It’s been a bit dead here recently. I blame it on the heatwave (seriously, it’s horrible!), and definitely not laziness. No, definitely not that.

There’s also been little for me to write about – I write about things that interest me, and there seems to be precious little of that about recently. Bizarre, considering we’re staring down the launch of two new consoles at the end of the year, but there you have it. One subject that always manages to grab my attention however is Final Fantasy, and today we have some new details on the forthcoming Final Fantasy XIII sequel, Lightning Returns.

First up, we’ve got a new trailer which shows off some of Lightning’s costumes – remember that in Lightning Returns, you can change costumes mid-battle to switch up abilities and specialities, much like the Dressphere system in Final Fantasy X-2. To me, some of these costumes(including a purple outfit seen in the new trailer below) look more like something Serah might have worn.

The more costumes the development team show off, the more I get a sense that they’ve taken a fairly strong female character and turned her into a bit of a barbie doll that you can play dress-up with. Which brings me onto the image below.


What… just… what??

Ok, I get what’s happening here. This is Lightning dressed as a member of Final Fantasy XIV‘s cat-people race, the Miqo’te. Square-Enix is trying to cross-promote two of its upcoming games, and given Lightning can switch costumes in her game, it’s logical that they do so by giving her a costume from the upcoming MMO. All of that makes perfect sense, and generally I’d be happy to see a bit of cross-pollination between the two – I’m looking forward to both, and previously wrote about how much I’ve enjoyed playing the FFXIV beta.

But this just doesn’t fit her character at all. Lightning has always come across as stoic, determined and strong (maybe cold, detached and boring if you’re not a fan), but she’s never been overtly sexy or flirtatious. I don’t think she will be in Lightning Returns either, going by the trailers we’ve seen up to this point – she seems every bit as serious as her other appearances, so this just strikes me as even more incongruous. Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive, but what’s the point in developing a character and then portraying them in ways that are utterly at odds with their personality?

Anyway, moving on, a post on the Square-Enix Blog detailed some additions to the battle system. Lightning can now counter enemy attacks by timing her own, leading to a critical hit that has the potential to stagger enemies. There are a couple of caveats here: you can only counter physical attacks (magic is immune) and it claims a large chunk of your ATB gauge, so you won’t be able to spam it in the hopes of landing a crit. Lightning can also destroy sections of some monsters, which will not only weaken your enemy but also affect the item drop you’ll receive at the end of the battle.


There’s also the above screenshot of Yusnaan, described as “the city of revelry”. This image focuses on an area known as the Slaughterhouse, where combatants battle one another nightly in a brutal arena. So basically it’s a colliseum. How this feature will tie into the ticking clock at the heart of Lightning Returns‘ 13-day countdown is yet to be explained – will time freeze while we’re fighting in the Slaughterhouse?

Despite my misgivings regarding Lightning’s portrayal in some costumes, I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. The battle system is the main draw for me here; with Lightning being the only playable character and a system that includes counters and debilitating foes by disabling parts of them, it sounds very different to what we expect from a typical Final Fantasy title. Spin-offs and sequels are of course the perfect ground for Square-Enix to experiment and see what works, before bringing those features to bear in the main numbered series.

I also have to admit that I am unashamedly a fan of Lightning – my main gripe of Final Fantasy XIII-2 was that she was barely in it – so it’ll be nice to see her step back into the leading role when Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII launches next February.

Source: Square-Enix Blog