Final Fantasy XIII - Lightning ReturnsLightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is the direct sequel to Final Fantasy XIII-2, and is also a part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy series. Intended to end the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, it features Lightning as the main protagonist. The game takes place five hundred years after the events of Final Fantasy XIII-2 where Lightning is tasked with saving the souls of humanity in a world heading for destruction.
Unlike Final Fantasy XIII-2, the game's retail version contains the complete story, meaning players won't have to purchase downloadable content. Unlike its predecessor, the game has just one ending.
Detail of GamePlayers take control of Final Fantasy XIII's main character, Lightning, as the sole playable character. She traverses freely over the game's variety of terrain and can jump on obstacles, such as telephone poles, and use elements of stealth. Her abilities differ based on her elevated height. The developers have aimed for a world where the players would be able to reach almost everything visible on the screen, and there are no load times between areas unless the player either teleports, uses a vehicle, or there is a storyline event that transports the player somewhere new.
The game has an open-world structure and the open world area is bigger than what has been seen in previous Final Fantasy titles, and the player may not have time to visit everywhere on their first play-through. The player can either walk between destinations or use the monorail for faster travel. Chocobos are available to use as well.
Monsters range in size and can be enormous. Not only appearing in the sprawling wilderness, they terrorize the cities as well, increasing in number at night. Although many enemies return from previous titles, about half of the monsters in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII are new. Because of time's ever-flowing nature, the non-player characters' locations keep changing.
The Crystarium System does not appear in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII; instead, Lightning's stats are increased by completing story events and side quests. The player can buy equipment and items, visit restaurants to buy food items that restore HP or status effects, and stay at inns to restore health in exchange for spending time. The more souls the player rescues the more powerful Lightning becomes. Anything that requires depletion of EP will be learned by Lightning herself. General abilities are associated with whatever garb is equipped, or obtained through item drops from enemies. By visiting sorcery shops, the player can synthesize the abilities to boost their strength. Enemies are more likely to drop abilities if they are staggered.
BattleEnemies are found on the field and Lightning can sneak up on them to perform preemptive strikes, and if Lightning can strike first, the enemy will lose 10% of their starting HP. If Lightning strikes an enemy before they notice her, they'll lose 25%. If an enemy comes in contact with Lightning, the battle will start with her losing 5% of her HP (in the normal version of the game only).
The battle system is a heavily modified version of the Command Synergy Battle system the two previous games used, and features real time features, such as freely taking control of Lightning's movements and attacks, and a real time block, dodge and counter system. The new combat system is named Style-Change Active Time Battle (SATB).
Players can assign four commands to the controller's face buttons and instead of selecting commands, players will press buttons that correspond to the individual abilities. There are also timing-based mechanics. Though the battle system is of an action-RPG, it features an ATB gauge and every action depletes this bar. By tilting the left analog stick, the player can move Lightning on the battlefield.
Lightning will have a variety of different weapons, but they will all be close-range ones; magic is reserved for ranged combat. For most abilities, Lightning will move automatically to the correct range to execute the desired attack.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII features boss battles with the key being destroying various body parts on the monsters. The stagger system returns from Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2, now being depicted as a wave around the enemy's HP bar. Enemies have multiple weaknesses so the player can knock them down in multiple ways making for less repetitive gameplay. Lightning can assemble a schema that exploits the enemy's weak points, and via the stagger system Lightning can juggle some of the enemies in the air with her attacks.
Lightning has a variety of movements and can climb, jump, crouch, take cover behind walls and objects, climb over and hang off ledges, and a variety of other moves both in and out of battle.
Via the EP Abilities the player can teleport to specific areas or even momentarily stop time. The Energy Points gauge is on the lower-left part of the screen and Energy Points are acquired upon clearing battles. Lightning will always start with full Enemy Points at the start of each day. Originally this system was part of Eradia (points given to the Tree of Life, Yggdrasil, to extend the world's lifespan), but the developers decided to separate them and now players can use the points without having to worry about the world's lifespan.
