• Eyeson Visits Square-Enix and Plays Final Fantasy XIII-2

    Back on October 21, Eyes on Final Fantasy got to visit Square Enix at their North America offices for a Final Fantasy XIII-2 fan event. We (ShlupQuack and myself) hung out with their PR team, got to play a 3-hour demo of FFXIII-2 (which was basically the first three hours of the game), and even met FFXIII and FFXIII-2 producer Yoshinori Kitase and art director Isamu Kamikokuryo. It was loads of fun!

    After taking diligent notes through three hours of gameplay and a Q&A session with Kitase-san and Kamikokuryo-san, we've got quite a list of Final Fantasy Facts to get you all warm and ready to once again save the citizens of Gran Pulse. The Story section will give you a quick run down of what happens from the prologue through the end of chapter two, but the other sections are spoiler free (they are in spoiler tags for organizational purposes). Enjoy!

    General Gameplay
    • There is a jump button! Feel free to jump around freely like I did!
    • Square Enix is making a real effort to step up the interactivity in this game, as evidenced by the frequency of "Cinematic Actions." Basically, a cut scene will often have a "LIVE" icon in the upper left-hand corner, which indicates that you need to keep your fingers on the buttons.
    • Sometimes you have more than one choice of action when a Cinematic Action appears.
    • Based on my limited experimentation, Cinematic Actions seem to affect what animation plays, and whether HP is lost (in the case of battles), but do not affect the outcome of the scene.
    • Cinematic Actions can happen in the middle of a battle.
    • Interaction with NPCs and in other cutscenes uses the "Live Action" dialogue choice system. Think games like Mass Effect. You can choose how to respond to a situation and that may change how other characters respond.
    • At the end of a scene you may see this giant cube thing that can reward you with items depending on your choices in the "Live Action" dialogues.
    • One of your main goals throughout the game is to collect objects that are not in the time period they're supposed to be, referred to as "Artefacts". These are essentially keys to the "gates" (to the Historia Crux).
    • There are three types of gates: 1) Ones that "shine like the sun" require a special Artefact; 2) crystal gates use "Wild Artefacts", which are consumed during use; 3) scorched gates, which I am unclear on.
    • No need for save points, you can save anywhere.
    • I doubt this will be popular among people who are used to going through the agony of traveling from village to village in an effort to figure out where that stupid 32-bit dwarf meant for you to go, but there's a ! on the screen that'll lead you to your goal (similar to FFXIII). This, I think, is especially useful for people who'll spend fourteen hours doing side-quests and completely forget what they were supposed to be doing to, like, actually save the world.
    • Mog can help you find hidden items by using his moogle powers.

    Battle Mechanics
    • Battle system is the same as FFXIII: ATB gauge fills in segments, you select commands to fill the segments (or Auto-Battle) and then execute.
    • You only control the actions of the leader, and the other characters are controlled by AI.
    • Stagger gauge remains the same.
    • Roles remain the same: COM, RAV, SEN, SYN, SAB, MED. Serah and Noel both start off with the COM, RAV, and SEN roles (Serah as a SEN is just...odd).
    • Paradigm shift is also the same.
    • Initiating battle is somewhat different. Enemies still appear on the map, but when you come within range it starts a feature called the "Mog Clock". A clock appears on screen, and you have a set amount of time to engage the enemy to get a preemptive strike. If the clock is in green you get a preemptive (stagger filled), yellow is a normal battle, and red is enemy advantage.
    • I had some trouble getting into battles. Sometimes I would be right on an enemy and battle wouldn't start. I hope they fix this.
    • You can also run out of range before the enemy touches you to avoid battles (which was pretty easy since I did it frequently).
    • After battle you still get rated on stars and that affects drop rates.
    • You also get CP and gil after battles.
    • "Cinematic Action" events (QTEs) appear to happen only in boss fights or cutscenes and appear to come out of nowhere (but keep you on your toes).
    • You are able to change leader during battle and if the leader dies it passes on to another character. (adding this was my minimum requirement to play this game so I'm glad they did)

