Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a direct sequel to the 13th game in the baby-blendingly popularFinal Fantasy series and third entry of the Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy sub-series, and also the fifth title in the series to be a direct sequel to a main series title. The game was teased on January 27, 2011 at the Square Enix 1st Production Department Premier Conference, and was subsequently released on December 15th, 2011 in Japan, January 31st, 2012 in North America, and February 3rd, 2012 in Europe. Like its predecessor, it is for both the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360.Three years after the end of Final Fantasy XIII, the residents of Cocoon are attempting to rebuild their lives following the loss of the Cocoon fal'Cie. Lightning is missing, assumed to have sacrificed herself in order to stop Cocoon from falling and killing everyone inside. Only one person believes otherwise: Serah Farron, who swears that her sister emerged alive but disappeared into thin air a moment later.When a mysterious young man called Noel Kreiss drops into Serah's life and promises to take her to Lightning, Serah eagerly accepts this opportunity to discover the truth. Noel reveals that he is a Time Traveller, the last survivor of a ruined future sent to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. Using the Historia Crux gates to travel between the past, present and future of Gran Pulse and Cocoon, Serah and Noel must discover the source of the mysterious distortions that are tearing apart the walls between timelines, track down Lightning and confront an immortal antagonist from Noel's world.The game's story continues in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.
This game has examples of:
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100% Completion: The game requires you to completely fill out every map and monsternote You only need to kill each monster once, not Librascope them to completion. and obtain all of the Fragments in order to view the Secret Ending. However, in order to do this, you will need to obtain several of the hidden monsters that would help against the harder optional encounters of the game.
During battle, you'll be asked to input commands via the Cinematic Action system, which allows you to do things like climb on enemies, and other cinematic stuff. Mostly, they do superficial stuff, like buffing the party, staggering the boss or just to take it down in a flashy way. Doing the last on will get you an adornment for each boss; doing them all will get you an achievement.
Monster allies' Feral Links require the input of commands in order to increase the synchronization, which increases the chance of obtaining the monster killed by the Feral Link. Makes you wonder why support Feral Links even have synchronization...
Adult Fear: Sazh loses Dajh while time traveling during his downloadable episode. He is more than a little worried.
Lightning's DLC, Requiem of the Goddess, gives her six roles which roughly correspond to the roles Serah and Noel get. Paladin is the Commando, Knight is the Sentinel, Sorcerer is the Saboteur, and Conjurer is the Synergist. She does not get a role corresponding to the Medic, instead having two roles which act as Ravagers, the Shaman which specializes in physical attacks with elemental properties and the Mage which uses the standard Thunder spells.
And the Adventure Continues: Paradox Ending 5 "The Future is Hope" shows Serah riding off into a time vortex with Snow to beat the stuffing out of Caius in the future.
After Combat Recovery: Your characters are healed after every battle, which is carried over from the first game.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The A.I. of Augusta Tower did not like the idea of the Academy limiting its power, so it killed off the Academy higher-ups and took control of the tower and Academia. Its self-defense system for Academia City involves turning the citizens into Cie'th and sending them in droves to attack intruders. Its madness would later form into Academia 400AF, a Bad Future where said AI controls the entire city. Hello, HAL Expy.
The Datacore system returns, although the main storyline is easier to grasp than 13. Every ending (except the secret ending scene) also grants a fragment that acts as a datacore, expanding on the information granted therein, as well as many fragments dropped from bosses and certain story events, including some surprising ones. For example, the Graviton cores are actually a temporal Message in a Bottle from Snow to Serah.
In a more meta sense, the final datacore granted from the final bonus fight of Final Fantasy 13, "Fabula Nova Crystallis", can be interpreted as spelling out 13-2's plot in a very general sense.
Alternate Universe: Yaschas Massif and Academia have alternate timelines that appear as a result of solving paradoxes in other locations, and they are marked with an X in the year name. (Ex. 01X AF) You can still go back to the original version of the area, though.
Caius' stated goal is to find a way to prevent Yeul from her fate of dying and reincarnating every few years, something she has done for millennia, with him standing by her side the entire time. His solution is to directly cause a Time Crash and destroy time, thus cutting off the source of her shortened lifespan.
Noel believes in this. His track record isn't very good though.
Ambiguous Robots: Some of the monsters that look and act organic are upgraded with items like bolts and chips. These are usually the same monsters that were identified as biological weapons in the first game.
Ambiguous Time Period: Several time periods you visit in Final Fantasy XIII-2 are labeled simply "??? AF" in the Historia Crux, meaning these episodes take place After the Fall but how many years after is unclear.
And Your Reward Is Clothes: Well, you aren't rewarded with clothes, but you can get them as downloadable content. The various monster adornments could also count as this in some cases. Most of these are earned by things such as Live Trigger Rewards, Cinematic Action Bonuses, or throwing Mog in obscure areas.
Noel's backstory is that absolutely everyone can, and has, died. He was the last human ever to be born, and so he's jumping around the timeline trying to prevent his backstory from happening.
Arbitrary Headcount Limit/Lazy Backup: No matter how many monsters you've captured, only one can fight in battle at a time and only three can be placed in your Paradigm Pack and used in battle. If that monster dies, all monsters in your Paradigm Pack are dead and must be revived. Thankfully it also works in reverse and just reviving one of the monsters revives all 3: the same applies to healingnote This works as a percentage of health. For example, if one monster has 35 percent of health left, all three in the pack have 35 percent as well. This becomes useful when you want to heal a Sentinel and replace it with a low-HP monster. and buffing as well.
Ascended Meme: The below-mentioned "LIMIT BREAK!" is not the original title. The Japanese version had the title roughly translating to "Breaking the Limits!", but the English fandom instead changed the title, and it circulated across the Internet as an unofficial title. When the OST was released in English, the title in the official listing was "Limit Break!".
One of The Undying is located within Academia 400AF. It can step on you.
Long Gui is back. It can step on you.
Audible Sharpness: Swinging your sword on the map screen results in a distinctive "sharp sword" sound.
Autosave: The game autosaves before key events like bosses.
Awesome, but Impractical: The Infinity+1 Sword for both Serah and Noel is this. The Strength and Magic stats depend on how many Fragments you have, so they can be rather weak when you first get them. By the time you'll power it up to have the highest stats, you'll most likely have almost every Fragment in the game, and there isn't much else to do. It also doesn't have any particularly good skills like other slightly weaker high-end weapons do (such as ATB+1 and ATB+50%) and they have no synth abilities.
Twilight Odin. Yeah, he has insanely high stats and the full 6 ATB segments, but his attack speed is horribly slow, he doesn't get any decent stat gains until level 80, and it takes over 250 Crystals to max him out. You're better off with Chichu or Tonberry.
Noel has come back in time to prevent this from happening.
Most of the Paradox Endings lead to this.
The normal ending. Serah dying and the entirety of time on Pulse and the "new Cocoon" falling into Chaos isn't a bad future? It gets worse when it's revealed that now people can't have newborns and can no longer die naturally.
But at least for the normal ending, there will still be another sequel in which will fix this to some degree.
Pretty much all the paradox endings lead to this, as they all end up with Noel and Serah being incapacitated in some way, and trapped for good, so no one can still stand up against Caius. Even if this wasn't the case, the normal ending shows that even though in the actual timeline they are there to try and stop him, it doesn't matter since he wins anyway due to his plan being able to be pulled off if he dies or if he succeeds.
Averted because the heroes of this game aren't the same as the last one.
Inverted with Lightning, who is now more powerful than ever.
Justified for the rest of the XIII party since their l'Cie brands are removed at the end of XIII and they as such lose all their gained powers, no justification for the equipment though.
