Nomura talks Final Fantasy Versus XIII

Famitsu’s gone live with its full-length Final Fantasy Versus XIII interview with director Tetsuya Nomura. In case you missed them, we’ve already posted full summaries of the publication’s interviews on Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Final Fantasy Type-0. This is the final piece of the pie. Nomura references the recent trailer quite a bit, so if you haven’t seen it, watch it now.

Story and Characters

The new trailer allowed fans to get a better grasp of the characters, Famitsu noted. Nomura confirmed that the voice actors for Noctis, Stella, and other characters in the trailer are the final voices, chosen via auditions. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t confirm the voice actor’s identities, but did mention that some fans appeared to have figured it out.

Nomura went on to detail certain character and story bits showcased in the trailer.

Ignis, the glasses-wearing ally and the only one of Noctis’ friends whose name was confirmed in the trailer, was raised to be a military tactician to Noctis. Towards the end of the clip, we hear him sort-of lecturing Noctis. Nomura said that they selected to show this scene in the trailer to clearly display the relationship between the two.

Noctis, Ignis, and the scar-faced friend (shown in the trailer) are all childhood friends. The blonde guy, whom we’ve seen wield a small shotgun in past trailers, is a new friend of the group.

The story of Versus XIII revolves around a country in which Noctis is prince, being invaded by the enemy kingdom of Niflheim. This initiates an “escape drama” for Noctis and company, according to Nomura. Noctis, however, likes to think of himself as pursuing the enemy, rather than running away.

There’s a scene in the trailer, around the 2:09 mark, that shows Noctis’ father, the king, saying that he would be the final king and wouldn’t give up the throne. At first, many assumed he was speaking to Noctis. He isn’t. Nomura said that Noctis’ father actually says that during a different scene, contrary to what was shown in the trailer. The person he’s speaking to is currently unknown.

Also of note, the throne we see the king sitting on during the aforementioned scene is different than the throne we see Noctis sitting on towards the end of the trailer.

A scene during the middle of trailer, around the 4:30 mark, shows the king somewhere in the forest with someone running towards him. This first-person scene, according to Nomura, is a scene from Noctis’ childhood and is fully controllable by the player.

Another scene towards the end of the clip, around the 6:00 mark, shows Noctis’ father in a heated battle against a man in a white robe. A previous trailer had shown Noctis also battling against a man in a white robe. Nomura noted that the two white-robed men are not the same.

Closing off story details, Nomura said that terms found in Final Fantasy XIII, such as l’Cie, will appear in Versus XIII. However, as Versus XIII is a much more modern take on Final Fantasy, the language will appear modern, as well. Nomura didn’t elaborate. We’re guessing this means the terms will be used differently than they were in XIII.

Battle System

Battles move fast in Versus XIII. Players can perform double-jumps and all types of quick maneuvers. Nomura told the magazine that the battle system is close to that of Kingdom Hearts in the aspect of characters performing actions after you’ve chosen a command.

In the trailer, we see a mix of icons and gauges, some temporary and others final. The battle commands, Nomura noted, are temporary. The gauges, however, are final. Character names will be found near the gauges, but due to name secrecy, they’ve been removed in the trailer. An orange gauge, located to the right of the HP gauge, is also seen. According to Nomura, the gauge is part of an original system developed specifically for Versus XIII. He wouldn’t go into detail. Character portraits, located above the HP gauge, are meant to keep players in check with the status of their allies. You’ll know if your ally is in danger even if he’s not near you.

A “Summon” command is seen in the command palette. Nomura confirmed that there will be summons in the game, but didn’t elaborate on what we could expect. He also mentioned that, as previously confirmed, Magitek Armor mechs and Chocobos will be ridable in the game. He said to expect all familiar Final Fantasy elements in Versus XIII.

All characters can use magic attacks. The only reason characters are able to perform magic is due to Noctis’ presence. Were he not there, they wouldn’t be able to perform magic. It has something to do with the story, which hints at magic playing a big part in.

A job system is present in Versus XIII — not for main characters — but rather for enemies. Jobs include dragon knights and summoners. We see a dragon knight flying through the air around the 5:43 mark in the trailer. She’s a part of a special force in the enemy’s army, which utilizes different armor and tactics against enemies.

The party can have up to three members in battle. Noctis is mandatory, but the other two spots are filled by the player’s choice. In the beginning of the game, for tutorial and story purposes, the player won’t have a choice as to who’ll tag along. Players will, in time, gain the ability to choose. When in battle, players can switch between the three characters. Even so, if Noctis dies, it’s game over.

Each character has their own unique abilities and strategies. Nomura wants players to be able to discover their own strategies between the group. Noctis has access to a large variety of weapons, including: swords, axes, lances, hand guns, machine guns, shot guns, rifles, bazookas, and more. The development staff is keen on making the motions used for each weapon different.

Unlike Noctis, the other party members can only use certain types of weapons. Ignis, for example, is strong with magic. He’s shown wielding a katana blade in the trailer. The scar-faced character fights bare-handed or with large weapons; and the blonde character uses guns.

Before battle, players can equip multiple weapons to Noctis which will automatically switch in and out as you fight. You can play around with equipping weapons as you’ll get various different combos depending on what you equip!

The World

Final Fantasy Versus XIII offers players a lot of freedom. So much, in fact, that Nomura said players probably won’t experience everything in a single playthrough! The trailer only showcased a small section from the game’s starting country (Noctis’ kingdom). There are other large kingdoms, villages, and other things to discover. Nomura said he was surprised by the scale of the villages when test-playing the game.

Several “gimmicks” will also be featured in Versus XIII. By gimmicks, Nomura means events triggered by player action. As we saw in the trailer, around the 4:25 mark, Noctis crosses an overhead bridge, which is then immediately struck down by a behemoth. Had Noctis never crossed the bridge, the behemoth wouldn’t have attacked. Nomura said that these gimmicks are hard to create on the development side of things.

A scene later in the trailer shows Noctis facing off against a behemoth. Many objects in the area, noted Nomura, are fully destroyable — trees and electricity poles, for example.

Our Next Look

There’s still a lot left to be seen for Versus XIII, according to Nomura. Character growth and other systems exclusive to the game have still yet to be showcased. He said to possibly expect more at E3 2011, which ranges from June 7-9 in Los Angeles, CA. However, a showing for the event has not yet been finalized.

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