FF13 Spoiler-Filled Post-Game Analysis Thread

First of all, if you’re reading this thread, I’m assuming that you’ve either finished the main story in FF13, or that you’ve abandoned the game partway through and don’t care. Either way, prepare for free discussion of plot details and anything else relating to FF13 that strikes our fancy.

First, some vertical white space to allow eager eyeballs a chance to stop, if you’ve blundered in here by accident:










OK. I’m going to start now. I expect this to be a lively discussion. :)

I finished the main story line last night. Total time logged: a little over 46 hours. And quite frankly, I’m not sure how I feel about this game, now it’s done. Was I entertained? Yes. Did I get my money’s worth? I think so. Was I disappointed? Ultimately… yes, I think I was.

Things I liked, in no particular order:

S-E really delivered on the graphics. Say what you will about the story, the characters, or the gameplay, at least the visuals were there.

… and so was the soundtrack. This is probably my second-favorite FF soundtrack, next to FF10’s.

No random encounters. I really really hate the random pop-up encounters of older FF games, so I’m happy that they kept the FF12-style of encounter, where you can see what’s up ahead, and plan accordingly.

Generous save points. The game is well-populated with places to save your progress. But you almost didn’t need that many, because of:

The Retry feature. Yes, yes, YES. No more replaying strings of battles because you got screwed by a bad break in the last one. (I’m looking at you, Progenitorial Wrath.) If I had to rank FF13 features that I’d like to see continued, this probably goes at the top of the list. Hands down, the biggest frustration saver since the abolition of random battles.

The setting. It should have been great. A hollow, artificial planetoid with a high-tech civilization, hovering above an untamed wilderness planet. What potential! Sadly, it ends up being squandered, to a large extent.

Things I didn’t like:

The game just feels a bit too dumbed down. It looks like S-E was going for a streamlined experience here, and if so, they succeeded just a little too well. You’re not quite mashing X to advance through a series of cut scenes, but big chunks of the game feel that way, especially in the first half.

I thought the ramp-up in FF12 was long (nine hours until you get control of the gambits? sheesh!) but FF13 is even worse. Early combat is easy (good!) but it stays that way far too long (bad!). You’re ready to move on to bigger challenges, but the game withholds them from you. You don’t even get the ability to choose the active party members until you’re halfway through the game. Perhaps this was done deliberately, to force you to learn the use of the various roles in combination, but twenty hours of this?

So, let’s talk about the combat system. It delivers fast-paced and usually exciting fights, once you start encountering challenging opposition. However, to maintain the flow of combat, S-E has basically taken most of the control out of your hands. All those great abilities you get in the Crystarium? You hardly ever need to refer to them directly.

And while we’re talking about this, why lock the combat system to one character? Why can’t I switch the leader around in the middle of a fight? Just that one little change would have given me more than enough micromanagement capability to make me happy. Similarly, the whole “leader dies, game over” thing doesn’t make sense to me, except perhaps as an artificial restriction whose only purpose is to make battles riskier.

The Crystarium might as well have been a straight line, for all the difference the branching choices made. By the time the next expansion came along, my characters would typically be maxed out in their primary roles, plus a secondary role each.

The upgrade system and the shops felt completely bolted on. I got through the whole game without spending any money, selling any items, or upgrading any equipment. I didn’t need to. Granted, upgrades probably become important for post-endgame missions, but it might have been nice to have a reason to use the stuff I had in the main story.

90% of the weapons and equipment I collected just sat in the inventory. If I used anything, they were +HP, +strength, and +magic items.

Were there rideable chocobos in this game? I never found them. I assume they were down on Pulse somewhere. In any case, I didn’t need them.

Why mark glowing “jump here” circles on the ground? There’s precious little to explore as it is; why not make players do at least some of the guesswork? Next game, we’ll be choosing a destination from a list and watching the characters move and fight their way there automatically. :P

There’s more I haven’t said about the story and the characters, but I’m out of time so it will have to wait.

I stopped over the weekend and bitched about it in the thread, so now I can talk about why in here, because I know you all care deeply.

I am not being hyperbolic when I say this is the worst Final Fantasy game I have ever played. It is the only one I have quit in disgust. It is linear, restrictive, condescending, and horridly written. After playing games like Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Tales of Vesperia, to come to a game so overwrought and melodramatic while pretending to be something grand and epic, I couldn’t stand it. I rolled my eyes during the big revelations, and I ground my teeth whenever a party member spoke. They’re all unlikable twits and I wasn’t invested in a single one of them.

I sent the below to a friend of mine when asked why I didn’t like it.

A bullet point list of the game’s restrictions that grated on me:

[li]You are encouraged not to select your own actions, and instead press “Auto-Battle.” This isn’t to streamline - this is because it takes too long to go through the menu and select your options because battles are all about doing 10,000 damage a hit as quickly as possible.[/li][li]You have no input over what your allies do.[/li][li]You are not allowed to level up for the first four hours.[/li][li]You are give the Crystarium, which is the XIII version of the Sphere Grid from X. You can spend the CP you get to unlock new abilities. There are no branching paths - you are unlocking a straight line. For some reason this necessitated a fancy, impossible-to-figure-out 3-D representation of fancy crystals.[/li][li]There are no towns. You will never speak to an NPC.[/li][li]There are no sidequests for the first twenty hours. You will always be killing.[/li][li]There are no sidepaths. You will continue down the same tiny corridor killing monsters.[/li][li]You are not allowed to select your own party leader or members until you have played for roughly 20 hours. The game selects everything for you.[/li][li]The sidequests you get 20 hours in are all, without exception, no exaggeration, “go here and kill this one thing.” You do not interact with a person at any point to get these sidequests.[/li][li]There are no minigames. No blitzball, no Triple Triad, no chocobo racing. Nothing to break up the flow of endless battles.[/li][li]The game has seven characters; that is, for all intents and purposes, all. There are villains and the like who show up, but you are told zero about them and they often show up, turn on you, fight you, die, and in some way turn back to your side, all within one hour. Not enough time for any kind of dramatic impact from their actions. Am I supposed to be sad that Cid turns on us? Why? I hardly know the guy. Am I supposed to dislike the guy with silver hair? He shows up all of two times.[/li][/ul]
The game names random things after Final Fantasy things, seemingly just to justify it being a Final Fantasy game. The forge is named Kujata. Does it look like a boar? Of course not, it’s a giant wall of computers. A rotating light bulb is Carbuncle, and it oversees food preparation. A city is named Palompolom, which is a horrid name for a city and isn’t dominated by twin towers or anything like that. No, it’s just a city that you don’t get to go in. I guess it’s because the youngest member of the party is from there. I can’t figure it out any other way.

I read a spoiler of the end, helpfully spelled out in the back of the strategy guide. It sounds all right for what it was, I guess, but I wasn’t a big fan of the overall arc it took. The Ragnarok looked awesome until I saw clear screenshots of it.

I think in the end, the game ended up being basically rubbish. And again, the writing was atrocious.

I will restrain myself from reposting my clear, concise, and beautifully thought out “game narrowness” post to this thread.

But since they were mentioned, what is it with the chocobos? They are iconic in FF, and in previous games, riding them was both fun and useful. In FF XIII, there are some chocobos wandering around the open gran pulse level that I think I unlocked through a mission in a side area, and presumably they will allow me to get to various areas that require jumping.

But either a) I am too stupid to figure out how to ride them, b) I didn’t do some followup mission that unlocks riding them (presumably providing the usual “grass” types?), or else c) they are only available after the main story ends. If that last is actually the case, it’s yet another symptom that whoever designed this game has no clue what was actually good about previous iterations of the franchise.

A city is named Palompolom, which is a horrid name for a city and isn’t dominated by twin towers or anything like that. No, it’s just a city that you don’t get to go in.

Well, you do actually get to go in there, but as with everything else, you are restricted to the winding corridor-like parts of the city that the developers let you see. Half of those are random drainage tunnels. :P

I did read that post, and I wouldn’t object if you posted it here as well. My purpose in creating this thread was to give people a place to rant about the game without restraint. I didn’t intend to discount the observations already made in the other thread. :)

I think you and Matt have done a good job in summarizing the major problem with this game.


