Friday, July 6, 2012

The Promise of Final Fantasy XIII-3: Hopes and Dreams

It is the characters that make the XIII story so memorable.

Welcome to the third installment in Violent Gamer’s ongoing “The Promise of Final Fantasy XIII-3” series.  In the last installment (which you can find here), I wrote about the main reasons why I think Final Fantasy XIII-3 should be made – chiefly, that there is still no end to the XIII story.  There is a very large fanbase for the Final Fantasy XIII games, and ultimately we care too much about Lightning and her friends to not see their story until the end.

I actually held off writing this article for a while because there has been so much buzz going on around XIII-3.  Recently, however, some very promising developments have occurred.  First, there was the interview with the development team in the Final Fantasy XIII-2 Ultimania Omega book, which dropped several hints that Lightning’s story was not finished (head over to novacrystallis for the full story).  Then, a recent interview that Famitsu had with Toriyama (the director of the XIII series) gave an even more tantalizing hint: “The Lightning download content had an ending that left a feeling [of] mystery and hope.  The day when the meaning of this will come to light is not too far off” (check out the full story at IGN).

It seems pretty clear that Toriyama and his development team want to continue Lightning’s story.  They know that there is no resolution, and it seems that they are setting out to make one.  And if that is the case, I would not be surprised if they are already working on a third game.  They obviously knew that XIII-2 was going to end on a cliffhanger, and so maybe they have already developed the story to XIII-3.  Who knows for sure, but the future is looking up.

I do want to thank everyone for their comments and support.  As always, it is awesome to know that other people enjoyed these games and care about what happens in them as much as I do.  It sounds like we might hear something about XIII-3 at the FF 25th Anniversary event in late August (and maybe something more at TGS in early September?), but in the meantime I think it is important to keep hope alive.  As Watanabe (the main scenario writer for the series) said in the Omega: “I want the fans to continue having hope”.  If  Lightning and her friends taught us anything, it is that even if the future is uncertain, you can’t give up hope.  And with that in mind, here is my personal wish list of what I hope to see in Final Fantasy XIII-3.  

I'm really hoping to see a bit more of Vanille and Fang this time around...

1.     Linearity/Open World
I think one of the biggest controversies surrounding the XIII saga is the amount of linearity in the games.  XIII was very linear for most of the game, while XIII-2 was the complete opposite.  I personally did not mind the linearity of XIII, but I also feel that the ability to fully explore the worlds of XIII-2 added a very rich layer to gameplay.  I’m hoping that they find a way to marry the two ideas in the third installment.  I think there could be certain story-driven parts of the game that are more linear.  That would make the story less confusing and a bit more driven.  Then, there could also be parts of the game where the environments become completely open.  One thing I want to see more of from XIII-2 is being able to interact with the environments.  The ability to jump was really cool, and it would be awesome to be able to climb ledges, explore buildings, interact with objects, talk to NPC’s – essentially just things that would allow us to connect to the worlds of the game more.  The worlds in XIII and XIII-2 are so beautiful and interesting, and I want to continue to explore them and even more in XIII-3.  

2.     Traveling
I loved being able to travel to different places in XIII-2; I’m just not sure time travel is the best way to do it.  I was intrigued by the idea of returning to places later and finding areas that were previously inaccessible.  Having the choice to go to areas you had already been to created a very interesting dynamic to the game.  The problem with time traveling is that it can muddle the story, which did happen in XIII-2.  I’ve heard mention of using Sazh’s airship to travel around the world, and I personally find the idea fascinating.  I’ve always enjoyed games that have a “home base”, particularly if it is some kind of a ship.  It would allow you to see the characters outside of the main action, and would be a great place to stock up on items, manage equipment, and make plans for the future.  I’m kind of thinking something a la Knights of the Old Republic.  That would be a great way to travel around the worlds of Pulse and Cocoon, and keep from getting in the way of the story.

He is a pilot, after all...

3.     Characters
Over the course of two games, I have grown to care deeply about these characters.  Watching the interactions between the characters of XIII made the story incredibly compelling, so that it was near impossible to take myself away from the game.  I was really drawn to Serah and Noel in the second game – I truly cared about their welfare even if I was confused as to what was going on.  While I did appreciate the more intimate storytelling of having two main characters in XIII-2, I have to admit I missed the larger interactions of a bigger cast.  I missed everyone from XIII severely, and all of their “cameos” in XIII-2 just left me wanting more.  Speaking of wanting more, I would also love to see how characters really feel about each other.  Not to be too sappy, but it is fairly evident that some characters clearly have feelings for other characters, and I think that would be a cool thing for XIII-3 to explore as well.  The XIII saga has been wonderful with blending personal hardships with universal challenges, and I would love to see that theme continue.

