Square Enix has confirmed that Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will go live in 2013.
The latest iteration of the popular franchise features a brand-new story, world and characters, as well as an enhanced gameplay system. Final Fantasy XIII also stars Lightning as a solo playable character - allowing her to freely roam the new world.
Although additional Lightning details are understandably scarce, IGN has confirmed that the main story takes place hundreds of years after Final Fantasy XIII-2, set in a world called Novus Partus - which is composed of four islands connected by monorail in "gothic, mechanical and fantasy” style.
Perhaps the most interesting change to Lightning Returns is the prominently displayed doomsday countdown, with the world set to end after only 13 days. In addition, any action a player takes, such as riding the monorail from place to place, will influence the countdown.
Interestingly, Lightning is apparently the only playable character, allowing "unparalleled control" over the customization of her looks and combat style. Meanwhile, the battle system has been significantly modded, boasting elements such as direct control of Lightning's movement and attacks, along with a real-time block system and time-based moves designed to accurately drain the doomsday counter.
As expected, Lightning Returns will be the final chapter of Lightning’s saga, which kicked off in Final Fantasy XIII way back in 2010.
In related news, Square Enix is also rolling out a 35,000 yen ($445) Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Ultimate Box on December 18, exactly twenty-five years after the original Final Fantasy went on sale in Japan.
The Ultimate Box includes the first thirteen numbered Final Fantasy games, with Final Fantasy I, II, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, and IX for the PlayStation, X, XI, and XII for the PlayStation 2, XIII for the PlayStation 3 and Final Fantasy III on a PlayStation Portable UMD.
The box is also loaded with a number of limited edition extras, such as a a free item download code for Final Fantasy XIV, a two-disc selection of music from the games and a collection of artwork by acclaimed FF artist Yoshitaka Amano.