  • Production values. Damn, this was a pretty game.
  • Combat was fairly intuitive and the ability to shift between classes at will made for interesting gameplay (this was something that FFX-2 also had, btw…)


  • Story.

    • Impenetrable. And what little exposition was there was crammed into the quest journal. WEAK.
    • I still don’t know wtf the last boss was supposed to be other than “generic evil god-like thing with a pseudo-hymnal soundtrack”.
    • The game killed off 2 of my characters at the end. OK, I hated one of them but I sort of liked the other.
    • There wasn’t much of a resolution past the immediate end. OK, I get it, Cocoon looks like the Yoshitaka Amano concept art at the title screen now. Clever, ha ha. But… what happened to everyone? What happened to the society you were supposedly saving?
    • No explanation for so many things introduced throughout the game. Why the hell is everyone in Gran Pulse dead? Did they kill each other? Did Cocoon kill them? Who knows. All through the end sequence crystal shards are floating in the air, and characters remark “Hm, this could be meaningful!” Never explained. At the end, 2 of the supporting cast are returned from crystal stasis. No explanation why, or why the 2 cast members who just WENT into crystal stasis weren’t released. What, did they trade places? Who knows.
  • Too much dumbing down in game systems.

    • Inventory management is essentially a minigame that can be ignored
    • Character advancement involves spending points to progress down a 99% linear grid. Never any choices to make.
    • Game encourages auto-attack to the exclusion of all else
  • “No world there”

    • You almost never talk to any NPCs. There is not a single branching conversation tree in the entire game.
    • The missions/quests in the game are ridiculously bare-bones/basic. The ones in FF12, by contrast, had much the same in terms of raw systems, but had plenty of flavor and worked within the world. You were being contracted by people within the world to do various things. In FF13 there are no people. You get mission statements from inanimate objects, literally.
    • Much of the world is completely depopulated, giving the impression that you are trapped in a barren wasteland populated only by horrific creatures. Not terribly aspirational.
    • The linear path through the game isn’t concealed at all. Final Fantasy X was equally linear, but had enough branches to at least give the illusion that you weren’t on rails. FF13 straps a steam engine in front and yells “CHOO CHOO”.

I have zero motivation whatsoever to play past the plot ending. I could level up and do generic missions - but why?

If FF13 had FF12’s world and FFX or FFX-2’s game systems it would have been a much better game. Innovation in this case involved jettisoning a lot of what make RPGs (and JRPGs specifically)*fun, without anything to replace it save eye-candy.

Man my opinion of the game shifted dramatically once I got to chapter 12. That’s when the game jumped the shark in my opinion, and kind of wrecked the illusion (or self-delusion possibly) that there was a consistent, well-thought-out game world. There was something about that silly cutscene in the beginning of the chapter that seemed to involve the party jumping into some sort of road race and fighting weird shit with their Transformer summons that made me suspend my suspension of disbelief (the one place the datalog actually didnt explan what the hell was going on!). The general level design of that chapter was graphically beautiful, but felt nonsensical. Maybe if I replayed the game, I would feel that way about all the levels, but it really started feeling obvious to me when I got to 12.

As far as distinct good and bad points, I pretty much agree with those in the OP. I’ll reiterate that the skippable cutscenes and the Retry commands are great. Also, I think I experienced a feature which was awesome, but I can’t be sure: if you win a fight while the death animation of the lead character is playing (which maybe takes a second or so), it appears that you still win the fight. That was pretty cool (assuming I didnt imagine it).

On the bad side, I’ll also reiterate that the world feels completely dead and unconvincing. Chapter 11 had some awesome moments, especially seeing the giant monsters roaming across the plains for the first time, and there were plenty of spectacular graphics throughout, but there was no sense-of-place there for me. It was bizarre that there were a tiny number of objects you could click on to get a one or two sentence description of, as if that was supposed to impart some sense of depth to the world. When basically the whole game involves endless slaughtering of monsters, I’m supposed to give a shit that a textbook in a school has sturdy binding? WTF?