If the player loses a battle, they don't get a Game Over, but must use the Escape command to return to the field, but this penalizes the player by taking an hour of the world's time (in the normal version of the game only).
Schemata and Garbsparadigm-like schemata that change Lightning's assigned skills on-the-fly. Each schema has its own ATB gauge, meaning the player can swap between schemata and maintain constant action while allowing the other schemata to recharge. If the player runs out of ATB and cannot perform any actions, the gauges will gradually refill as Lightning idles. Lightning is customizable with wide array of garbs, weapons, shields, accessories, adornments and abilities. Schemata allow players to put these together to create different skills and attributes. Lightning can collect and customize her equipment through completing quests and synthesizing them from components found in the world, shops, or battle. Players can preset different schemata and change between them, similar to how Paradigm Shift worked in earlier games.
Garbs change Lightning's look on the field, and their color can be customized. The default schema's garb is the one Lightning wears on the field. Civilians react with different comments depending on which costume Lightning is wearing.
The "Doomsday Clock"
The game plays on the world-driven concept with a "doomsday clock" element that determines how much time is left before the Apocalypse. The player is initially given seven days to explore the world, but this can be extended to thirteen days by completing sidequests. Chronostasis stops the flow of time momentarily to give the player a chance to explore, and playing in the Easy Mode has no time-punishment for fleeing battles. A countdown timer indicating the time left until the end of the world is displayed in the upper-right of the screen.
A day in the world of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII lasts twenty-four hours, like in the real world, as after the Day of Ragnarok in Final Fantasy XIII, two hours were lost. This is to make up for the clocks in Nautilus and Oerba's schoolhouse in Final Fantasy XIII that were 13-hour clocks, and for Mog in Final Fantasy XIII-2 having a 12-hour clock to show the change in a day's length. Time stands still when talking to people, during cutscenes and battles, in menus, on the Ark, while Chronostasis is active, and on the final day.
The player may want to be in specific locations in specific times where black haze called Chaos infusions will appear, indicating the area has become monster territory, where the player will find the toughest opponents for a chance at better rewards. Lightning will only be able to hold six battle items at the start of the game, but this will increase when the player progresses. Depending on which day the player battles certain storyline bosses, their stats and/or appearance can change. The world faces constant changes by the hand of a weather system and day/night cycles, with monsters becoming more vicious at night time.
Because the play time can be extended, it allows for a player-specific game experience, and different choices yield different events. It will not be possible to see every cutscene in one playthrough and the time management structure means players can have different experiences each time they play the game.
chapters, like the previous two games, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII's story is told in the form of five main quests. Side quests are available to increase Lightning's stats and Eradia for Yggdrasil to prolong the Apocalypse. Both main quests and side quests are rewarded with stat increases, Eradia and gil and item rewards.
A new function is incorporated in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII so players can post screenshots or messages on a community board via social networks. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII lets players share game updates onto Twitter and Facebook, such as upon defeating in-game bosses; the updates would include the player's overall score for defeating said boss. The outerworld services allow the player to make snapshots with the possibility of excluding Lightning from them.
The game is set in a world called Nova Chrysalia, known in the Japanese version as Novus Partus (Latin for "New Offspring", "New Births", "New Cocoon", or "Rebirth"), a world created when Gran Pulse and Valhalla came together. It is composed of four continents (two natural and two cityscape) surrounded by a Sea of Chaos and connected by a monorail system.
The game contains traditional RPG elements, such as dungeons, towns, and shops. Nova Chrysalia is an active open-world with some platforming elements. Players have a high degree of freedom and will see new roads and cities from tall landmarks and can easily get lost.
Nova Chrysalia has been designed similar to a "tourist guide style" seen in MMORPGs, and each team presented the continents in this style. Yuji Abe has stated that in Final Fantasy XIII many areas were places the player could only pass through, but in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, there are many places to explore. Keywords for the world's design are "gothic, mechanical, and fantasy".
