Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Beta Preview

Feature article

Dissidia Final Fantasy first graced the PSP back in 2009 (or 2008 in Japan) and then disappeared into obscurity. The game was a fighting game with action role-playing (ARPG) elements and featured characters from the Final Fantasy universe.

Despite its 7 year absence from the scene, the series is now returning in High Definition with Dissidia Final Fantasy NT releasing on the PS4 early next year. It’s also currently undergoing beta testing which I’ve jumped into, ready to give my thoughts. This iteration of the game has been out in Japanese arcades since late 2015 with a bevy of new characters being drip-fed to fans since release. In typical Final Fantasy tradition, Dissidia looks unnecessarily complicated for a fighting game but once you get used to the mechanics, it makes for a fun brawler. The original Dissidia has local multiplayer but (outside of Japan) it didn’t see much use. This time around, Dissidia NT features 3 v 3 battles. In single-player, you can switch between 3 chosen characters on the fly, and multiplayer will team you up with two other players for some good ol’ versus.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT’s battle system was redesigned from the ground up, though some elements from the previous titles have been retained. Characters are divided into four combat classes: power-based Vanguards, agility-based Assassins, ranged-based Marksmen, and unique trait-based Specialists. Characters can perform Brave attacks, which increases the player’s Bravery level based on the amount of damage done. If an opponent is attacked while their Bravery is at zero, a Bravery Break will be triggered, giving the player a substantial Bravery boost. Players can also perform HP attacks that will do direct damage to an opponent based on their current Bravery level. Using HP attacks will reset the player’s Bravery back to zero, forcing then to perform more Brave attacks before they can directly attack their opponent again. The previous games’ EX Mode has been tweaked, with players able to equip one HP attack and two EX Skills per character in battle.

Each character has its own HP meter, along with a Party HP meter, Stamina meter and Summon meter for the whole team. When a character is defeated, a segment will be removed from the Party HP meter; when the meter is depleted, the player loses. Energy from the Stamina meter is expended when the player performs a dash or dodge in order to limit overuse. Players can use their shield or dodge to defend themselves, though the shield will deteriorate over time. By filling their Summon meter, players can also perform summons to call creatures such as Ifrit or Bahamut to temporarily aid them.

The game is set long after the events of the previous two Dissidia titles and focuses on the conflict between Materia, the Goddess of Protection, and Spiritus, the God of Destruction, who summon the characters to act as their champions in battle. Unlike the previous conflict between Cosmos and Chaos, the characters retain their memories of their own worlds and the events of the previous Dissidia games, making them more confident in battle. Rather than a dedicated story mode, new story elements will be revealed as the player participates in battles.

Beta testing for the Australia region has been an exercise in frustration.  I’ve had dropped network connections every second game.  Queues pre-patch were 10+ minutes long in matchmaking but it looks like they patched in AI party members to fill groups if you’ve been in queue too long.  Each battle is quite short and I’ve spent longer in queue than I have actually playing the game.  I was originally planning to do some practice matches and then at least 5 games with each character to get a feel for their different abilities, but that is proving difficult.  Practice matches are a cake-walk and only barely prepare you for matchmaking games.  The AI do not have any sort of strategy, so practice is best for learning a character’s moveset and that’s about it.

The characters currently available to play in Dissidia’s beta include:

Warrior of Light – Final Fantasy
Vanguard

“An all-round fighter devoted to protecting his allies.  He carries a shield of light and employs techniques with both defensive and offensive capabilities.  Said shield can turn others’ attacks to his advantage, and can enhance both the party’s defensive prowess and certain skills.”

Firion – Final Fantasy II
Vanguard

“Firion fights mostly on the ground, able to deftly wield a panoply of weapons from a single spot.  As he can chain combos without landing every attack, keep the hits coming for full effect.”

Onion Knight – Final Fantasy III
Specialist

“This smart aleck is a triple threat when it comes to battle – in addition to being an onion knight, he can unleash devastating melee attacks as a ninja or enshroud his foes in powerful spells as a sage.  How to bring out the best in him is up to you.”

