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How will you spend your final days?


Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is the direct sequel to Final Fantasy XIII-2, and a part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy series. Intended to end the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, it features Lightning as the main protagonist. The game takes place five hundred years after the events of Final Fantasy XIII-2 where Lightning is tasked with saving the souls of humanity in a world heading for destruction.

Unlike Final Fantasy XIII-2, the game's retail version contains the complete story, meaning players won't have to purchase downloadable content. Also unlike its predecessor, the game has just one ending.

The game's world, Nova Chrysalia, is an active open-world with some platforming elements. Players have a high degree of freedom and will see new roads and cities from tall landmarks and can easily get lost. Nova Chrysalia has been designed similar to a "tourist guide style" seen in MMORPGs, and each team presented the continents in this style. Yuji Abe has stated that in Final Fantasy XIII many areas were places the player could only pass through, but in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, there are many places to explore.[3] Keywords for the world's design are "gothic, mechanical, and fantasy."

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was announced to come for Steam in the wake of Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2. However, the stated Spring 2015 release window passed with no news. In June 2015 Square Enix tweeted that the game was still coming for Steam, but could not confirm a release date.[4] In November the release date was announced for 10 December 2015.[2]



Lightning sliding down a pole.

Players take control of Lightning, the main character from Final Fantasy XIII, as the sole playable character. She traverses freely over the game's variety of terrain and can jump on obstacles, such as telephone poles, and use elements of stealth. Her abilities differ based on her elevated height. The developers have aimed for a world where the players would be able to reach almost everything visible on the screen, and there are no load times between areas unless the player either teleports, uses a vehicle, or there is a storyline event that transports the player somewhere new.

The game has an open-world structure and the explorable area is bigger than what has been seen in previous Final Fantasy titles, and the player may not have time to visit everywhere on their first play-through. The player can either walk between destinations or use the monorail for faster travel. Riding a chocobo is available as well.

Monsters range in size and can be enormous. Not only appearing in the sprawling wilderness, they terrorize the cities as well, increasing in number at night. Although many enemies return from previous titles, about half of the monsters are new. Because of time's ever-flowing nature, the non-player characters' locations keep changing.

The Crystarium system does not appear; instead, Lightning's stats are increased by completing story events and side quests. The player can buy equipment and items, visit restaurants to restore HP, and stay at inns to restore health in exchange for spending time. The more souls the player rescues the more powerful Lightning becomes. Anything that requires depletion of EP will be learned by Lightning herself. General abilities are associated with whatever garb is equipped, or obtained through item drops from enemies. By visiting sorcery shops, the player can synthesize abilities to boost their strength. Enemies are more likely to drop abilities if they are Staggered.


LRFFXIII Magician's Suit Costume Battle

Lightning in battle with the Black Mage schema.

Enemies are found on the field and Lightning can sneak up on them to perform preemptive strikes, and if Lightning can strike first, the enemy will lose 10% of their starting HP. If Lightning strikes an enemy before they notice her, they'll lose 25%. If an enemy comes in contact with Lightning, the battle will start with her losing 5% of her HP (unless playing in Easy Mode).

The battle system is a heavily modified version of the Command Synergy Battle system the two previous games used, and features real time features, such as freely taking control of Lightning's movements and attacks, and a real time block, dodge and counter system. The new combat system is named Style-Change Active Time Battle (SATB).

Players can assign four commands to the controller's face buttons, and instead of selecting commands, players will press buttons that correspond to the individual abilities. There are also timing-based mechanics. Though the battle system is of an action-RPG, it features an ATB gauge and every action depletes this bar. By tilting the left analog stick, the player can move Lightning on the battlefield.

Lightning will have a variety of different weapons, but they will all be close-range ones; magic is reserved for ranged combat. For most abilities, Lightning will move automatically to the correct range to execute the desired attack.


Lightning faces off against a Chocobo Eater.

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII features boss battles with the key being destroying various body parts on the monsters. The Stagger system returns from Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2, now being depicted as a wave around the enemy's HP bar. Enemies have multiple weaknesses so the player can knock them down in different ways making for less repetitive gameplay. Lightning can assemble a schema that exploits the enemy's weak points, and via the stagger system Lightning can juggle some of the enemies in the air with her attacks.

Via the EP Abilities the player can teleport to specific areas or even momentarily stop time. The Energy Points gauge is on the lower-left part of the screen and Energy Points are acquired upon clearing battles. Lightning will start with full Energy Points at the start of each day. Originally this system was part of Eradia (points given to the Tree of Life, Yggdrasil, to extend the world's lifespan), but the developers decided to separate them and now players can use the points without having to worry about the world's lifespan.[5]

If the player loses a battle, they don't get a Game Over, but must use the Escape command to return to the field, penalizing the player by taking an hour of the world's time (there is no penalty in Easy Mode).