Also averted (in a weird way) with Snow, as he's Brought Down to Normal at the end of XIII along with the others, but at some point he gets a fal'Cie to brand him since he needs the extra power on his quest.
Mog provides levity in many serious scenes by being poked or comically shaking his wand in the background.
The player can create this by having monsters with ridiculous accessories on during serious boss fights.
The "funny" answers to some of the Live Trigger events can make Serah seem like some kind of fool. At one point you can have her ask Noel how much he thinks a time-warping artefact would sell for, right after a mid-game boss fight with the Big Bad.
Battle Couple: At one point in the game, you fight Caius with only Serah and one of your Mons. This trope comes into play when that Mon is Snow, her fiancé, assuming that you have bought the DLC featuring him and unlocked his crystal.
The Beastmaster: Serah and Lightning have the ability to tame monsters and have them fight with them. Of course, some monsters cannot be tamed.
Caius has an army of monsters to fight for him in the opening cutscene, but he never makes use of this power again other than that...
In order to unlock the gate in the Archylte Steppe to reach the Vile Peaks, you'll have to defeat three Gigantaurs (one at a time, not all at once), which are very powerful the first time you visit the location.
A near-literal one can be found in Academia 400 AF. While you're following Caius, the path you're not supposed to take is blocked off by a large Undying. You know, the Cie'th that were Bonus Bosses in the original game? At this point, your attacks will barely make a dent in it even when Staggered, and all its attacks one-shot you. The game is reminding you to Continue Your Mission, Dammit!.
Long Gui is one if you decide to abandon all common sense and fight it instead of scaring it off with thunder like you're supposed to.
Betting Mini-Game: You can play slots and chocobo racing (and in DLC, cards) in Serendipity and bet coins.
Beware the Nice Ones: Serah is very nice and gentle, but if you don't do your homework, cause mischief, or doom humanity, you will be in for quite the scolding! Which is also the case in one of the optional mission areas.
Meanie Miss Farron! Meanie Miss Farron!"
BFS: Caius' sword is about as big as he is. He can still swing it pretty fast.
Snow has one in one of the Paradox Endings: In Academia 4XX AF, Snow arrives with the "time police" to arrest Alyssa for conspiring with Caius. After informing Hope that he will be assassinated in three days, he invites Serah to come with him on his journey to defeat all the different Caiuses spread across the timeline. Serah happily agrees, and the two set off on their own adventure.
Fang and Vanille pull Serah out of New Bodhum Year Unknown.
Serah and Noel in the Paradox Ending at Archlyte Steppe.
All Paradox Endings except #3 (the Flan one) and #5 (Alyssa's secret). The canon endings are listed under Downer Ending.
Lightning's Episode and its affect on the canon ending. Sure, the world is still enveloped in chaos, Serah is still dead, and Lightning is crystallized, but there's hope: Lightning reveals she will reawaken one day, and she and Serah will meet again one day.
The Eyes of Etro. Leaving aside the fact that this "gift" is indirectly responsible for Caius' Rage Against the Heavens, let's focus on Serah. At no point does Serah gain a benefit from the Eyes of Etro; she never has a vision of the future that helps her in some way or allows her to solve a problem that she wouldn't be able to otherwise. Instead, she only suffers the negative side-effects and eventually dies from them. It's also the most useless Fragment Ability in the game, allowing you to slightly adjust the camera angle during in-game cutscenes.
Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: If you pick the odd or funny answers during Live Triggers, Serah becomes the boke and Noel is the tsukkomi.
Booby Trap: The artefact given to Serah and Noel by Alyssa in Academia 4XX.
Book Ends: The tutorial and final boss fights are against Caius and his Eidolon in Valhalla. This goes even further in the Lightning DLC where you fight Caius again, in the REAL FINAL BOSS BATTLE, so it still works.
In the ending of Final Fantasy XIII, Vanille and Fang go into crystal stasis to stop Cocoon from crashing into Gran Pulse. In the ending of XIII-2, Lightning goes into crystal stasis to preserve the memory of Serah, and ride out the storm of the Time Crash that occurs.
The tutorial battle and the Lightning DLC(which is more or less THE REAL FINAL BOSS) battle have you playing as Lightning alone.
This was how the collector's edition was made: the main box is a literal book binder. The front (in Japanese reading, if you're wondering) is Caius and the back is Lightning.
Bonus Boss: XIII-2 has MANY BONUS BOSSES compared to XIII. The Long Gui returns, and despite only having a quarter of the HP it had in XIII, it's still extremely tough to put down. Yomi is a weaker (but still formidable) version of Vercingetorix. And finally, there's Raspatil, a horrifyingly powerful Undying Cie'th that's probably the hardest fight in the vanilla game.
The DLC Coliseum battles are all nasty even at maximum level, so this makes up for the normal game being pretty easy. One of the hardest ones is Jihl, the one person everyone who played XIII wanted to kill and now can't because of her summoning tricks and Sadistic Surge, and Gilgamesh, who has almost 10 million HP, can heal himself for 1 million after stagger and once he reaches half HP, he goes into enhance power mode, complete with auto-haste and attacks that even a Sentinel can struggle to keep up with.
The most notorious fighters in the Coliseum however, are Snow and Valfodr. First off, before you can fight Valfodr, you have to fight Snow, who has 10 million HP and if you don't provoke him into attacking someone else and he continues to attack the same character for a set amount of time, he will use a Total Party Kill attack that you cannot survive even if you use Sentinels. And his attacks are BRUTAL. He is relentless and extremely strong, even at Max level. He can even use the WOUNDING SPELL on you to reduce your max HP. Once you defeat him, you fight Valfodr. He has five forms, progressively getting harder. While Level 1 and Level 15 aren't too much to be concerned about, at Level 45, he summons monsters that constantly heal him and gains a powerful axe attack. At Level 70, he summons Chichu - the ever famous best commando in the game - and gains a group attack that can kill even a triple Sentinel party (Reprieve won't save you either). And while he doesn't summon anything at level 99, his attacks are even more powerful, and he's much quicker.
When you first go to Yaschas Massif and people tell you not to get into fights with behemoths in the pitch-black areas, they're not kidding. It is possible to win the fights, but it's not easy, and not exactly super-rewarding either.
Boss Rush: The ending consists of multiple fights against Caius, in different forms. In order, Chaos Bahamut (that one you saw in the opening fight), Caius himself three times in a row plus a fakeout, and the Bahamut Trio as the Final Boss. Jet Bahamut, Caius' One-Winged Angel form, has over 1 million HP, and the end total for all of these combined is around 2 million. Oh, and the other two Bahamuts prevent Jet from taking any damage or being targeted, and Jet can, upon completion of a countdown, kill any character not in Sentinel form.
Bragging Rights Reward: The Odinblade and Odinbolt don't achieve their full potential until you've acquired every fragment, at which point they receive a large jump in damage output, but then there's nothing to use them on... exceptthe DLC coliseum fights.
Break Meter: The same mechanic as the first game makes a return.
An Undying Cie'th was killed by a Tonberry in XIII. The same one shows up in XIII-2 as a boss in Episode 4.
The mirror. It played no role, and was there as a prop. That same mirror is a euphemism for a parallel dream world where all desires could come true. It was further evidence that everything was bleeding into each other, and where you got your first artefact.
You can kill Caius by stabbing his heart. Which was also the heart of the Goddess of Time. Which causes time itself to collapse and the world to end. Which was the villain's objective all along.
Also in half of the Paradox Endings. Just to list: if you kill Atlas, a war erupts and you're killed in it; if you kill the giant Flan, it takes over the world; if you kill the Proto fal'Cie with the Paradox Scope activated, Serah, Noel and Mog are captured by it and have machine copies made of them; if Serah kills Caius with the Paradox Scope activated in the Void Beyond, time ends.
