“The Final Fantasy series has some of the most devoted fans of any gaming franchise. Whether it’s cosplayers dressing as their favourite characters or die-hards who collect every piece of merchandise going, people care about Final Fantasy. It’s no surprise considering the love and emotion the development teams have poured into the games since the original Final Fantasy launched almost 25 years ago.
Fans are already juggling their Moogles in excitement over the prospect of the latest in the series, Final Fantasy XIII-2, so IGN spoke with director Motomu Toriyama to find out how the sequel is going to improve on the original in every way.
IGN: FFXIII-2 returns to the more open environment of Gran Pulse. Is that a way of addressing fan complaints about the linearity of FFXIII?
Motomu Toriyama: The development team are taking all the points of criticism levelled against the previous title very seriously and in FFXIII-2 we are aiming to respond as far as possible to what the players have told us. With regards to the expansive nature of the world map, we have not created it as a completely open-world style game but the gameplay will certainly not be linear this time round. We have changed the overall game design so that it allows the player to enjoy the freedom of searching and exploring the world, while still maintaining all the good points of the previous game’s story driven play style.
Motomu Toriyama: One of the big concepts we are trying to implement this time round is making the gameplay and action very much player driven. To that end, the player will be able to interject with actions of their own in all the different scenes of the game. Cinematic actions are one aspect of this and have made it so that the player can get a stronger feeling of control and achievement, even in the visual effect scenes in battle that were previously just passive sequences. We are essentially aiming to increase the player’s attachment to the character and the feeling that they are part of the action and not just watching.
IGN: Will the Monster Hunts from FFXIII be making a return in this sequel?
Motomu Toriyama: We have altered the overall design philosophy so that the player can enjoy monster hunting missions in Gran Pulse like the ones in the original from the very start of the game. The player will be able to experience many exciting missions and mini games in parallel to the main story scenario.
IGN: What’s the thinking behind re-introducing random encounters in FFXIII-2 as opposed to the free-roaming enemies in XIII?
Motomu Toriyama: In the original the monsters were placed in the field for players to see and this led to a style of play that was very clinical and strategic, with the player being able to make preparations for every battle and calmly deal with things in order. We changed the lead up into battle for FFXIII-2 to make it so that the player will have a feeling of tension and anticipation from never knowing when an enemy might jump out and attack, and to emphasise a more active play style where the player will proactively move to attack enemies once they are discovered. Even though these are classic random encounters they are done using new visuals that are only possible on an HD console. There are also monsters that will appear in the field as well so you can think of these developments as having improved this area overall from the original.
IGN: Last year, it was said that enough art assets were cut from FFXIII to make an entire game. Is that the reason behind such a direct follow-up, or more a desire to explore the game world and the character of Lightning?
Motomu Toriyama: The art that we did not use in the original title were mainly world building resources and concept pieces as well as art that was rejected for not being up to standard and these pieces do not appear in FFXIII-2 at all. One of the largest reasons that we decided to make a sequel was very much the second thing that you mention – that we wanted to delve deeper into the characters of Lightning and her comrades and the world that we had built up in the original game and continue the story on to new levels. Another big point was that we also wanted to make a game that could fix the points that were criticised in the original and respond to players desires.”