In a largely expected move, Square-Enix have announced Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, Which of course is the Final Fantasy XIII-3 that everyone has been expecting.

Although this move will likely be unpopular with a share of the fanbase which have been unhappy with the two currently released Final Fantasy XIII games, but personally I am willing to wait and see if they can raise the bar a bit with their next entry.

Unfortunately however, the game won’t be returning to the Final Fantasy roots, but instead will reduce the controllable player count yet again, reducing it to one, just as it was for the final bit of downloadable content for Final Fantasy XIII-2. However this time Lightning will be controllable during battle, with the player capable of moving her around freely. What use this may have, if any, during gameplay still has not been revealed however, but a real-time blocking system is in the game this time, so battle should be more strategic and require more skill.

A push in the right direction this time is that Lightning will traverse a free roam world, rather than being pushed along corridor after corridor by an overly invasive plot line.

Another more bizarre addition is the return of the 13_day countdown to catastrophe. In the new entry, Lightning has only 13 days to save the world, and those 13 days will count down constantly in the corner, with every single action digging into the time limit. This actually reminds me of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask which had a 3-day countdown to the end of the world.

Another change this time is the world, which is called Novus Partus. Although it is essentially Gran Pulse, Lightning will emerge hundreds of years into the future, where the world has changed rather dramatically. The world will now consist of 4 continents that are connected by monorail. The world will keeps the technological fantasy setting the the series has become known for, but will also involve a gothic twist this time, which may also help to bring back some of that old Final Fantasy nostalgia.

The game is set to release at some point next year, which means another short dev cycle. But with the changes being implemented, it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on in the coming months.

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