Broken Bridge: The time gates themselves serve this purpose, only opening up the next area once you've advanced the plot enough to uncover the various Artefacts. There are also numerous other examples in the form of barricades, fallen rubble, time distortions, and so on. There's even two Broken Bridges that are almost literally broken bridges - they're bridges phased out of spacetime that you can't cross until you get Mog's improved search ability.
But Thou Must: The very final Cinematic Action scene. The resulting cutscene is the exact same, regardless of which option you pick.
Butt Monkey: Mog. There are parts of the game where advancing the plot involves picking the little guy up and tossing him.
Gogmagog and its palette swap, which are described as charms and seals placed upon it.
The giant monster you ride in the Sunleth Waterscape has chains on its head for some reason.
Character Customization: This game introduces large nodes in the Crystarium, which will give you a stat bonus depending on what role you leveled up. (Ex. Commando raises Attack, Medic raises Health, etc.) This lets you decide whether Serah and Noel will become better spellcasters or physical attackers.
Chekhov's Skill: Serah is a school teacher, and quite a strict one at that, which is mentioned in passing early in the game. It certainly comes in handy in Sunleth Waterscape - 400 AF when she and Noel are forced to fight a Flan School...
Chronic Hero Syndrome: A Deconstruction. Caius wants to save Yeul, but, no matter what happens, she always dies. It's implied he once was a hero, but seeing the repeated deaths of Yeul damaged his way of thinking and he now thinks dying/killing Etro and unleashing the chaos will save Yeul from her fate.
Chronoscope: The Oracle Drives serve as this, recording the visions that the Seeresses see.
Lightning's Episode introduces another cliffhanger: Lightning mentions she will reawaken one day, opening new questions about what will happen to her as well. If you get the "secret ending" after the credits of this episode (by 5-staring the second fight), you see her wake up in the distant future... which is destroyed.
Some of the fragments are actually rewards from collection sidequests, like having fully explored every map or having defeated every monsters.
Continuity Nod: Near the beginning of the last game, when the heroes are turned into l'Cie, a short Deliberately Monochrome cinematic shown Ragnarok atop Cocoon. In this game, it's explained that the same cinematic is part of a much longer prophecy: It shows Cocoon falling, with the crystal support being shattered and crashing down into Pulse.
The various roles are color coded, so you can tell at a glance which character or mon has which. They even color the nodes in the Crystarium when you level up the role.
Several of the time labyrinth puzzles use color coding to make the gameplay more obvious. Clock puzzles color code the numbers so you can tell at a glance which number is which. Crystal constellation puzzles color code nodes that can be linked. And falling platform puzzles have red and white platforms to tell you which can be crossed once and which twice.
The three stats are color-coded, to make it easier to tell which one gained a bonus when you advance in the Crystarium. Hit points are green, attack is red, and magic power is purple.
Completion Meter: The game shows a rundown of memory fragments by type and by location, as well as the overall count. Moreover, Historia Crux shows how many Time Gates are available in each location and how many have already been opened; and the map screen shows how much of the current location you have visited.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: You fight Caius multiple times throughout the game. Notably, you fight him once in Oerba 200 AF, again in the Void Beyond (without Noel), and again in the Dying World (this time without Serah or a monster companion). Now, in order to get three of the Paradox Endings, you need to fight him again with the Paradox Scope fragment skill active. With the Paradox Scope active, Caius suddenly gets more health, the ability to apply health regeneration on himself, and his attacks are quick, relentless, and very powerful, leaving very little room for his victim to do much at all until he stops. And the worst part of all? You need to fight him twice in the same battle in all instances.
Caius' sword looks amazing. It's huge, improbably shaped, and purple. With a glowing red eye.
Lightning's new sword doesn't look too bad either. They gave it a more medieval fantasy look to match her new armor.
Noel has a large sword that doubles as a sheath for a smaller one. It's very ornate and can also be transformed into a spear when necessary.
Serah's weapon is actually Mog, who can also find objects that are lost in Paradoxes. Even when Serah loses Mog (kinda), her weapon turns translucent. It also switches between a bow and a sword depending on the distance in combat.
Crutch Character: Most monsters that are "early peakers". They have fantastic growth and can carry you through a chapter or two of the game, but since they're capped at level 20, they'll soon get outpaced by increasingly stronger enemies and better monsters.
Cursed with Awesome: The Heart of Chaos. It allows the user to have power of chaos itself and Immortality. Caius has it as a gift from Etro herself as being the sole Guardian of Yeul, and only the person who kills him can take it. This concept quickly makes a left turn into Deconstruction when Caius is later known to have Death Seeker tendencies after living for an extremely long time and witnessing Yeul die countless times.
Cutscene Power to the Max: In a moment similar to the original, The Royal Ripeness is blasted and stunned for several seconds by massive fire-ball spells... from Noel. This wouldn't be so bad if it was Serah, as one could argue Snow's presence makes it The Power of Love, but it's Noel who does it instead. Made even worse by the fact that many players level Noel's strength (i.e. not his Ravager role), and he doesn't even start with a fire spell in the first place!
In this game, spells are ordered in the battle menu by power level (so first all the normal spells, then the '-a's, then the '-ga's) as opposed to the original XIII's ordering by element. (Fire, Fira, Firaga, etc.) For those who played the first game a lot, this can take some getting used to.
On a similar note, many enemies from the first game return, but most of their weaknesses have been changed.
Noel's backstory, as shown in his dream world. Everyone except him, Yeul and Caius have died off. Caius wants Noel to kill him, and when its clear that Noel can't accomplish this, Caius leaves for Valhalla to go and try to kill Etro, leaving Noel and Yeul as the only ones left on Gran Pulse. Shortly after, Yeul dies from her visions, leaving Noel to wander the land searching for a way to Valhalla. Then you know the rest.
Most of Episode 5. Serah is lost in the Void Beyond and runs into Caius. After a Curb-Stomp Battle, Caius traps her in a dream world, where all her dreams can come true. Noel is trapped in one of these as well, thanks to Caius. After wandering around her dream world for awhile, Serah starts to panic and finds fake Lightning, who tries to convince her to stay there forever. Serah is dangerously close to giving into Lightning...
The ending! Caius had been vanquished, the paradoxes were resolving, Fang and Vanille were saved before the old Cocoon fell, the new Cocoon took off and then... Serah has one last vision and dies, Lightning crystallized and stays that way for centuries, Vanille and Fang are still in crystal stasis, and Snow is somewhere outside of the timeline. Meanwhile, Noel and Hope are smack dab in the middle of a Time Crash caused by Noel falling for Caius's plan and inadvertently killing Etro.
Death by Origin Story: The Yeul from the timeline where Noel was born, as shown in his dream world, which basically shows his whole origin story.
Decoy Protagonist: Most of the advertising suggests that Lightning is the central hero of the game, even though the true main character is her sister Serah.
Degraded Boss: Some monsters have moved up or down between XIII and XIII-2.
Malebranche is basically Attacus from XIII, and while Attacus was considered a boss in XIII, Malebranche is a regular enemy here. Same goes for Tonberries, though they're a rare encounter.
There are some inversions as well: The Immortal and Ochus were regular, if strong and rare, enemies in the first game, but are unique Bonus Bosses here.
Demoted to Extra: The main party in Final Fantasy XIII, save for Hope, is affected by this. There are short DLC episodes for Lightning, Snow, and Sazh, which allow you to recruit them into your party.
Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: The Fragments Before novel reveals that once the truth about the events of the first game came to light, the remaining PSICOM soldiers were shunned from most of society. Many of these soldiers went off into the Pulse wilderness and ended up founding many of the settlements that are now on Pulse. It's also revealed that another reason they did so was because with the destruction of Cocoon, their one goal in life (to protect Cocoon) disappeared, so they went to look for dangerous monsters to fight, as training for war was all they had known and is the only real skill they have.
If you decide to go to Augusta Tower 200AF after going to its 300AF counterpart to get a keycard, Noel will remark that you already have the key.
Noel:If the key we need is something that is in a different time period, don't we already have it?
It is possible to win the Lucky Coin Fragment in Serendipity while playing as Serah only (i.e. - when you get lost in the Void Beyond and Serah is alone without Noel.) If you do, Noel's comment in the cut-scene will be absent.
Dialog During Gameplay: Few NPCs in the game are actually able to be talked to; the rest of the NPCs can be heard by walking by them.
Completing Requiem of the Goddess unlocks Valkyrie Lightning for the Paradigm Pack. Lightning's Episode can be played the moment you have access to the Historia Crux, meaning you can unlock the Second most powerful Commando in the game before you even get to the Bresha Ruins. Even though you can't level her up until very late in the game, her Strength and Magic stats at her starting level are in the 6000's so she can absolutely wreck any enemy you come across for most of the game.
If you manage to max level the Dragoon from Augusta Tower 200AF, you will be able to use him through the rest of the game, short of Bonus Bosses. This is because it has ~600 Attack at a time you are at the 250s.
The Behemoths you're told to avoid in Yaschas Massif 010 AF. It is possible to beat one as long as you have a Saboteur, Sentinel and a Medic, and its recruit rate is decent enough to make capturing it on your first visit a possibility.
A lot of the monsters labeled with "Early Peaker" have a low max level and pretty high stats compared to other choices. However, most of them lose out in the long run.
If you manage to survive, you can get a Munchkin from Bresha Ruins 300AF quite early in the game. They have very high health and strength compared to most others, which can get even higher if use certain materials to level them up, and are "Early Peakers".
The DLC weapons are really useful up until you start to do sidequests near the endgame.
Doomed Hometown: Not a straight example, but New Bodhum, Serah's hometown, is absolutely destroyed in the future.
Downer Ending: The final cut scene shows Lightning is petrified on Etro's throne, Serah dying in Noel's arms, Chaos engulfs the world, and it's all the heroes' fault. In their defense, Caius influenced events so that he would win no matter what. He had 2 plans, and if one failed, the other would definitely succeed anyway. Serah and Noel succeeded in stopping Caius' Plan A of using Cocoon's destruction to force the gate open. It's just too bad that his Plan B, them killing him, worked perfectly. The ending of Lightning's episode makes it more of a Bittersweet Ending. See that entry for more info.
Serah winds up in one after Caius stabs her. Fake versions of Snow, Team NORA, and Lightning all show up. Fang and Vanille eventually help her out of it. One of the Paradox Endings can be obtained here if you tell the fake Lightning that you wish to stay with her, and Serah will live in her dream world forever and forget about Mog and Noel.
Lightning ends up in one also caused by Caius in her episode, and is forced to fight him before coming to.
Duel Boss: Late in the game, Serah and Noel are temporarily separated and they both run into Caius. Serah averts this, as she fights him with a Mon on her side. Noel plays this trope straight and fights him one-on-one.
Dungeon Shop: Chocolina sometimes sets up shop in dungeons, even right before the boss.
Elevator Action Sequence: In Augusta Tower 200AF, you're forced into several fights in a row while riding the elevator. All while going up one floor, which after the sequence, takes nothing more than a few seconds.
It's usually bright and sunny in New Bodhum. The two exceptions are during the intro, when monsters are attacking the town(this exception does make sense though, since it's at night when the monsters attack), and in the year 700 AF, when all humans have perished.
Emperor Scientist: Since the Academy is more or less the government of the world, that makes the Director of the Academy, Hope, its leader.
Endgame Plus: You obtain the Paradox Scope after beating the game, which, after getting it as a skill in Serendipity, will let you access the Paradox Endings that you couldn't access before.
Eternal English: One of the datalogslampshades this by noting that the human language has not changed in over a thousand years, although curiously enough, Cocoon and Pulse use different alphabets. The datalog speculates that the reason for the unchanging language is because language was something that the fal'Cie gave humanity.
Evil Albino: There are numerous albino Palette Swaps of regular enemies. They tend to be significantly more powerful than non-albino versions of the enemies, but the only really evil thing about them is their placement; many of them are extremely hard to find.
Failure Is the Only Option: Caius and Lighting can see the entire timeline from Valhalla, and as discovered in the normal ending and pointed out in the secret ending (and implied in the Paradox endings, since they all pretty much have Serah and Noel unable to try and stop Caius anyway, leaving him unopposed), all timelines lead to Etro dying and Caius winning. The specifics differ but the end result is always the same... and Caius knew it. Lightning realising it sends her past the Despair Event Horizon and causes her to choose to crystallize herself to attempt to ride out the storm.
Failure Knight: Caius and Noel to Yeul, which justifies Noel's protectiveness of Serah. Caius succeeds in reviving Yeul while Noel fails to protect Serah.
One of the members of the game's production team stated outright that Mog's presence in the game was intended as a form of fanservice, though this is one instance where it doesn't have anything to do with sex. Of course, one might begin to believe that it's intended as a form of a Fan Disservice after about the fifth time of hearing Mog say "I'll be helping in spirit, so good luck, kupo!" after failing at one of the Temporal Rift puzzles.
One of the DLC options is to have Serah spend most of the game (excluding certain cutscenes) in a pink bikini.
Fashions Never Change: With one or two exceptions, fashion changes very little over the centuries you travel; Academia and military uniforms not at all.
Final Boss Preview: Caius is the first and last opponent fought in the game. Zig-zagged since Bahamut is the first and last boss fought, but the trope counts since Bahamut is the Eidolon of Caius and Jet Bahamut is the One-Winged Angel form of Caius.
At the beginning of the game, Serah has a brief vision of Cocoon falling to the ground. Later on, Hope, Noel, and Serah watch a cinematic of Cocoon's fall. Finding a way to prevent Cocoon's fall and save Fang and Vanille later becomes the central goal of the Academy. They are unable to do this, so they make a new Cocoon instead and remove Fang and Vanille's crystals from the pillar when the time comes. Then it goes From Bad to Worse.
Switching the view of the Historia Crux will allow you to see the panorama images for each era.
Five Races: Although the first game consciously avoided using this trope to be unique, it returns in full usage in this game, with The Academy functioning as High Men (a society of thinkers who live in isolated enclaves, ruled by an near-immortal man with vast knowledge of the world), the Steppe Hunters being Stouts, and Mog and Chocolina being representative of Cutes. Fal'Cie retain their status as Fairies, and add Yeul to their ranks.
The "Worlds Collide" battle theme references several plot points. Interesting how they reference Atlas Shrugged.
Worlds collide and people fade Seek gates through timelines, we've all prayed Let's fix the past Trade it now to see smiling faces This hope, Heart of Chaos cannot take Paradoxes must break, this is the path I must take My destiny may change your fate The pain my heart feels is my strength
For those who finished XIII's postgame, the datacore you get for the final bonus fight, "Fabula Nova Crystallis", definitely has parallels with the 13-2 storyline... and hints about what may lie beyond "To Be Continued."
Similarly, the tenth Analect from FFXIII titled "The Menace Beyond", along with the "Mirror of Atropos" fragment from FFXIII-2, suggest that a final battle is due to take place in the Thirteenth Ark, which appears late in the game but is conspicuously irrelevant to the plot aside from giving Hope the idea to use Graviton Cores.
