After working with the character for the better part of a decade, Square Enix is understandably emotional about saying goodbye when her journey comes to an end in the upcoming Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.
In an interview at Gamescom, game design director Yuji Abe discussed saying goodbye to Lightning, plus how she’ll be different from the character we met in XIII and XIII-2.
Abe said that while Lightning is certainly the same character we met in XIII and XIII-2, the events of the previous games will impact her emotionally, and fans can expect her to be a bit “darker” as a result.
“Since the end of the last story, in XIII-2, many years have passed,” he said. “In the meantime, she’s lost a lot of things that were very valuable to her. As a result of that, when she wakes up in this different dimension, she has some darker feelings inside her. She’s quite sensitive about some particular things. She may come across as somebody who’s more vulnerable than before. She was very strong, and she might seem to be less so in this latest installment.”
“Maybe she feels almost numb, but at the same time she still has that pain in her heart,” he continued. “So from the start, she may almost come across like a puppet, like someone who doesn’t quite have her real self inside. That shows the kind of vulnerability she has, and it’s the point from which she starts to change afterward.”
“Every main character from the previous games is coming back at one point or another in Lightning Returns, in different ways,” he confirmed. “Some of them will be featured in the main game, but you’ll have to play it to find out what new relationships they might have with one another.”
While the role of Caius in Lightning Returns has yet to be defined, Abe confirmed that he especially will play an important role in the conclusion to Lightning’s story.
“As you may know, we’ve never talked about Caius in Lightning Returns before,” he said. “But if you played XIII-2, you may have seen that the kind of conflict or rivalry between Lightning and Caius has not been finalized. It ended at the end of XIII-2 in quite a vague way. So we’re going to have to put him back in at some point in Lightning Returns. He will come back. We’ll release some more information at a later stage.”
Though it’s still running on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Abe told us that Square Enix didn’t just re-use assets from XIII and XIII-2 for Lightning Returns, opting instead to create wholly new environments.
As for why Lightning Returns is sticking to current-gen rather than launching on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, Abe said it’s simply a matter of development starting on current consoles and that being the team’s priority. For now, no next-gen version has been discussed.
“We’re not thinking about it,” Abe said. “We set out to achieve the highest possible quality we could on the current generation of consoles, the PS3 and Xbox 360. That’s what we’ve been trying very hard to do, and we think we’re almost there. Our mission is presenting the best possible experience for gamers on those consoles. We’re not thinking about anything else, including next-gen consoles.”
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will launch on February 11, 2014 in North America and February 14 in Europe.