Nova Chrysalia contains a mix of architecture ranging from medieval-style to modern. The cities have many clocks to display the progression of time. The pleasure city of Yusnaan is designed as a place of entertainment, while Luxerion is ruled by religious cults. The new Cocoon, Bhunivelze, floats in the sky over Nova Chrysalia, and inside it lies the Ark.
The remains of Academia and Valhalla are now a part of the Wildlands, a continent comprising vast and open forests, plains, and mountains, including small villages to explore. The Dead Dunes feature dungeons and ruins containing relics from ancient times, alongside a vast desert.
Lightning Returns - People in Robes Concept
Designs of the Order NPCs from Luxerion.
The realms' merge affected the Chaos dwelling within human hearts as per the Fabula Nova Crystallis lore, stopping humans from aging and reproducing, though they can still die due to violence or disease.
NPCs dress up in a variety of ways: some wear long robe-like black and white garbs with golden masks and mechanical backpacks, while others, such as the citizens of Yusnaan, dress in extravagant colors and outlandish accessories. The citizens of the world are aware of its impending doom, but only few know how much time there is left. Depending on the continent, people react to the impending apocalypse differently: the people in Luxerion wait for the god Bhunivelze to create a new world, while those in Yusnaan celebrate it with lavish festivities.
The game's main cast: (from left to right, top to bottom) Yeul, Caius, Fang, Vanille, Noel, Snow, Serah, Mog, Sazh, Lumina, Lightning and Hope.
Lightning (ライトニング, Raitoningu?) - The main protagonist. After sleeping in crystal stasis for five centuries, Lightning awakes in Nova Chrysalia and is chosen by Bhunivelze to be a savior of souls. She learns the world and its inhabitants face oblivion in thirteen days and fights to save them and reunite with her late sister Serah.
Masashi Hamauzu, Naoshi Mizuta, and Mitsuto Suzuki, who previously worked on Final Fantasy XIII-2. The game does not have a vocal theme song, but the ending theme is composed by Hamauzu, Mizuta, and Suzuki.
"Crimson Blitz", the track from the JumpFesta announcement trailer, was released on December 23rd, 2012, on iTunes as part of the game's promotion campaign. Hamauzu says that "Crimson Blitz" was composed in Le Locle, Switzerland, during his Europe tour as the church bell rings every fifteen minutes, and that reminded Hamauzu of the passing time in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.
Another promotional track released on iTunes was "The Savior", a track featured on the E3 trailer. Composed by Naoshi Mizuta, the track was released on iTunes on June 6th, 2013, and is used in the game as a battle theme.
Each of the continents has its own composer, and depending on the time of a day—morning, afternoon, evening, and night—a different song will play.
The original soundtrack was released in November 21st, 2013. A PLUS soundtrack was released on March 26th, 2014 in Japan.
The localized version of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII has a DLC package that features both the original Japanese dialogue and Japanese lip-synching, providing "a more natural and localized game experience". The DLC package was free to download for the first two weeks after the game's western release, but requires a payment after that. This was the first time a localized Final Fantasy console game has featured both English and Japanese voice tracks.
If the player has save data from Final Fantasy XIII and/or Final Fantasy XIII-2, they can unlock Lightning's outfits from those games (her Guardian Corps uniform from Final Fantasy XIII and her valkyrie armor from Final Fantasy XIII-2) as garbs and buy them in the rewards shop.
 During the interview with 4gamer in early December 2012, Yoshinori Kitase said the team decided not to name the game Final Fantasy XIII-3 as it "would give the impression that it was a direct evolution of XIII-2, rather than the 'new experience'".
The Final Fantasy XIII-2 Ultimania Omega book released on June 21st 2012, contains an interview with Yoshinori Kitase and Motomu Toriyama that sees the pair suggesting a successor to Final Fantasy XIII-2. Kitase stated (the last part about Lightning's DLC Episode) that "explaining 'XXX Years Later' would be pointless. It might seem that the line 'To Be Continued...' means that Lightning's chapter will continue in more download content, but we are doing it in a different interpretation".
In a scenario interview with Toriyama and Watanabe, Toriyama said that although Final Fantasy XIII-2 did not bring the happy ending for Lightning he promised before in Final Fantasy XIII Ultimania Omega, he hopes to tell more stories from the Fabula Nova Crystallis.
 The developers have later said they always had a concept of expanding the story of Final Fantasy XIII since the start of Final Fantasy XIII-2 project, but weren't fully decided on whether to make it a trilogy.
In August, Square Enix launched an official website regarding the new entry into the saga and at the Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary event, the Final Fantasy XIII stage took place at 11:30 on September 1st, titled "Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Saga: New Developments Presentation", where Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was announced. Motomu Toriyama, Yuji Abe, and Isamu Kamikokuryo each presented an element of what the game would be about yet only disclosed that Lightning's new appearance, designed by Tetsuya Nomura, would play on her light, speed, and elegance.
As of September 4th, 2012, the game was confirmed to be 30% complete. As Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is the third title on the current generation hardware, Motomu Toriyama has said it to be the most complete and polished game in the Final Fantasy series.
In a developer interview with Famitsu on September 6th, 2012, Kamikokuryo stated that Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was using newly designed assets to build the game and that Nova Chrysalia was being built from the ground-up.
On October 10th, 2012, Nomura reported he has finished the designs of the outfits for Lightning and Snow Villiers and that his work in the game had been completed. In terms of technology, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII shares the same elements from Final Fantasy XV, while sharing a few gameplay and design elements of Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2, as well.
On November 22nd, 2012, Yoshinori Kitase gave a development update on the Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Facebook and Twitter accounts, stating the first part of the game had been implemented to a certain extent, and that they had been collecting play test feedback.
On May 29th, 2013, Famitsu revealed that Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was at 70% completion. In the E3 trailer, it was announced the game would be released on February 2014 in North America and Europe. After Gamescom, where the game was exhibited, Yuji Abe revealed that Lightning Returns would be next revealed at Tokyo Game Show 2013, and that at the event, a wholly new character would be introduced.
When designing Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII the developers wanted to implement player feedback the previous titles in the Final Fantasy XIII saga had received, namely the criticism Final Fantasy XIII received for its linearity. Thus improved player freedom and the growth of character while exploring the world became important facets when planning for the gameplay. The idea was to create an expansive world, but simultaneously make it so the player wouldn't be thrown into it haphazardly. Thus the element of time management was included so the player would pay attention to the world, and think how to interact with its inhabitants. Having an open environment heavily impacted the way the world map was developed and weight was placed on how much of the restrictions that a traditional Final Fantasy game sets for the sake of making the world look beautiful could be removed. The teams handling the different areas were told to ruminate on how to keep players from straying too far off track and get lost.
At the beginning the developers received negative feedback for the "doomsday clock" system, because the original time did not even allow the player to reach the end of the game. Adjustments were made to arrive to a satisfying amount of time. At first there was a countdown running towards zero on the upper part of the screen, but based on player feedback this was changed to a clock.
With Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII the developers wanted to improve on the freedom of moving around in the field compared to previous entries to the Final Fantasy XIII saga, and various actions were added so Lightning can make the most use of the three-dimensional map's structure. Motomu Toriyama has said the aim was not about adding more action elements, but about providing a wider range of traveling methods so the player can efficiently move around in a world that has a time limit.
Many players found the battle system of the previous Final Fantasy XIII series games difficult to understand, and so with Lightning Returns developers wanted to make it easier to see what the player should be thinking and to have a direct response to that, which ties to the idea of having just one playable character.
