The Dead Dunes notwithstanding, much of what we've seen from "Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII" has taken place in urban environments. In her most recent Gamescom trailer, though, Lightning borrows a line from Alfred Lord Tennyson (of all people) and heads into the Wildlands.
Despite some of "Lightning Returns"'s radical departures from the "Final Fantasy" status quo, this trailer strikes me as relatively traditional: there are Chocobos and Moogles (each with their trademark musical hooks), a magical forest to explore, and an enormous double-horned Behemoth to slash.
Sazh and his constant Chocobite companion make a cameo as well, as does some shaggy-maned blonde guy that might be familiar if I were up on my "Final Fantasy XIII" lore. It's speaks to the series' legacy and the intriguing prospect of a pure action title that someone with such a limited knowledge of the "Final Fantasy XIII" saga (that would be me) is keeping up with "Lightning Returns" so hawkishly.
And maybe that's why we just keep getting more and more "Lightning Returns" trailers. They were at E3, Comic-Con, and now Gamescom, but I still don't feel over-exposed or spoiled, mostly because I don't really know what's going on besides the relatively basic Lightning-saves-the-world plot.
Or maybe that's all I need to know. Like "Final Fantasy X-2" (one of my favorites!), "Lightning Returns" is all about dressing up, looking fierce, and chopping stuff up with a big sword really fast.
So, anyway, the Wildlands. Last month, word out of Japanese press event suggested that the Wildlands were expansive enough to require mounted Chocobo riding.
The last "Final Fantasy" game I played seriously was "XII," and the PlayStation 2 wasn't really up to the task of seamlessly rendering Ivalice's vast expanses. Each area was broken up into small segments, so setting off on my trusty avian steed never felt as freeing as trucking through the overworlds of yore. That said, I certainly wouldn't mind a good old-fashioned Chocobo race after all this time.
"Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns" comes out in February 2014 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter