lightning returns final fantasy xiii banner Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII    Styles take the place of Paradigms, costume colours can be changed

In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, you do not have Paradigms to shift into. Instead, you create various “Styles” that you switch during combat, each style comprising of a weapon, a shield, accessories and abilities you set beforehand, according to the latest issue of Famitsu magazine.

These abilities do not include just commands that you can take during combat with the press of a button, but also actions that you can take on the field, apparently.

The new combat system, with Styles and everything you saw in the recent LR:FF13 trailers, does not yet have an official name, but is tentatively called “Amazing ATB (temporary name)”. Apparently it’s called that because the new combat system is basically derived from the classic Active Time Battle system, except now you take direct control of your character in terms of movement and pressing buttons for commands.

With this new system, Square Enix says that even though you’re only controlling one character, in terms of the play experience, it actually feels as if you’re fighting with multiple characters simultaneously (or at least, that’s how they’re spinning it).

You’ll be able to finely tune Lighning’s abilities and performance to accomodate your play style; but it’s not the only thing you’ll have quite a lot of control over.

Lightning’s appearance can also be customised fairly extensively. Specifically, even though in the recent trailers you saw Lightning running around in a sexy stealth suit (designed by Tetsuya Nomura, according to the article), you will be able to change costumes throughout the game, as well as change costume colours.

In Famitsu’s story there are also some additional details on the world-driven nature of the game. Like what Square Enix has discussed before, in this title time is ever-flowing, and the locations of non-playable characters will change all the time.

Of course, it wouldn’t be quite fair if you’re busy spending time thinking through your Style sets, and as a result, waste one of the 13 days (said to be approximately two hours of real-world time) in the game.

So the flow of time will stop while the game menu is open when you’re on the field.

When we say “field”, we actually mean, “pretty much anywhere in the game”. Unlike traditional Final Fantasy games, monsters can appear even in towns and cities.

But for a real challenge, you’d ideally want to be at certain locations at a certain time, where a black haze known as the “Cie” will appear, which is the game’s way of indicating to you that an area is monster territory. And you’ll want to seek out the toughest monsters, because defeating monsters (any monster) provide you with items that you can use to strengthen your equipment, as well as points that can affect the flow of time (extending it).

Although in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII you’ll battle a lot of the monsters you’ve seen in previous games, Square Enix claims that about half of the monsters in this new title are designed from scratch.

They’re also stressing that, unlike Final Fantasy XIII-2, this time around the story will be complete within the confines of what’s on the game retail package, meaning you won’t have to buy DLC to see the end of the story (which is kinda what you had to do in Final Fantasy XIII-2, if you want to understand the significance of a particular scene they show you in the ending, where Lighning is found in crystallised form).

Square Enix is also promising that fans of characters from the previous FF13 games will be happy with those characters’ stories in this new title, that loose ends will be tied up.

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is slated to be released sometime in 2013.