The developers talked with the Final Fantasy XV development team, who utilize an action-rpg-based system for their game, and got some inspiration. The plan was still to retain the strategic elements from older Final Fantasy games as the foundation for the new battle system. To achieve dynamic fights the developers took the paradigm system from the two previous entries to the trilogy, and chose them as a set on four buttons for four different actions instead of using a command menu to create a style of gameplay that is simultaneously tactical, yet dynamic. The game was designed so the flow of play would not be disturbed by the battles. After the developers had direct response controls set up, they concluded it would be more intuitive to have the player control the single character of Lightning alone.
In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII the player can dodge and block enemies' attacks; when Lightning's outfit was created the shield came into the design, and the developers thought to utilize it in battles by allowing her to block attacks. This enabled the creation of various fighting styles, as it is possible to be more offensively focused with the sword, or play defensively with the strengths of the shield.
downloadable costumes in Final Fantasy XIII-2 was mixed, as some players felt the effect should be more than cosmetic. Thus in Lightning Returns the different outfits Lightning can wear were designed with this in mind to offer stat boosts and other battle advantages. With the previous games in the trilogy there was always a request from the development team to be able to change the look of the characters when their paradigm roles switched, and with new system memory resources opening up with a single playable character this became possible with Lightning Returns. However, the concept of changing outfits didn't come first but naturally found its way into the game based on the compatibility between how the game mechanics were set up.
Yuji Abe has commented on the weaknesses of the paradigm system used in the previous titles to the trilogy, feeling that by relying on setting AIs and switching between pre-set combinations distances the player, makes it less accessible and that it dilutes the feeling of immersion by not having a specific character for the player to inhabit. The system in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was put together with the intent of sharing the basic philosophy of the systems from the first two games, but simultaneously acting as a counterpoint to them.
Abe named the allowing of fewer story scenes with allied characters as the main downside of the one-playable-character system.
A number of artists are involved with crafting the world, with careful detailing in crafting specific sofas, chairs and telephone booths. Isamu Kamikokuryo said the concept of a dying world in which technology is deteriorating was the foundation of the artwork. Motifs from 19th century London during the industrial revolution, Asia, and the Middle East will appear in Nova Chrysalia depending on the location. To contrast the high-level modern civilization depicted in Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will have a more retro feel.
The gothic feel and the monochromatic color scheme of Luxerion were chosen to represent a surreal twilight. The city's style merges gothic, medieval, modern, and fantasy designs. The city's colors are mainly composed of white and black, symbolizing light and darkness, as well as featuring the ethereal green seen in Valhalla from Final Fantasy XIII-2. Motomu Toriyama said the city's grim tone symbolizes "the strong awareness of death in a world that has lost its concept of mortality." It's been said that Luxerion has a western look, similar to that of Paris. The city's style has been called "Mech-Goth", alternatively called "Mechanical Gothic".
Yusnaan was inspired by a blend of Renaissance and Middle Eastern cultures. The Dead Dunes and the Wildlands were designed to allude to some elements of the classic main Final Fantasy titles, such as the dungeons and open fields which the players could freely explore.
Each of the four main areas—Luxerion, Yusnaan, Dead Dunes and the Wildlands—were designed to be distinctive in feel and look, and care was put into designing the NPCs found in the area. For example, the people of the religious town of Luxerion dress modestly, and those especially devout in an almost cult-like manner. Many people in Yusnaan dress in extravagant colors and accessories, and the dress sense of the inhabitants of Dead Dunes and Wildlands is designed to be appropriate to their environments. The characters with more outstanding accessories are usually the ones who give out quests, and upon completing the quest, Lightning can often receive the quest-giver's accessory as an adornment.
The ideas for the feel and look of the game areas came from director Motomu Toriyama, who wanted to show types of locations that hadn't been explored in the trilogy's previous installments; this is why a desert was included. The idea was to express the ideas, themes and concepts the game is built upon. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII has the overarching theme of time and its passing, and thus day-and-night cycles and designs incorporating large clock faces, were included in the designs.