Schemata and garbs[]

Lightning in different garbs.

Players have access to several custom-made paradigm-like schemata that change Lightning's assigned skills on-the-fly. Each schema has its own ATB gauge, meaning the player can swap between schemata and maintain constant action while allowing the other schemata to recharge. If the player runs out of ATB and cannot perform any actions, the gauges gradually refill as Lightning idles.

Lightning is customizable with wide array of garbs, weapons, shields, accessories, adornments and abilities. Schemata allow players to put these together to create different skills and attributes. Lightning can collect and customize her equipment through completing quests and synthesizing them from components found in the world, shops, or battle. Players can preset different schemata and change between them, similar to how Paradigm Shift worked in earlier games.

Garbs change Lightning's look on the field, and their color can be customized. The default schema's garb is the one Lightning wears on the field. Civilians react with different comments depending on which costume Lightning is wearing. If her current garb is a dress or features a long skirt, she will ride the Angel of Valhalla sidesaddle.

The "doomsday clock"[]


Lightning standing before a clock that shows how much time the world has left.

The game plays on the world-driven concept with a "doomsday clock" element that determines how much time is left before the Apocalypse. The player is initially given seven days to explore the world, but this can be extended to thirteen days by completing sidequests. Chronostasis stops the flow of time momentarily to give the player a chance to explore, and playing in the Easy Mode has no time-punishment for fleeing battles. A countdown timer indicating the time left until the end of the world is displayed in the upper-right of the screen.

An in-game day lasts twenty-four hours, like in the real world, as after the Day of Ragnarok in Final Fantasy XIII, two hours were lost. This is to make up for the clocks in Nautilus and Oerba's schoolhouse in Final Fantasy XIII that were 13-hour clocks, and for Mog in Final Fantasy XIII-2 having a 12-hour clock to show the change in a day's length. Time stands still when talking to people, during cutscenes and battles, in menus, on the Ark, while Chronostasis is active, and on the final day the time mechanic no longer applies.

The player may want to be in specific locations in specific times where black haze called Chaos infusions will appear, indicating the area has become monster territory, where the player will find the toughest opponents for a chance at better rewards. Lightning will only be able to hold six battle items at the start of the game, but this will increase when the player progresses. Depending on which day the player battles certain storyline bosses, their stats and/or appearance can change. The world faces constant changes by the hand of a weather system and day/night cycles, with monsters becoming more vicious at certain times.

Because the play time can be extended, it allows for a player-specific game experience, and different choices yield different events. It will not be possible to see every cutscene in one playthrough, and the time management structure means players can have different experiences each time they play the game.



Main quest in Yusnaan completed.

Instead of being divided into chapters, like the previous two games, the story is told in the form of five main quests. Side quests are available to boost Lightning's stats and harvest Eradia for Yggdrasil to hold off the Apocalypse. Both main quests and side quests are rewarded with stat increases, Eradia and gil and items.

Side quests are ranked on a scale of one to three stars. The more stars a quest has, the greater its Eradia reward, but the more challenging or time-consuming it is to complete. It is not possible to complete every side quest in one playthrough. The quest The Avid Reader is cancelled out if the quest To Save the Sinless is accepted, and the Last One Standing side quest is impossible to complete before a New Game Plus.

Outerworld Services[]



A new function was incorporated so players could post screenshots or messages on a community board via social networks. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII let players share game updates onto Twitter and Facebook, such as upon defeating in-game bosses; the updates would include the player's overall score for defeating said boss. The Outerworld Services allowed the player to make snapshots with the possibility of excluding Lightning from them. The service closed 26 April 2016.[6]




Nova Chrysalia.

Nova Chrysalia, known in the Japanese version as Novus Partus (Latin for "new offspring," "new Births," "new cocoon," or "rebirth"), is a world created when Gran Pulse and Valhalla came together. It is composed of four continents (two natural and two cityscape) surrounded by a Sea of Chaos and connected by a monorail system.

Nova Chrysalia contains a mix of architecture ranging from medieval-style to modern. The cities have many clocks to display the progression of time. The pleasure city of Yusnaan is designed as a place of entertainment, while Luxerion is ruled by religious cults. The new Cocoon, Bhunivelze, floats in the sky over Nova Chrysalia, and inside it lies the Ark.

The remains of Academia and Valhalla are now a part of the Wildlands, a continent comprising vast and open forests, plains, and mountains, including small villages to explore. The Dead Dunes feature dungeons and ruins containing relics from ancient times, alongside a vast desert.

Lightning Returns - People in Robes Concept

Designs of the Order NPCs from Luxerion.

