Lightning Returns Video Shows A Different Class Of Final Fantasy

Got your scepticism goggles on? OK. After months of gameplay footage and details, I'm ready to call it: Lightning Returns looks like the best single-player Final Fantasy we've seen in years.

That's right. As Random Encounters fans undoubtedly know, I'm on record as disliking both previous games in the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, which will end when Lightning Returns comes out (in North America and Europe) this February. But something about this one feels different. Maybe it's the real-time combat system, or the open-worldness, or what seems to be an unrelenting desire by the development team to free themselves from the shackles of both previous FFXIII games. Whatever it is, it seems to be working.

Kotaku bossman Stephen Totilo saw the game last week. He's not a JRPG guy, but he likes this one. I just leaned over to ask what he thinks. I didn't record what he said, so I'll paraphrase: "It's pretty fun. Also, Jason, you're my favourite person in the world."

Here's a new video (above) showing off eight minutes of subtitled gameplay footage that will give you some idea of what Lightning Returns is like. Check out my preview for hands-on thoughts. This could be one of the good ones. Even if Hope is back.


    Gysahl... as is Gysahl Greens? It's pronounced giz-all? GIZ-ALL? WHAT!!! I've been pronouncing that wrong since 1997! My mind, for whatever reason, pronounced it gris-all with an 'r'. Guess I never really looked at it properly, nor heard an official source say it. Dammit, now I'll have to put myself through years of practice to change that!

    Last edited 15/10/13 8:14 am

      It's ok, you just have an Ivalician accent.

      Myself I pronounce it Guy-zall, which is indicative of a slight Galbadian or Midgardian accent.

      Clearly Lightning is going to have a strong Cocoon accent, and thus pronounce words slightly differently to either of us.

      ... I always pronounced it Gish-all. Somehow that H moved forward 2 spots, lol

    Seems like even more of a shift to action based gameplay. Can't say I like the changes. More excited for the FFX HD set.

    still just waiting on a special edition before pre-ordering...

    I'm sceptical. Although you're probably right in that it's the best single player FF in years, FFX came out 12 years ago which is arguably the last best single player FF, although I'm tempted to go further back to 2000 for FFIX. In essence, saying this will be the best single player FF in years doesn't mean much when you put it into perspective that there hasn't been much to celebrate about single player FF in a decade

    I agree this looks better then anything they've done for a long time (other then maybe Final Fantasy XIV but it's an MMO) but can it really be called Final Fantasy anymore?
    One character (no party) action-rpg style combat and then there's the time limit thing which is constantly on the screen reminding you that it's an action-game and you NEED to go faster. I always thought half the fun of old-school FF games was that they were insanely massive games that took ages to finish?

      I just don't think that the old JRPG model can work for FF anymore. I think trying to appeal to that model but evolve at the same time is what is responsible for FFXIII's failure.

      When I think about it, the best FF game I've played in years is Kingdom Hearts. I think they are way more capable of creating fantastic action RPG's and that they're being held back by the JRPG model. I don't think FF should be limited to that, because they've experimented so much in the past that it seems silly to be restricted by their roots - they already shat on their roots anyway.

      I just don't think FF have a choice, but I think they are doing the right thing though.

      Last edited 15/10/13 12:38 pm

        Xenoblade is a perfect example of what modern FF should be.

        Yeah, I agree to some extent... The Kingdom Hearts games are brilliant, so I have no problem with the A-RPG style in that and Final Fantasy XV also looks great but I guess I'd just love something more traditional.

        Love it or hate it, Final Fantasy X was a great example that the old JRPG style could work in a realistic (at the time) world with full voice acting (horrible laugh and all). It felt like a modern game but still had the huge amount of story/post-game crap, turn-based battles, character/class customisation, etc.

        Since then We've had 2 MMO's, Final Fantasy XII (not bad, gameplay like a bridge between X and Kingdom Hearts style imo), Final Fantasy XIII (terrible story, linear-world and auto-combat) and XIII-2 (Alright I admit, I never even bothered).

