With the final chapter of the XIII trilogy drawing near, Enix Origin takes a look at what we know about Lightning Returns. From the fast-paced real time battle system, Lightning’s many outfits, the doomsday counter, to character history, and all that we will expect to come from this game, Enix Origin goes through all of this here! This Article Does Contain Spoilers For The XIII Series Proceed With Caution.
What We Know About Lightning Returns
With the ending of Final Fantasy XIII-2 where Caius Ballad had forced Noel to kill him which, in turn, killed the goddess, Etro, this had changed the future one more time. Serah had a vision which killed her and then Etro’s Gate had opened, thus filling the world with Chaos and fusing Gran Pulse with the Unseen Realm, a place where time doesn’t continue. The land where Pulse resided is now called Nova Chrysalia. The new Cocoon that Hope had built named ‘Bhunivelze,’ after the main deity of the XIII universe, now acts as the moon for the world. Lightning wakes up from her crystallized sleep five hundred years after the events of XIII-2, thirteen days before the end of the world. Lightning is charged by the god Bhunivelze to save the souls of Nova Chrysalia before the 13 days is up so they can be reborn in a newly made world.
Claire ‘Lightning’ Farron
Height: 5’7″ (171 cm)
Japanese Voice Actor: Maaya Sakamoto
English Voice Actor: Ali Hillis
Bio: During the events of Final Fantasy XIII, Lighting left the Guardian Corps to find and save her sister, Serah, which ultimately led her to Snow and the others before being turned into a L’Cie. Her and the others went on to figure out and completely change their focus of “Saving Cocoon.” In the end she and the others defeated Orphan and caused Cocoon to fall until Fang and Vanille turned into Ragnorok and prevented Cocoon from crashing into the surface of Gran Pulse. Lightning and the others were frozen in crystal until the goddess, Etro, intervened and freed them from their crystallized state, which incidentally let out a significant amount of chaos, ripping Lightning from the current timeline and taking her to Vahalla where she becomes Etro’s guardian.
During the events of Final Fantasy XIII-2 Lightning is locked in an endless battle with Caius Ballad who is trying to destroy the timeline. Before failing to beat Caius, Lightning crystallizes herself in Etro’s chamber where she is then awakened 500 years later by the god, Bhunivelze, to save the souls of Nova Chrysalia before the end of the world.
Lightning is the only playable character in Lightning Returns.
Height: 6’7″ (200 cm)
Japanese Voice Actor: Daisuke Ono
English Voice Actor: Troy Baker
Bio: During the events of Final Fantasy XIII, Snow is the leader of a resistance group called NORA. The group’s goal was to fight off sanctum’s forces and were against the purge of civilians. Snow is Lightning’s sister, Serah Farron’s, fiance. Snow is fueled by his desire to be the hero and does what he thinks is necessary to save Serah and complete the focus of “saving Cocoon.” After defeating Orphan, he and the others are crystallized until Etro undoes their crystallization.
In XIII-2, Snow was the only one who believed Serah that Lightning wasn’t in the crystal pillar with Fang and Vanille. He sets out not too long after the events of XIII to go search for Lightning while leaving Serah behind. Snow searches for the Fal’Cie Cactuar to give him the power to travel through time to search for Lightning. He runs into Serah and Noel during XIII-2, but then is never seen again until Lightning Returns.
In Lightning Returns, Snow is the final L’Cie left in existence. He is the Patron of Yusnaan and has protected its people for several centuries. Snow suffers terribly from regret for not being able to save Serah and has turned into a dark, jaded, and broken man. He still bears his L’Cie mark on his left arm, though now it’s in its thirteenth stage. It seems that Snow has the ability to partially turn into a Cieth and is somehow connected with the chaos.
Height: 5’5″ (164 cm)
Japanese Voice Actor: Minako Kotobuki
English Voice Actor: Laura Bailey
Bio: Serah is the younger sister of Lightning and Snow’s fiance. During the events of XIII, Serah is turned into a L’Cie and her focus was to collect Snow and the others to the Pulse Vestige for them to become L’Cie. After they are all there, Serah turns into crystal and stays that way throughout the rest of the game until the end when Etro intervenes and revives everyone from crystallization.
Right after Serah is freed from being in a crystal and is reunited with everyone, Lightning is ripped from the current timeline, leaving Serah to be the only one who remembers her being there after the fight. Serah never stops believing that Lightning was there, and the only one who believed her was Snow. Not too long after, Snow then leaves Serah to search for Lightning. She then met Noel who came to take her to Lightning on orders from her sister herself. During XIII-2 Serah finds out that she is a seer and is able to view the timeline when the future changes. She travels with Noel in search of Lightning and to find a way to correct the timeline. During this journey they are pursued by Caius Ballad who is trying to destroy the timeline and create a place where time doesn’t move forward or backwards. In the end they presumably kill Caius and return the timeline to normal. The future then changes and Serah has one final vision which ends up killing her right before Etro’s Gate opens up and releases the chaos into the world.
