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Final Fantasy Versus XIII Update

Tetsuya Nomura outlines the recent trailer and hints at 2012 release for long awaited Fabula Nova Crystalis title.

Tetsuya Nomura tells us what we should be looking for in the new trailer just ahead of the HD version's release.

Square Enix shared a gameplay-filled trailer for Final Fantasy Versus XIII at last week's 1st Production Department Premier event, but director Tetsuya Nomura did not show up at the event to detail the game. For clarification on what we should have been looking for in the trailer, we turn to this week's Dengeki PlayStation which has an interview with Nomura and a four page spread on the game.

The content of the article and interview were summarized in detail at a blog that always gets Dengeki in advance, so I'll pass along a summary of the summary here.

The article shows the visual of main character Noctis Lucis Caelum that was also featured in the latest Jump (the image hasn't been released online yet). Noctis is quoted as saying "Fools set the rules in this world. Just take a look around. It's Undeniable."

Screenshots in the magazine hint at a number of elements, most of which will be familiar to those who viewed trailer (an HD version is due for release on the 27th, although you may find a low res version floating around now). A battle screen shows commands for Magic, Item, Summon and EX-ARTS. There's also a scene of Noctis using a thunder-like magic.

Noctis has great physical ability. But beyond that, he also has a secret power that only the royal family possesses (Noctis is a prince, in case you weren't aware). When he unleashes this power, his blue eyes turn red. Countless swords appear in his surrounding, and he's able to control these freely. He also becomes capable of instantly warping from point to point. If you watch one of the earlier Versus CG trailers, you'll recognize the power that's mentioned here.

Nomura revealed a few additional bits about the gameplay, story and characters in his interview with the magazine.

The game's combat system is party based, giving you a party of at most three characters. During the early parts of the story, party members will be swapped in and out for you. However, as you advance in the story, you'll be able to freely switch out members. Potential party members go beyond the four characters shown in the trailer although Nomura said that the game's cast is not particularly massive or anything.

Noctis and friends in this old image of Versus XIII. The 'glasses guy' and 'blonde guy' mentioned throughout this article can be seen here.

You'll be able to switch off between the different characters in your party. They all have different attack capabilities. As an example, all characters are capable of using magic, but the effect of the magic differs. When Noctis casts magic, the magic emerges from his weapons. On the other hand, the party member with glasses (shown in the trailer), will light his surroundings with fire.

Noctis is the only character capable of equipping all of the game's many weapon types. The other characters have unique specialities. One character, the blonde guy from the trailer, stands out. He's a gun specialist, and when using him you can switch to a third person view for precise aiming at enemy weak points, buildings and other objects. While all the other characters can wield guns, this character alone has the aiming mode.

Joining weapon and magic attacks, you'll also be able to take control of armored mech-like vehicles -- something that was also shown in the trailer. You can steal these from the enemy by killing off the pilot.

You can also steal tanks, and ride cars, air ships and Chocobos. Regarding the stealing part, it looks like Noctis and crew have high moral standards, so they won't steal common vehicles. They'll only steal army vehicles.

The battle scenes shown in the trailer appear to be early, as they will be seeing some interface changes. The final version will show character names, for instance. The staff is currently conducting tests in this area of the game.

Nomura pointed out one area of the battle interface that stood out for many during the trailer: the highly animated character portraits in the lower right of the screen. These are tied in to the character's feelings and current movement.

Even when you're not directly engaged in combat, you'll want to be on the lookout as you play. The game has a realtime event system in place. As you move about, you'll sometimes come under attack, or some event will automatically trigger. For example, when Noctis reaches a pedestrian bridge, a behemoth beast will attack. Another example is a plane crashing into the road. Implementing these kinds of real time events, which transition seamlessly into the flow of gameplay, takes a long time in terms of development, said Nomura. There are many examples shown in the trailer.

The natural landscapes shown later in the trailer are from the game's world map, revealed Nomura. Time will progress here, becoming dark, day time, evening and so-forth.

Joining these first gameplay details, Nomura provided a few character and story details. During this discussion, he managed to refrain from referring to any characters by name, outside of Noctis and heroine Stella of course. If you listen to the trailer closely, you can pick up a few names besides these two.

The blonde-haired party member who appears in the trailer is a recent friend of Noctis. The two other party members, including the guy with glasses, are Noctis' childhood friend.

Noctis is royalty, and his friends follow him. However, they have a friendly relationship, so they aren't really reserved in his presence. This is pretty clear given the informal nature of the dialogue in the trailer. At one point, one party member says to Noctis, "You're not as strong as you think."

Nomura cleared up a couple of points from the trailer. First, contrary to what some have speculated, the armored lady who appears late in trailer is not Stella. Nomura joked that he wouldn't show Stella in such a fashion. The lady is an enemy dragon knight. Nomura made it a point to note that dragon knights do exist in the game regardless of the modern world setting.

The other point of clarification concerns a sequence where Noctis' father, seated in a throne early in the trailer (before the gameplay begins), says something along the lines of "You're not fit to be king." While many assumed this statement was directed at Noctis, it's actually directed at someone else.

Nomura also revealed that the opening moments of the trailer, where we hear someone calling out to Noctis as "Prince Noctis" is from the beginning area of the game.

Closing off the interview, Nomura was asked about a release target time frame, and responded that because the focus is on quality, he's not sure when the game will be released. Noting that Dissidia Duodecim Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy Type-0, and Final Fantasy XIII-2 are all due out this year, he joked that we should forget about Versus for the time being. The game will take more time, he explained, as they're trying to do a number of incredible things. This is something he hopes players understood from the trailer.

Our next update on the game will come at the earliest at E3, Nomura told Dengeki. Famitsu is also set to have a Nomura interview this week, so we may actually get a few additional bits there as well.

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