Producer Yoshinori Kitase has explained the title logo was revamped because the team wanted to convey the "newness" of the installment compared to previous Final Fantasy games. The intention was to use an emblem with sharp edges and a symmetrical design. The idea was to draw up the logo from scratch and create something different from the usual Yoshitaka Amano outing. They went through many different designs until deciding upon the concepts: "lightning" and "metallic." The symbol will also appear in the game, for example: Lightning's default outfit.
seventh-generation consoles, with the staff working extra-hard to get it out in the short time before the release of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in Japan, and with next-gen versions of the game not being considered. Along with the main ending, the team created an epilogue. According to Toriyama, it was created to be slightly open-ended so players could imagine what would happen next. Ideas for Lightning to meet up with her allies and friends were not used: Toriyama felt that the story should start and end with Lightning.
The main theme of the story is "the salvation of souls". Having awoken from her crystal sleep, Lightning has become their savior, and is tasked by Bhunivelze with freeing people from the darkness in their hearts and guiding their souls to the new world that will be born when Nova Chrysalia ends after the final thirteen days. The concept of religion is prominent, as shown by the worship of Bhunivelze and the late Etro in Luxerion.
Another main theme is the "rebirth of Lightning", defined by Lightning's appearance in each game in the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, and that being the reason why the game is called Lightning Returns instead of Final Fantasy XIII-3. Toriyama has the story focused on Lightning to show her in a different light for players to get to know her better. In the beginning of the game, Lightning is closed off and distant but as the story progresses, more details about her internal struggles, thoughts, and true feelings are revealed and she becomes more human and vulnerable as she once again chooses to defy her destiny to save her sister.
Another theme is how much Hope has grown and matured in Lightning's "motherly" point of view. In Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning acted like a surrogate mother to Hope, and has not interacted with him since the original game. Now that Lightning has Hope helping her in her new mission, she gets to see how much he has changed.
In the year 1000 AF, five hundred years after Chaos entered the mortal realm, Lightning awoke from her crystal sleep in the world of Nova Chrysalia. The world is doomed to be destroyed and Bhunivelze—the god who created the fal'Cie deities: Pulse, Lindzei, and Etro—chose Lightning to be the savior tasked to free mankind's souls and lead them into a new world he is crafting. In return, Bhunivelze assured Lightning he will resurrect Serah.
Lightning teamed up with Hope Estheim, who has physically regressed to his teenage state. Although he remains in the Ark the two keep in contact over wireless communicators, with Hope guiding Lightning through knowledge he obtains by analysing the Chaos around her. While remaining in the Ark Hope tends the tree, Yggdrasil, which acts as a preserving force for the world, extending the world's life to the maximum of thirteen days in exchange for an energy called Eradia, obtained whenever a soul is saved. After each day Lightning is pulled back into the Ark where she relinquishes the Eradia she has collected from saved souls to the tree, and each new bloom on the Yggdrasil grants one more day for the world.
As Lightning sets out on her quest she encounters many of her former allies. Snow Villiers, depressed over Serah's death and still a l'Cie, has become Patron of the pleasure city of Yusnaan. Noel Kreiss, tormented by his role in Etro's and Serah's deaths and the world's current state, has become a vigilante in Luxerion. Oerba Dia Vanille is being sheltered by the Order of Salvation, being hailed a saint for having gained the ability to hear the voices of the dead. Believing the Order is using Vanille to suit their own ends, Oerba Yun Fang leads a band of thieves in the Dead Dunes to obtain a relic the Order is after.
In the Wildlands, an untamed region where the creation of Nova Chrysalia took place, Sazh Katzroy grieves over his comatose son Dajh while Mog leads a settlement of moogles. Caius Ballad, the man responsible for Nova Chrysalia's creation, resides within the ruins of Etro's Temple where the Chaos is bleeding from with only the various incarnations of Paddra Nsu-Yeul for company. Lightning also encounters the mysterious child-like entity Lumina, who resembles Serah in appearance, and whose agenda is unknown. Every now and then Lumina pulls Lightning into a secluded place apparently existing inside her soul where Hope cannot hear their conversations where Lumina plants seeds of doubt in Lightning's mind on Bhunivelze's true agenda with her.
