In 2015, Square-Enix came together with Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja to bring a formerly portable only series to arcades. However, with that came some changes. Dissidia Final Fantasy NT became a 3-on-3 arena brawler. Putting Final Fantasy characters from all 15 mainline titles and some spin-offs on the battlefield. All while still taking gameplay elements from its predecessors and branching into E-Sports competition and opening the door for online battling. Now, Dissidia NT comes to the home console, but does it deliver the same arcade experience? For the most part, it actually does.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Review
Title: Dissidia Final Fantasy NT
Platform: PS4 [Reviewed],
Genre: Fighting Game
Developer: Koei Tecmo, Team Ninja
Players: 1 (1-6 Online)
Release Date: January 30, 2018
A New World, A New Fight
Following the events of Dissidia 012: Duodecim many of the warriors thought the battle between Chaos and Cosmos was finally won. The cycle that had repeated over and over was finished, as the two gods fell. However, in Dissidia Final Fantasy NT the cycle re-emerges, but with two new gods: Spiritus and Materia. Materia is the heiress to Cosmos’ and Spiritus is the heir to Chaos’.
The two gods summon different warriors from their respective realms. These warriors are the same legends from the different games in the Final Fantasy series. The roster is compromised of 25 heroes and villains. Each with their own goal of returning home and ending the cycle. As players fight in the different modes, and level-up, they gain Memoria. Memoria is used to unlock the story cutscenes and summon battles in the game.
Getting Through the Story
The story follows a treemap. Each branch leads to a short cutscene that either blends into another cutscene, or goes to a battle scene. Just like in the previous installments, crystalized versions of the characters who have the same movesets as their original counterparts are involved. Story battle modes have also expanded to include the actual characters. Players take control of a character designed for the cutscene. Then, they have at least three options in character selection.
Also introduced in the story mode are Summon battles. Dissidia NT also allows the use of summons in the other modes, which I’ll explain later. Summon battles are challenging and force players to learn quickly. They are certainly a test of courage and worthiness. Players have to knock down or stun these summons in order to hit them with an HP attack. One misstep can cause a fatal error and end the fight. Making Summon battles very different than what you experience in rest of the game.
Probably one of the hardest battles in the entire mode is against Ramuh. The other summons (Bahamut, Shiva, Ifrit, Odin, Alexander, and Leviathan) are very direct, and it’s easier to dodge their attacks. However, Ramuh has an area of effect attack that forces players to dash and guard. Although maybe there should be a slight change to how strong they are down the line, these are the definitions of a Final Fantasy battle. These battles are very nostalgic not only because of who the enemy is but also because outside of Alexander, these are the most historic summons in the entire series.
Chaotic 3-on-3 Action
Probably one of the biggest changes that players will come across from the previous games, is the 3v3 system in Dissidia NT. It is a huge change from the former one on one experience. Most brawlers tend to keep arena fighting games at a wide camera angle which focuses the battle on two players. Dissidia NT puts the focus on a much grander scale. Now, players choose who to target. By having a locked-on target, it makes it easier to follow your current opponent. With the ultimate goal being the first team to gain three knockouts.
This can be achieved in a variety of ways as well. You can knock out each opposing team member once, focus everything on one opponent and whack them three times, or just go for another type of combination. It’s a chaotic system that can turn the tide of battle very quickly. Making it easy to get ganged up on by opponents and even easier to see a lead in knockouts dissolve quickly.
Learning the Classes
Dissidia NT introduces a class system. All characters on the roster are separated into four classes: Marksman, Vanguard, Assassin, and Specialist. It’s like a rock-paper-scissors system. Marksman are stronger against a Vanguard, and weaker to Assassins. Specialists have the ability to adapt, changing into a strong Vanguard, or a sneaky Assassin. They tend to change the outcome of a battle in a matter of seconds.
The layout of battles has also changed. The past Dissidia games had what was called EX skills. After players charged up enough EX points, they could transform and deal incredible bravery attacks that were both beautiful and powerful. Dissidia NT now uses three smaller scale EX skills. One is for buffing, such as raising the party’s attack or regenerating HP. Another is used for debuffing such as lowering bravery or reducing dash gauges. The third EX skill is the main one, exclusive to each character. Some characters keep their original EX skill like Terra Brandford’s trance. Others simply use a skill they are known for from their original game, like Squall’s Junction command or Cloud Strife’s limit-break. These Ex Skills are used in conjunction with Bravery attacks and HP attacks.
