Game publisher Square Enix has recently announced that its best-selling award-winning role-playing game sequel Final Fantasy XIII-2 will be released on January 31, 2012 in North America and February 3 in Europe, for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms. The theme song has been revealed during a Japanese broadcast. Filipina singer Charice will sing the English version of the song, titled "New World", while Mai Fukui will sing the Japanese version, titled "Yakusoku no Basho".
As in Final Fantasy XIII, the game will use a variation of the Active Time Battle (ATB) system and the Paradigm Shift system. The system will address issues with those used in the previous game. There will also be a feature that allows the player to control the difficulty of battles. During battles, players will be put through quick time events called "Cinematic Action" which will allow them to deal higher damage to foes and gain the upper hand in certain battles. The player can tame monsters and use them as party members in battles. This also leads to a new "Feral Link" feature being in the game; as the player attacks an enemy while a tamed monster is in their party, the Feral Link bar fills up and when it is full the player can make their current tamed monster do a special attack on the enemy via a quick time event.
Monsters no longer roam the map like in Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy XIII, they instead randomly appear on the field when the player gets close. Just as the monsters appear on screen, a dial clock called "Mog Clock" appears in the middle of the bottom half of the screen and a red ring surrounds the player’s character with a radius of about 3 meters. The introduction of this Mog Clock feature grants the player various bonuses (or penalties) depending on the time it takes them to enter a battle with the enemy.
The player will be presented with a series of "dialogue trees" when talking to non-player characters (NPCs). These choices offer the player different things to say at certain story scenes and to different NPCs. The game will feature multiple endings but these are not affected by the decisions made by Live Trigger. The director Motomu Toriyama has stated that the Live Trigger system is in place "more for enjoying conversation rather than for the branching story" and that the multiple endings will be affected by a different system. The introduction of the Live Trigger system is simply for allowing the player to have unique things to say during story scenes and conversations with NPCs. The dialogue selections will also change each time the game is played.
Players will be presented with a puzzle-like problem in a void between dimensions. When they completely solve the current anomaly session, they will be able to resolve a paradox happening in the real world. The Crux system allows players to jump through various gates throughout XIII-2. Players will see a drastic change, based on their choices. This would also go towards the multiple endings of the game.
The world of Gran Pulse in Final Fantasy XIII returns in Final Fantasy XIII-2. As seen in the E3 demo, players will be able to return to Cocoon, and revisit old areas that have changed in appearance like Lake Bresha, now called the Bresha Ruins. A re-created version of the city of Bodhum had been made on Pulse, known as New Bodhum. Many of the civilians from Bodhum now live here. The Yaschas Massif on Pulse reappears with its ruins now inhabited by Cocoon soldiers and scientists like the Bresha Ruins. Valhalla, otherwise known as "the invisible world" will also be a playable area.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 has two new main playable characters: Serah Farron, Lightning’s younger sister, and Noel Kreiss, a mysterious young time traveler from the future who uses dual combinable swords. He is the last surviving human from a time in the future, and he seeks to change that fate.
Serah appeared as an NPC in XIII and is given a much larger role in this game as she goes on a journey with Noel and a Moogle companion named Mog to find her sister. Other characters include Caius, a mysterious purple-haired man in dark purple and black clothes who is the game’s antagonist who was shown at end of the game’s first teaser trailer fighting Lightning, his companion Paddra-N’su Yeul, a Pulsian seer referenced in Final Fantasy XIII, and Alyssa, a girl with short blonde hair in yellow and red clothes who works as part of a research team alongside the reformed PSICOM. In addition, at least three of the six main playable characters from Final Fantasy XIII will make appearances in Final Fantasy XIII-2: Lightning, the primary protagonist, will make brief playable appearances, Snow Villiers, Hope Estheim and NORA will also make appearances.
The story follows from the -Episode i- novel which was released with the international version of Final Fantasy XIII. Final Fantasy XIII-2 begins three years after the events of Final Fantasy XIII, with some survivors rebuilding on Gran Pulse. Lightning is nowhere to be found and thought dead by many, but her younger sister Serah thinks she is not. When New Bodhum is overrun by monsters, Noel appears to save her. Together, the two set off to find out what has happened to Lightning.
Unlike Final Fantasy X-2, which had a more cheerful and humorous feel than Final Fantasy X, the overall tone of the story of Final Fantasy XIII-2 will be darker and more mysterious than the original. Director Motomu Toriyama said that considering Vanille and Fang are gone and the world is in a state where Cocoon had fallen, there’s no way for the new story to be totally peaceful. Yoshinori Kitase, the producer, has said the story will have the serious feel of a true numbered entry in the Final Fantasy series.
The actual story will delve deeper into the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology and this time focus on the goddess Etro. The personality of Lightning will be the same as it was in the original game and not experience a change like Yuna had in Final Fantasy X-2. The game’s story will continue to value the refined and noble qualities of Lightning’s personality. Other characters will also appear in the game, but in new and unexpected forms, and some of these returning characters will see major changes to their personalities. The game will also have a number of new characters, in addition to the mysterious man, Kaias, shown in the teaser trailer. Kaias is in direct conflict with Lightning and equal to her in strength. Lightning has a new mission this time, and as she attempts to fulfill this mission, she’ll end up in a confrontation with this mystery man. He is confirmed to have an unknown relationship with Lightning as her "fated rival," and a connection to Noel as well. The original game ended with a lingering question: "Is Lightning really happy?" The conclusion of the story in Final Fantasy XIII-2 will provide a clear answer to this question.