A lot is said in-game about how people think Lightning is crystallized inside Cocoon, even though the player is aware that's not the case. However, the very last shot of the normal ending is Lightning sitting on Etro's throne, crystallized. You'd normally dismiss it, but it's pretty brutal in hindsight...
Four Is Death: "Unseen Abyss" (also known as "Invisible Depths"), Caius' Final Boss theme, runs for 4 minutes and 44 seconds on the Soundtrack CD. This comes after you fight him three times plus a fakeout in his human form.
From Bad to Worse: The ending goes from Serah dying to chaos engulfing the world to Lightening's crystalization. It's possibly the most bleak the Final Fantasy series has gotten, and that includes Final Fantasy VI, where Kefka destroyed an entire planet and someone attempted suicide on camera.
Gameplayand Story Segregation: Averted when it comes to fighting Caius. There are a total of five fights against him in the story. In each fight, he cast reraise on himself and the first four battles end after it revives him. The next cutscene typically involves him standing up and kicking your ass. The Paradox Scope lets you continue fighting him after Reraise activates and Caius proceeds to use the same strength he demonstrated in cutscenes. Beating Caius in these fights results in a paradox ending.
Gameplay Grading: Like the last game, your battles are ranked from one to five stars. This is important since not only do higher ranks increase item drops and the Feral Link gauge, but some achievements/trophies are only awarded for get five stars on certain boss battles.
Q: What act performed by the comedian Fl-Fl-Flan got him booted off of every TV station?
A: Wanna touch my Shaolong Gui?
Q: Which model is popular among collectors?
A: 1/1 scale Serah Farron
Ghost Town: Oerba is still this, even after hundreds of years. The game gives it a Hand Wave by explaining that Hope ordered the place to be preserved in honor of Vanille and Fang. Plus, the area is continuously under Paradox Effects, so going there is very dangerous for anyone other than Serah, Noel, Mog, and maybe Chocolina.
The Gods Must Be Lazy: Etro is a very kind goddess but unfortunately she does not know her own limits and instead is too active. The happy ending in XIII was caused by an intervention and leads to this game's conflict. The Heart of Chaos and the Eyes of Etro were both gifts from her; the former powers the villain and the later kills the hero. She indirectly caused the majority of bad events to happen.
Golden Ending: The Lightning DLC's own ending is considered to be this, since it expands on the game's own ending.
Gold Silver Copper Standard: One of the fragment items from the Bresha Ruins mentions that after the paradox wiped away everyone's debit card information, everyone switched to bartering using materials like silver and gems.
Gotta Catch Them All: Of the optional variety. Like many Mons games, the monsters range from the very common to the extremely rare and from the exceptionally easy to catch to the frustratingly difficult, and they are spread out all over the game. Some fall into Guide Dang It due to the fact that you need to know where to throw Mog. One fragment is obtained as a reward for having defeated every single enemy in the game at least once.
You most likely can't find all 160 Fragments without consulting a walkthrough at least once. The worst ones are either Fragments related to Paradox Endings, which already have their own Guide Dang It moments, or the ones that are hidden on the map, and require searching everywhere and checking every nook and cranny to find.
Nearly every fragmentin Academia 4XX AF. Obtaining most of them involve answering a number of inane (and even some luck-based) questions in a row, tracking down Captain Cryptic with infrequent and vague clues from pedestrians, and filling the entire bestiary, which is itself a Guide Dang It, especially monsters like Tezcatlipoca, a unique Woodwraith who spawns only in a single spot in Academia 500 AF, on the northeast platform close to the final boss fight. If you already fought Xolotl and Miquiztli at that spot instead, you have to reset the entire area and go all the way over there again.
You also wouldn't be able to find all Artefacts to open up the mostly-optional Gates.
The hidden monsters that require throwing Mog. Some of them make a little sense, but it's rather annoying to find out that one of the best Commando monsters in the game, Chichu, require this.
Serah realizes towards the end of the game that trying to fight fate to save the future will shorten her lifespan and kill her. She decides to continue fighting, and does indeed die from the visions.
Hero of Another Story: The rest of the cast of XIII (Lightning, Sazh, Snow, and Hope) are not idle while you are off saving the timeline, and while they dip in and out of the story throughout the game, they remain mostly orbital storylines that we know little about. Their DLC packages explain more about what they've been up to.
How We Got Here: You are shown in the opening sequence in which Lightning is fighting against Caius in the city called Valhalla. The ending sequence has Valhalla being remade on Gran Pulse as per the death of Etro, with Chaos spreading across the land. Serah dies, Caius narrates, and Lightning is shown as a crystal. "A future I could not protect," indeed.
Hub Level: The Historia Crux serves as a menu-screen version of this. Each node on the map marks a different era and location. To unlock other nodes, you must activate time gates within those locations.
Immortality Seeker: Played With. Caius is already immortal, he simply wants to find a way to stop Yeul from dying and being reincarnated over and over again and give her true immortality. How does he give Yeul a deathless life? By getting someone to stab him through the heart, killing Etro and transforming the world into Valhalla, a world where time no longer exists.
Improbable Weapon User: Serah uses a MOOGLE as a weapon. Granted, though, it does change into an actual weapon.
Noel's sword is actually two swords attached to each other that can turn into a spear.
In Acedemia 400 AF, some of the NPCs transformed into Cie'th are children. Heartrendingly, you can sometimes pass adult female NPCs and hear them begging their children not to leave them, or reassuring them that they're right there.
Yeul isn't exactly an infant, but she never lives to be older than fifteen. And she's constantly reincarnated.
One of the sidequests is from a young boy who was sucked into a temporal distortion and killed, and is unable to move on because he never accomplished anything.
Infinity+1 Sword: The Odinbolt and Odinblade for Serah and Noel, respectively, is this. However, the Strength and Magic stats rely on how many Fragments you have, so the trouble in obtaining this is not getting it, but rather powering it up into the most powerful weapons in the game.
Insurmountable Waist High Fence: This becomes even more obvious from the first game, since characters can now freely jump, yet still can't jump over most fences.
The last level is a platforming level, and some of the platforms have these, so that you can't make certain jumps to get through the level faster. The silly thing is that some of the "fences" are about an inch tall...
Interface Spoiler: Whenever you load up the game, a brief Previously On recap will play just to remind the player of the story so far & starting with "Final Fantasy XIII-2 - The story so far" said by one of the main characters chosen at random, including Fang & Vanille, which spoils their cameo towards the end of the game.
Serah waits for Snow to return in New Bodhum at the beginning of the game.
At the start of the game, Lightning is locked in combat with Caius, and neither of them seem to be able to gain the upper hand over the other. When she sends Noel to go find Serah, the implication is that Lightning will be fighting Caius for the entire span of the game.
Joke Item: Mog positively quivers with excitement at the idea of scoring a huge amount of gil once the party resolves the paradox at the Bresha Ruins in 100 AF / 300 AF. The reward turns out to be a coupon good for ten years of free toilet paper, leading Mog to declare that the government is evil. The coupon becomes a key item in the inventory.
Most of the adornments. Almost any mechanical monster looks funny with a newsboy hat on.
Jumped at the Call: After losing Lightning, then Snow, and hearing nothing from the latter for two years, all it takes is a small-scale monster invasion and Noel's word to send Serah traipsing across time and space in search of her sister.
