When the thirteenth installment of the Final Fantasy series was released in Japan in 2009, was anyone expecting it to become a trilogy? Although FFXIII ended on a conclusive note, developer Square Enix felt they hadn't done enough with its universe, in addition to address some of the issues that both fans and they as developers had with the game. And so, they developed a followup, Final Fantasy XIII-2. The cliffhanger ending of XIII-2 clearly shows that SE had yet more stories to tell, and these stories will come to fruition in Lightning Returns, the third and final story set in the XIII universe, which is now being referred to as the "Lightning Saga" (named after the trilogy's protagonist, Lightning Farron).
Lightning Returns was announced in September with some concept art and basic ideas of what the game will be like, but it took until now for the first trailer to be released. Without further ado, here it is.
Here's some information about Lightning Returns for those of you who haven't been following it, or need to refresh your memory:
If Final Fantasy XIII was story-driven and XIII-2 was player-driven, director Motomu Toriyama's philosophy for Lightning Returns is that it's "world-driven". The game takes place in a new world called Novus Partus, an active, ever-changing open world consisting of four monorail-connected continents. Unlike the admittedly restrictive first game, Lightning is free to explore Novus Partus, fighting monsters and exploring all kinds of places. Much like Nintendo's N64 classic The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the game runs on a time limit: Lightning has 13 (see what they did there?) in-game days to save the world before a cataclysmic event destroys it. Worry not, players; just like in Majora's Mask, Lightning will be able to buy herself more time by performing various actions. This will add longetivity to the game by ensuring that a player will in all likelihood never play through it the same way twice. Viewing every cutscene and assembling every piece of the storyline will only be possible through multiple playthroughs. Want a comprehensive, 100-hour experience? You can figure out how to do that, too.
Aside from the obvious Lightning, the game will feature other characters from the FFXIII universe like Hope, Noel, and Snow.
After the original announcement of Lightning Returns in September, things were mostly quiet, with the occasional release of concept art or small details. An image circulated around the Internet in November where Lightning's voice actress, Ali Hillis, allegedly leaked that she was working on the game on Twitter. Based on Lightning's voice in the trailer, this leak would appear to be accurate. Also based on the tweet, Jack Fletcher will act as voice director once again.
Lightning Returns will be released sometime in 2013 for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 (the same platforms the last two came out on). Final Fantasy Versus XIII can at this point officially be called the new Duke Nukem Forever.