It has seemed obvious from the features being added to Final Fantasy XIII-2 that Square is acutely aware of the complaints against its predecessor, but now the company is just stating it outright. In an interview with Gamasutra, game director Motomu Toriyama treated the subject pretty bluntly. "Our ultimate goal is rectifying every single point in Final Fantasy XIII that has been criticized by users," he said.
Toriyama says that the major complaints were two-fold: that it was too linear, and that there weren't many towns and cities to explore. "We actually took those criticisms very seriously, and you'll notice we tackled them completely and thoroughly. This new game is more player-driven, as opposed to story-driven, so youc an explore different locations and fields to get information and explore towns and other types of locations, as well. So we are very determined to rectify all of the problems, and we think we have."
He also claimed that the Paradigm battle system has been iterated on with some new features, and acknowledges that introducing players to it slowly in the last game seemed like "very lengthy tutorials, which a lot of people didn't like at all."
Finally, Toriyama rejected the notion that the game was made from unused FFXIII content, saying that a statement from a staff member was misinterpreted. "It is true in any game, in the process of making it, that obviously you have to come up with lots of different ideas, and obviously you can't materialize every single one of them," he said. "You have to try them out, and eventually you're left with the best ones for use. It's only that because there are lots of ideas and content that we could have included in XIII where we didn't; but we didn't actually recycle any of them for XIII-2."
Of course, a developer claiming his new game is going to be better than his last game isn't uncommon. But this at least means that Square Enix is willing to shoulder the blame for elements that fans disliked, and attempt to fix them. We'll see how well that works out when the game launches in January.