Karma Houdini: Alyssa, except in one Paradox Ending where Snow reveals that she's working with Caius. Notably, she never appears again in the timeline. She mentioned in her Motive Rant that she was doing this because she found out, due to study of the timeline that she only existed due to a Paradox, one that the heroes would invariably fix, causing her to vanish. In fact, if you go back afterwards... no one's heard of any Alyssa—the only hint she's been there is that Hope remembers her and one of the other assistants seems to remember the name.
Killer Rabbit: The Chichu monster, which is essentially a big seed on legs with cute little plant sprouts growing out of it. Raised to its maximum potential, it has arguably the highest damage output of any monster in the entire game.
The Travel Guide: Academia fragment requires 100% completion of all Academia maps. Academia 400 has constantly-spawning, mostly inescapable enemies to trip you up. Academia 4XX is by far the most complex map in the game, full of little nooks and crannies that will take a long while to explore fully. Academia 500 is a constantly shifting platforming level with multiple switches changing which platforms are accessible. Bring a snack and a stress-ball.
The Paradox Endings Beneath a Timeless Sky and Heir of Chaos. Both of them are fights against a really hard version of Caius without your whole party. Beneath a Timeless Sky gives you Serah and your Mons, while Heir of Chaos pits Noel in a Duel Boss against Caius. Even if you've maxed out the Crystarium, you still don't get much breathing room, and Caius is absolutely relentless.
One Fragment requires that you defeat every single enemy in the game. No other Fragment compares to how long this takes, given the number of opponents, the rarity of some opponents (Tezcatlipoca spawns on one platform in Academia 500AF. If you fought anything else on that platform, you have to redo that level from the beginning, because it doesn't spawn again), and the difficulty of the opponents, like all the Bonus Boss versions of Caius, Long Gui, Yomi, and Raspatil.
Late-Arrival Spoiler: In almost every piece of advertising for this game, it shows Serah, revealing that she is revived from her crystallized status.
This seems to be how the Proto-Fal'cie instantly converts people into Cie'th. What he's actually doing is a Call Back to the first game: turning people into I'Cie, but not giving them a Focus, hench insta-Cie'th.
Mons have a Synchronization gauge that fills up as they fight with you. Once it's full, you can unleash their Feral Link.
Serah and Noel both can get their Full ATB Attack (Serah's is Ultima Arrow and Noel's in Meteor Javelin), but they're only useable once per fight unless you use an Elixir.
The Scourge and Smite abilities that Commandos can use. They only activate if any enemy is about to recover from Stagger, and do about five times the normal amount of damage.
Loads and Loads of Loading: The loading screens last much longer then the first game, and it really shows. At worst, it could take a full minute. There's also every time you enter a timeline from the menu. The resulting traveling-through-time animation always takes 25-30 seconds, and it can't be skipped. Justified, since the game is attempting to load the entire world from scratch and there are barely any loading scenes in the areas themselves except for the Academia variants, which is really huge and relies on small corridors between larger areas.
Lost Forever: Mostly averted. After obtaining the proper seal, you can lock a time gate and go back to the area as it was when you first arrived. Because of this, few things are truly lost, even the Live Trigger rewards, but at the moment some of the gate seals don't work properly and thus don't return you to the very beginning of that location, Archelyte Steppe being a major offender.
Unique monster crystals that can only be gotten by throwing Mog at specific spots used to be this in the sense that if you picked the wrong Crystarium upgrades for them or infused another monster with them (which was the only way to pass on the useful Pack Mentality skill), you couldn't get another one, but thanks to Snow's DLC, all versions of Valfodr have 2 of the unique monsters as their drop items and thus you can get as many extras as you want.
Lotus-Eater Machine: Serah and Noel get trapped in separate ones. Vanille and Fang free Serah from hers, and Serah saves Noel from his.
The biggest example is Twilight Odin, who is weak when you first get him. With enough sufficient leveling, he can become an absolute monster. Too bad he's overshadowed by other monsters that attack faster than him, do more damage than he does at equal or lower strength values and don't waste time posing after every 4 attacks.
The Cait Sith you get as one of your two first Mons can, with time and patience, be one of the best Medics in the game.
Noel is this in comparison to Serah. In the beginning, he tends to have lower stats, but towards the end he outpaces her in stat growth.
Chichu starts off average and its slow growth in its early levels keeps it average. However, its stat growth in the later levels accelerates like a rocket, and at max level you will have a squeaky wrecking ball. There's a reason why many players have a Chichu in their late- to post-game Paradigm Pack.
Manual Leader, AI Party: The player controls one party member at once and has the option of customizing the AI of the party. Also, the game adds the option of switching the character you're controlling directly mid-battle.
Marathon Level: Episode 5, which once started, you cannot go back to the Historia Crux until you finish it or get a Paradox Ending (of which the chapter has three, though only two will return you to the Crux.) Technically, you can return to the Crux, but the only locations available to you will be whichever one you were working on, and Serendipity, if you really fancy a break.
Masquerade: After the AI of Augusta Tower murdered the members of Academia, it created a "staff" of androids that looked identical to the original staff in order to hide what had happened from the general populace. It then took over Academia, which itself eventually became the de facto government.
Maximum HP Reduction: The game adds the Wounding mechanic, wherein certain attacks and monsters reduce the target's maximum HP to force the player to avoid long battles. Although such wounds are thankfully covered by After Combat Recovery, no magic and only two specific potions (one of which is Elixir) can heal them in combat.
Mercy Kill: Caius to Noel and Serah, trapping them in a dreamworld paradise outside of time. They break out, however, but not without help.
Min-Maxing: The Crystarium has big nodes that give you a small stat bonus in either HP, ATK, or MAG depending on which role you decide to level up on the big node, which starts adding up if you concentrate on a single stat. As a result, some people opt to have an all-MAG and all-ATK build for Serah and Noel, respectively.
Mons: Also known as "your third party member". Defeating most monsters will cause them to turn into crystals, and you can then use the crystallized monster in battle alongside Serah and Noel. Paradigm shifts switch monsters and they level up with you and can be customized to an extent. They're pretty much Pokémon. Mog also counts toward this.
Monster Arena: The Coliseum allows you to fight optional bosses. All of them are DLC, though.
Mood Dissonance: Chocolina, who's always cheery no matter where she is (with a few exceptions. In Academia 400 AF, she's depressed that everyone's being turned into Cie'th. Right before the finale in Academia 500 AF, she also gets a little downcast when she realizes that if Serah and Noel resolve the final paradox, she may never see them again.)
Mood Whiplash: Do not expect any mood in this game to last for long, especially if you're going for post-game 100% completion.
The Myth Arc concerning the birth of the fal'Cie, directly parallels the story of Noah and his disciples in Final Fantasy III. Pulse gets the power to create magical beings and shape the world as he sees fit, Lindzei gains the power to guard the unseen realm of the divine, and Etro gets nothing, and floods the world in darkness as an act of sorrow and revenge. This is in addition to trying to seek out a force of nature that models itself in the image of a female deity.
In the first round of the Gilgamesh fight, he shoots Rocket Launchers at one target, much like his Rocket Punch ability.
Name's the Same/Dub-Induced Plot Hole: Final Fantasy now has two cases for using the word "chaos"/"Chaos". The former refers to an entity; the latter refers to the Final Boss of the original Final Fantasy. Suspiciously, "Heart of Chaos" has a capital 'C', while Caius in the ending narrates and says "chaos" with a lowercase 'c' in the subtitles. This is extremely important when you know the context of the event, and creates massive confusion.
Lightning is not the protagonist of this game, although the earliest trailers were basically her and Caius in the opening. Even the logo is just her and Caius facing off.
In a remarkable piece of false advertising, the trailer at the end of the playable demo showed Omega in the game. No "Omega Coliseum is DLC" or "Omega Coliseum sold separately" disclaimer, just a hook to get long-time fans to buy the game... before the soul-crushing realisation that Omega isn't actually in the game and would be released a month later. For more money.