In Yusnaan, Lightning storms the end of the world festivities at Patron's Palace to confront Snow. As a Chaos infusion manifests inside the palace Lightning aids Snow in dispersing the monsters that emerge from it, but afterward the two turn their weapons on each other, as Snow does not trust her. Lumina intervenes and breaks Lightning's weapon, and Snow retreats deeper into the palace. Lightning follows but is halted by a locked door. She can sense Chaos on the other side and questions Snow's sanity if he went inside. Lightning retreats as she hears the guards approaching and the day draws to a close.
A cult known as the Children of Etro believes Lightning to be the harbinger of the oncoming Apocalypse, and murders pink-haired women during their nocturnal rites to lure her out. While putting a stop to the cult's activities Lightning runs into Noel Kreiss who believes he must kill her to ensure the coming of a better world and allow him to reunite with the Yeul from his era. It turns out the Oracle Drive prophecy he followed is a fake created by Lumina, and Noel destroys the Oracle Drive. Yeul's spirit emerges from the damaged Oracle Drive and promises they will be together soon and Lightning saves Noel's soul by freeing him from his burden of guilt.
After hearing of Lightning's exploits in the city Vanille requests to see her, and Lightning is granted night time passage into the Luxerion Cathedral after she delivers Vanille's missing crystal shard to her aide. Lightning finds Vanille with Lumina, and the former shows Lightning a mass of Chaos residing underneath the cathedral she dubs the wind of sorrow. After Etro's death the cycle of life was broken with no new life being born, and the dead no longer passing on, instead staying trapped in a state of limbo with Vanille able to hear every cry of their pain. Vanille is determined to help the dead as she is the only one who can hear them, and thus has decided to stay with the Order of Salvation who claim to have discovered a way to save the dead by granting them oblivion as per Bhunivelze's orders.
Lightning returns to Yusnaan and proves to Snow she is not an impostor by recognizing the engagement necklace he and Serah wore after deciding to marry. Snow desires death as penance for his failure to protect Serah, and intends to have Lightning kill him after absorbing a Chaos infusion at the center of his palace he has been keeping contained to save Yusnaan. Snow transforms into a Cie'th but is defeated in battle, and Lightning reverses his transformation by convincing him that Serah's soul still wishes to be with him.
In the Dead Dunes, Lightning finds Fang leads a bandit group known as Monoculus, and joins to help in their quest of locating the holy clavis needed for a ritual only Vanille can perform that is said to save the dead. Lightning uncovers a path to the Temple Ruins underneath the desert where she and Fang find the clavis, but the latter tries to destroy it. A confused Lightning stops her, and during the ruckus the clavis falls into the Order's hands. Fang explains the Order is using Vanille and the ritual will kill her, and Lightning urges Fang to meet her in Luxerion on Nova Chrysalia's final day to convince Vanille not to go through with it.
In the Wildlands Lightning finds an injured white chocobo the local legends know as the Angel of Valhalla said to herald the coming of the end of the world. Lightning nurses him back to health and rides him to Etro's Temple from where the Chaos is bleeding into the area. She discovers the origin of the Chaos is Yeul's fragmented soul, and meets her numerous incarnations and Caius who yearns for death but is unable to die. The Yeuls ask for Lightning to save Caius's soul, but she is unable to, as the Yeuls' wish to be with him has bound him to Chaos permanently. Caius and the Yeuls remain at the temple as Lightning moves on, intending to be destroyed alongside Nova Chrysalia as there is no place for them in the new world.