        TL;DR: I loooooove Kingdom Hearts but that's why I play Kingdom Hearts. Final Fantasy should be Final Fantasy. If people don't enjoy long slow-paced games, maybe they should play something else instead of ruining one of my favourite childhood franchises.

          Love it or hate it, Final Fantasy X was a great example that the old JRPG style could work in a realistic (at the time) world with full voice acting (horrible laugh and all). It felt like a modern game but still had the huge amount of story/post-game crap, turn-based battles, character/class customisation, etc.

          I love FFX. In fact, I love it more than FF7 and FF9. It is by far my favourite FF.

          But that game was made 12 years ago. I urge you to go back and play it - it isn't a modern game anymore, it is very outdated, in fact, it's as outdated as FF7 felt when FFX first came out. The old JRPG model is a great one, but it is very, very exhausted. Lost Odyssey and Xenogears were probably last games to really make it work, but to be honest? The reason they made it work is because they really employed a lot of dynamic things to compensate for it (like how Lost Odyssey kind of uses quick time events and stuff when attacking - or something similar if I recall). Unfortunately, the JRPG can't really evolve any further, and FFXIII is evidence of this. They really tried to adapt the JRPG to later 7th gen gaming, in the same way FFX successfully adapted in 2001, but it fell apart at the seams this time.

          Gaming is so chaotic right now. We love our traditional models but we need something fresh. I think, especially with regards to the JRPG, the traditional model should stay traditional, unless somebody can come up with a really incredible solution that revives the genre. It isn't like Chrono Trigger or FF6 are going anywhere anyway, and if we keep trying to go back to that, we'll probably never get anything as memorable as FF6 or Chrono Trigger again. Take New Super Mario as an example of this - the new games feel bland because they're trying to be the old ones, but what made the old ones so great was that they were looking forward, not retrospectively.

          FF needs to do the same. They've tried to balance innovation and tradition and it has failed so, so horribly. They need radical innovation, and making it an action RPG, while it won't be the same experience we used to have, it'll be a new experience that is just as good.

          I mean, I totally don't blame you for wanting the old model back, because FF6, FF7, FF9 and FFX were some of the best games I've ever played, but I just don't think that, in this even more contemporary context or contexts to come, that wishing for that is going to produce the same experiences, nor any new experiences that are just as memorable. That is just me though.

          Oh god I shouldn't talk about FF, I never shut up. ^^"

          Last edited 15/10/13 11:10 pm

            Wow...Final Fantasy X was 12 years ago?? That's a little depressing >_<

            I'm probably thinking more out of nostaglia then logic with this stuff. Honestly I'd rather the franchise die then turn into something like Mario (1 or 2 decent games a decade along with 100's of recycled peices of crap with new paint). It's bad enough we have to put up with crap like Final Fantasy: ATB.

            I guess my main point is I'd love to see a game developed in that great old style but I understand some of it might not work. 12 years ago gaming was different (or rather the gamers were different), Call of Duty 1 wasn't even out :P
            I'm just hoping that while some aspects (particularly combat, cutscenes, etc) need to change other great parts will stay/return (large open/semi-open world, massive story, some customisation, etc...Oh and summons).

            I'm really looking forward to Final Fantasy XV and hoping it has most of that stuff. Lightning Returns seems much better then the last 2 but I'm still struggling to get past the idea of no party. Even in Kingdom Hearts you get to swap around and customise party members (abilities/weapons) while only controlling Sora.


    Its funny because there has never been a more hollow statement ever made about video games.

    There is a reason it looks like the best single player FF in years to you, its because there HASNT been a good single player final fantasy in years, ergo as long as this is at least of average quality it immediately wins.

    Everything i've seen doesn't change the fact I hate Lightning, the charcter is rubbish and the entire world and setting is rubbish, i dont care about any of it and im sure real ff fans don't care about it either. Mostly because of the hatchet job the first 2 were.

