Unlike Final Fantasy XIII, information about Final Fantasy Versus XIII’s gameplay is scarce. Tetsuya Nomura has stated he aims to create previously unseen “tricky” battle sequences, reminiscent of the Advent Children film. Nomura has revealed the game will be action oriented, and will play like a more realistic version of Kingdom Hearts with some elements of a third-person shooter similar to Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-.
A brief demo gameplay video was shown during Tokyo Game Show 2009. It depicted Noctis running through a city which shifted from day to night, then to a field full of large creatures. At Jump Festa 2010, a video with actual gameplay about one minute in length was shown. It had Noctis waiting on a highway for a car during the day. He gets in the car and it drives off. The footage was displayed in real time, and had improved lighting, character models and environments.
At Square Enix’s conference on January 18, 2011, a long section of gameplay footage was shown in a new trailer. It depicted Noctis walking, right after the scene with Stella, and running after several explosions happen. Noctis is shown fighting against several enemies, which include soldiers, a Behemoth, and various monsters. The damage dealt by the attacks is shown on screen. As shown in the trailer, Noctis can have characters assist him during battles. Players will be able to switch between characters on the fly, allowing the opportunity to create multi-character combos. A first person aiming mode for firearms has also been shown, exclusive to the character Prompto. Also, the player seems to be able to control mechanic structures, such as tanks or robots. The footage also depicted a menu titled “EX Arts,” but its function remains unknown.
Players will find a big world map with vast fields where they will be able to explore as far as the eye can reach, except for the mountains. Nomura says the game is not open, but is more like the 2D Final Fantasy games in HD and in third person view. The player will be able to drive a car and fly airships just like in older Final Fantasy titles too.
Nomura also says the day and night cycles and cloud formations are done by physical calculations. It was decided to be made this way to have a smooth change between the cycles and to have a much more dynamic lighting system, which reflects the mood of a certain region/place. The game will be seamless and the only loading the player will experience is between large areas. The loading will occur while watching an event scene to give players a more immersive experience.
Monsters wander throughout the field and sometimes hostile ones will suddenly appear to ambush the player.
The battle system of Final Fantasy Versus XIII is to draw the nostalgic feeling from old Final Fantasy titles and blend it with a whole new concept. The action and pace will be similar to what is found in Kingdom Hearts but united with new mechanics. Battles will also be seamless and transition will have no load times.
Battles will take place in real-time environments using all regions of the field, from up high buildings to down low streets. Nomura has said the power of the PS3 will feature battles that take place in areas with great differences in height, just like in the trailer, and will have to fight using the full environment. This means fighting what’s both in front of the player and above and below (vertical battles).
One of the trailers show Noctis selecting from a number of different weapons to defeat the enemy soldiers in front of him. The various weapons in the game will have different methods of attack, and some will even be usable as shields to go along with Noctis’s crystal power. Weapons will have some sort of customization element as well. The trailer also showed Noctis warping around killing enemies. Nomura explained players won’t be able to warp freely to every spot, but it will be possible to warp to the location where the player has placed their sword.
The player can throw their sword and warp to that location as well. This is one area that is being tested on so it’s a matter of time to see if this all makes it into the final product. Nomura has also stated that Noctis’s eyes and hair change with his emotions, as well as different actions in battle. There will be a sub window that copies Noctis’s expression that will be shown at the bottom of the screen, similar to Kingdom Hearts, but with more detail. Summon beasts are in the game and will have to be defeated to be used. Nomura has said the game will have Sixaxis support, but gave no specifics about it.
Magic will be available in battle, but spells will have their own unique effects and manifestations amongst each team member. Noctis must also be included in the team as well to have access to use magic, as the ability is related to the powers of the crystal.
The game is stated by Nomura to have 2 types of cutscenes. One shall be pre-rendered movies while the others are real-time event scenes. These real-time event scenes are similiar to the cutscenes found in FPS games with the player having full control over the camera. Nomura states that in previous games they had to make seperate hi-poly models for cutscenes. However with the technology of today the only difference between the hi-poly models of the pre-rendered movies and the low-poly models of the game in Versus XIII is the hair. Nomura also stated that Noctis will have a cellphone which can be used to take in game pictures.