Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is the upcoming third installment in what is now the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy and fifth announced, fourth entry in the Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy series, marking the first instance of a direct trilogy in the flesh-crystallizinglypopularFinal Fantasy series. It has been announced for release on the PS3 and Xbox 360 and is meant to cap off the "Lightning Saga" of the Fabula Nova Crystallis franchise.At the end of Final Fantasy XIII-2, Time itself was destroyed and took the world as we knew with it. Lightning, having failed her mission as Etro's champion, placed herself into crystal stasis to survive the Time Crash and preserve the memory of her fallen sister, Serah. Five hundred years later, she awakens into Nova Chrysalia, a new world composed of four connected islands floating in the Sea of Chaos, and humanity's last bastion. However, she soon discovers that this world has a mere thirteen days left before it is consumed and reborn as a new world, and Lightning must strive to ensure that the new futureis a bright one.The main feature of the game is the Doomsday Clock, which counts down the minutes until Nova Chrysalia is destroyed. By defeating monsters, completing missions and making new discoveries, Lightning can extend the lifespan of Nova Chrysalia and put more time on the clock, as well as increase her base stats — HP, Strength, Magic, ATB and GP (which are expended on such useful moves as stopping time). If you're wondering, this gameplay mechanic has already been done before by Square; bonus points for Lightning being a Valkyrie.The game is set to feature a day-night system, an equipment system that affects Lightning's appearance (seemingly a combined form of XIII and XIII-2's equipment system with X-2's outfits and costumes), a real-time version of Command Synergy Battle (XIII and XIII-2's variant of the Active Time Battle system) with seamless integration and free movement complete with timed hits, and Lightning as the sole playable character for the duration of the entire game.An Englishand Japanese trailer displaying new game features have been released. It was announced in June 2013 that the game will be released on November 21st in Japan, and in February 11th and 14th 2014 for the U.S. and Europe respectively.If this description did not spoil you already, You Have Been Warned.
This game provides examples of:
Action Commands: Much like XIII-2, but other than combat usage, not much is known about how they'll be incorporated.
After Combat Recovery: This is also in Lightning Returns, but only in Easy Mode. It is surprisingly Averted for the other difficulties, making the game more like previous FF games in the way that HP and Status Ailments that you had in battle are kept the same when you win a battle and return to the Overworld.
All Your Powers Combined: How Lightning destroys Bhunivelze once and for all, combining the spirits of Snow, Sazh, Hope, Vanille, Fang, Serah, Noel, Dajh, Mog and the souls of humanity for one fell swoop that sends him hurtling towards the black hole where Nova Chrysalia and the old universe is about to be consumed.
And Your Reward Is Clothes: Taken VERY Literally. Some of the things you can find in item orbs and buy in shops, are new costumes for Lightning. Justified, in the fact that they act as this game's take on Paradigm shifts and receiving them give you new weapons, shields, and commands for Lightning to use.
Hope went missing 169 years prior to the beginning of Lightning Returns. 13 times 13 = 169.
The maximum amount of days the world can have before it is destroyed at any given time is 13 days.
Lightning's Default Weapon, Crimson Blade, raises both her Magic and Strength by 130 points. 13 x 10 = 130.
The quest "Born from Chaos" says that thirteen brave heroes lost their lives while trying to kill Reaver.
The Ark that Lightning returns to at the end of each day is "Bhunivelze", or the new Cocoon. It is also known as the 13th Ark, that was created in XIII-2 as the new home for the human race. But of course, it was unneeded after the time crash allowed people to live on Gran Pulse, which is now Nova Chrysalia.
Attack Its Weak PointFor Massive Damage: Taken more literal in this game than in previous entries. Unlike the previous 2 games, where you just had to raise the Break Meter by using any type of Spell to boost it up, in this installment you have to raise the Break Meter by using attacks and spells that the enemy is weak to in order to Stagger it. And it's harder now, due to Lightning being the only person attacking the enemy for most of the game, rather than having 2 AI party members to help you with the Staggering.
But at least in certain missions, you will have returning characters temporarily join your party to help you in battle. So there is some reprieve.
Bonus Boss: The Dragon named Aeronite in the Dead dunes. Also, the Cie'th Hybrid at the end of the Ultimate Dungeon.
Boring Yet Practical: The Cloud outfit for hard boss fights. When in boss fights with the Cloud outfit, the easiest thing to do is just stagger them, then use Overclock to speed yourself up and slow them down, and then just spam Cross Slash, the locked ability mapped to the Triangle/Y button in the Cloud outfit. It has a passive ability that says when your enemy is staggered, it changes into the Mortal Cut ability, which multiplies the damage output exponentially, and when you have your enemy slowed down with Overclock, you can spam the attack For Massive Damage. You can take out hard bosses like Noel and Caius in mere SECONDS by doing this.
