Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 is the next entry in the sprawling Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy 13 series.
Due in 2013 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 is a whole new game rather than a continuation of FF13-2, and will be the final chapter in Lightning's story. The pink-haired heroine begins the game with just 13 days left until the Doomsday Clock ends the world.
One of the game's core motifs is "world driven", and some sort of social Facebook integration will be detailed at a later date. A Facebook address but at time of writing hosts a cover photo only.
Set on a chain of four islands called Navus Partus, the RPG has players traveling between destinations on a monorail. Exploration will be a major theme, there will be plenty of NPCs to interact with, and the world will alter based on a day-night cycle. The first region shown was called Luxuria in the western presentation and Lexerion in the Japanese stream; it's not yet clear if this is a translation. The design shown had a strong retro vibe, but influences ranged from classical European to futuristic to fantasy.
The other core motif is "Lightning Returns". Square Enix wants to bring back the Lightning of FF13 rather than FF13-2, but said the new version will be even stronger than she was in her past two games. Players will be able to customise her appearance and weapons. There will be lots of costumes - no solid number was provided, but it will be a lot more than ten or 20 - and some aspects of the costumes themselves will be adjustable.
Weapons will transform, and this mechanic will be important to gameplay. Lightning will be mobile during battle, and will be able to jump and climb around environments, but Square Enix said the RPG is not a true action title.
Attendees of the Japanese event say a trailer was shown, but photography was forbidden. More details are to be announced on September 4.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 was announced at concurrent presentations - one at PAX Prime in Seattle, and another as part of Final Fantasy's 25th celebrations in Shibuya.
During the Japanese event, which was live-streamed, Final Fantasy 13 project producer Yoshinori Kitase was first on stage to welcome the audience and introduce the presentation. He spoke a little about the reception of Final Fantasy 13 and 13-2, mentioning that both titles caused positive and negative reactions.
The first bit of actual news was a debunk of rumours that the new FF13 release would be a social or mobile effort, as rumoured over the past few weeks. Director Motomu Toriyama then took the stage. He posted a photo of a rose, saying that it represents the core concept of the game - but didn't elaborate on what this means.
The game's main programmer and art director then presented details of mechanics and style, as covered above, and show off concept art of monsters, NPCs, locations, Lightning's costumes, and other assets including the monorail. The art director unveiled an oil painting, his first in ten years, showing Lightning perched on tiled rooftop in a European-looking city; it was quite lovely.
Toriyama then returned to introduce a recorded message from Maya Sakamoto, Lightning's voice actor, which closed the live-streamed presentation.