The realms' merge affected the Chaos dwelling within human hearts as per the Fabula Nova Crystallis lore, stopping humans from aging and reproducing, though they can still die due to violence or disease.

Nova Chrysalians dress up in a variety of ways: some wear long robe-like black and white garbs with golden masks and mechanical backpacks, while others, such as the citizens of Yusnaan, dress in extravagant colors and outlandish accessories. The citizens of the world are aware of its impending doom, but only few know how much time there is left. Depending on the continent, people react to the impending Apocalypse differently: the people in Luxerion solemnly wait for the god Bhunivelze to create a new world, while those in Yusnaan celebrate it with lavish festivities.



The game's main cast: (from left to right, top to bottom) Yeul, Caius, Fang, Vanille, Noel, Snow, Serah, Mog, Sazh, Lumina, Lightning and Hope.

Playable character
  • Lightning (ライトニング, Raitoningu?) - After sleeping in crystal stasis for five centuries, Lightning awakes in Nova Chrysalia and is chosen by the god Bhunivelze to be a savior of souls. She learns the world and its inhabitants face oblivion in thirteen days and fights to save them and reunite with her late sister Serah.


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The music for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is composed by Masashi Hamauzu, Naoshi Mizuta, and Mitsuto Suzuki, who previously worked on Final Fantasy XIII-2. The game does not have a vocal theme song, but the ending theme is composed by Hamauzu, Mizuta, and Suzuki.

"Crimson Blitz", the track from the JumpFesta announcement trailer, was released on December 23, 2012, on iTunes as part of the game's promotion campaign. Hamauzu says that "Crimson Blitz" was composed in Le Locle, Switzerland, during his Europe tour as the church bell rings every fifteen minutes, and that reminded Hamauzu of the passing time in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.[7]

Another promotional track released on iTunes was "The Savior", a track featured on the E3 trailer. Composed by Naoshi Mizuta, the track was released on iTunes on June 6, 2013, and is used in the game as a battle theme.[8]

Each of the continents has its own composer, and depending on the time of a day—morning, afternoon, evening, and night—a different song will play.

The original soundtrack was released in November 21, 2013. A PLUS soundtrack was released on March 26, 2014 in Japan.

Downloadable content and extras[]

LRFFXIII Lara Croft TOMB RAIDER Gear in a Cutscene

Tomb Raider garb is one of the DLC for the game.

The localized version has a DLC package that features both the original Japanese dialogue and Japanese lip-synching, providing "a more natural and localized game experience".[9] The DLC package was free to download for the first two weeks after the game's western release, but requires a payment after that. This was the first time a localized Final Fantasy console game has featured both English and Japanese voice tracks.

If the player has save data from Final Fantasy XIII and/or Final Fantasy XIII-2, they can unlock Lightning's outfits from those games (her Guardian Corps uniform and her valkyrie armor, respectively) as garbs and buy them in the rewards shop.

Most of the DLC and the extras are included in the Steam version.


Square Enix registered a domain name for Final Fantasy XIII-3 on September 7, 2011, but no development plans were announced. A representative of Square Enix noted the filing was to protect the Final Fantasy XIII IP and was not indicative of a new title.[10] During the interview with 4gamer in early December 2012, producer Yoshinori Kitase said the team decided not to name the game Final Fantasy XIII-3 as it "would give the impression that it was a direct evolution of XIII-2, rather than the 'new experience'".[11]

The Final Fantasy XIII-2 Ultimania Omega book released on June 21, 2012, contains an interview with Yoshinori Kitase and Motomu Toriyama that sees the pair suggesting a successor to Final Fantasy XIII-2. Kitase stated (the last part about Lightning's DLC episode) that "explaining 'XXX Years Later' would be pointless. It might seem that the line 'To Be Continued...' means that Lightning's chapter will continue in more download content, but we are doing it in a different interpretation".

In a scenario interview with Toriyama and Watanabe, Toriyama said that although Final Fantasy XIII-2 did not bring the happy ending for Lightning he had promised before in Final Fantasy XIII Ultimania Omega, he hopes to tell more stories from the Fabula Nova Crystallis.

New development methods were put into place after Final Fantasy XIII to overcome the challenges the development team had faced during the development of the first installment. Thanks to that, the development process for both Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII progressed smoothly.[12]


The development for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII started soon after the global release of Final Fantasy XIII-2.[13] The developers have later said they always had a concept of expanding the story of Final Fantasy XIII since the start of Final Fantasy XIII-2 project, but weren't fully decided on whether to make it a trilogy.