Back from the Dead: Fang, according to the new Japan Expo trailer, and now Vanille according to the Tokyo Expo coverage. Not that they were technically dead, but they might as well have been, considering there were no signs of either of them escaping their crystal imprisonment for 500 years. How and why they awoke is yet to be seen.
The original also had Vanille and Fang (from Gran Pulse) awakening from crystal stasis into a new world (Cocoon) after 500 years. This last XIII game has Lightning (from Cocoon) awakening in this new world (Nova Chrysalia) after 500 years in crystal stasis.
Not to mention, that Vanille and Fang woke from crystal stasis 13 years before Lightning Returns starts, so this applies for them and Lightning aswell, since they were from Gran Pulse and now wake up into a new world (Nova Crysalia).
Also, Hope was 14 years old in the original XIII, grew into a 27 year old man in XIII-2, and now he's back to his 14 year old self for this final installment.
Finally, the trilogy opens with Lightning infiltrating a train containing victims of the Purge. It ends with her stepping out of a train and into the new world she and her friends created.
Call Back: When Lightning goes to the wildlands, one of the main quests has her fighting Caius at Etro's throne once again. Yeul wants Light to free Caius's soul, so he can finally die. This prompts Light to find him at Etro's throne and he tells her that if she wants his soul, she has to fight him for it. This obviously is a callback to their battle in Lightning's Requiem of the Goddess episode in XIII-2, with Caius even turning into Chaos Bahamut for an attack.
Bonus points for if you have a XIII-2 Save file so you can use Lightning's XIII-2 Goddess outfit for this fight.
Corrupt Church: Recent info has revealed that there is a cult that wants Lightning dead due to being the "Soul Liberator". They are so devoted to this task that it has been revealed that anyone who even resembles Lightning are being hung in the streets for all to see. Their true motives and why they are doing this have yet to be revealed.
The Corruption: For the last 500 years, Noel had been receiving visions from the Oracle Drive, convincing him that he has to kill Lightning if he is to see Yeul again on the new world. After Lightning defeats him, he decides to destroy the Oracle Drive, realizing he needs to take control of his own destiny.
Death Seeker: The trailer from Gamescom 2013 indicates that Snow has become this, from forcing Lightning's sword against his neck, to him saying that Lightning should take her chance to get payback on him.
Also, Caius ironically, as of the Tokyo Game Show Trailer.
Development Hell: Although it mercifully never went through this stage, Lightning Returns is end result of this trope affecting the first game in pre-production, back when the Fabula Nova Crystallis series was supposed to be a set of Action RPGs.
Despair Event Horizon: Serah's death had an incredibly profound effect on Snow, who spent the next few centuries brooding over it to the point of being possessed by Chaos. In fact, the achievement gained from defeating him and knocking him to his senses is called "Hope at the Edge of Despair".
Earn Your Happy Ending: Word of God says that the game is the last of Lightning's story and will have a decisively positive ending. Considering the last game'srather brutal ending... and it finally shows. Lightning, aided by her friends, frees humanity from Bhunivelze's grip once and for all, while Caius, in a final act of kindness, allows Noel to take Yeul with him to the new world, while he stays behind with Bhunivelze's corpse to be consumed together with the Nova Chrysalia. And while neither the Eidolons nor Mog can enter the new world, at least the Farron sisters are finally reunited, Dajh has awakened, and Fang and Vanille are back for good. The series ends with Lightning, apparently Brought Down to Normal, stepping off a train and into what looks like a real-life countryside.
Enemy Without: Not exactly an enemy, but Lumina is revealed in the ending to be the manifestation of Lightning's inner pain and her own need for salvation. Once Lightning finally accepts that long-repressed part of her, Lumina peacefully merges back into her as she calls on her friends to defeat Bhunivelze once and for all.
The Evils of Free Will: Bhunivelze's philosophy goes down to this. By tasking Lightning with saving souls, he culls them to rid them of free will, making them nothing more but dolls, and even plans on robbing Lightning of hers, turning her into another Etro, a living balance between the worlds of the living and the dead. Alas, Lightning will have none of it.
Fan Nickname: Final Fantasy XIII-3 (which was trademarked by Square Enix before the game's actual name was announced).
Fanservice: The◊ Miqo'te Outfit.◊ The costume itself shows off more of Lightning's body than normal, and she strikes a Sexy pose during her Victory stance whenever you win a battle in that specific costume.
