One of the titles Square Enix is showing off at E3 2011 is Final Fantasy XIII-2, a direct sequel to last year’s Final Fantasy XIII. The game can be demoed on the floor at this year’s event and we got a chance to sit down and see what improvements have been made since the last time we stepped into Pulse and Cocoon.
The story takes place after that of Final Fantasy XIII and features some narration by the game’s protagonist, Lightning. In the demo we played, Serah is searching for her sister lightning and runs into Noel, a new character. Accompanying them is… a Moogle! One of the staple creatures of the Final Fantasy series. This Moogle is more than meets the eye and isn’t a creature that sits around to handle mail, game saves or inventory like in previous games. This particular Moogle will actually transform into various weapons that Serah can use during combat, such as a bow. Serah and Noel travel into Cocoon after the events of the first game and encounter a large golem-type creature known as Atlas, who has the power to move between realities.
New to XIII-2 are cinematic action sequences and live triggers. The cinematic action sequences appear during certain parts of combat and make the player run through a series of quick button presses in order to execute certain actions. If done successfully, rewards can come in the forms of buffs or a nice chunk of damage being dealt to your enemy.
Some areas from the first game will make their return, though a bit different with the bit of time that has passed between the events of the two installments. One area that makes its return is the Bresha Ruins, this time with some added rain weather effects.
In the first game, engaging an enemy was as easy as running into a monster on the field. XIII-2 introduces the Mog Clock which gives the players a better chance at gaining an advantage before starting the battle if you can land your cursor in the green area of the Clock. However, if you hit something like red, you could start the fight in an enfeebled state such as having slow on all of your characters.
Also new is the ability to get monsters into your party. In the demo we had a Ravager based flan in our party. Upon changing our paradigms and having the monsters slot change to Commando, the flan swapped out for a behemoth. Additionally, after certain conditions are met with the monsters, players can initiate a feral link. The example we saw during our demo was one hundred fists.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! There are a lot of other new features coming to XIII-2 as well. For the first time ever in a Final Fantasy game, players will be able to jump at will! There is also a live trigger system that will allow players to select between certain ways to progress. In the demo we were given the ability to fight Atlas, or pursue an alternate route in an attempt to get him into a weaker state.
Taking on Atlas at this point in time is a suicide mission, so we went another way to try and get to a device to potentially weaken the creature. NPCs will be playing a bigger role in XIII-2. While we traveled to this optional destination, NPC soldiers attacked monsters that were running after us and attempting to fight us. NPCs will have more interaction this time around.
Upon arriving at our destination, we were entered into another reality, an area known as a Temporal Rift. This area introduces a puzzle element to the game wherein players have to obtain crystals on platforms. However, the panels disappear after you walk on them so a bit of strategy and planning might be a good idea before attempting some of these challenges. Once all the crystals are collected and the stages are finished, Serah and Noel are kicked back into their own reality where they now have a device fully capable of weakening Atlas. We went back to the giant enemy and took him down without breaking a sweat.
We also got a look of some footage not on the E3 floor. The footage shows Lightning riding Odin along the coast of a never before seen area fighting a creature called Chaos Bahamut. Those that played the first Final Fantasy XIII will know that Bahamut was the avataar tied to Fang. Is there going to be some kind of connection between these realities and Chaos Bahamut? Will we see Fang and Vanille return? We can’t say for sure at this point, however, Final Fantasy XIII-2 is looking to have many solid improvements over the original that may make some fans reconsider checking this title out.