It is unknown as for Serah playing a role in Lightning Returns or how her role will be implemented.
Height: 6’1″ (185 cm)
Japanese Voice Actor: Daisuke Kishio
English Voice Actor: Jason Marsden
Bio: Noel is from the most distant future of the XIII timeline. 700 years after the events of XIII, in his time he’s the last living human after his friend/seer Yeul dies while getting a vision. He then prays to Etro for the suffering to end and is transported to Vahalla where he meets Lightning in battle with Caius Ballad. Noel and Caius previously knew each other. Caius was Noel’s mentor in fighting and Caius had hoped that one day he would take over his spot as Yuel’s guardian. But, to do so, Noel would have to kill Caius and he would refuse to do so. After meeting Lightning, she tells him to travel to her sister and bring Serah to her.
Noel then starts his journey through the timeline with Serah. In the end, Serah and Noel fight Caius in Valhalla. After beating him, Noel refused to kill him. Caius then attempted to kill Serah, and in doing so, Noel stops him with his blade just in front of his chest. Caius then thrusts Noel’s blade into him, killing him. After Caius dies, the timeline resets while Noel and Serah go back to 500 AF where Hope is about to launch the new Cocoon. Forgetting that Etro’s heart was inside Caius’ chest, Serah has another vision, which kills her. Then Etro’s Gate opened, releasing all the chaos it was holding back. Noel then remembered that killing Caius meant killing the goddess which would release all the chaos.
In Lightning Returns, Noel’s attitude towards life changes. He blames himself for what happened to Serah and the destruction of the world. He lives his life as a shadow hunter and still has a strong belief in the Oracle Drives despite the influence of chaos.
Height: 5’0″ (153 cm)
Japanese Voice Actor: Yūki Kaji
English Voice Actor: Vincent Martella
Bio: Hope was one of the civilians about to be purged when it was interrupted by Snow’s group NORA. In the midst of the fray, Hope’s mother volunteered to help NORA fend off Sanctum which lead to her death. During the events of XIII, Hope blamed Snow for the death of his mother and swore to take revenge on him when he could. Eventually Hope came to realize it wasn’t right and stopped pursuing that goal. He helped the others defeat Orphan in the end to save Cocoon.
In XIII-2, an older version of Hope leads an organization called The Academy. He aids Serah and Noel in various timelines leading up the the fall of Cocoon in 500 AF where Hope had created a new Cocoon, naming it Bhunivelze (after the god) to use as a place for people to live and be out of danger when the crystal pillar fell.
In Lightning Returns, Hope returns back to his younger self and aids Lightning when she gets picked to be Bhunivelze’s Savior. He relays her information about the world and surroundings from his Ark.
Height: 6’2″ (189 cm)
Japanese Voice Actor: Masashi Ebara
English Voice Actor: Reno Wilson
Bio: Sazh is a middle-aged man who, during the events of XIII, got caught up in the attack against Sanctum with Lightning on the train to get purged. He has a son named Dahj who was turned into a L’Cie by a sanctum Fal’Cie when they were threatened by Fang and Vanille. Dahj was then taken into custody by Sanctum. Sazh ends up helping Lightning and gets turned into a L’Cie along with her. Later he finds Dahj but in doing so completes Dahj’s focus and is turned into a crystal. Vanille finally tells Sazh that it was her fault that Dahj is a L’Cie. Sazh hates her for a while but ends up forgiving her. He helps Lightning and the gang complete their focus and defeat Orphan. At the end of XIII Sazh is finally reunited with Dahj.
In XIII-2 Sazh doesn’t believe Serah and goes off to live on his own with Dahj. He and Dahj are then caught in a pardox and end up in Serendipity, gambling to get Dahj back. Later on he helps Serah and Noel in the final battle with Caius.
In Lightning Returns, Sazh lives in the Wildlands near the Moogle Village with a comatose Dahj.
Bio: Fang and Vanille are from a village called Oerba that’s located on Gran Pulse. They are Pulse L’Cie who have been tasked to make Cocoon fall. Both of them are actually from 600 years before the events of XIII and took part in the War of Transgression between Pulse and Cocoon. Their focus was to transform into Ragnarok and make Cocoon fall, but Vanille wanted no part of it so Fang transformed into a incomplete Ragnarok and attacked Cocoon which is the reason during XIII, that part of Cocoon is broken open. After Fang failed at destroying Cocoon, Etro froze Fang and Vanille in crystal to be awoken 600 years later to group up with Lightning and the others. Fang and Vanille helped Lightning and the others take down Orphan and Cocoon. They both turned into Ragnarok and encased themselves in crystal to hold up and make sure Cocoon didn’t fall.
In XIII-2 Fang shows up in a scene with Vanille to talk to Serah.
