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Those who are familiar with the first game would be able to replace the definition of “linear” in the dictionary with the words “Final Fantasy XIII.” Toriyama made it clear during an interview with IGN UK that the brief glimpse of open-world exploration at the very end of Final Fantasy XIII will be more prevalent in the sequel. Toriyama stated that while FFXIII-2 will not be entirely open-world like in Elder Scrolls or Mass Effect, it will certainly allow the player to “enjoy the freedom of searching and exploring the world.”
Toriyama also emphasized during the interview that FFXIII-2 aims to better integrate the player into the action in order to “increase the player’s attachment to the character and the feeling that they are part of the action and not just watching.” With too much passive involvement being an age-old criticism of JRPG’s (including FFXIII), coupled with their vastly decreased prominence in the Western market, this is a smart move. Toriyama and his team seem bent on creating a more proactive approach for the player in the sequel.
Look for Lightning and crew’s adventures to continue in the United States in January 2012.