Final Fantasy XIII-2 Q&A: Yoshinori Kitase and Motomu Toriyama

We initiate active time battle with Yoshinori Kitase and Motomu Toriyama, the project leads responsible for Final Fantasy XIII-2.

With the success of Final Fantasy XIII, a sequel to the game was all but expected. While we managed to get a hands-on preview of the game last week that showcased a lot of the game's new features, we also snagged a chat with series producer Yoshinori Kitase and director Motomu Toriyama about the upcoming follow-up to the role-playing game hit.

GameSpot Asia: What will the story's theme be like this time around, considering that most sequels to mainstay Final Fantasy titles tend to be lighthearted like FFX-2?

Motomu Toriyama: The storyline of FFXIII had a serious tone. We're going for that kind of direction for the sequel, perhaps even darker and more mysterious.

Players will take on the role of "cool monster hunter" Noel in the sequel.

GSA: How about the prequel's past linear structure? Will that be expanded for the sequel?

MT: XIII-2 is more options and decision driven, to the point where these actions will have in-game consequences. The game will have multiple endings depending on the choices you make along the way. We will elaborate more on this in TGS.

GSA: How many elements of Western role-playing games have been infused in this installment?

Yoshinori Kitase: We originally didn't intend to take inspirations from Western-made RPGs. Those RPGs are really open ended, but for FFXIII-2's case, we wanted to add in a little more freedom and exploration options. We didn't do this consciously, but we're trying to add in more options after hearing feedback from FFXIII players.

MT:One of the negative comments we got was about the lack of towns and cities to visit. Gamers can now interact in these areas for this sequel, have a conversation with a soldier wandering around the city, or even buy items from shops the traditional method. The moogle that Serah uses during combat will also be part of a search and exploration system we'll talk about later. We've even decided to revamp the save system to be much simpler via auto save, like how most Western games handle save data.

GSA: Concerning the game's battle system, what was the reason behind adding in more inputs and monster raising for cinematic attacks?

MT: The paradigm system has not changed and is still the pillar of Final Fantasy XIII, but we decided to add in a cinematic flair during "in-between" parts of battle as a way for players to get more involved. We wanted to add in a monster-character dynamic and progression for part two just to showcase the kind of variety players can have in their new party. There will be offensive and defensive monsters that come in different shapes and sizes, and they will be placed on the different types of paradigm shifts a player has.

YK: Players can also customize a monster's statistical parameters via leveling up and even equip them with accessories to further boost their powers. While monsters can be shifted out from current paradigm shifts, Serah and Noel will remain consistent party members. We also thought that the new mog clock encounter system and cinematic action will make battles shorter and keep the pace of the game flowing well. As a bonus, the in-game weather will also affect some battles.

Not a fan of numbers? Too bad, because FF XIII-2 has oodles of them flying around.

GSA: Why focus on Serah this time around?

MT: We figured that it would be fun to turn around the driving force of FFXIII. Since Lightning has to cure Serah's crystal condition in the first game, we decided to have the younger sister take center stage. Lightning is still important in the story, as well as still being powerful (as evident with our closed-door surprise), but players will now have Serah as the main character to control and nurture.

GSA: What about Noel?

MT: We can't share too much about this new character, but he's a strong and determined character who is a "fish out of water" when it comes to Cocoon and Gran Pulse. We wanted to make a game where players who didn't quite follow FFXIII's story could get into the fresh perspective of a new character. A "cool monster hunter" type of character.

GSA: How about other mainstay characters in FFXIII?

MT: All of the main characters from the first game will make an appearance. We just can't give you specifics yet.

GSA: Who will be doing the soundtrack for the game?

MT: The main composer for FFXIII, Masashi Hamauzi, will make his return in part two. We currently don't have any information on the other artists yet, but we are going to take memorable themes of FFXIII and have a different composer from our stable take a different spin on it. Perhaps, we'll tell more at TGS.

GSA: How about the game's length, both for gameplay and cutscenes?

MT: We can't gauge how many hours the cinematics and gameplay portions will amount to, but we can tell you that a single play-through of the game will take players 40-plus hours. That's about the same as FFXIII, and that's not even factoring the multiple endings into account.

GSA: Will there be a "New Game +" option?

MT: We have something even better than that, but you'll have to be patient until we reveal other details.

GSA: How about the game's engine? Is it the same as Final Fantasy XIII?