    • Each character has their own Crystarium board which is more or less shaped in a loop.
    • A single board is used for all that character's roles.
    • At each node, you spend CP to level up one of your roles.
    • The amount of CP needed to reach the next node increases regardless of what your levels are.
    • For example, say your levels are COM 4, RAV 4, and SEN 1. The next node costs 150 CP. You can spend the CP to level COM to 5, RAV to 5, or SEN to 2. You choose RAV to 5. The next node now costs 170 CP, where you can level up COM to 5, RAV to 6, or SEN to 2.
    • This means it will cost a lot more for you to catch up on a role you didn't level early on, however this does allow you to specialize in another role quicker.
    • As you level up at a node, you gain HP, Attack, and Magic power. The role you chose for that node will determine which stats and the amount of increase.
    • There are larger nodes that will give you a bonus to your stats. So leveling COM at that node will give you a bonus to Attack, etc.
    • You gain abilities at set levels for each role. For example, getting Blizzard at level 6 RAV (I just made that up for the example). On the Crystarium screen it shows you what level for each role you will learn a new ability, and if you highlight a role it will show you which node you will learn it if you choose to level only that job.
    • After you complete a loop in your Crystarium you can select a bonus. The bonuses I had access to were: unlock a new role (SAB OR SYN), increase your ATB gauge, increase accessory limit, "power up" an existing role (such as chain bonus on RAV, defense on SEN, etc.).

    Monster Characters
    • After battles monsters can join your party, and it appears to be random.
    • Game producer Yoshinori Kitase mentioned that over 150 monsters will be available to join your party. If you want to catch 'em all, though, you'll have to get some of them as downloadable content (DLC) via PSN or XBox Live. (Omega has been announced as a preorder bonus.)
    • Each monster comes with a single role (COM, RAV, MED, etc.).
    • Monsters will fill the third party slot. I never experienced anything different (as in other human characters joining you).
    • You can have three monsters in the main party at one time. These monsters can be set to paradigms in the third slot.
    • You can switch monsters during battle by shifting paradigms.
    • Each monster has its own Crystarium-type board.
    • Instead of using CP, they consume items to level up and each node requires a set amount of items (which increases as you level).
    • Level-up items are drops in battle.
    • Different monsters will require different item types.
    • Using rarer items to level up your monsters will increase the stat bonuses they get at each node.
    • Not sure if you get a bonus for a monster after completing a "loop" because I didn't get that far.
    • Monsters have something called a "feral gauge" that builds over time in battle. Once it fills they can activate their Feral Link, which triggers a cinematic specific to that monster. Where the "link" part of that comes in is that the cinematic is interactive, and your button accuracy determines the effectiveness of the attack. I believe you can also change these abilities but I never got that far with it.
    • There appears to be something called "monster adornments" that I think lets you customize the look of your monsters. Didn't really play with it.
    • You can rename your little monster buddies.

    • Equipment slots appear to be the same as FFXIII, weapon and various accessories.
    • Accessories appear to be more or less the same ones as FFXIII, at least in the beginning.
    • A roaming shopkeeper named "Chocolina" (energetic lady in a skimpy chocobo costume) sells items in the game. She says she appears across all places and time periods, and I encountered her multiple times, so it looks like shops will be treated the same way as in FFXIII, except you buy them from this slut rather than at a terminal.
    • No info on any item upgrade system, but since item drops are used to level your monsters it may not appear.
    • I was able to buy upgraded weapons from Chocolina, so maybe this works more like a traditional equipment system where you buy new equipment and sell the old.
    • Accessories have a "point limit" that works like a weight limit. Each accessory has a point value and the sum of all your worn accessory point values must be less than or equal to the character's weight limit. Weight limit can be increased in the Crystarium.