In Lightning Returns, Fang and Vanille are released from the crystal pillar and go their separate ways. Fang is a leader of a guild of bandits called Monoculus, and Vanille has been gifted power to talk to the dead and is placed under the protection of the Order of Luxerion who worship the god, Bhunivelze.
Japanese Voice Actor: Hiroshi Shirokuma
English Voice Actor: Liam O’Brien
Bio: Born before the War of Transgression, Caius was a guardian of Yeul back in his original timeline. During a challenge by one of the clansmen in which Caius was about to lose, a neighboring enemy attacked their village. The person that was challenging Caius gave his life for what was about to be a fatal strike on Yeul. Caius was angry and thought it should of been him that had died. To honor this guy, Caius took the challenger’s last name of Ballad. Etro was so moved by Caius’ compassion to protect Yeul that she granted him immortality and implanted her heart into Caius’ chest. He was tasked to guard the Yeul of all timelines. Tragically, centuries after centuries of witnessing Yeul go through the fate of being a seer and dying at a young age tore at Caius till he finally started trying to destroy the timeline.
During the events of XIII-2, Caius was in perpetual battle with Lightning in Valhalla. He also would show up getting in the way of Noel and Serah while they changed the future to restore the original timeline. In the final battle with Serah and Noel, Caius forced Noel to kill him. In doing so, this killed the goddess and released the chaos.
In Lightning Returns, Caius resides in Etro’s temple with Yeul. Even though the Heart of Chaos was destroyed, Caius can’t seem to find death. Yeul asks Lightning to save Caius’ soul.
Japanese Voice Actor: Mariya Ise
English Voice Actor: Amber Hood
Bio: Yeul is a seeress and exists in all timelines. She’s protected by Caius throughout all of the timelines. Being a seeress, Yeul is destined to live a short life. Most Yeuls don’t make it to 20, leaving Caius to witness the deaths of all the Yeuls he protects. This ultimately leads to Caius’ mental instability and his want to destroy the timelines to stop Yeul from dying. Yeul on the other hand doesn’t see her power as a curse and is happy to relive her life over again with Caius.
During XIII-2 she is seen multiple times with Caius on Noel’s and Serah’s journey. This hurts Noel because she was his best friend back in his timeline.
In Lightning Returns, she stays with Caius in Etro’s Temple. She asks Lightning to save Caius’ soul so he can finally die and be at peace.
Japanese Voice Actor: Kanae Itō
English Voice Actor: Unknown
Bio: It is unknown as to what Lumina actually is. She appears during Lightning Returns in front of Lightning sometimes as a friend or sometimes as an enemy. In the opening cinematic she is referred to as a demon by Snow. She resembles Serah Farron and her hair style seems to be a mix between Serah’s and Lightning’s. One of the developers in an interview was asked why the close resemblance to Serah, and he said that she does resemble Serah or she could resemble a younger Lightning. It’s quite possible that she could be a past self of Lightning or Serah. We’ll know more as it draws closer to release.
Lightning Returns’ battle system has drastically changed from XIII-2. The new battle system is more close to real time action than it is turn based. The game utilizes the face buttons more. An ability is assigned to a face button in each paradigm or outfit for Lightning that you are able to switch between during battle–this also allows you to guard attacks at any point in battle. The gameplay is more fast paced than it is in the other two games. You also have the ability to move Lightning around in battle making the battles feel more real time. There’s also a knock down feature that allows you to inhibit your enemy from attack for a decent amount of time.
There’s a doomsday counter that is always ticking down the 13 days that are left in the world. Anything you do in the game directly affects the counter, whether it’s doing side quests, shopping, doing the coliseum, or using special moves in battle. With side quests in mind, the game runs on a 24 hour cycle. Side quests, people’s dialogue, and enemies in the coliseum all differ depending on what time of the day it is in-game. The world itself is a seemingly open world from what has been seen in released videos, possibly leaving it up to the player to decide how and what he/she will do in those 13 days. Also quoted from Toriyama himself, the game will take 50+ hours to do everything from side quests to finishing the story.
Lightning Returns uses a game feature similar to Final Fantasy X-2’s Dress Sphere, only with a lot more depth. In Lightning Returns you are able to equip Lightning with costumes that work like the paradigm system in the previous two games. Each piece of costume you put on her enables you to attach a certain ability to that you’ll be able to either passively have or what will be on your HUD placed on one of the face buttons. Switching between each costume is seamlessly easy and quick, done so to ensure faster pace battling and higher damage output. There are either preset costumes or ones you make on your own. Everything will be fully customizable from the abilities that are on them to the color of each piece.
Lightning Returns is shaping up to be a really good final game in the XIII trilogy. It looks like Square is trying to pull out some stops in this game and it seems to be well worth it. Lightning Returns is set to be released in America on February 11th, 2014. Be sure to preorder to be able to get Cloud’s Costume for Lightning. Also, for those who will be getting the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster, you will also get to have Yuna’s Summoner Garb for Lightning, as well. Be sure to be a part of this exciting end of Lightning’s story.
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