In August, Square Enix launched an official website regarding the new entry into the saga and at the Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary event, the Final Fantasy XIII stage took place at 11:30 on September 1, titled "Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Saga: New Developments Presentation", where Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was announced. Motomu Toriyama, Yuji Abe, and Isamu Kamikokuryo each presented an element of what the game would be about, yet only disclosed that Lightning's new appearance, designed by Tetsuya Nomura, would play on her light, speed, and elegance.

As of September 4, 2012, the game was confirmed to be 30% complete.[14] As Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is the third title on its generation's hardware, director Motomu Toriyama has said it to be the most complete and polished game in the Final Fantasy series.[15]

In a developer interview with Famitsu on September 6, 2012, art director Isamu Kamikokuryo stated that Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was using newly designed assets to build the game and that Nova Chrysalia was being built from the ground-up.[16]

On October 10, 2012, character designer Tetsuya Nomura reported he has finished the designs of the outfits for Lightning and Snow Villiers, and that his work in the game had been completed.[17] In terms of technology, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII shares the same elements from Final Fantasy XV, while sharing a few gameplay and design elements of Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2, as well.[18]

On November 22, 2012, Yoshinori Kitase gave a development update on the Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Facebook and Twitter accounts, stating the first part of the game had been implemented to a certain extent, and that they had been collecting play test feedback.[19]


In January 2013, Square Enix embarked on a global media tour for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, where various media outlets were invited to witness an early but playable build of the game and have a QA session with the developers. This is unusual in light of past Final Fantasy games' development, as usually Square Enix had been secretive about the progress of their projects and the version of Lightning Returns shown to spectators during the media tour was the earliest build of a Final Fantasy game showed publicly. This version had many placeholder assets, models, and music being substituted in.[20]

On May 29, 2013, Famitsu revealed that Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was at 70% completion.[21] In the E3 trailer, it was announced the game would be released on February 2014 in North America and Europe.[22] After Gamescom, where the game was exhibited, Yuji Abe revealed that Lightning Returns would be next revealed at Tokyo Game Show 2013, and that at the event, a wholly new character would be introduced.[23][24]



Gameplay footage with an early build of the battle interface.

When designing Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII the developers wanted to implement player feedback the previous titles in the Final Fantasy XIII saga had received, namely the criticism Final Fantasy XIII received for its linearity. Thus improved player freedom and the growth of character while exploring the world became important facets when planning for the gameplay. The idea was to create an expansive world, but simultaneously make it so the player wouldn't be thrown into it haphazardly. Thus the element of time management was included so the player would pay attention to the world, and think how to interact with its inhabitants.[25] Having an open environment heavily impacted the way the world map was developed and weight was placed on how much of the restrictions that a traditional Final Fantasy game sets for the sake of making the world look beautiful could be removed. The teams handling the different areas were told to ruminate on how to keep players from straying too far off track and get lost.[26]

At the beginning the developers received negative feedback for the "doomsday clock" system, because the original time did not even allow the player to reach the end of the game. Adjustments were made to arrive to a satisfying amount of time. At first there was a countdown running towards zero on the upper part of the screen, but based on player feedback this was changed to a clock.[27]

With Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII the developers wanted to improve on the freedom of moving around in the field compared to previous entries to the Final Fantasy XIII saga, and various actions were added so Lightning can make the most use of the three-dimensional map's structure. Director Motomu Toriyama has said the aim was not about adding more action elements, but about providing a wider range of traveling methods so the player can efficiently move around in a world that has a time limit.[13]

Many players found the battle system of the previous Final Fantasy XIII series games difficult to understand, and so with Lightning Returns developers wanted to make it easier to see what the player should be thinking and to have a direct response to that, which ties to the idea of having just one playable character.[26]

The developers talked with the Final Fantasy XV development team, who utilize an action-rpg-based system for their game, and got some inspiration.[27] The plan was still to retain the strategic elements from older Final Fantasy games as the foundation for the new battle system. To achieve dynamic fights, the developers took the paradigm system from the two previous entries to the trilogy, and chose them as a set on four buttons for four different actions instead of using a command menu to create a style of gameplay that is simultaneously tactical, yet dynamic.[27] The game was designed so the flow of play would not be disturbed by the battles.[27] After the developers had direct response controls set up, they concluded it would be more intuitive to have the player control the single character of Lightning alone.[28]

In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII the player can dodge and block enemies' attacks; when Lightning's outfit was created the shield came into the design, and the developers thought to utilize it in battles by allowing her to block attacks. This enabled the creation of various fighting styles, as it is possible to be more offensively focused with the sword, or play defensively with the strengths of the shield.[27]

Samurai garb.

