Aaron Matthew Holmes
The conclusion to the Final Fantasy XIII series is finally here, and Lightning makes an amazing comeback with familiar moves and a wardrobe that is sure to impress any gamer! This latest installment of the Final Fantasy series brings a unique, new system that’s both challenging and rewarding. Instead of the leveling system, which everyone is used to, it’s been replaced by a system where each quest completed rewards Lightning additional stats, thus improving her overall physical, magic, and defensive stats. The game also brings, not just three difficulty levels, Easy, Normal, and Hard, it also brings a challenge to complete the game before time runs out, or it’s Game Over.
Players must complete the primary quests and various side quests to collect what is known as “Eradia”, which at 06:00 every day, will be offered to keep the world from ending for up to one additional day. The player can at max, keep the world from ending up until the 13th day. If the player is unable to collect enough Eradia to keep the world from ending on the 13th day, the world will end sooner and end the game with a Game Over.
If the player manages to save the world from ending until the 13th day, they will be presented with the game conclusion and final battles.
General Game and Strategy Info
When it comes to strategy and comparing the official Strategy Guide from Prima Games and the strategy tips provided by the Lightning Returns official website, it’s obvious that the Strategy Guide offers a clearer and faster way to clear all the main quests while completing side quests at the same time.
The official website “walkthrough guide” not only delays when main missions should be completed, but potentially puts the player at a strong disadvantage for battles and equipment. It is strongly recommended that the player doesn’t follow the Lightning Returns website walkthrough if they are to get anywhere successfully in the game, especially while attempting to collect valuable equipment and abilities.
If you have the strategy guide, it is highly recommended you use it to have a general idea as to where everything is for your first run through the game. Other than that, the general focus on your first playthrough is to complete as many side quests as possible, buy all possible Garb you can, equipment, and finish whatever Main Quests you are able to. You’ll be replaying through the game a few times, so don’t worry too much about not finishing the game the first time you pick it up.
image by: http://kaoyon.deviantart.com/
Lightning Returns has definitely proven itself to be quite the challenging game, with hours spent, not grinding for a higher level, but rather, grinding quests to increase stats. Even in Easy Mode the game can be quite the challenge for first time players of the game.
One of the features of Lightning Returns is the ability to carry over levels and items over to your next playthrough, thus making it easier to complete a majority of quests early on when continuing through New Game+. Players who normally couldn’t gain any days on the very first day of the game, can come back and complete enough side quests to add an additional day before returning to The Ark for the first time.
The constant quest grinding, over level grinding is probably better and faster, but there’s no doubt that it can still take just as much time to become powerful enough to take on the final boss like any other Final Fantasy game. Expect to spend at least a minimum of 100+ hours just to take on normal mode.
13 Days to Complete the Game
At first, this task seems daunting, time ticking away, putting you at constant worry about how much time you spend doing anything, including completing tasks. The first time you play, and you finish Day 1, you are left with gaining no additional time and may start to worry if you can’t complete enough side quests or the main quests to gain those valuable extra days. This continues to be a struggle, especially as you progress through to the next chapters and start hitting harder bosses.
After approximately the first play through, or half-play through of the game, and you enter New Game+ mode, things start to click and make more sense, what seemed like too little time will feel like all the time in the world is handed to you to complete quests left and right and take out the major missions much faster than normal. A prime example of how time can be managed, it’s possible to clear both the Luxerion and Ysuunan major quests by the end of Day 2 leaving just 3 more major quests to complete and several days remaining on the clock.
Additionally, what is really a great way to expand on not just the amount of time remaining, but to get some powerful gear, is gaining the special “14th day” – This can be achieved by completing a large number of side quests by the end of the 12th day. The 14th Day opens up the Ultima Dungeon where there’s 33 floors of “Last Ones” and of course all of their rare drops. This dungeon may be very hard with certain “Last Ones” being incredibly powerful, however, it is possible to defeat the easier of the “Last Ones” and make your way down to the 33rd floor, which will still be a very daunting battle against a strong boss. This is one of those dungeons to come back to once you’re able to complete the main game and defeat the final boss.
Overall Game Thoughts:
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is a great conclusion to the Final Fantasy XIII series and it is still just as challenging as the previous titles. The different “leveling” system, and equipment stat boost system with set skills not only does it make for a new twist, but brings a new form of strategic planning. At times, the equipment based skills/stats forces the player to change up what they’re used to and start trying out new abilities, weapons, and accessories to beat that next powerful challenge.
Pros and Cons
Outfits and Equipment (a.k.a Garb):
The variety of outfits and look of the outfits in Lightning Returns is large and provides a great way to change up the look of Lightning at any point in the game. The Stat boosts and differences with each outfit makes trying out newly attained outfits much more appealing to players as well.
The downside is that there isn’t a way to adjust what skills are attached to what garb, and the wide variety of outfits slims incredibly if you’re looking for all out power when facing enemies. By the time you’re ready to face the final boss of the game, you’ve either got 3 Schemata’s that you use constantly, or a few in reserve for various situations that all pack powerful punches with the right gear and skills attached, again noting that the fashionable garb you acquire will more than likely, not be a part of these sets.
No Leveling System:
Hey, great! You don’t have to spend hours upon hours grinding the same monster to become more powerful! You can get more powerful gear, abilities, and accessories to vastly improve your stats without worry! This is especially noticeable toward the end of the game.
Instead of grinding for hours on the same monster or groups, you are instead presented with restarting the game over and over, farming quests to become more powerful.
Sure each quest is its own reward of set amount of HP, Magic, and Strength, but this quickly becomes a grueling grinding task when you need to become more powerful for the more powerful bosses and even the “Last Ones” that you will more than likely face at some point in your experience.
Should I buy the game?
Simple answer: Yes! This game is well worth the $60 price tag, especially if you’re a general fan of not just the Final Fantasy franchise, but the Final Fantasy XIII series. And for those interested collectors, the Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Collector’s Edition Pocket Watch that comes with it – is beautifully crafted and makes for a great collectible. The art book is also definitely worth it for fans of beautiful artwork, especially when it comes to Final Fantasy art!