Elsewhere on the Wildlands, Lightning finds Sazh Katzroy and his comatose son in an abandoned airship and helps collect Dajh's soul fragments to restore him to life, saving Sazh's soul as well. Mog has been reunited with his moogle friends, and leads the Moogle Village deep in the Jagd Woods. At first Mog fears confronting her, as he feels culpable for Serah's death, but Lightning doesn't blame Mog and asks him to be there on the final day when Serah will be revived.
As the end draws near the souls of the dead that reside in the Chaos talk to Lightning in the form of Cid Raines, asking for her help as Bhunivelze sees them as impurities that need to be purged. Lightning is not convinced by the spirit of Serah that has been sent to her to keep her on the path chosen by Bhunivelze, feeling that something is amiss, and Lightning fears she has lost the ability to feel Serah's soul and thus a part of her humanity. In a safeguarded place inside her own soul, Lightning sometimes meets Lumina who tries to remind her of the true self she keeps denying, and implies she knows where the real Serah is.
On the final day, the Chaos swallows all but the Luxerion Cathedral. Lightning and Fang team up to save Vanille from the ritual, and Lightning learns the Soulsong is part of the Order's intention to destroy the souls of the dead to free those still living from remembering them so they could live in perpetual bliss in Bhunivelze's new world. After being coaxed into listening to the dead, Vanille learns that, despite their suffering, the souls carry the hope of being reborn. Vanille stops the ritual, and Snow arrives and destroys the clavis with Fang's spear. Together, Fang and Vanille guide the dead to the Ark to be reborn in the new world with their souls acting as the guiding light.
Lightning's purpose as the savior of souls is fulfilled as the bells toll to the end of the world and the final day comes to pass. Bhunivelze appears to her and Lightning learns that centuries ago Hope became a puppet body that Bhunivelze has been using to better understand mankind as part of his scheme to purge it of their emotions and free will for his new world. Now having taken over Hope's body entirely, Bhunivelze admits he can't see human souls and thus doesn't know where Serah's soul is.
Lightning seeks Bhunivelze's true body out in Cosmogenesis, an otherworldly dimension where Bhunivelze is in the process of creating his new world. Bhunivelze explains his plan for Lightning to become the new Etro and protect the world balance, but she rejects the apotheosis and rebels against Bhunivelze as she desires a world free of gods where humans can decide their own paths in life.
The powers Bhunivelze had granted her to make her the savior make Lightning strong enough to take him on. At first she intends to plunge herself and Bhunivelze to the Chaos to free the souls he had consumed, but the simulacrum of Serah Bhunivelze had created to keep her acquiescent appears to her and implores Lightning to find the real Serah. It is revealed that when Bhunivelze had purged Serah's soul from Lightning before making her the savior, Lightning's denied feelings that had always lain latent within her had been made manifest by the Chaos, creating Lumina, who had become a vessel for Serah's soul. Lightning accepts the part of herself she had wanted to deny and Lumina is reintegrated into Lightning, freeing Serah's soul.
As Lightning frees Hope's soul from Bhunivelze, he saves her from sacrificing herself by plunging both herself and Bhunivelze into the oblivion. Joined by her former friends and allies when they escape the deity's hold, including Serah and the Eidolons, Lightning frees the souls Bhunivelze consumed and uses their collective power to defeat him. With Bhunivelze turning to crystal, Nova Chrysalia is destroyed and all that is left behind is a dark wasteland.
Caius and the various incarnations of Yeul appear before Lightning and her friends and the Yeuls announce their decision to take over Etro's role as the protectors of the dead and keepers of the balance between the realms of the living and the dead. As the realm begins to collapse, in a final act of redemption, Caius allows the final incarnation of Yeul leave with Noel while he and Yeul's other incarnations are drawn into the new unseen realm.
With the old world no more, Lightning and her friends find a glimmering crystal in a void. The Eidolons and Mog bid their farewells and fade away while Lightning and the souls of humanity leave for the new world. Having begun her life anew, Lightning, no longer dressing like a soldier or a servant of the divine, steps off a train in a countryside on a peaceful journey to reunite with one of her friends.
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