Hope's character arc truly impressed me in XIII-2.

4.     Graphics
Final Fantasy XIII is one of the most beautiful video games ever made.  And XIII-2 was beautiful as well…although it did lose a bit of the crispness found in the first game.  Maybe it’s just me, but XIII had a mystical, almost magical feel that made the worlds seem like something out of a fairy tale.  And then that fairy tale was brought to life.  XIII-2 was beautiful as well, but didn’t quite have the same sparkle to it.  I was a bit disappointed with the slim amount of CGI cutscenes in XIII-2 as well.  The CGI is incredibly beautiful, and I thought it worked really well for the cutscenes in XIII.  In addition, I was stunned when I saw the gameplay of XIII – the characters looked just like the CGI.  I thought there was more of a difference in XIII-2: the characters looked a bit more static.  I understand that there were a bunch of different costumes to render for XIII-2, but I would love if both costume customization and detailed character animations could coexist in XIII-3.

5.     Battle System
I loved the battle system in XIII, and I think the battle system in XIII-2 was even better.  The only suggestion I would make is to lose the monsters and have more playable characters.

Snow's always ready for a fight, for better or for worse.

6.     More to Do
XIII-2 was a bold step forward for the series in many ways.  It offered a slew of different features that were introduced to spice up the gameplay – casino minigames, fragment collection, monster collection, and puzzles.  I really appreciated the work the creators put in to offer more variety, especially since I wanted to do so much more in XIII with my characters.  The problem with XIII-2’s additional elements is that they were somewhat pointless and at times frustrating.  The minigames were definitely a bit lackluster, and some of the puzzles literally almost drove me insane.  It would be awesome if there were things to do outside of the main quest, but I think the key is to somehow tie these elements back into the main story in some way.  If side-missions actually mean something and add to the story, that would make them very much worth pursuing.  This is actually an area where Square Enix could use DLC to its advantage – by offering side missions that aren’t essential to the main story, but offer valuable backstory/bonuses to players willing to complete them.

7.     Story
Final Fantasy XIII’s story was hard to get into at first, but eventually became a heartwarming tale of friendship, determination, and hope.  In contrast, XIII-2’s story was very easy to get into, but definitely lost some of its focus midway only to find it again at the end.  I think if Square is able to create a game with XIII-2’s immediacy and XIII’s epic scope and build - well, that game would surely be a wonder to play.  Ultimately, I hope that XIII-3 will end the story of Final Fantasy XIII right.  I hope that Lightning and her friends will find a way to overcome the impossible – that they will save the world and find happiness.  If that is all that happens in XIII-3, I would be incredibly happy, and everything else would be icing on the cake.

This is not the end for Serah and Noel.

Speaking of XIII-3’s story, I have specific hopes and dreams for that as well.  Of course this is all speculation, but I do have a vague concept that would be cool to see realized.  Essentially, I would love the first part of the game to involve getting everyone back together.  We have Sazh, Hope, and Noel all in the same place (although we don’t know exactly what happened to them).  Presumably they could rescue Snow from the Coliseum since they are in Valhalla now.  Then it’s just a matter of figuring out how to awaken Lightning, Fang, and Vanille from their crystal slumber.

Once everyone was back together, then the second half of the game could focus on two main goals: saving the world from Valhalla and rescuing Serah.  Of course those goals may sound a bit familiar, but I think it would be a great mirror of XIII if we had to save the world and Serah again.  Except this time things look even bleaker than before.  I agree with the idea that the gods of the XIII universe will probably play a larger direct role in XIII-3.  Who knows, perhaps we will have to fight a god at the end of the game (Chaos?), in the vein of FFVI.  And while it may be impossible to defeat a god, Lightning and her friends have overcome “the impossible” before – who’s to say they can’t do it again?

Whatever happens in the coming months, my main hope stays the same.  I hope that the Final Fantasy XIII saga will have a resolution worthy of its entire story.  I hope that XIII-3 will be announced as a game, and that Square Enix will give us a solid release date.  And I hope they take the time they need to finish the story right. 