New Game+: This can be achieved by closing gates and re-entering them, causing you to play through the area's events again with all of your current stats and items.
Gilgamesh:"I've been waiting in this Coliseum for so very long now! I was starting to worry that you'd never download this part of the game, and I'd be stuck in digital limbo!" (cue confused expression from Serah and Noel)
Non-Combat EXP: You can get CP (the game's form of EXP) from finding fragments throughout every area, which are obtained by completing sidequests or main missions. However, the CP gained from fragments not directly related to killing things tends to be pretty poor.
The characters will be happy to remind you what's going on nearly every time you enter a gate. This is useful if you've been sidetracked catchingMons, Sidequests, or by Serendipity, but a tad annoying if you've played straight through and just heard similar dialog less than five minutes before.
You can see sidequests you've accepted via the menu.
When you load your game from the title screen, a brief Previously On will play, reminding you of the story so far.
Old Save Bonus: If the player has save data for Final Fantasy XIII on their HD, the success rate of the slots minigame in Xanadu/Serendipity will be higher, mostly. They also unlock several in game items, a theme for your Playstation Dashboard (for PS3) and a gamer picture (for Xbox 360).
Only Smart People May Pass: The Hands of Time Temporal Rifts veer straight into this trope, with players wasting half an hour on one puzzle being a common sight. Thankfully, IGN made a excel spreadsheet that does it for you here. For those willing to look at Japanese, this page doesn't require Excel. Just input the number at the top of the "clock" into the spot labeled 0 and go clockwise from there.
Ominous Message from the Future: One of the Memory Fragments you can uncover in New Bodhum 700 AF with Paradox Scope on is a message to Serah from Future!Serah, which pretty much tells you that Serah will die in the end. Of course, since you only acquire the Paradox Scope after beating the game, you already know that.
Several bosses are directly re-used from 13, only with a new paint job—for example, Atlas uses the mostly unused Titan character model.
On a larger scale, many monsters are "family" monsters which reuse very similar or exactly the same models, with new textures. This is actually useful in some instances, as it's possible to find monsters with the Pack Mentality auto-ability, which makes them stronger if all three monsters in your Paradigm Pack are from the same family.
Most of the NPCs are palette swaps of each other, with only clothing and hair color changed.
Pop Quiz: There is a man named Captain Cryptic who asks Serah questions about the world they live in. The Brain Blast quiz podiums scattered around Academia 400 AF also count.
Previously On: Every time you continue the game, some clips are shown of what happened the last time you played. It seems to be a random collection of clips from previous cutscenes, and sometimes doesn't really help the player remember what happened before.
Some of the locations you visit don't change much at all across the timeline, with only a few areas opening up or being closed off, but no major changes even after a century or more.
The sporty wristwatch takes a licking, and keeps on ticking. After being lost in a ravine for 100 years, it can be dusted off and returned to its owner in the past still in working condition. Somewhat justified by having one of the fragments mentioning Snow wanting a wristwatch that can take tons of punishment and Maqui coming up with one, which probably was made into its own brand at some point in the past.
Random Number God: There is a sidequest in Oerba which involves rotating clock-like hands (called a "Temporal Rift"). Usually, it's very straightforward since the game leads you through them, the first few of these quests are not randomized, and each decision is not under a time limit despite having only one chance. The final Fragment is just ridiculous: it ends with thirteen randomized movements and you still have that one chance or you restart the entire thing from scratch. There is a solver and explanation for this, but it helps to have some knowledge of statistics.
Lightning, of all people, in the "main" timeline. Makes seeing snippets of the ending of XIII, only with that particular character missing (and Serah being the only one who notices anything is wrong—something she's considered mildly insane for believing) absolutely horrific. Doubly so since the player presumably remembers the original ending to the game.
Ironically, this is inverted as well in a big way. Namely, Etro did the inverse, saving the party from XIII after the fight with Orphan, which causes a few problems.
The Reveal: Turns out, it's the moogle's bobble that allows them to fly. The wings are just for show.
The Eyes of Etro drastically shorten the lifespan of those who bear them.
Somewhat averted in Noel's case. Memories relating to his native era aren't impervious, as Serah figures out in a brief narrative moment roundabouts Academia 4XX AF.
Save Scumming: As expected of any game that involve gambling. Bonus points go to the Card game in Sazh's DLC, which allows you to play "All In", essentially doubling (or even tripling, if you are lucky) your credit if you win, if not, reload.
Serious Business: Two of Chocolina's chocobo chicks in Sazh's episode involve this. The male chick wants to ask out the female chick, so he gives Sazh a letter to deliver, and then she doesn't like that he can't come himself... After a bit, the two finally get together to some romantic music.
Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Noel comes from a Bad Future, which he escaped from by going to Valhalla, which he then left to his past to change the future. Also, Future!Hope wants to save Fang, Vanille, and his mother.
Sequel Difficulty Spike: Inverted big time. Random battles are now no threat at all, and the rare enemies that are supposedly more powerful than their peers usually just take a minute to kill instead of ten seconds. There is little sense in using anything other than Commandos and Ravagers 95% of the time. The beautifully layered, multifaceted battle system of the previous game is still here, but there is little reason to use it anymore. It is entirely possible to stumble across some of the most powerful foes in the game completely unprepared and win on your first try.
Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Timey-wimey stuff cancels out the seemingly happy ending from XIII. The plot of this game centers around Serah searching for Lightning, who has vanished for no apparent reason. Various time paradoxes destroy progress made by the protagonists. In the end, Serah dies after beating the Big Bad, Lightning is crystallized, and the Big Bad gets better.
If you have seen Advent Children, you will immediately recognize Lightning's action when she attempts to break through the meteor by going straight for it. Later on, the camera focuses on a chunk of said meteor and it resembles the Final Fantasy VII logo. Noel repeatedly saying "700 years" just adds fuel to the fire.
The way that Caius holds Yeul and lowers her into the water in the opening cinematic is very reminiscent of Cloud and Aerith.
The scene in New Bodhum Year Unknown when Lightning is standing on the pier, shrouded in darkness, and puts her hand out for Serah to join her is very similar to when Riku holds out his hand to Sora in Kingdom Hearts.
A lonely last of his kind time traveller finds a female companion who's lost a loved one through a crack in time and is due to be married soon, reminiscent of Doctor Who, especially series 5 of the new series. Also this sounds very similar to this.
Soundtrack Dissonance: The ending song, New World, has hopeful lyrics that really clash with the bitter ending.
Hey guys, a meteor just crashed into New Bodhum, the entire beach is covered from head to toe in monsters, and we have no idea what the hell is going on! You know what this calls for? An upbeat jazzy rock song!
Squat's In A Name: An almost-unheard-of in-universe example: Hope names the new Cocoon "Bhunivelze", which is the name of the god that created the fal'Cie Pulse, Lindzei, and Etro in the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology. There is no real indication that Hope even knows who Bhunivelze is, nor is there any explanation why the new Cocoon would be named "Bhunivelze" in the first place.
Stable Time Loop: The Proto fal'Cie Adam uses time-travel to go back to its creation at 13 AF and kill off Hope, Alyssa, and the other Academy scientists, allowing itself to take control of the tower and the city of Academia. This means that no matter how many times Noel and Serah kill off the fal'Cie, it will just keep regenerating. Eventually this chicken-and-egg scenario is resolved: Serah curses Hope out as she attacks the fal'Cie. Her outcry and battle with the fal'Cie is recorded on the Oracle Drive in the past, causing Hope in 13 AF to see what will happen in 200 AF and abandon the project.