All in all though I did have a lot of fun with the game, and I don’t regret for a moment the cost in time or money that I spent playing it, but it just seems like such a massive missed opportunity. I really hope the devs learn (the right) lessons from this.

And boy would a lot of my bad feelings be soothed by a re-release of FFXII International in the US with HD resolution, along the lines of the God of War re-releaase.

Yeah, Lum, the production values save the game for me; if it had been uglier or the combats took longer to set up or there was long loading times I would already have quit.

I will finish it (mid-chapter 12 now) just to honor that work – the art and technical achievements are very noteworthy. Nice job avoiding a lengthy game install, among other kudos.

But it just boggles the mind how such a beautiful and awesome ensemble effort could be misdirected with poor high-level design decisions. I’m a JRPG fan, more or less, so I don’t deprecate games with lots of combat encounters, either. It’s just that FF XIII is missing all the fun aspects of previous FF games, and has nothing to offer in compensation besides the pretty art, smooth animation, reliable combat system, and solid engine.

I agree with your post on the other thread, Miramon. The game is certainly very narrow in scope, so it succeeds or fails entirely on the strength of its combat system. In my case, the combat system really clicked for me and I found it rewarding in and of itself, to the extent that I’m looking forward to doing some of the post-game stuff.

There are a couple of things I would have liked to see done with the combat system, though. For a game with so many area effects, you should really have some control over positioning. A lot of fights got a lot easier if your party managed to wander away from each other. Also, I would have liked to be able to save custom paradigm sets instead of having to rearrange things constantly. I also agree that it’d be nice to be able to change the active character at any time. For the most part, the AI behaves pretty respectably, but being able to change the AI’s buff/debuff preferences would have been helpful.

I don’t think the story is overly abstruse, and I found the world itself to be kind of interesting. I kind of like just being thrown into a world and having to pick things up through context, but I admit some more concrete answers would have been nice. One of the loading screen spoilers for Chapter 11 talks about learning the truth of the War of Transgression, but I don’t think that phrase ever actually came up. Are we supposed to assume that was first time that Fang became Ragnarok?

The crafting system could have been a ton better. Given that you only truly need to buy two components at any one time, it’s pretty silly to have all those various components on sale. It’s true that there are some interesting effects you can put on weapons, but the pace at which crafting proceeds means you won’t see any of them until the end of the game at best. The set bonuses are cool, but I had no idea that set bonuses were in the game until I read about it online. Way, way too much hidden information here. I’m willing to grant that a lot of the game might be the result of deliberate, if misguided, design decisions, but it’s the crafting system that really makes me think the game might have been unfinished.

Anyway, I hope that the lesson the devs take away from FFXIII is not just to scrap everything and start over. I think it’d be a shame to never see this combat system improved upon.

BTW, you can ride chocobos after you beat Mission 14, I think it is. Again, something you’d barely even know to look for.

I lost a battle to a Grand Behemoth because Lightning, who had been doing a great job flanking the behemoth and allowing Hope to use just Curasa and Cure on Fang, decided to wander around to attack him from the front instead and get two-shotted by its sweeping strikes. The TV got yelled at.

That’s the kind of crap that has me getting seriously burned out in chapter 11. I get that I need to do some grinding at this stage, but goddamn it’s easy to lose fights for reasons you have absolutely no control over.

There are groups of four to five little trash-can angry-face winged things. Don’t fight them. They call more of their own kind to help, and then they call a Grand Behemoth, which means you lose. Be sure to not fight those.

You can exert half-assed control of the main character’s position when she is a commando or ravager by choosing either ranged or close combat attacks. So if you “ruin” you will tend to wander around the edge of the combat, but if you “attack” you will tend to be in the foe’s face. But yeah, it’s annoying when some stupid aeroga picks up the whole party and animation-stun-locks everyone for 5 seconds because they were just aimlessly wandering around and happened to cluster…

I don’t object all that much to the difficult fights in some places, especially in the main chapter 11 zone. I like games where it’s actually possible to lose, and of course you can instantly retry in FF XIII, almost always with the option to retreat or avoid the combat.

