A long running series like Final Fantasy tends to have a large number of spin-offs, and in Final Fantasy’s case that is a lot. It is fun to see series characters in different situations and interacting with each other in with each other in ways they could not in the main series. Of course, sometimes we just want them to fight each other. Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is the third game in the series of arena fighters. Its original version was released in Japanese arcades in 2015; the closed beta was for the PlayStation 4 version that will be released 30th January. I was able to play in the recently completed closed beta and experienced the game. One thing I would like to say is that I have no experience with previous games released for PlayStation Portable.
As previously mentioned, the game is a 3-on-3 arena fighter; characters fight while moving in 3D. The stages are closed areas with solid walls. However, the rules might seem confusing to those unfamiliar with the previous Dissidia games. The large number on screen is the player’s Bravery; it has a base value of 1000. Hitting an opponent with the X button Bravery attacks increases the value, while getting hit decreases it. Getting an opponent’s Bravery to zero grants a bonus. Your Bravery denotes the amount of damage the HP attack does. The HP attack is assigned to Square and is the only way to deal damage. Defeating someone by wiping their HP removes a section from that team’s life gauge and with all three brings victory. Movement options include a dash, which can be used in the both on the ground and in the air, on top of the basic running and jumping. It can all take getting used to, although I found everything became natural quicker than I expected.
In the beta matches were restricted to being online five other players and offline against CPU opponents. Before connecting to match, you would pick a character and skill set. There were 2 pre-set groups of skills, each being one of the characters’ HP attack and two EX abilities that were set to the Triangle button and a direction. Characters also had a unique EX skill which was set to just Triangle. Once a match is joined players vote on which Summon to use in battle. They are all a new form of classic Final Fantasy Summons, for Ifrit to Bahamut. Before being summoned they provide unique support effects such as reduced cool-down on Ex Skills. To be summoned in battle team has to fill a meter on the screen and at least one player has to hold the touch pad. Summoning becomes faster with more players doing so. Before and during the match players can communicate with each other using a number of phrases set to directions on D-pad and the face buttons. These range from simple things like “hey” to which opponent they want to target. It’s rather odd that voice chat was missing and it could get difficult to use in the heat of battle. Hopefully, this absence was only for the beta.
Each of the stages in the game is based on locations from Final Fantasy games. Locations such as Midgar, Basaid, and Alexandria host the battles, with parts of them being destructible as fighters get slammed into them. Speaking of fighters, the beta included 14 playable characters. The roster was one character from first Final Fantasy all the way to Final Fantasy XIV, each one of them fitting into one of 4 categories, Vanguard, Marksman, Assassin, and Specialist. Vanguard characters like the Warrior of Light and Cloud are close quarters fighters, moving in quick to do damage. The Marksman characters such as Terra and Y’shtola are made to fight at a distance using magic before moving in for the kill. The Assassins like Squall and Zidane are based around buffing themselves and de-buffing the opposition. Finally, the Specialists, which include Onion Knight, have unique properties to their abilities; based on the Job system used in their games. The release game will have more playable characters, including those from other spin-off games such as Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy Type-0.
I found myself really enjoying the matches. Everything felt based on movement and timing, and that made it satisfying to get that combo or KO. Some matches could end very quickly. Tactics really would go around how much you want to build you Bravery and when to use the HP attack. Trying to get one hit KOs can be effective but it can also be risky. Being very aware of what is happening and where is important, which can be a bit confusing as the camera is always locked on to someone on the opposing team. It can only be changed manually and there is radar on screen to use. However, in general everything felt great. The cat-and-mouse game of what-to-do-and-when is an exciting experience. Teamwork also being key to gaining the advantage and avoid being ganged up on. There was one issue that did come up in the beta frequently; the matchmaking. The waiting times for matches could take quite some time, five minutes or longer being common. Once in a match however, things generally felt good, only having the occasional connection hiccup. All in all, things are looking good for the full release. There should be enough time between now and the game’s January release to iron out the matchmaking. I look forward to the full game and what else it has to offer.
Developed by Koei Tecmo and Square-Enix. Publihed by Square-Enix. Dissida Final Fantasy NT is released 30th January for Playstation 4.
Screenshots/images © Koei Tecmo and Square-Enix; taken during personal gameplay.