News / Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII

Lightning Returns Q&A With Kitase, Toriyama

Lightning Returns Q&A With Kitase, Toriyama

Written by Spencer — 27 Jan 2013

At the recent Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII preview event we were able to sit down with Yoshinori Kitase and Motomu Toriyama.

Kitase started things off by talking about his vision for Lightning Returns. This started by talking about how Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2 shipped 9.7 million copies worldwide.

These will make up almost 10 percent of the 100 million Final Fantasy games sold over the past 25 years. He noted that the main reason for this success in regard to Final Fantasy XIII is mainly from Lightning's popularity.

When the Final Fantasy XIII released, it focused on being "story driven". However, after fan feedback the development team changed the focus for Final Fantasy XIII-2 to being "player driven". Lightning Returns will now be a new experience and is "world driven". Feedback played a big factor in the Lightning saga and ultimately led to Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII instead of something like Final Fantasy XIII-3.

Toriyama then took a minute to talk about the main additional features in Lightning Returns. He brought up the idea of being completely world driven again, action oriented battles, customization for Lightning, and a wide variety of quests. It really showed off how well the combination between the team vision and player feedback helped bring a truly different experience in the Lightning Saga.

This event also ended with the two of them answering questions in an open forum. All of these answers are from the translator who was at the event and summed up both of their answers for each question.

Q: What was the original vision for the Final Fantasy XIII series?

Kitase: Final Fantasy XIII had a sense of speed for the story to the gameplay. With the two expanding over time. Changing from linear gameplay to more open with XIII-2 and Lightning Returns leading to a more concise game.

Q:What inspired the new clock based system?

Toriyama: The primary inspiration comes from the doomsday clock idea. This has players make important decisions before time runs out for Lightning.

Q: How freely will players be able to explore the overworld?

Kitase: After a tutorial, the world opens up completely to the player and experience new events during different times of the day.

Q: What is the key experience you want players to have after playing Lightning Returns?

Toriyama: There will be a happy ending for Lightning and go over well with players who put the time into it.

Q: How will fans be drawn back to the series with Lightning Returns?

Toriyama: There is always a risk with multi-series installments. Lightning Returns can be played by starting player, but still have a new feeling to it.

Q: After the split reception by fans, why stick with XIII games?

Kitase: Lightning was an attractive character to the development team and there were many plans to expand her story before work began on XIII-2. Every main series entry takes a lot of time to plan, XIII was a rare case of applying feedback into sequels quickly.

Q: How did the DLC from XIII-2 affect any hope for Lightning Returns DLC?

Kitase: The feedback on the DLC really showed us that fans wanted to make cosmetic changes such as costumes actually have an effect on your character. This lead to the deep customization levels added to Lightning Returns.

Q: What was your opinion on the fan reception to the DLC in XIII-2?

Kitase: Outside of the outfits DLC, fans didn't buy the others as much compared to costumes. Costumes like the black and white mage were quite popular with fans. Also not ending the story with the episodes really disappointed players.

Q: Outfits in Lightning Returns look a lot like the old Final Fantasy class systems. Were they an inspiration for this?

Toriyama: I never really thought about that before, but this now offers more freedom than older job systems. Now the player can make Lightning play the way they want to.

Thanks again to Yoshinori Kitase and Motomu Toriyama for answering all of our different questions. These questions were also asked by the following sites at the event:,,,, and of course Final Fantasy Union.

*Disclaimer Square Enix paid for flight and hotel in full for this event*

Spencer is something of a veteran around these parts, as a previous podcast host. He has a desperate love for Persona, but that just makes his love for Final Fantasy grow even stronger! You can follow his confused JRPG ramblings on Twitter.