Player reaction to the downloadable costumes in Final Fantasy XIII-2 was mixed, as some players felt the effect should be more than cosmetic. Thus in Lightning Returns the different outfits Lightning can wear were designed with this in mind to offer stat boosts and other battle advantages.[25] With the previous games in the trilogy there was always a request from the development team to be able to change the look of the characters when their paradigm roles switched, and with new system memory resources opening up with a single playable character this became possible with Lightning Returns. However, the concept of changing outfits didn't come first but naturally found its way into the game based on the compatibility between how the game mechanics were set up.[26]

Yuji Abe has commented on the weaknesses of the paradigm system used in the previous titles to the trilogy, feeling that by relying on setting AIs and switching between pre-set combinations distances the player, makes it less accessible and that it dilutes the feeling of immersion by not having a specific character for the player to inhabit.[28] The system in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was put together with the intent of sharing the basic philosophy of the systems from the first two games, but simultaneously acting as a counterpoint to them.[28]

Abe named the allowing of fewer story scenes with allied characters as the main downside of the one-playable-character system.[28]

Art direction[]


Concept artwork.

A number of artists are involved with crafting the world, with careful detailing in crafting specific sofas, chairs and telephone booths.[29] Art director Isamu Kamikokuryo said the concept of a dying world in which technology is deteriorating was the foundation of the artwork. Motifs from 19th century London during the industrial revolution, Asia, and the Middle East were made to appear in Nova Chrysalia depending on the location. To contrast the high-level modern civilization depicted in Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII has a more retro feel.[30]

The gothic feel and the monochromatic color scheme of Luxerion were chosen to represent a surreal twilight.[29] The city's style merges gothic, medieval, modern, and fantasy designs. The city's colors are mainly composed of white and black, symbolizing light and darkness, as well as featuring the ethereal green seen in Valhalla from Final Fantasy XIII-2. Director Motomu Toriyama said the city's grim tone symbolizes "the strong awareness of death in a world that has lost its concept of mortality."[31] It's been said that Luxerion has a western look, similar to that of Paris. The city's style has been called "Mech-Goth", alternatively called "Mechanical Gothic".[32]

Yusnaan was inspired by a blend of Renaissance and Middle Eastern cultures.[33] The Dead Dunes and the Wildlands were designed to allude to some elements of the classic main Final Fantasy titles, such as the dungeons and open fields which the players could freely explore.

Image art luxerion

Artwork of Luxerion.

Each of the four main areas—Luxerion, Yusnaan, Dead Dunes and the Wildlands—were designed to be distinctive in feel and look, and care was put into designing the NPCs found in the area. For example, the people of the religious town of Luxerion dress modestly, and those especially devout in an almost cult-like manner. Many people in Yusnaan dress in extravagant colors and accessories, and the dress sense of the inhabitants of Dead Dunes and Wildlands is designed to be appropriate to their environments. The characters with more outstanding accessories are usually the ones who give out quests, and upon completing the quest, Lightning can often receive the quest-giver's accessory as an adornment.

The ideas for the feel and look of the game areas came from director Motomu Toriyama,[34] who wanted to show types of locations that hadn't been explored in the trilogy's previous installments; this is why a desert was included.[34] The idea was to express the ideas, themes and concepts the game is built upon. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII has the overarching theme of time and its passing, and thus day-and-night cycles and designs incorporating large clock faces, were included in the designs.[34]

Producer Yoshinori Kitase has explained the title logo was revamped because the team wanted to convey the "newness" of the installment compared to previous Final Fantasy games. The intention was to use an emblem with sharp edges and a symmetrical design.[30] The idea was to draw up the logo from scratch and create something different from the usual Yoshitaka Amano outing. They went through many different designs until deciding upon the concepts: "lightning" and "metallic." The symbol will also appear in the game, for example: Lightning's default outfit.[35]


The game was designed to be the end of Lightning's story and the universe of Final Fantasy XIII. Concurrently, the game was meant to be the final game on seventh-generation consoles, with the staff working extra-hard to get it out in the short time before the release of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in Japan, and with next-gen versions of the game not being considered.[36][37] Along with the main ending, the team created an epilogue. According to Toriyama, it was created to be slightly open-ended so players could imagine what would happen next.[38] Ideas for Lightning to meet up with her allies and friends were not used: Toriyama felt that the story should start and end with Lightning.[39]


The overall theme of fighting against destiny, the united theme across all Final Fantasy XIII games, remains in Lightning Returns with Lightning having been once again tasked by a deity to perform a special mission.

The main theme of the story is "the salvation of souls". Having awoken from her crystal sleep, Lightning has become their savior, and is tasked by Bhunivelze with freeing people from the darkness in their hearts and guiding their souls to the new world that will be born when Nova Chrysalia ends after the final thirteen days. The concept of religion is prominent, as shown by the worship of Bhunivelze and the late Etro in Luxerion.

