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Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 to conclude Lightning trilogy, due 2013

It's doomsday for Lightning

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Final Fantasy 13 sequel coming to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2013.

At a 25th anniversary celebration of the Final Fantasy franchise, Square Enix revealed the latest development in the ongoing saga of Final Fantasy XIII heroine Lighting, unveiling first details on Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is a direct sequel to Final Fantasy XIII-2 and an all-new entry coming to consoles next year. According to producer Yoshinori Kitase, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will feature "a new gameplay system."

"The game system is much more active, and the world features much more interactive environments as before," Kitase said. "Players can control Lighting as they see fit."

Players will be able to perform "exhaustive customization" of Lightning, the game's developers said in a pre-recorded presentation shown at PAX. The game's art director said he limited the visual design of Lightning's look in Lightning Returns to black and white shades, and designed the game world, Novus Partus, around three key terms: mechanical, gothic, and fantasy.


"This is the most customization you'll be able to do with a Final Fantasy character," Square Enix said, contrasting talk of Lightning's more simplified visual design. Lightning's abilities will change based on the weapons and armor she equips when heading into battle, producers said, and players will also have more control over Lightning's actions. She can now jump, hang off ledges, duck, and hide behind cover.

"The level of control is at an all new level," reps said. "You will be able to control Lightning's movements while in battle."

Square Enix showed new concept art of Lightning Returns' world, its architecture, its characters, and its monsters. But not its new gameplay in action, unfortunately.

The "unique twist" on the series centers around the concept of a "Doomsday Clock," a countdown to the end of the world. In Lightning Returns, players have just 13 days to save the world. "Every region, every locale is subjected to this clock," a Square Enix employee said, showing sunsets, nighttime scenes, and promising the opening and closing of shops based on an in-game clock. Even the game's travel system, a monorail that connects the game's four islands, will adhere to that schedule. To slow the end of the world, players will have the ability to add more time to the game clock.

At the end of its presentation, Square Enix said Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will come to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2013. Additional details are expected in a gameplay video to follow.

Final Fantasy XIII was first released in 2010 in the West, the first in Square Enix's planned Fabula Nova Crystallis series of games. A direct sequel, Final Fantasy XIII-2, was released in Japan in early 2012.

The Final Fantasy team offered additional insight into the creation of Lightning Returns at an event in Japan today, which you can watch below.

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