    Historia Crux
    • The Historia Crux is an interface that allows the player to travel to many different eras in the game.
    • The whole thing is pretty big, so it looks like there will be a lot of places to go.
    • You can chose to return to the Historia Crux at any time, and progress in the current era will be saved for when you return (literally exactly where you were).
    • When you fix an anomaly in time, you get something called "fragments". There are 160 fragments total. These appear to be collectibles of some sort and may have some function later.
    • Within a time period you must find other gates that get you to other time periods (similar to Chrono Trigger I think).
    • Certain conditions must be met to unlock a gate.
    • Some involve the "time labyrinth" mini-game puzzle. In this puzzle you must walk through a grid, collect crystals, and reach the exit. As you walk over tiles they disappear so you have to plot your path carefully.
    • There are other puzzles but we didn't get that far.

    Prologue - Valhalla
    • Begins with Lightning at the shrine of Etro in an unkown land (later revealed to be Valhalla).
    • Lightning is attacked by Caius (evil dude from the trailers).
    • Battle: Lightning (on Odin) vs. Bahamut.
    • Lightning meets Noel who comes from the sky.
    • Second battle: Lighting vs. Bahamut.
    • After the battle, Lightning sends Noel to find Serah.
    • Apparently, Noel is special because he was able to "find" Valhalla and that quality is what allows him to time travel.

    Episode 1 - Gran Pulse
    • Takes place 3 years after the end of FFXIII.
    • Setting is a small coastal town on Grand Pulse, Serah and NORA are there.
    • Only Serah seems to remember that moment after Cocoon was saved where she told Lightning she wanted to marry Snow. Everyone else tells her she imagined it, assuming that Lightning became a part of the pillar with Vanille and Fang.
    • Snow and Serah are not married yet because they can't do it without Lightning being there.
    • Snow left a little while ago to go look for Lightning.
    • The town is attacked by strange bug things.
    • Noel shows up, gives Serah a weapon (which is really Mog) and they join the battles.
    • After the battle, Noel tells Serah that he met Lightning and can take her to her.
    • Various arguments with the NORA people who say she shouldn't go off with a random stranger.
    • PLOT TWIST! She goes anyway.
    • Noel reveals that he is from 700 years in the future and he was the last person alive in his time.
    • There are things called "Artefacts" that allow people to go through time. Noel and Serah search the town for an Artefact.
    • After a very boring search involving kids and cats they find the Artefact at some giant obtuse meteor thing north of town (uh, duh?).
    • I want to point out that around this point I saw Amanda die because she doesn't know how to use Paradigm shift correctly--loser! [Editor's Note: It was on purpose! For research!]
    • In the background you see Cocoon held up by crystals, but then it is gone. I think this has to do with the strange memory issue where only Serah remembers stuff.
    • Noel reveals Serah can open gates, because she's the "chosen one" (of course).

    Episode 2 - Bresha Ruins
    • They end up at the Bresha Ruins on Cocoon 2 years later.
    • Serah and Noel fight the giant hand thing from the trailers (Atlas).
    • Afterwards they are arrested because they are not supposed to be there.
    • One of the people at the facility (think her name is Alyssa) makes up a story that she knows Serah and gets them released.
    • She then reveals she made it all up so that they can help her take down Atlas.
    • Serah and Noel track down an item that could help disable Atlas.
    • At this point you can start recruiting monsters in you party.
    • Mog can talk!
    • The team finds the device to weaken Atlas, then they go fight him again.
    • After they beat him, they travel to an era that Noel says looks more like his world.
    • That's as far as I got!

    • The title screen and Datalog offer up a Beginner's Primer, which offers a video review of the prologue and each of the thirteen chapters of FFXIII narrated very Brithishly.
    • The Datalog remains for all your exposition needs.
    • Though I was playing the game on an LCD monitor instead of a big screen CRT old enough to buy its own beer, I thought the fonts looked bigger and bolder. This is good for we third-world orphans who don't have HDTVs--when playing FFXIII, I had no idea exactly how many hit points I had throughout the entire game. I feel my XBox should show an achievement for that. (That was from Amanda, I can afford a big boy TV)
    • A few of us at the event felt that the graphics were not as stunning as they were for FFXIII.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Eyeson Visits Square-Enix and Plays Final Fantasy XIII-2 started by Del Murder View original post
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