Don’t worry, Lightning.  We too are awaiting the day you will awaken once again.  And when that day comes, it will be beautiful.  Until then, we will keep hope alive.   

We won't give up on you, Lightning.


  1. Another great article! But I don't think your idea of gathering people will be what happens. We know Lightning does wake up by herself and by the sounds of it, she could very well be alone in XIII-3. I think a different version can happen though, at the beginning it could be just Lightning gathering the party together after she wakes up then waking F and V could be a plot point.

    I think Lightning will be the main character again and Yeul will be the main antagonist. My theory is that she's the Chaos incarnated, which would explain how she's able to reincarnate other than "'cause she's a seeress" that's also how Caius is still alive so it makes sense. Anyhow I'm pretty sure Yeul is of some kind of a higher existence.

    Anticipating the 31st of August!

    1. not to be snappy, but did u forget that she awakens end of time, and with paradoxes and valhalla:

      "Time flows in circles."

      it would be evergoing tornment for humans, cocoon, pulse, the gods.

      Time never stops with the Paradox awaken.

  • The firsdt part of your comment is possible, but we never saw Lightning wake up. What we saw was her in a crystal and walking in the dying world. This could be a dream she is in as she says "As I await the day I awaken."
    Forgetting all the previous characters would be impossible, as they make up a lot of the XIII story to be left with thir fates unknown.

    As SE are out sourcing some parts of development to make thir games on time, we could have a XIII-3 just before the summer holidays next year. To annouce a first trilogy on the 25th anniversary would be somthing. If XIII-3 was not on the horizon, then why would they drop so many hints and do the DLC the way they did? Also not a word from them saying it is not going to happen which adds even more hope. Would be interesting to see how chaos has infected new and past locations.

  • With all these hints and the way the game and dlc ended, it seems its not a question of if but a question of when we get xiii-3. Let's hope for confirmation at the end of august

  • Some people have suggested that the announcement may be more dlc for XIII-2, but also state that a third game is more likely. If XIII-3 is announced, doubt it will be out until next year as there was an 11th month wait for XIII-2 when it was announced. After the way XIII-2 ended, and the Lightning and Snow dlc's ended with the world engulfed in chaos and not knowing what happened to everyone, more dlc is out of the question as they would have to release so many to anwser all the questions. With the time and lengh of it, they would be better at making a full game. As its been almost 8 months since XIII-2 came out, and almost two months since the last two dlc's came out, they still refuse to say that a third game is not in the works and instead continue to hint at it. If they then said that it is not more XIII-2, then that would be them making an announcment on XIII-3 before the planned annoucment. Also they have the domain name for XIII-3 registered, so it makes sense. In the maentime we can brace ourselves for the big announcment :)

  • I hope that somehow all the main characters from both games are involved in XIII-3, as if it is just the sisters then the story would not have a full conclusion as we wont know what happened to them. 7 weeks to go from what I hear, and the net is flooded with XIII-3 rumors and other then all the quotes from the development team, SE are silent on the subject. This announcment is going to be big :)

  • I doubt we will hear anything more untile the anniversary event announcment, as they have made it all so clear what it will be without actually announcing it. If you think about it, with all the recent comments, a registered domain, a game and dlc that leave more questions then anwsers and no conclusion, its very obvious that they are working on a first ever trilogy. Otherwise it will go down as the first FF game without a proper ending and that everyone and the world is doomed. Would be interesting on how they would tell the story and how the main characters from the first two games will be saved.

  • Staggering article! I'm most happy to see that my own opinions aren't just my own.
    I fully agree on the part where you said that you wanted more playable characters rather than tamable monsters! Taming monsters were fun for a little while, but I must say, compared to the 3-man team line-up in XIII, taming monsters was rather dull.

    I really hope there will be a XIII-3!

  • Its a shame we have to wait till the end of next month to find out :(
    That said, the rumors that it was more dlc appear to have been false, as Toriyama has confirmed that XIII-2 is now finished, and mention in the interview (without using the exact words we were listening for) that XIII-3 is under development. He knows dlc episodes were not popular and that the games ending and dlc endings, left us hanging on a knife-edge on what happens next. Also the interviews in the Ultimainia Omega from the team are all hinting that its what they are working on right now.
    If XIII-3 was not in the works, a representative for SE would have said that the game is not being made. They quickly made clear that there is no more info on FFvs13 or any plans to do a remake or remaster past games and that they want to focus on new games instead, and that also gives more hope! Its interesting that they will outsource some parts of development to some of their other compainies to bring down development time, which means that the game could be out between easter and summer next year! Thankfully the important work, such as story, scenario, etc will be staying in house. And finally as SE like to keep their new games a secret at first, until a big event is here to unveil (like the FF 25th anniversary), they will likely just give us more cryptic hints. They know full well the fans are begging for it and they pay alot of attention to the publicity on the web its getting.