For fans of the male body, taking long enough while fighting Snow will result in him turning half-Cie'th, tearing off his shirt and resulting in him being shirtless in the ensuing scene.
Also, in a non Sexual way, the Soldier◊1st Class outfit◊ and the Summoner of Spira outfit.◊ When you win a battle wearing either of those costumes, they have Lightning doing the same Victory poses as the characters who the costumes were originally for, and even have the VICTORY THEME from those respective games play in the Results Screen instead of the normal Victory theme.
Fan Service Pack: In an interview the developers said Ligtning's bust was increased from a C-cup to a D-cup, which translates to her going from a B-cup to a C-cup using the North American measurement system.
Foreshadowing: During the 500 year gap between LR and XIII-2, Noel found an oracle drive. The prophecy from the Oracle Drive says that if a certain objective if fufilled, a peaceful future will be created. This objective is most likely to defeat the Savior and stop them from destroying the world on the final day. This convinces Noel that he will kill Lightning on the final day to create a happy future and save the world.
In the first Final Fantasy XIII, when Lightning, Hope, Snow and Sazh turn into a Cieth, they immediately get changed back to humans afterwards. They all said that they had a vision of the future in which all of them, plus Vanille, Fang, and Serah, were all living happy, peaceful lives. But since the ending of XIII nulled that possibility due to Vanille and Fang getting trapped in Crystal, it could still mean that the vision the L'cie Quartet had was meant to take place farther in the future.
Also, in XIII-2, the Datalog, it says that the people trapped in the Coliseum (Like Snow Villiers) would be trapped there until the "Day of Reckoning" occurs. The Day of Reckoning is the day when Time is destroyed, and Valhalla spreads to the skies, which occured in the ending of XIII-2. Then those people would be freed, and would join in the Battle between Bhunivelze and Mwynn. The Arbiter of Time also stated that there would be a great battle at the end of time. So after the "event," (being the Day of Reckoning) the warriors and gods of history would duke it out (hence why Snow and the other people trapped in the Coliseum are freed). Also Bhunivelze would be the final boss. You do the math.
Fountain of Youth: While everybody can't seem to age anymore, Hope regressed back to his 14-year old self. Word of God states that this is going to be a core theme in the game, as it's been 1000 years since Hope and Lightning have seen each other since the original game and now Lightning gets to see how much Hope has matured.
New light has been shed on Hope's situation. It turns out that 169 years prior to the start of Lightning Returns, Hope went missing for a long period of time. He recently reappeared in the Ark, having been chosen by the Gods, and Lightning awoke shortly afterwards thanks to Bhunivelze. Neither of them seem to have feelings anymore, implyng that it may have to do with being chosen by Bhunivelze. It's also been revealed that the older XIII-2 Hope will appear at least once in Lightning Returns, but this does not necessarily mean that he will revert to his older self by the end of the game.
Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: The reason Lightning fights Noel and Snow, both wallowing in guilt over their failure to save Yeul and Serah, respectively.
Glass Cannon: You can create Schemata with high-power attacks and items that maximize attack power at the expense of HP boosts and defensive abilities. The Cosmo Curator DLC garb takes this Up to Eleven, granting significant attack power boosts but reduces Lightning's max HP by 95%.
Guest Star Party Member: The developers have said that certain other heroes from the previous two games would be able to fight alongside Lightning in various missions. As of now, as of the Gamescom 2013 trailer, Fang is confirmed to be one of these guest party members to fight alongside Lightning in battle due to the fact that she's the only non-antagonistic returning character revealed as of yet.
According to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5w0iCWmm3hI , once you nurture the Angel of Valhalla back to full health, it will fight alongside you in battle while in the Wildlands and you can level it up aswell.
Hotter and Sexier: A couple of Lightning's outfits are more revealing, the poses she strikes in them are more gratuitous, and Word of God has said her breast size has been increased from the last two games. The ability to customize her clothing and take screenshots directly from the game to share with friends is actually a feature too.
Irony: Snow, the most cheerful and optimistic of all the protagonist's in the first 2 games, is now the one of the only protagonist's who has given up all hope. He is completely depressed and broken man due to Serah's death and the world's current state. And despite what he and Lightning went through in the first game, he opposes her now, despite her being Serah's only remaining family.
Jiggle Physics: As part of her increased bust size, Lightning's breasts will jiggle, though the degree of which they do so depends on what she's wearing.
Jump Physics: Lightning will be able to free-run and perform various jumps off of objects and buildings, similar to the Assassin's Creed series.
