The 5 Things That Must Be in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

Lightning strikes thrice...with Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII!

Lightning strikes thrice...with Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII!

I will proudly admit that I’m a huge Final Fantasy XIII fan! I fell in love with Lightning as the strong and determined female lead, loved the gorgeous environments that made up Gran Pulse (despite the lack of interaction with any of them), and was addicted to the amazing soundtrack!

As a loyal fan, I eventually picked up Final Fantasy XIII-2 (despite the criticism) and enjoyed the improvement of non-linear gameplay…but I was completely horrified with the ending, and further disappointed by the DLC extra episodes (which honestly didn’t provide much of an answer to explain the already ambiguous ending). Needless to say, I am still in denial with XIII-2’s depressing ending and refuse to believe it ever happened…but I am still hopeful for Lightning’s future!

Lightning Returns Release Delayed Until 2014

Square Enix announced yesterday that Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII has been delayed in its previously targeted release this fall and will launch in North America on February 11, 2014 and February 14 in Europe. Although no reason for the delay has been provided, I’m hoping Square Enix will spend the extra time focusing on making sure Lightning’s final chapter will go above and beyond any of our expectations, and provide us with a conclusion that will finally leave us completely satisfied!

After reflecting on both the good and bad from Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2, I’ve put together a list of the 5 things that must be in Lightning Returns to ensure a proper end to this amazing saga:

5. Killer Soundtrack

The Final Fantasy series has always had a talent in producing some of the most iconic soundtracks in video game history, and the FFXIII saga has not failed to disappoint. Both FFXIII and FFXIII-2 games delivered some of the most beautiful soundtracks I have ever listened to in a video game, and really captured the emotion of the environments in which each track was set. FFXIII’s battle theme, “Blinded by Light,” remains my all-time favorite track from the series (I even prolonged the easiest of battles just so I could hear the climax of the song–the violins are just that epic)!

Lightning Returns must deliver the same high-quality performance with its prospective soundtrack if it wishes to make a memorable impression! With the apocalyptic nature of the story, I expect a “save the world” musical theme to accompany the sounds within the world of Nova Chrysalia.

An earlier interview with the creators of Lightning Returns did reveal some details regarding the soundtrack:

  • Masashi Hamauzu (from FFXIII-2) will be composing the music related to Lightning
  • Each continent of the entire new world will have a different composer. With four continents in total, only three composers have been announced so far: Mitsuto Suzuki, Masashi Hamauzu, and Naoshi Mizuta
  • The music will change depending on the time of day

We also know that the game will feature remixes of songs from the previous two games. The first Lightning Returns trailer featured one titled, “Crimson Blitz.” 

( I seriously got goosebumps listening to this…)

4. Return of Familiar Faces

In FFXIII, we had 6 different playable characters (Lightning, Snow, Sazh, Hope, Fang, and Vanille) with clashing personalities, but it was the diversity of each member’s backstory that made each one unique (and lovable in their own respect). You could choose which 3 you wanted in your battle party (after hours of gameplay just to reunite them all, of course), and having the option to customize my team’s roles and paradigms was a nice feature. 

In FFXIII-2, we were given only 2 playable characters, Lightning’s younger sister Serah and Noel (the time-traveler from the future), as well as a bunch of monsters we could tame and make into a third member of the party. After playing the entire first game with Lightning, it was disappointing to never really be able to play as her in the sequel (nor as any other previous playable character for that matter). While each did receive a cameo, the impact was too insignificant to make any kind of impression to help make any sense of XIII-2’s confusing story.

Lightning Returns must bring back the original XIII cast and finally settle any unsolved business and unanswered questions before they bid their final farewell. While Hope, Noel, and a Serah look-alike called Lumina, have already been confirmed to play a part in the new title, the most recent E3 trailer revealed the return of Snow (with a brand new look, too). Things seem to be looking up!

But please, for every fan’s sake…bring back Fang and Vanille!

3. Mind-blowing Gameplay

Both FFXIII and XIII-2 contained similar battle systems, complete with an Active Time Battle bar to queue attacks, and “paradigm shifting” which allowed players to change “roles” to suit the situation. It was fast paced, but a little too easy. With an autobattle command, players could have actions chosen for them automatically without much strategy or thought-process required (just the ability to mash the “X” button).

Lightning Returns must contain an engaging and strategic battle system…and be a little bit more difficult! We already know from earlier reveals that the new battle system in the game will be more action-oriented, allowing Lightning the ability to move within the field and attack in real-time using a pre-arranged set of skills assigned to the controller’s face buttons.The latest news regarding the battle system has also revealed that she will be able to change skillsets in a new form of paradigm shifting, referred to as “schema.” An upgraded stagger system also returns, allowing Lightning the ability to knock down an enemy and exploit its weaknesses. New to the XIII series, Lightning will not recover after battles…which leads me to my next point.

2. Expansive and Interactive Environments

FFXIII contained some of the most expansive and gorgeous environments, filled with vibrant colors and depth, that I had ever experienced in a video game…(too bad none of it could actually be interacted with)! Linearity ruined the game…and made it fairly boring. I remember wondering when I’d ever be able to pick up items at a town or talk to another human…hours went by, and then I realized…yeah, that isn’t happening.

FFXIII-2 corrected this mistake by making small, non-linear worlds that could be returned to in order to fulfill sidequests. Unfortunately, most of the worlds ended up being recycled versions of the original (as well as the NPCs), and I felt like I was back-tracking more than actually exploring new environments.

Lightning Returns must provide environments that are both expansive and interactive to keep me entertained. Luckily enough, it has been revealed that Lightning will be able to travel to four different continents within the new overworld via monorail AND even interact with traditional RPG elements, such as towns, dungeons, and shops. Lightning will need to visit these shops to buy recovery items after intense battles. 

1. A Smile on Lightning’s Face (A Happy Ending) 

With all of the hell that Lightning has gone through, she truly deserves a happy and redeeming ending that will leave everyone satisfied with this final chapter in the XIII saga. I will not be content until I see a big, heartwarming smile on Lightning’s face to finally prove to everyone that she does contain emotions. (We saw one with the FFXIII ending, so we know it exists!)

There is good news…Lightning Returns developers have already confirmed in an interview with Famitsu that there will be only one ending…no paradoxes…no twists…

…and it will be a happy one.

About the author

Kaitlin Silver

I'm a Media Arts & Design graduate from the D.C. Metro area! I grew up on Nintendo and Playstation, and love games that allow co-operative play! Besides gaming, I also enjoy traveling, working with new media and technology, and music!