Last night I got my hands on the demo for Final Fantasy XIII-3: Lightning Returns and I am so excited for this game. The demo did a great job of giving me a taste of what the game play is going to be like, the job mechanics, fighting, and just a hint at the story. The graphics look amazing and the story had me intrigued before the demo and the demo just added to that. It also made me start thinking about how different this game is going to be compared to Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2.
One of the biggest differences is definitely going to be the timed aspect of the game. You start out facing 13 days until the end of the world and the clock is ticking. The thing I do like is the combat system seems really neat. You tie abilities to the four main buttons and you press them to perform specific actions. You are still pulled in to a battle room, but instead of picking actions from a list you move around and press buttons. It makes for a very different way to play. The fact that the story is around Lightning herself also makes it a different sort of story being told.
The fact that you are timed as you play is definitely going to be difficult for me to deal with. Usually in Final Fantasy games you have all the time in the world. You get quests, hunts, side-quests, etc and you can do them as you reach the level to be able to handle them. You can go off and do as many side-quests as you want, completely ignoring the main quest. Then when you come back it is like you spent no time doing other things. Lightning Returns will function as a very different game with a clock running. You will have to make decisions about what tasks you do and do not do. It will probably function as a game that to fully complete you will need to go through it multiple times.
The biggest issue that I will have is that I do not always do best under pressure from a clock and it will make me want to rush. It makes sense because I have never done well with timed tests because I always end up rushing. I am worried that I am going to rush past and miss something important because I will be watching the clock too much.
One worry that David and I had for this game was that it would go Final Fantasy X-2 and go the route of having you change outfits to change abilities. Now while you do change outfits depending on the schematic you have set up it is not a big, obvious, change. The change is more about the abilities that you have set up for the different schematics and recharging your ATB gauge. The new battle setup gives you less choices, but also lets you have different setups. There was a Dragoon, Black Mage, Red Mage, Heart Stealer, Savior, and more. Each option had different special abilities and passives, but then you had the option to switch some of the options around. It is a much more active fighting style, even some timing to try and block attacks.
In the other games you switched between setups to change your abilities that you were using, but you had a choice of a lot of them usually. In this you have four abilities for each schematic, which you can choose. The ATB gauge reloads even when you are not in that schematic so you can switch between to get a fully loaded ATB gauge. It was a different way to play then normal. You need to think about switching between schematic and the three different schematics that you set up. It will be interesting to see how you can get abilities to play off of each other and how it keeps the pace of battle going.
Before I played the demo I had read a mini spoiler about the story, which is heavily played up in the demo. It confirmed my worst fears about a certain character and I have a feeling that the story is going to break my heart a little bit. It makes sense because we know that we are facing the end of world and it is the last 13 days of existence before everything is plunged in to eternal chaos. In the demo Lightning is talked of as the Savior, but my question is how does she save people? Will the world plunge in to chaos and Lightning is somehow collecting people’s souls to survive the storm and potential rebirth? At the end of the demo we know that Hope is there and there is an ark. Where did the ark come from? How is Hope there with Lightning? What exactly is happening with the incursion of chaos?
The demo set up a lot of story hooks that just leave me wanting to know more. It will be interesting to see what the answer is. I am excited to play this game. The battle system, the 13 days, and the story are all interesting elements that make this seems like a new type of Final Fantasy game.