New Game+: There is a New Game Plus Mode that unlocks when you either run out of time, or beat the game for the first time. You bring over all content from your previous save, including Garbs, Weapons, Abilities, Shields, Gil and Items. Hard Mode is strictly tied to New Game +, and cannot be done without it. Players will be expected to play through the game multiple times, despite there being only one ending. Also, after beating the game, new areas called "New Game Plus" areas, are unlocked for Lightning to explore post game.
Non-Combat EXP: In this game, the concept of earning CP from enemies to level up your characters is completely dropped. Lightning levels up through doing Story Quests and side quests which raise her stats once you complete them. And instead of gaining abilties and commands when you level up after doing quests, you gain them by either Melding commands you already have to make new ones, or buying them from shops. You also upgrade your abilities to make them stronger.
Non-Standard Game Over: Running out of time before the world ends, automatically gives you a game over and forces you to make a new save file using New Game+ to bring all the stuff in your previous playthrough to your new one, and starts you off in the ark on the first day, after the tutorial at Snow's Palace.
Punny Name: The ultimate garb, with the Ultima magic, is called Ultimatum.
Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Lightning agrees to become the savior in order to rescue the soul of her sister, and agrees to also save souls of other human beings to bring them to the new world where time is flowing as it normally should. She has 13 days to accomplish this, after that amount of time is up, the current world will die and cease to exist, and all of the souls Lightning fails to save will also be destroyed forever, including Serah's.
Sequel Difficulty Spike: This is definitely the case with Lightning Returns, BIG TIME. You don't get your HP completely restored after battle, and status ailments you get in battle stay with you after you win a battle. You can't just heal yourself whenever you want in battle, as it costs GP, which you must earn by fighting, and you only have a maximum of 5 GP at the start of the game. If you don't pre-emptive strike enemies, they can and WILL pre-emptive strike YOU and cause you to lose a certain percentage of Health that carries on into the start of battle. Not to mention that now, Lightning is the only playable character, so you're fighting alone for the whole game. And also, there is a new Hard Mode included in the game.
There is some reprieve though. When you get called back into the Ark, you're fully healed, and you're items are replenished for free. As you level up through quests, you gain more GP slots and Item Slots. You can pre-emptive strike enemies, they'll lose 10% of their starting HP if you strike them from the front or sides, and 25% if you can preemptive strike them from behind in the overworld. In certain story missions, you will get other XIII characters to join your party for a time, and they will help you fight in battle. During battle, you can move Lightning around the field, Guard against attacks and Dodge Roll anytime in battle to avoid taking damage. You can also expend GP to use Overclock which speeds up Lightning and slows down all enemies on the field, allowing you more time to attack them, which helps when they are staggered. Using GP also allows you to revive yourself if you die, and use special attacks, like Lightning's ''Legion of One'' technique. Hard mode is also directly tied to New Game+ and cannot be done without it, making it easier on you.
She's Back: Lightning... returns to the protagonist role for this game, as opposed to her role as the Big Good in the second game.
Stealth-Based Mission: A recent scan for the game shows a screenshot of Lightning tailing a strange organization during a night-based mission.
Silliness Switch: Some of the costume options and adornments appear to go in this direction. You can have Lightning cosplaying as Cloud Strife, or performing Parkour in a ballgown. All the while wearing a silly hat.
Spiritual Successor: In fact, this game has a lot in common with the Valkyrie Profile series, as noticeable from Lightning's Valkyrie motif and the use of four face buttons for different attacks.
Time Crash: Time has stopped flowing for normal people, resulting in them not aging since XIII-2 despite the fact centuries have passed.
Timed Hits: You can Guard against attacks to reduce the amount of damage you take, at any time. As an added bonus, if you use Guard at the exact same time an enemy hits you, the word BLOCK will appear on screen, meaning you take no damage from the attack. You can also use the Evade command to dodge attacks.
It's so rare that it seems almost a waste to use it, doesn't it?
Valkyries: Lightning acts as a psuedo-Valkyrie, helping to liberate souls from Nova Chrysalia in preparation for their rebirth into the new world.
Victory Pose: One for each garb (and a shared victory pose for the pre-order samurai outfits). The pre-order outfits that are taken from other FF protagonists use the victory poses of the respective characters and the victory theme from the game.
Virtual Paper Doll: Lightning can change clothes like Serah and Noel back in XIII-2, but in this game they have an actual impact on her abilities. They also serve as this game's take on the Paradigm Shifts from XIII and XIII-2. Adornments also return from XIII-2, allowing you to put hats and other things on Lightning.
World Tree: Inside Hope's Ark is Yggdrasil, a "holy tree of life". When you're in it, time stands still for Lightning and completing quests in Nova Chrysalia gives strength to the tree and enables it to prolong the life of the world.