The denizens of Gran Pulse get to stare at a crystal globe-thing instead of a sun.

YK: The first game used the Crystal Tools engine that's not only open ended from the development side but also makes it possible to be on multiple consoles without much compromise. While FFXIII was initially for the PS3, we had the opportunity to make the game on the Xbox 360 too during development.

For FF XIII-2, we decided to stick to this engine so that we can be clear from the beginning that the sequel will be developed for both consoles without any hassle and console bias whatsoever.

GSA: When will the game be out in Japan?

YK: FF XIII-2 will be out in Japan in December this year. The game will be out in Europe early next year.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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120 comments
romans1001
romans1001

Serah as the main character? I dunno lightning was so awesome though. The raising monster thing could be a hit or miss at least they are listening to feedback. Im not sure if im going to buy this game or not. Mixed thoughts on it even with a special new game+.

chaos-thundage
chaos-thundage

Serah?main character? please don't be stupid lightning was much enough now Serah is join too. lightning is much more better as the main character. if someone should be the main character it should be lightning or Noel not serah please change it to lightning or Noel

MamoruNoHakkyou
MamoruNoHakkyou

Maybe instead of new game + (or instead of just that) they will have some sort of save file transfer to unlock this, that or the other thing if you have a FF XIII save on your console as well as other NG+like options

newbie4lyfe
newbie4lyfe

they should get Yuji Horii working on the final fantsy series too

MuffintopX
MuffintopX

@Byaku524 I am curious what is better than new game+ myself. They must have something in mind to make it worth replaying for the multiple endings besides the standard + routine.

MuffintopX
MuffintopX

Good to see they care about feedback and are making an effort to give players exactly what they have been asking for. I enjoyed 13, but was on the fence if 13-2 was more of the same. Now it looks like I'll have no doubts about picking this one up and continuing the story.

SUPERGOD17
SUPERGOD17

I know this game going to be good and the story line too. Later on they should start finishing FF vs XIII and the other FFVII remake its going to be a blast

chaos-thundage
chaos-thundage

what does that mean I don't wanna play with serah I want lightning what about snow where the hell is he is serah broke up with him(if she did i will not buy FF XIII_2)

Zahxia
Zahxia

I want Valkyrie Lightning!

Byaku524
Byaku524

What's better than New Game+? At least multiple endings add some replay value to it.

jay112k3
jay112k3

sounds pretty good other than the auto-save :- /

clever-cookies
clever-cookies

Honestly, I'm looking forward to this. It looks like it'll be like the "gran pulse" section of XIII, easily the most enjoyable part of the prior game.

pedromr0000
pedromr0000

Aaah, c'mon, square enix! Scrap it and give me a good FFVI remake with FFXIII engine!

trivolution
trivolution

At least its next year for us, we still have CALL OF DUTY MODERN WARFARE 3, UNCHARTED 3, Battlefield 3 etc. this year. Must save money for all of this.

Double_Wide
Double_Wide

The monster raising sounds like a good spin on things but I'm still disappointed about them keeping the elementary "paradigm system". Also, I hope that their will be more permanent characters in our parties than just Serah and Noel.

servb0ts
servb0ts

Why is this written on 360 board? when PS3 Board moreAlive an active lol :P

soopaaaa
soopaaaa

Serah as the main character = Disappointment

Patty_G_Zus
Patty_G_Zus

it feels like I'm playing game made for Japanese schoolgirls, word

slainta
slainta

I don't know. I have a feeling of "been there, done that" already. I'll buy it when it comes out, sure. But... where the f. is FF vs XIII? That's what I wanna really see!!

frozengrudge
frozengrudge

I HATE SQUARE ENIX FOR NOT MAKING A SEQUEL to CHRONO CROSS.

Ratchet251
Ratchet251

Personally i feel like FFXIII is greatly underrated but i know people have different tastes. SE never dissapoints me so im amped for anything they throw at me!

00Killaz00
00Killaz00

I loved FFXIII but this will f***ing rock my socks... off...

LoveAlwaysErin
LoveAlwaysErin

@ irishdude199210 , not dead, in crystal stasis, and I'm sure they will appear in memory or in conversation. In episode zero, after cocoon fell, Lightning was trying to figure out how to save them, and that is when she disappeared, so I'm sure her desire to save them will play some role in this game.

irishdude199210
irishdude199210

GSA: How about other mainstay characters in FFXIII? MT: All of the main characters from the first game will make an appearance. We just can't give you specifics yet. ??? Vanille and Fang are dead aren't they?

