Square Enix announced a nostalgia-heavy pre-order bonus for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. Anyone who reserves the game prior to launch will receive Cloud Strife SOLDIER 1st Class DLC, inspired by Final Fantasy 7's spikey-haired hero.
This DLC allows Lightning to look just like Cloud, minus the Popeye arms. She can don his SOLDIER uniform and wield his Buster Sword. She'll also get his Soldier Band, which presumably carries some stat bonuses. To complete the FF7 aesthetic, Square Enix also included Cloud's finishing animation and the Victory Fanfare music.
Lightning Returns begins centuries after FFXIII-2. Lightning awakens from her crystal stasis to find that Chaos is tearing the world apart. There are only 13 days left until the apocalypse. It's up to Lightning to stop this cataclysm from happening. This game is said to be the final chapter in the Final Fantasy XIII saga.
With most open-ended games, you can explore the world for as long as you like. However, in Returns, you're racing against the clock. You've only got 13 days to save the world and that time will advance throughout the campaign. Certain actions will even move the clock forward. Square Enix has designed the game in such a way that it's impossible to see everything in one play-through.
Returns introduces action and platform elements not seen in the previous chapters of FFXIII. Players will directly control Lightning in battle. Actions are mapped to face buttons, so you won't be leading the battle through menu selections. Outside of combat, players can jump and climb through the game world to find hidden areas. It seems like Square Enix is trying to appeal to gamers who aren't necessarily RPG fans, which seems like an odd move in the third installment of a trilogy.
Outfits play a key role in combat. Each contains a different set of abilities, or Schema. Cloud's SOLDIER uniform won't just be a fashion statement, then - it will actually affect how you play the game.
Square Enix will release Lightning Returns in February 2014. The game will be available on the PS3 and Xbox 360.