But yes, I agree the king behemoth is a bit too much as a common foe in that zone – better design would replace it with something less awesome during your first pass through the area, or would make it not aggro, like the giant tortoises. But if that was the worst problem with the game, I wouldn’t mind at all.

There seems to be a hierarchy there. The starting winged creatures start calling in the blue ones, and the blue ones eventually summon the behemoths. After one surprise behemoth summoning, I got into the habit of dropping everything and killing the blue ones as soon as they appeared. :)

There are blue ones? I honestly had no idea. All I saw was a flurry of spells and chaos.

I agree with about everything said earlier in this thread. Pretty game with an asstacular story. So, instead I’ll fill in some complaints with the endgame, of which I did partake a bit.

I made it through the game, I did a smidge of PLing at the end to see if I wanted to be a completionist… and I don’t. I can’t spend another 30 hours killing the same sets of adamantoirtise’ forever to get all the money you need to get all the items you need. Honestly? Thats the endgame?!? Getting Ultimate weapons in FF10 was a nightmare, but at least it was a VARIED nightmare. 0:00 chocobo race, 200 lightning bolts, loads of blitz, they were all very different experiences. in 13, you basically spend the remainder of your time killing the big turtles, which are the only mob that drops the ultimate weapon catalyst.

Up until now the entire crafting system was a joke, but once you complete the game, the ultimate weapons become a neccessity to finish all the Missions. I made it into the 50’s level missions before I just couldn’t do it anymore. Looking back, I can’t believe I made it that far honestly.

Completing the Crystarium… also a joke. you really want me to spend 60,000 CP for 10 HIT POINTS?!? X (too friggin many to count)?!? But yeah, you have to fill all those, to getthe one little achievement that says you “mastered” all of your characters. THPT.

I actually enjoyed the game up until the endgame. The endgame sucks. The story sucks, but the combat was fairly OK. But once you get to the ONLY extras in this game (which are all kill missions as was mentioned), the game becomes a complete bore.

Actually you need to only loot one part from a turtle. There’s a weapon you can forge from that part that you can then disenchant for three of those parts. Repeat until done. But yeah, it’s still pretty slight.

My biggest beef about the story after some reflection:

The ENTIRE game is set up as you resisting your fate and the manipulation of the ‘gods’. You’re told that your fate is to kill Orphan, the “AI” energy reactor that powers the world that humanity lives on, that you will destroy the world, and that nothing you do can change that. You bravely rebel! Screw people telling us what to do, screw “gods” manipulating humanity and pulling the strings behind everything, we’re going to be masters of our own fate, we’re going to transcend our curse, we’re going to find the people responsible for this and KICK THEIR ASS!

So, of course, the end game boss is you killing Orphan and destroying the world, literally doing everything that you were manipulated into doing by the ‘villains’ throughout the entire game.

Either this is a very dark, Asian view of free will or someone really did not think this through. I strongly suspect the latter.

Well, I used that trick, because the drop rate is obscenely rare. BUT you still end up killing turtles to be able to afford getting the weapon upgrades done in the first place. He also drops the Platinum ingot, the only monetary items that will get you anywhere near the 1.5 mill gil or so you need to upgrade EACH WEAPON

I think the idea was that Orphan could only be destroyed by Ragnarok, so by killing him without resorting to that power, it freed Ragnarok up to stop Cocoon from crashing into Gran Pulse. Since I think we’re supposed to take away from the ending that much of Cocoon was safely evacuated to Gran Pulse, I think you do manage to subvert Orphan’s plans at the end, even if Cocoon is uninhabitable.

It wasn’t clear what the specific result of killing Orphan would be for a lot of the game, though. I wonder if it’s possible that Orphan himself isn’t meant to be certain of what would happen. Maybe the game is really just about an immortal being trying to find a way to die, but without having the agency to kill himself directly.

At any rate, I’d like to know which fal’Cie actually issues the focus at the start of the game. The cutscene showed a big spinny gear guy who I don’t think appeared in the rest of the game. Was that supposed to be some sort of representation of Anima, the first boss?