Also causes a bit of Fridge Brilliance: Why is it that, even after finalizing the plans for the creation of Bhunivelze, Noel doesn't disappear? If you had been able to truly win, the future that Noel comes from would be erased...
Stat Grinding: Like the first game, the Crystarium works like this.
It's hard to be sheep out here on the plain, Avoiding the hunters is such a terrible strain. Oh, I wish that once I could munch on some grass Without a man coming to pull a tuft from my... side.
Take That: An Academia 4XX AF NPC girl notes this:
All the boys want to do is play war games. Why can't they grow up? They're so immature.
Take Your Time: Due to how the Historia Crux works, time will stop flowing in one location once you leave, and will only continue flowing when you return. Because of this, there is no rush to complete an area's objective.
Atlas, once he fully materializes, will wait for you in that courtyard for as long as you want while you continue running around the Bresha Ruins doing other stuff.
A Taste of Power: In the prologue, you control Lightning, who is very powerful and wins the opening battles with little challenge.
Thanatos Gambit: Caius never wanted to destroy Cocoon. His plan was to get the heroes pissed off enough to kill him. It worked.
In-Universe example: the Blitz Squadron had their call-names after Lightning's, in honor of their once-cooperation before her leave for the Purge. Blitz is even the name of an ability, but names like "Thunder", "Falcon", and "Sarge" come to mind.
Both Noel's and Yeul's names have a connection to Christmas, and thus, to each other and hinting at their bond.
Time Travel: The Historia Crux system allows the player to travel through gates that lead to different time periods, akin to Chrono Trigger. It is slightly extended from the CT system, however, in that there are several alternate versions (in some cases up to 4, but a few are just for Paradox Endings) of most time periods.
Tomato in the Mirror: It's not until the ending cutscene that you realize with a sinking feeling that Valhalla has, all along, been the city of Academia with a minor case of serious time-warping. This hits particularly hard once you realize that the simple existence of Valhalla renders your entire quest meaningless and has been in front of your eyes the whole time.
Hope. From the whiny and weak kid in the first game to the de facto leader of the world in this one. He saves Serah and Noel multiple times.
Lightning wasn't exactly weak at the end of the last game, but in the opening Caius calls her "warrior goddess." He isn't exaggerating.
Total Eclipse of the Plot: The eclipse that happens at some point in future history is implied to have darkened the entire continent for years. Justified by it being caused by a fal'Cie rather than a celestial object. This trope also applies to Yaschas Massif 010AF to a lesser extent.
To the Pain: One of the Undying Cie'th you battle, Gorgyra, was once a female bodyguard to a Yeul. After being tricked by an enemy nearly leads to the seeress' death, Gorgyra is so ashamed that she asks a fal'Cie to turn her into a Cie'th as punishment (much to Yeul's opposition). Just before the transformation, said fal'Cie gives her a rather disturbingly detailed description of what's about to happen to her.
Beware the latest PS3 and XBOX 360 trailers, which are spoiling things way too much. For example, the XBOX 360 trailer reveals scenes which lead us to think that Noel and Yeul are going to die. The XBOX360 trailer goes as far as showing Caius stabbing Noel in the back, leaving him to die. Of course, we know that we should Never Trust a Trailer, or that with the multiple endings the game will have, we only see one of the paths our choices may lead us... Still, it's going a little too far.
The latest PS3 trailer (released at the same time as the above) has another (and different!) spoiler: it confirms that Lightning and Serah eventually reunite through the time travel paradigms, which seemed to be a little bit too far for trailers 3-4 months before the release.
Academia 500 AF is a maze that involves platforming. The developers explained that they wanted to make an area to take advantage of the new jumping ability.
A more minor example is in Academia 400 AF. Enemies will randomly appear in random areas, and if you find a monster, you can not run away.
Lightning's episode has a different development system: Lightning levels up in a more traditional manner, where she gains stats and abilities once enough Crystogen points are earned.
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Averted. Many people will talk about Mog or will say your clothes look strange. People will also react with fear when you activate Mog Search and you can even draw a crowd to yourself when you throw Mog or make an item appear with Mog Search. Guards and tame chocobos will also attack any monsters that appear out of nowhere. Chocobos also seem to be very popular with the NPCs
Vagueness Is Coming: Both Cocoon and Gran Pulse are prophesied to be doomed, but the exact nature of the calamity remains unclear because time has been twisted and warped so many times that any of a number of things could cause it.
Using the Moogle Throw will have Mog squirm and panic. It's rather cute though. Actually throwing him can have him bounce off obstacles and fall down cliffs. Good thing he seems to be Made of Iron. This is also made more amusing by the fact that whenever you throw him, all NPCs nearby gather around him regardless of whether they're little kids or hardened soldiers when they just express some casual wonderment when he's flying around.
Infusing monsters with others, which apparently destroys the second monster. Even the monster that's been fighting with you for hours is liable to be sacrificed to a better one the moment it shows up.
Villain Forgot to Level Grind: No, not Caius (he gets stronger), but Gogmagog, an unusual being that pops up in random portals and forces you to fight him in a boss battle several times in the game. After a long string of Wham Episodes and a very depressing Tear Jerker, Gogmagog shows up as the boss in the time period... only for him to rarely attack (and when he does, it's very weak), along with use something called "Writhe", which is like "Splash" but worse: it inflicts a random debuff on himself.
The weakened Atlas you fight in episode 2. This is the first battle where you'll actually have to switch paradigms and be reasonably leveled to beat.
Similarly, the full power Atlas hammers home the concept that you are simply not going to be strong enough to pick every path. Fortunately, later in the game you gain the ability to forcibly rewind time, starting chapters over with your current stats, which is basically New Game Plus.
We Cannot Go On Without You: This was mostly removed from gameplay, presumably as a reaction to complaints against this mechanic in the original game. If the party leader dies in battle, you'll be automatically switched to whomever wasn't the party leader, assuming he or she is still alive. You may also switch between leaders at any point within the battle. However, if both Noel and Serah die in battle, it's Game Over, even if your current monster knows Raise. Perhaps the monster takes the opportunity to high tail it before he's infused into another monster?
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Ultimately, Big Bad Caius is not looking to rule/destroy the world (godhood optional). He's hoping to create a timeless place where Yeul never has to die, which unfortunately will have the side-effect of collapsing every timeline ever. And he succeeds in the end.
Seconds before that you discover that the original and correct history has everyone frozen in crystal at the end of XIII. The only reason the party, save for Vanille and Fang, survived was due to the timely intervention of the goddess Etro... something that ended up killing her and dooming the timeline (and humanity) to a slow death.
What Could Have Been: The original plan for the game was to have the story take place 900 years after the events of XIII with little to no involvement with any of the original cast, no time travel, no paradoxes, and would have ended with a reference to Type 0.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Several major people in the storyline vanish outright and are never mentioned again. Case in point, no mention of Alyssa after her betrayal outside of a Paradox Ending. This is almost acceptable with her since her betrayal was apparently due to her discovering that the heroes succeeding in their adventure would Ret Gone her, but less understandable when Snow gets the same treatment.
To be fair, Snow does meet up again with Noel and Serah later in another version of the Coliseum......Except alot of people wouldn't know due to that version having to be bought as DLC in order to be accessed.
Xanatos Gambit: Either Caius' plans to destroy Time succeed (by killing Etro directly or by forcing open the Unseen Gate by crashing the new Coccon), or the heroes kill him...which kills Etro and also would destroy Time as well. If they don't kill him, he can keep trying his Plan A until they do. Lightning realises the futility of fighting against him under these conditions, and allows herself to be defeated.