Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns is the third installment of the Final Fantasy XIII series, following main character Lightning Farron, and will be releasing in North America on February 11th of 2014 for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
500 years after the events of Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy XIII-2, Lightning Returns features an action roleplay style following Lightning Farron on her quest to save the world from its imminent destruction in just 13 days. Hope Estheim also makes an appearance as an ally in the game, while a one-time ally (Hope Villiers) now stands in her way.
Differing from the original RPG style employed by previous titles in the franchise, Lightning Returns utilizes an action RPG style much like the one used in Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. Lightning will fight alone, traveling all across a doomed world and using different combat garbs to her advantage. During her quest she will be assisted by her long-time ally Hope via a wireless communications device, however it has yet to be announced that Hope makes an actual appearance in-game. Lightning Returns also provides a real-time environment, with a day/night time schedule and an ever-changing world to explore.
Lightning Returns offers a few new game play features, including;
- Open and explorable environments
- Free-running features
- Side Quests
- Customizable battle sets
- An arena, dubbed The Slaughterhouse
These game play elements open the Final Fantasy world up, taking the franchise closer to its roots of open-world exploration. Although operating on a time schedule, there are plenty of locations to explore, quests to complete, and people to meet along the way. However, many of these features will no longer be available as the game progresses, challenging players to pace themselves and achieve total game completion.
In addition to the content offered in-game, Gamestop is offering an exclusive (and quite popular) pre-order bonus, giving players access to a throwback garb modeled after the SOLDIER uniform worn by Cloud Strife in Final Fantasy VII. No other pre-order exclusives have been announced, although there may be more options available as the release date draws near.
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