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What Improvements Does Final Fantasy XIII-2 Need?

Firstly, an admission. I only played about five hours of Final Fantasy XIII before I lost interest and turned my mind to other things. So, you might ask, what on earth gives me the right or the ability to write a blog post concerning the improvements and refinements required for a sequel? Well, I would suggest that the very fact I only got five hours in before I got fed up with the tedium of the experience is the very thing that qualifies me to write such a post. Those gamers who played FFXIII right through to its very end might have a better understanding of the more intricate elements of the game that need tweaked in order to provide a better experience, but I know what needs to be done to get me to play the game at all.

For one, people always tell me FFXIII doesn’t get started proper until about eight hours in. Well that’s ridiculous for a start. No game shold take eight hours to get to the ‘good stuff’. If a game doesn’t have your apt attention at least an hour in, then – like any film, television show, or album – it’s doing something wrong. And despite a vaguely exciting opening, FFXIII all too quickly looses its grip by doling out its tutorials at a snail’s pace. I felt like I was still being taught the game four hours in. I’m sorry, but there’s got to be a less protracted, and more absorbing way, to open your game. Pretty visuals and well animated cut-scenes just aren’t going to cut it.

The second improvement required before I’d be convinced to pick up the pad again is an obvious one. No matter the level you’re on – be it amid frozen crystal waves or a glistening jungle of glass – look to the minimap at the top right and you’ll see FFXIII’s problem. It’s all one, straight corridor, with the odd bifurcation here and there but one path always leading to a dead end. Now, this is modern game design 101 – running forward, doing nothing but attacking enemies and waiting for cut scenes, is not fun. It’s a slog. Remember Final Fantasy VII? Even that knew to make its environments open, explorative spaces, that  – even when the player was being funneled down a set path – felt like you were actually journeying somewhere. It’s levels were richly detailed, different, and natural. FFXIII’s are straight, narrow, and feel like the same place reskinned each time. FFXIII-2 needs to give its players more self-expression when it comes to exploration, lest the game’s forward push feel less like momentum and more like being dragged. Square Eniz also needs to change its levels up more. Upwards of two hours spent looking at the same art design is enough to make anyone feel fed up in a very short space of time.

As for the characters, FFXIII’s failed to grab me. They were clichés; stereotypes uncomfortably crammed into Tetsuya Nomura’s beautiful and unique designs. Not that I’m suggesting the Final Fantasy series has ever done anything different; it’s characters have always been broad archetypes. But from Final Fantasy XIII I expected something more than the taciturn lead and the comical black guy. I was hoping for something a little more special. With any luck FFXIII will achieve this, but I’m not holding my breath. As long as Hope doesn’t appear I guess I’ll be happy. He might play a big part in FFXIII’s end, I don’t know. I don’t care either. I hate him, Kill him off, please.

And that’s about it. It’s all incredibly obvious stuff – make a Final Fantasy game with the same sort of imagination that has personified past games. Don’t allow the visuals and the graphics to take priority over creating a world that’s exciting to explore. Make an opening that’s doesn’t drag on, but drags you in. Make a game that’s fun, please!

Keep the core of the combat system exactly as is, though. I know they’re “evolving” it, but hopefully Square Enix doesn’t stray too far from the original template. It’s easily one of the greatest I’ve ever played in a JRPG with its mix of accessibility, depth and complexity. It’s just a pity that the game that surrounded it was so uninspiring.

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  • Hutton121

    Final fantasy 13 was the biggest let down of the 21st century so far!
    Everything that made the series great was removed to accommodate a hand holding exercise for new players, ignoring the fact that the series was so successful because millions of us thought that the games that had gone before were fantastic.

    I was expecting tweaks and improvements as per every new FF game, what i got was a brand new (and not very good) game.

    Hoping the new game will get put into reverse as the changes were not an improvement.

    Also interesting that Chris McMahon slates the game when play rated the game 8.5 which is a very good score?

  • Chris McMahon

    I only started on the magazine on issue 198, so that review was written before my time. Believe me, if I’d been the one reviewing it, that review would have been very different indeed! Unfortunately we’re not a hive mind here…we do all have different opinions on games! The thought of me sharing a brain with Jon, Ian or Ryan terrifies me. I lose sleep over it.

  • Sean

    FF XIII was the biggest surprise for me in 2010. I only started playing the FF’s at XII, and I just couldn’t get into it because of the vast landscapes that you had to traverse and in the end just became a real chore and abit boring. But when I played XIII I was pleasantly surprised, because I just like to follow a set path so I don’t mind the linearity issue at all, and not get distracted by silly “explorative” paths. I completed FFXII and thats the only one I’ve had enough patience to finish. 8.5 wasn’t a good enough score, but thats just my opinion.

  • Sean


  • Hutton121

    Fair point Chris, I will put my soap box away.
    And Shaun (soap box out again) the whole point of a FF game is that it is HUGE and you do traverse vast landscapes and has a story so complex that stephen hawkings would be scratching his head, that’s what RPG’s are all about, fair play if its not your thing but FF has sold millions of copies and has a huge fan base because you knew that’s what you were getting when you shelled out your £40.
    This time however instead of a few minor tweaks they change the entire bloody concept!
    I dont expect to buy FIFA and end up playing a first person shooter where roy hodgson kills everyone at NESV.
    For everyone who reads this and liked FF13 there will be 20 people who played it for 2 hrs, stuck it back in its case, cursed square enix and now use it to collect dust.

    All that being said i can’t wait for FF13-2..im so Fickle!

  • ac130

    FF13 was good.
    And change is also good.
    I am keen.
    That is all.

  • sasab

    Having played all the FF series I was always a fan but xiii was the biggest let down ever!! FF is a genre in itself and was always supposed to be huge and beautiful at the same time. That’s what set it apart from other games. It’s sad ‘cos new generations of gamers being introduced to the series must have thought what a boring game, what is all the hype for? Also, Totally agree with Hutton121.

  • DO’G

    Brilliant article…. i remember when i started playing it, i thought what the hell is this rubbish. Also was it me or did the whole sazh and vanille “thing” seemed kind of disturbing?? I know she is 19 but she just looked like a young child and don’t get me started on snow and Serah story!!!! I also hated the battle system it was terrible.
    even though i FFX was slightly linear it also had towns and people to interact with. You are right i think it’s utter carp when people tell me it gets better such and such hours in. SE ruined FF and tbh i don’t see FFXIII-2 being any better….. but only time will tell………