight the Last One versions of Zaltys and Niblet in the demo?

    In case you didn’t know, (almost) every enemy species can be exterminated. The Last One is the last remaining enemy of that particular species. They’re colored a deep pink, so you’ll know when you come across one.

  • Alleo

    A last one of Zaltys..that would be one hell of a fight (but awesome at the same time). Since we can choose to fight him again and again for better results in Hopes ark I donΒ΄t think that there will be a final version of him (or atleast not in the demo). But thats just what I think, maybe it will happen in the game, which would be cool ^^

  • Alleo

    Oh I know ^^ did that right after I had problems to read the text. =)

  • γ‚γ‹γ‚Šγ‚“ (Akarin)

    Time to rejoin the hype. One more week left for us!! The waiting is brutal! I like the article, Ehren, and some of the comments below with your times…impressive!

  • Have you tried using frost strike instead of light slash?

  • Heartless γ…€

    No. I wonder if I’ll get more damage from it. Certainly something to check.

  • I think you will! Especially with the added damage from the enfrost potion!

  • Ehren Rivers

    There is in fact a Last One of Zaltys, but you must defeat 30 Zaltys first and I don’t believe they included the Extinction mechanic for the demo. All of the item drops of the demo enemies were removed, too.

  • Ehren Rivers

    For those that don’t know, I got my Lightning Returns guide a little early and now have access to quite a lot of information.

    Oh, and by the way. Apparently there’s another special NPC in the demo who will sell you the Magician’s Rod/Wand/Whatever that makes Black Mage pretty dang powerful.

  • Lucky! πŸ™‚

    Magician’s wand… Oh, It’s the @LRFF13 (or something like that) NPC’s that carry the wand as well as the powerful sword.

    Edit: Has anyone received their CE LR yet? Mine seems to be stuck on a “pre-shipment” stage according to the tracking number I was given. :/

  • Alleo

    thats crazy O.O wonder how strong he will be

  • Ehren Rivers

    I have not, no. In fact, my own tracking information claims it will not be delivered until the 26th…

  • The 26th? That’s nuts. Weren’t the Collector’s Editions supposed to arrive before the street date?

  • Ehren Rivers

    Yes, yes they were. And I’m more than a little angry.

  • Sapientia

    Zaltys is pretty weak in the game. You should be able to get five stars, easy-peasy. I remember getting 4 stars, and you only start the game with 2 garbs.

  • Alleo

    My first battle against him (in the demo) ended with me getting one star xD I managed to finally reach five stars and was very proud xD. Did you fight him as a last one? =)