We have some more details from Sonsaru on GameFAQs:
* Toriyama comment – "If you don’t use support magic I don’t think you will be able to beat the harder monsters and bosses. Even if you manage to reach them [without using it], they will just kill you right away if you don’t."
* Fights to aquire the summons are harder than most of the bosses in the game and require serious strategy to beat – one Famitsu writer commented "I got wiped out six times and restarted the battle twice before I beat Sazh’s summon."
* There are other abilities that use TP – such as the spell Quake, which damages all enemies, and Full Cure, that fully heals and brings back to life everyone.
* TP takes a while to build up; although play style will alter this, a rough guide is the ability to use a summon once every ten battles. Often find that will have just used TP to cast Libra and then get into a battle which you need a summon for!
* It would take a long time and a lot of CP to follow every path in each character’s Crystalium.
* When asked how many missions there are – "More than half of the targets are stronger than the last boss (laugh). Come back to the story after making decent progress through the missions and the last boss will seem easy."
* Although a three Attacker Optima is obviously possible, it isn’t really all that good. The Optima people will likely use the most is one Attacker, two Blasters.
* You can set six Optima patterns, and also choose which one the characters will be in when battle starts.
* Due to the battles being real time, Haste is very useful. The ATB gauge turns red and fills up really quickly. Spells that lower enemy defense and slow down enemy ATB are also very useful.
* Both Kitase and Toriyama say they generally play the game entirely on Auto Command. Kitase "I do handle healing myself, and always cast Haste first with an Enchancer."
* Accessories can be upgraded like weapons, and extra accessory slots can be purchased from the Cyrstalium.
1up translated a FFXIII interview from the recent Famitsu edition that is apparently the last review before the game’s release. You can read it below:
– Where did the idea for the battle system come from? "The concept was to fuse speedy action elements with the strategic parts of battle," Toriyama said. "The video we showed at the initial announcement [at the 2006 E3 show] showed an ATB-based battle system that ran very fast. To make that work, we implemented features like multiple command inputs and juggling and so on. That lead to the chain and break systems, which accelerates things even further. The style has changed, but the original concept has survived the entire process. The Paradigm Shift system didn’t exist at that initial announcement, but it’s improved the strategic aspect of battle so much that I think it’s done one better on what we were picturing at first."
"In FF up to now, the key to battle was choosing the right commands for each character based on the battle situation," Kitase added. "But if you gave a command to each of your three party members here in order, like Toriyama said, there’s a limit to how fast you can make things while still allowing the player to stay in control. So instead we have the player only controlling the leader, planning chains and formations with the other two AI-controlled characters. We figured that was about what the player could handle. That was where the paradigms came from — they keep battles fun while retaining the balance between speed and strategy. Making each character’s role obvious — attack, recover, shield — and letting you switch between them instantly lets you fight your way through battles more adroitly."
– Can every character use all six of the game’s roles from the get-go? "Three roles are unlocked for each character at the start," Toriyama replied. "After that, you get more as the story goes on. Once you get more roles, then you also get more paradigms, which are basically combinations of these roles."
– Can you stop time in the battle, like in previous FFs? "There is no full Command Wait option," Toriyama said, "but you can adjust the speed of battle in the configuration. There’s ‘normal’ and ‘slow’ options."
"When things get busy, you need to switch paradigms instinctively to keep up," Kitase added. "I think players will adjust the order of their paradigms to deal with that. If you change to the wrong paradigm at the wrong time, you could lose the whole party, after all."
– FFXIII’s summon system is a pretty vast departure from what we’ve seen in previous games. "The summon system is perhaps the epitome of the action element we tried to put into battles," Toriyama commented. "There’s a lot of strategy behind them — how you should build up the chain and break it, and how long you have them fight in normal mode to set the stage just right. Controlling them is a very exhilarating experience; it’s like a sort of bonus stage in the midst of battle."
– Was the idea that each character gets a single Eidolon there from the start? "It relates to the story," Toriyama replied, "but I did want each character to have a closer bond with his or her Eidolon. That’s why we cut their numbers and focused on making each one that much better."
– One of the new features in FFXIII for hardcore players is the Mission system, letting you undertake special (and extremely difficult) missions for extra bonuses. How many missions are there? "I can’t give you a number, but there’s a fair amount," said Toriyama. "Over half of the monsters involved are stronger than the final boss! If you go back to the story after tackling a bunch of mission, you’ll probably find the last boss to be a pushover."
– Wrapping up the interview, Kitase revealed that FFXIII has been in some form of development for a good half-decade. "The FFX-2 International team kind of got off to a jogging start on this title after they finished up that project," he said. "It’s been five years since they first came up with a project concept — for the PS2, back at that time. We shifted platforms to the PS3 before announcing it to the public, but it’s been just about three and a half years since then. We’ve made people wait quite a while, but I think we’ve used the time well."