|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.
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...|
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.|
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.
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.|