Another main theme is the "rebirth of Lightning", defined by Lightning's appearance in each game in the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, and that being the reason why the game is called Lightning Returns instead of Final Fantasy XIII-3.[40] Toriyama has the story focused on Lightning to show her in a different light for players to get to know her better. In the beginning of the game, Lightning is closed off and distant, but as the story progresses, more details about her internal struggles, thoughts, and true feelings are revealed and she becomes more human and vulnerable as she once again chooses to defy her destiny to save her sister.

Another theme is how much Hope has grown and matured in Lightning's "motherly" point of view. In Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning acted like a surrogate mother to Hope, and has not interacted with him since the original game. Now that Lightning has Hope helping her in her new mission, she gets to see how much he has changed.


Japanese release[]

Lightning Sage Ultimate Box

Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Ultimate Box.

Special Controller LRFFXIII

The special controller.

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was released in Japan on November 21, 2013. A special edition called Final Fantasy XIII -Lightning Ultimate Box- was released at the same time.

The Ultimate Box contains the following:

A special Hori controller also accompanies the game's release.

The downloadable PSN version of the game is 9.8 GB large. On November 19, players were able to pre-load the game so they can play Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII on the launch day without delay. Those who picked the downloadable version, got SOLDIER 1st Class garb for Lightning.[41]

North American release[]


North American Collector's Edition package.

In the United States, as a pre-order bonus, players received Cloud Strife's SOLDIER 1st Class Uniform as a garb and Buster Sword. With these, players hear the victory fanfare from Final Fantasy VII and Lightning performs Cloud's iconic victory pose in this gear.

The game was released simultaneously as a boxed release and on the PlayStation Network.

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Collector's Edition was available exclusively through the Square Enix Online Store.[42] It has a different cover art and includes an 80-page hardcover art book. The book is wrapped in a dust jacket featuring character designer Tetsuya Nomura's original drawings and has a foreword by art director Isamu Kamikokuryo. The set comes with a silver embossed pocket watch inspired by the game's theme that revolves around a countdown doomsday clock. Aerith Gainsborough and Cloud Strife DLC sets are included as well.

The Collector's Edition set was released through the Square Enix Online Store on February 11, 2014 for $89.99.

GameStop was also selling the Lightning Returns PlayStation 3 DualShock 3 Wireless Controller that was at first announced for the Asian markets.[43]

PAL territories release[]

As a pre-order bonus European players get a limited edition steelbook including downloadable content token giving access to the SOLDIER First Class and the Buster Sword.[44]

Another pre-order bonus is a Lightning Samurai three-piece set that includes Shogun, Sohei Savior and Flower of Battle items.[44]

The Nordic Limited Edition includes Cloud Strife's SOLDIER 1st Class uniform and Buster Sword, and Lightning Samurai Set Nordic Edition, which includes Shining Prince, Utsusemi and Dark Samurai garbs.[45]

The Collector's Edition available in North America will not be released in Europe.[46]

The game was released simultaneously as a boxed release and on the PlayStation Network.

Asian territories release[]


Dualshock 3 Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Edition Bundle Pack.

A limited edition Dualshock 3 featuring a Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII design was released on November 21, 2013. Additionally, a "Dualshock 3 Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Edition Bundle Pack" containing the said controller and the Chinese/Korean version of the game was also released.[47]


Microsoft Windows and Steam[]

LRFFXIII Steam Thumb

Square Enix announced at Tokyo Game Show 2014 that Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII would be coming to PCs via Steam.[48] The first two were released couple months after the announcement, but Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII still didn't have a release date. Square Enix tweeted in June that they were still working on the port.[49]

In November 2015 it was announced Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII would be coming to Steam on December 10. The game includes the various downloadable content schemata, apart from the Aerith set. On Christmas Eve 2015 the PC version of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was updated with 4K and offline support.[50]

System requirements[]

Minimum Recommended
OS Windows® XP SP2 or later Windows® Vista/ 7/ 8
Processor 2 GHz Dual Core CPU Intel® Core™ 2 Quad (2.66 GHz)/ AMD Phenom™ II X4 (2.8 GHz) processor
Memory 1500 MB RAM 2 GB RAM
Graphics NVIDIA® Geforce® 8800GT / ATI Radeon™ HD 4770 VRAM 512MB or later NVIDIA® Geforce® GTX™ 460/ ATI Radeon™ HD 5870
Hard Drive 22 GB available space 22 GB available space
Sound Card Sound card compatible with DirectX® 9.0c Sound card compatible with DirectX® 9.0c
DirectX Version 9.0c Version 9.0c
Additional notes
  • Steam Cloud needs to be active in order to start the game.
  • Maximum supported frame rate: 60fps
  • Graphic options.
  • A game controller using Xinput is recommended for this game. If using a DirectInput based controller, please use the driver side key configuration to adjust settings as required.