LoveAlwaysErin
LoveAlwaysErin

Oh my gosh, I'm just that much more excited for this game now!

NickyWithATicky
NickyWithATicky

@tu2pac I'm not lying. I started playing just before the prison and there's a lot of running up and down similar looking floors with one set of characters, and then another, and so on. I didn't realise that the doors around the edges opened and there were two save points on different floors in these back rooms. I found one eventually though :)

VenPlayer
VenPlayer

Oh... something better than new game+ ? Can't wait for that... I just wanna control the characters movement in battle, but so far the current ATB system is my favorite JRPG battle system.. Maybe they should put 2 playing options, one from JRPG style and the other fromWestern RPG style. And if we only play Serah and Noel, i figure it'll be too boring. They should put human party member or NPCs. Multiple ending sounds good, though...Still need to see more....

superbobo64
superbobo64

I really like to see square moving on. Instead of staying with old JRPG traditions they are trying to innovate. Also the multiple endings thing reminds me of chrono trigger, and thats a good thing.

user_pt
user_pt

and some info on the european launch date would be awesome

user_pt
user_pt

i'm interested, though auto-save is indeed a bad idea. i guess that they are listening to the players' feedback on FFXIII and it really seems that XIII-2 will be better than XIII. we'll have to wait and see. by the way, good questions gamespot.

senjutsu
senjutsu

Auto-save isn't nice. I hope we can turn it off. I don't wanna screw up some trophies because of that, lol.

the_requiem
the_requiem

"With the success of Final Fantasy XIII, a sequel to the game was all but expected." WTF that means? Goes to show how IGNORANT the writer is. FF doesn't have a history of sequels. FFX was the only one that got a numbered sequel. So, 1 out of 12 games got a sequel and he was expecting a sequel from one of the most blasted game in franchise?

Babybluedrop
Babybluedrop

I am not interested in this game at all. After FFXIII I don't plan on buying a FF again unless they seriously rethink the way they are going about things.

zennmezz
zennmezz

Poor snow...... noel is like a mix of squall and sora.

rideru
rideru

a new game + option is what have been missing from every final fantasy game, imo. i'm still a little iffy on this "monster takes up a party slot" thing. so if you have Serah in battle, you have to leave out a third character, so she can use her monsters? not sure how they'll make that work well.

soulless4now
soulless4now

Something better than new game+? I'd like to see that for sure.

l777l
l777l

XIII is about as colorful and boring as X. At least it probably won't have two insane girls (Paine was alright) jumping around in an even sillier sequel. Don't get me wrong, much of this is down to subjective preferences. I don't think that XIII is a complete mess, I just don't like it, and it is undeniably flawed. That being said, Square-Enix bashing is very often inadequate and unfounded. - I just hope they won't further westernize and try to appeal to everyone. Some tendencies at display in regards to XIII-2 are worrisome.

yixingtpot
yixingtpot

Xbroke2 sell outs, DVD level, not Blu-ray level... I will wait until it's $20 on Amazon.

txgamerwavg
txgamerwavg

I love Masashi Hamauzi, he did outstanding job for the soundtrack on FF Xlll and FF X with Nobuo Uematsu both music is the best, and I can't wait for soundtrack early next year.

phil889
phil889

Omfg can they talk more about news or others chatacters. If Noel and Serah are the only playable characters then im not buying this for sure

Vrygar777
Vrygar777

@mideonnviscera Me too. I think they'd do better with a sequel to it (The Last Remnant) than FFXIII. Or actually, I would much rather prefer some type of sequel/prequel to Final Fantasy Tactics!!! Come on Yasumi Matsuno, work on something!

edhc44
edhc44

Oh yeah, I forgot the most important part: They're giving the plot a new direction. That's absurd. There was so much to be explored within FFXIII universe that this multi-dimentional take of theirs (watch the video) is utterly unnecessary. I AM DISAPOINT!

JimmeyBurrows
JimmeyBurrows

Lol, funny that they're in an American expo yet they neglect to tell when it'll be released there. One thing I'm still iffy about... If they're not changing the battle system at all... Then I assume you can't change the leader mid battle... That really bugged me in the last one.