Cecil Harvey – Final Fantasy IV
Vanguard

“Cecil is perfect for airborne skirmishes as a paladin and a formidable threat on the ground as a dark knight.  Switching between the two also enhances his attributes for a time, so remember to switch jobs periodically.”

Bartz Klauser – Final Fantasy V
Specialist

“Bartz knows the right job for almost any occasion.  Moreover, mastering a job can enhance either his or the job’s attributes, so pay due diligence when choosing what to hone.”

Terra Branford – Final Fantasy VI
Marksman

“She can dominate the battle from afar with constant barrages of sorcery.  Her powers charge the longer she goes without attacking, however, thus giving her access to an even more formidable occult arsenal.  Use both strategies wisely.”

Cloud Strife – Final Fantasy VII
Vanguard

“Most of Cloud’s attacks can be charged, thus increasing their damage, area of effect, and ability to render opponents defenseless.  Sidestep to cancel his charging and throw foes off their game, then take them out with potent attacks.”

Squall Leonhart – Final Fantasy VIII
Assassin

“His attitude leaves much to be desired, but his close-quarters gunblade techniques do not.  Timing his combos well also results in explosive amounts of additional damage, so refine your skills if you wish to lead Squall to victory.”

Zidane Tribal – Final Fantasy IX
Assassin

“Ever the thief, Zidane excels at slipping in unexpectedly and darting away, stealing foes’ attributes or leaving them debuffed.  Always be alert for openings in enemies’ defenses and be ready to pounce at a moment’s notice.”

Tidus – Final Fantasy X
Assassin

“Though his skillset is tough to master, Tidus can completely toy with his opponents thanks to his diverse arsenal of dash attacks and remarkable footspeed.  Be it on offense or defense, this blitzballer lives and dies by his agility.”

Shantotto – Final Fantasy XI
Marksman

“Though she begins by casting arcane magic that hits hard, Shantotto’s strategy changes when her defenses are marred.  She morphs into something approaching enmity incarnate, slinging spell salvos that give foes nary a second to split.”

Vaan – Final Fantasy XII
Specialist

“Vaan possesses unique fusion attacks that siphon bravery from enemies while increasing the damage of his two HP attacks the more they land.  Inundate foes with wave after wave of HP attacks to keep them from even treading water.”

Lightning – Final Fantasy XIII
Assassin

“Lightning’s commando role helps her overpower enemies with physical attacks, while her ravager role keeps them at bay with a bevy of spells.  Deluge your foes with magic until you find an opening, then go in for the kill.”

Y’shtola – Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Marksman

“This maven of magic revels in debuffing and trapping enemies.  She can cancel most of her attacks with other moves, enabling her to stand in one spot and become aetheric artillery.  Just be ready to read your foes’ moves and anticipate their actions.”

NT will include every character available in the arcade version at the time of its release. The developers are targeting a total roster of 50 characters, including all characters from the previous Dissidia titles. Future updates will come to the arcade version first before releasing on PlayStation 4 after a short window of exclusivity.  Characters not featured in the beta include:

  • Garland (Final Fantasy)
  • The Emperor (Final Fantasy II)
  • Kain Highwind (Final Fantasy IV)
  • Exdeath (Final Fantasy V)
  • Kefka Palazzo (Final Fantasy VI)
  • Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII)
  • Kuja (Final Fantasy IX)
  • Jecht (Final Fantasy X)
  • Ramza Beoulve (Final Fantasy Tactics)
  • Ace (Final Fantasy Type-0)

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT isn’t due to be out until January 30th 2018, so there’s a lot of time for the developers to fix their netcode and implement better matchmaking.  Here’s hoping that the game takes off in the West!  I think it has the potential to become a well-known brawler and even reach competition levels of popularity given how it’s designed.  The 3v3 mode is a lot of fun and doesn’t require too much social co-ordination to succeed.  I dreaded going up against a full team of 3 players during the beta, and the idea of having 2 friends to strategise with would really give an edge in combat.  The matches can be super quick due to the allowance of only 3 K.Os.  I think that the game will appeal to both long-time Final Fantasy fans and newcomers alike, and hope to see it take off in popularity upon release.