Steam trading cards[]

The Steam version comes with six trading cards to collect.

Sales and reception[]

Japanese magazine Famitsu gave the game 37 score with the four reviewers giving 10, 10, 8, 9 respectively.[51] When the first sales figures were published after the first week of the game being out, Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII had sold 277,082 physical copies for the PlayStation 3, making it the best-selling game of the week.[52]

Yoshinori Kitase has commented on the game's mixed reviews in the west by saying it was what he had anticipated, and argued the game might leave some with an initial negative impression, but if one plays it the whole way through, their mind might change. He went on to talk about how in a normal process of making numbered Final Fantasy games it takes two or three years, and is a long turnaround, but the Final Fantasy XIII games had been allowed a shorter than usual cycle as they were released in just under four years, allowing Square Enix to better keep up with changing tides.[53] Motomu Toriyama also commented on the mixed reviews. He stated that much of the negative comments about the game in Japan revolved around the time limit, and that opinions had softened with time.[38]

Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII achieved Number 3 at UK charts.[54]

Production credits[]


Producer Yoshinori Kitase
Director Motomu Toriyama
Main Programmer Naoki Hamaguchi
Art Director Isamu Kamikokuryo
Main Character Designer Tetsuya Nomura
Costume Designer Toshiyuki Itahana
Game Design Director Yuji Abe
Main Scenario Writer Daisuke Watanabe
Scenario Writers Hiroki Chiba, Kazuhiko Yajima, Akiko Ishibashi
Music Masashi Hamauzu, Naoshi Mizuta, Mitsuto Suzuki

Voice cast[]

Character Japanese English
Lightning Maaya Sakamoto Ali Hillis
Hope Estheim Yūki Kaji Vincent Martella
Lumina Kanae Itō Jessica DiCicco[55]
Snow Villiers Daisuke Ono Troy Baker
Serah Farron Minako Kotobuki Laura Bailey
Oerba Yun Fang Mabuki Andō Rachel Robinson
Oerba Dia Vanille Yukari Fukui Georgia van Cuylenburg
Noel Kreiss Daisuke Kishio Jason Marsden
Caius Ballad Hiroshi Shirokuma Liam O'Brien
Paddra Nsu-Yeul Mariya Ise Amber Hood
Mog Sumire Morohoshi Bailey Gambertoglio
Sazh Katzroy Masashi Ebara Reno Wilson
Dajh Katzroy Wataru Sekine Andre Robinson
Cid Raines Yūichi Nakamura Erik Davies
Chocolina Seiko Ueda Julie Nathanson
Bhunivelze Yūki Kaji Daniel Riordan
Additional Voices – English