    They should have just destroyed/burned everything ff13 related and made this a new version, even reinvented and invigorated this game will never be anything more than an eb rental or bargin bin pickup for myself.

    Last edited 15/10/13 5:41 pm

      I hate Lightning, the charcter is rubbish and the entire world and setting is rubbish,

      I didn't enjoy FFXIII at all, but I think Lighting is probably one of the most well written characters FF has ever produced. Compare her to Tidus, Vaan or Squall, and she is absolutely fantastic. She's a strong lead, she's flawed but she doesn't whine about it, and she's got an attitude that causes a lot of interesting situations with the people around her.

      As for the world, I think, while it was stupidly convoluted (but what FF world isn't?), it was original and beautiful as hell. One thing that game definitely did right was build this fantastical world that was nothing like we've ever seen before. In fact, the big reason WHY FFXIII was bad was because it built this absolutely stunning world but made you walk through linear corridors - to go through this world openly, like Lighting Returns promises, would be a dream come true.

      The problems with FFXIII, to an FF fan, exclusively pertain to gameplay. The story is as ridiculous and flawed as any other FF story, I have no idea why any FF fan would criticize FFXIII's story like the previous game's stories were any better, and the characters are just as annoying and abrupt as ever, with the exception of one stellar, badass character, being Lightning.

      My problems with FFXIII, and a lot of other people's problem with the game, are to do with the linearity, the auto-battle, the unfathomable amount of recycled enemies and time wasters, and the complete lack of challenge with anything other than boss battles, which are all things Lightning Returns promises to fix. To a non-FF fan who isn't used to that kind of story, they would probably have a problem with the characters and the convolution of the world too, but to any FF fan, the way that world is built, the way those characters act - nothing is different from the past million titles Squaresoft/Enix have put out, and that's what makes it a Final Fantasy game to begin with.

      So before you count Lightning Returns out yet, take a look at the steps forward they are finally making after 10-12 years of us screaming at them. Ditching the old, outdated JRPG model for an action-battle system? Opening up this beautiful world they've created? I urge you, as a fellow FF fan, to take a look at this video and see that it is everything we could ever ask for.

      Last edited 15/10/13 10:48 pm

        As i said too little too late, I don't care anymore. From the very moment I heard about this game i laughed, because as if the first 2 were awful enough.

        I personally didn't like the world, I thought (so did many others) that there had never been a set of characters worse than in FF13, lighting included and along with everything esle i can easily say there was not a single aspect in the entire game that I enjoyed, not a damn one.

        So it doesn't matter what they have changed because they are still using the same shit, the same character i despise, the same world they made me despise. I don't like only having 1 character, being forced to switch "classes" on the fly. As I said the game is basically dead to me, it will be ignored unless there is some serious universal praise from reputable sites. (as in not IGN or who ever that gives every game a 7-10). and even then square have so badly burned my faith in the series (doubly so for anything with the word 13 in it) that i will likely Eb rent it at best.

          Well, I wouldn't say it's the worst set of characters FF has ever had. FF8 was like fan fiction.

            Well i was very young when i played 8 so I can't comment on the characters there. But 13 had the most stero typical characters, right down to the token black guy on top of the complete lack of story or depth to any of them. So even if not the worst, it was still horrible either way :P

              And FF7 was any different? Barret was much more token than Sazh.

              Personally, I thought Sazh had actually quite a good character arc and story. I thought he was one of the most human characters FF has ever delivered. Again, he was flawed but he didn't whine about it, and about him trying to find his son, well, that was more of a story than Cloud trying to not feel guilty for shit he shouldn't feel guilty for.

              I think a few of them were tropey, but I think stereotypical is a bit too strong of a word here.

              I believe that the only characters that were truly shit were Vanille, Hope, Snow and Serah, and even then, only Vanille was the most terrible. The other ones, I could put up with, because the other ones just seemed like regular Final Fantasy characters, especially Snow and Hope.

              I don't think it's about being the worst or most horrible, I think it's about it being any different from the past FF games.

              Last edited 17/10/13 12:18 pm

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