The Final Fantasy franchise has undergone some changes with Final Fantasy XIII-2. We got to check them out on the floor of E3 today in Los Angeles. Oh yes, those enemies sneak up on you again!
Since we’re way into the series, we assume you know the premise if you’re reading this. Here is what we were told about where we are now. So this is a direct continuation of Final Fantasy XIII, and it takes place shortly after it’s events. People now populate the land of Pulse since Cocoon is in crystal form and new towns have been built up. Serah (Lightning’s younger sister) lives in town. With the existence of certain paradoxes on Pulse, people no longer believe that Lightning exists. They believe she’s dead. Serah is the only one who knows the truth. She knows Lightning is still out there, but she doesn’t know where she is. When the town is attacked by monsters one night, our other protagonist Noel makes an appearance and saves her, and the two go off on an adventure to save Lightning. That’s about as detailed as the story gets for right now. The demo takes place in a slice of the where they are at Bresha Ruins where fans of Final Fantasy XIII will remember…right after chapter 3. A lot of it looks familiar, but there have been a lot of changes as a result of the paradoxes. There is now a dig site around this weapon, Atlas that has made an appearance because of the paradoxes.
We got to check out what the new gameplay was like while fighting Atlas at the dig site. First off, your enemies no longer populate the map like they did before. They spawn in front of you. Sneaky enemies! Then you are presented with something called a mog clock. While the enemy is in your radius, the clock starts turning. If you begin the battle when the arrow is in the green section, you get an advantage and certain buffs. If you begin when the battle is in the much larger yellow section, it’s a regular old fight. If you don’t start until it hits the red or you let it run out completely, you’re starting at a disadvantage. In our demo, that was a slow down. You can also outrun them if you’re a lilly-livered coward.
During the first part of our battle with Atlas, we saw another new feature called Live Trigger, which begins a cut scene with a quick time event. The cut scene changes depending on the success or failure of the event. We beat it, which caused ships to fire on Atlas. He was beaten…for now.
When you defeat a monster, he can become part of your party. (You’ll only see him during battle.) You receive a crystal that can be used to summon him. We fought with a Flanbenaro. Part flan, part habenaro, naturally. The perfect ally. We set out to complete our boss battle with our new companion.
There were two choices in the final Atlas battle. We could either try to beat him directly, which would surely result in our deaths at the stage we were now, or we could take the long way and find a device that would make him weaker. Obviously we took the second option. We found the item, which lead us to the void beyond, a temporal rift which took us to the land of puzzles. Alright, it’s not called that, but if you’ve played video games at all, you know what these are. We had to run over a series of floating tiles and collect crystals in the correct order. Once you step on one, it disappears. You get do overs, never fear. Once completed, we were able to use the item to take Atlas down.
The graphics… well, they were stunning. I mean, really really beautiful. If Final Fantasy is your thing, this demo looks promising. Though our guide wasn’t able to tell us much, we were promised new mini games, side quests from NPC’s and plenty of complexity. Final Fantasy XIII-2 will be released for the PS3 and Xbox 360 early next year.