Adam Bobrow, Adam J Smith, Alexa Kahn, Alicya Packard, Alistair Duncan, Amanda C Miller, Amanda Troop, Amelia Gotham, Andre Sogliuzzo, Andrew Bowen, Andrew Kishino, Anna Graves, April Hong, April Stewart, Ashley Bell, Ashley Russo, Audrey Wasilewski, Austin Highsmith, Barry Dennen, Barry Trachtenberg, Becky Boxer, Ben Carroll, Ben Diskin, Bill Holmes, Bob Joles, Brandon Keener, Brian Bloom, Brian George, Brian Kimmet, Brian T Stevenson, Brian T. Delaney, Bruce Thomas, Bryce Papenbrook, Cam Clarke, Cara Pifko, Carlos Ferro, Cat Taber, Charlie Adler, Chris Cox, Chris Edgerly, Chris Fries, Chris Parsons, Chris Smith, Christina Pucelli, Christine Lakin, Cindy Robinson, Colleen Foy, Colleen O'Shaughnessey, Courtenay Taylor, Cree Summer, Crispin Freeman, Dale Dickey, Daniel Bonjour, Daniella Jones, Danielle Judovitz, Daran Norris, Darcy Rose, Daren O'Hare, Dave B. Mitchell, Dave Boat, Dave Wittenberg, David Forseth, David Lodge, Debi Derryberry, Devan Leos, Dina Sherman, Edita Brychta, Elaine Torres, Eliza Jane Schneider, Elle Newlands, Eric Artell, Eric Bauza, Eric Loomis, Eric Lopez, Erica Luttrell, Erin Fitzgerald, Ethan Peck, Fred Tatasciore, Fryda Wolff, Georgie Kidder, Gideon Emery, Greg Berg, Greg Chun, Gregg Berger, Grey DeLisle, Haley Powell, Hayden Byerly, Hope Levy, James Horan, Jamie Alexander, Jason Frankovitz, Jason LaShea, Jason Spisak, Jay Preston, JB Blanc, Jeannie Elias, Jill Talley, Jim Connor, Jim Cummings, Jim Meskimen, Joe Smith, Joey D'Auria, Joey Gibson, John Bentley, John Mariano, Johnny Yong Bosch, Jon Curry, Jon Olson, Jorjeana Marie, Josh Keaton, Julia Mc Ilvaine, Julian Stone, Juliette Landau, Kaji Tang, Kamali Minter, Karen Strassman, Kari Wahlgren, Kate Higgins, Kate Miller, Katelin Petersen, Kath Soucie, Katy Townsend, Keith Ferguson, Keith Silverstein, Kelly Jean Badgely, Kelly Stables, Kevin Delaney, Kevin Noonchester, Keythe Farley, Kim Mai Guest, Kimberly Brooks, Kirk Thornton, Kyle Hebert, Kym Hoy, Lara Jill Miler, Laraine Newman, Larry Cedar, Laura Post, Leigh Allyn Baker, Lex Lang, Lori Rom, Lori Tritel, Maggie Baird, Marissa Holmes, Mark Silverman, Mary Lynn Wissner, Mary-Elizabeth McGlynn, Matt King, Matt Olsen, Maddie Taylor, Matthew Mercer, Mela Lee, Michael Bell, Michael Benyar, Michael Gough, Michael Yurchak, Michelle Ruff, Michelle Sargent, Michelle Specht, Misty Lee, Mona Marshall, Nan McNamara, Natalina Maggio, Neil Kaplan, Nick Jameson, Nickie Bryar, Nicolas Roye, Nolan North, Olivia Hack, Pamela Adlon, Pat Fraley, Pat Pinney, Patricia Ja Lee, Patrick Seitz, Paul Eiding, Paulette Ivory, Peter Beckman, Peter Jason, Peter Renaday, Phil Morris, Phil Proctor, Quinton Flynn, Rachel McFarland, Rebecca Davis, Rebecca Reidy, Reed Rudy, Richard Epcar, Robin A. Downes, Rochelle Greenwood, Roxanne Ortega, Roy Samuelson, Ryan Smith, Salli Saffioti, Sam Riegel, Shane Stevens, Shawna Wesley, Stacey Aswad, Stefan Marks, Stephanie Lemelin, Stephanie Panisello, Stephanie Riggio, Stevanie Sheh, Steve Blum, Steve Staley, Sylvia Aimerito, T.J. Storm, Tara Platt, Tara Sands, Terri Douglas, Tess Masters, Tessa Auberjonois, Tia Texada, Tim Russ, Tom Bromhed, Tom Kenny, Torry Thompson, Traci Lords, Travis Willingham, Vanessa Marshall, Vic Mignona, Wally Wingert, Wendee Lee, William Mapother, Yuri Lowenthal

Packaging artwork[]



Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII contains many allusions to the previous Final Fantasy XIII games as well as the Final Fantasy series as a whole, among other references.


  • The winner of Square Enix's "Final Fantasy Super Fan 2012" contest, Randis Albion, has his name credited in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.
  • The logo of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII initially appeared as an icon for the website of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster, as a placeholder, until an official icon was used.

See also[]

External links[]


  2. 2.0 2.1
  6. Important Notices 2016/03/23 08:25 from Lightning Returns: FINAL FANTASY XIII (Accessed: UnknownError: See this for how to archive.) at Square Enix Support
  9. Lightning Returns: FFXIII out now in Japan!
  12. Where Final Fantasy Went Wrong, and How Square Enix is Putting It Right (Accessed: UnknownError: See this for how to archive.) at US Gamer
  13. 13.0 13.1 Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII - Interview with Motomu Toriyama and Yoshinori Kitase
  15. Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Interview with Motomu Toriyama
  25. 25.0 25.1 Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII - Preview Part II The Developers Explain the Latest in the FFXIII saga
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII: How Snow And Other FFXIII Heroes Changed — Siliconera
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 Interview with Motomu Toriyama and Yuji Abe for German gaming site Spieletester
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Devs Answer Your Questions — IGN
  30. 30.0 30.1
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 Final Fantasy XIII Concept Art Revealed and Analysed by Devs —
  37. (2013-12-19) Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Ultimania (in Japanese), 736–737, Tokyo: Studio Bentstuff.Invalid citation format.
  38. 38.0 38.1
  39. (2013-12-19) Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Ultimania (in Japanese), 742–743, Tokyo: Studio Bentstuff.Invalid citation format.
  42. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Collector’s Edition Revealed — PlayStation.Blog
  43. DualShock 3 Wireless Controller - GameStop Exclusive Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII — GameStop
  44. 44.0 44.1
  53. Square Enix producer Kitase on Lightning Returns reviews, HD remasters, and that FF7 tech demo —
  55. Jessica DiCicco's official Twitter update