    1. it sounds like they're getting info on what to get us for Christmas, but not being able wrap it lol :)

    2. Dont think it would be that soon. Either next summer or the following Christmas. All evidence is that we will get a XIII-3 announcment on September 1st, as t6hey would not like to leave a story where it is!

  • Guys this link is the full translated interview with the Director, Producer and Scenerio Writer in the XIII-2 Ultimainia. Bear in mind that this interview probably took place in early June.

    The project they were starting on was at such an early stage that they could'nt really give anything away about it, except for a few hints. Weeks later the Director says about the end of the Lightning dlc leaves a sense of mystery and hope, and that the meaning of it is not to far off. Clearly this project they are working on and plan to announce at the end of next month will be the hotly anticipated XIII-3. Plus not a word from SE denying all those rumors about it :)

  • I'd like the story to start with Fang and Vanille awakening, as they have completed their focus and can awaken at anytime. They along with Noel could be the starting party, out exploring places new and old. With Sazh piloting the ship from one place to another and Hope giving the party instructions on what they need to do or find, and also give valuable info about other things related. Finding Snow and finally being able to use him in the party, would mean being able to change things around in battle, etc. Then finding a way to awaken Lightning and reviving the goddess Etro (We know its happened before) so they can defeat Ciaus and maybe Yuel, and Etro can use some of her re-found powers to bring the Chaos back and close the door of souls. Everything finally ends up with a good conclusion and we get a glimpse of the peaceful new found peace.

    Would be interesting how you defeat/kill an enemy as neither time or death exist. But maybe once an enemy is defeated it returns to Valhalla as say some black dust, that would gradually be reformed again unless the player has left the area far behind them. Just an idea. XIII-3 is coming, as not heard from any source that say it wont! Roll on end of August!

  • The FF Anniversary presentation on 1st September is titled FFXIII Lightnings Saga, and will be a live show by the dev team about how the story continues. Thats another large hint dropped by SE that XIII-3 is coming!

  • The Actresses that voiced Fang and Vanille have said that XIII-3 was a hotly talked about topic in the VO world andquickly said that they were excited at the prospect but were not allowed to say anything. Which is pretty normal when a game is being developed and not been given the officail announcement. The excitement is building!

  • Its coming, why else would they drop so many hints and then say we have no intention of concluding the story and are moving on with another 13 related project?! The fact that despite all the rumors going around they wont admit or deny them clearly points to an announcement. Wonder how the story will be and how all the characters have been? They can't focus on only a few, as it won't feel right!

  • The new XIII game that is temporary named Lightning Saga till its officail name is revealed on September 1st, has just entered production according to the producer. Whilst this has been met with great applause from XIII fans, yet again many people have slated SE for not yet completing Verses, and doing KH3, or a VII remake. The fact that Verses is made by the same team as KH, and that every team does their own projects, does not seem to get through to these people! Thankfully SE chose to continue on the XIII project and bring about a conclusion to the main XIII story. As its selling well (yes XIII-2 did not sell as many as XIII), then why not take all the positives from both games, like characters, graphics, story, freedom, etc and end the series on a high! The return of cinematic actions would be welcome too.

  • Wow cant wait for this! I read that an interview from the director said they had only just started the project and will be reusing stuff they already had from the previous games. Hope they bring back all the main characters from the first two games!

  • If they use the best bits of both games then could be on to an epic winner! the story, characters and graphics of the first, the side quests, and freedom of the second. We dont have long to wait till we know

  • GamerEngineer91August 9, 2012 3:50 AM

    Stellar article, I swear you read my mind; I would love a happy ending, I don't care if it is cliche' or unbelievable; I want serah, fang and vanille back and very well alive and happy all the way to the end and I also want the cast of both games to come together and survive happily.

  • Yay!! Im with you, and word going around is that in a few weeks we will learn about the final part of the story they've just started making! :)