Bravery And HP Attacks
I explained the ultimate goal of battles earlier. But now it’s time to discuss how you get to that point. Dissidia NT divides your main attacks between HP Attacks and Bravery Attacks. HP Attacks actually deal damage to opponents and help slowly weaken them. However, the major thing to pay attention to is Bravery. The main key to landing a decisive blow is by using Bravery to your advantage.
Each character starts out with 1000 Bravery. Every time you land an attack, you raise your Bravery and lower the opponent’s Bravery. Once you’ve doubled the amount of Bravery you have in comparison to your opponent (usually indicated by the numbers turning purple) you can hit them with a hard blow and it puts them at 0 Bravery. Meaning if you hit them again with a big attack, you can knock them out. Putting your side one step closer to victory.
Although no character ever truly dies, as they can revive fairly quickly, it does let you know how good or bad a player is by how quickly you were able to dispose of them. For example, if you beat them quickly, you may want to key in on that player to try and gain subsequent knockouts. If it was a true challenge to take them out, perhaps that is someone to avoid on the next go around.
Summons are also an important cog in battles. At the beginning of the game, players are allowed to choose one Esper crystal at random. This becomes your first summon available to use in the other modes. Leveling up helps you gain more summons. Giving you more variety, the more involved you get in the game. Using them in battle, much like in the actual games, can truly turn the tide of a contest. However, they are locked behind a summoning crystal that appears randomly on the battlefield. Players must target the crystal and the last one to break it fills up their summoning meter by half. Attacking in battle also slowly fills up the meter, but the best way to get it at full blast is by using the summon crystals. Normally, it takes two summon crystals to make it happen.
Once the meter is full, any player on a team can press down on the touchpad and finally summon the beast. Your specific summon appears and deals some massive damage with auto attacks and its final special. Then, the process begins anew once again. Usually, each team gets one shot at summoning per battle. So, many times it comes down to summoning at the right time. Not to mention, a little bit of luck too.
As with most fighting games, the main mode you’ll be using is the online mode. Here, players can battle others from almost all around the world. There are two formats to choose from, the regular 3-on-3 contests, or Core battles. Core battles are different because teams have to destroy the opposing team’s crystal. There’s a catch though. All three of the opposing team’s roster must be outside of the crystal range in order for players to properly attack the crystal. This is a huge struggle to juggle knocking out players and then lowering the shield on the crystal. Thus, requiring good team composition and communication. Something that’s easily available with friends in party chat. But impossible with randoms online. You can also do simpler one-on-one fights online too. Although it amounts more to a sparring contest than an actual match.
These same modes are available off-line as well. And there’s also the bonus Gauntlet Mode that puts you into six straight matches where you pick the difficulty level of your opponents. This is probably the easiest way to gain levels in the game. While also learning things at your own pace. Although, it may hamper you when playing against real human opponents online.
Grinding For Treasure
The best thing about Dissidia is the fact that the game is purely a grind. Since this is a Final Fantasy game, you have to get some loot right? Every level-up a player is granted a random treasure box. Each treasure contains three items that can range from player icons to weapon skins and costumes. If players really want an item, they also have the choice of purchasing the item with gil. However, nothing in the game can be bought with real money. All of the items that are in the game are strictly grindable. While it does take a bit to get enough gil to purchase one costume for a character, it isn’t impossible. This gives players an attainable goal and keeps them motivated to go back into the different modes.
Playing online presents most of the issues that plague Dissidia NT. Firstly, the servers the game uses are based off of player to player connections. This means that if a team from North America battles a team from Europe the connection can be very laggy. Especially, if one of the two squads has a bad connection, to begin with. Not only are connection issues frustrating but there are moments where the feeling of being cornered and ganged up on become way too overwhelming. This seemingly becomes the way to win battles online and it can be super annoying.
I mentioned it previously, but the class system is kind of important to Dissidia NT. However, unless you are playing with friends, it is practically impossible to form a cohesive team. This is because there’s no way to see who your partners are choosing. So, more than likely, you may wind up with an unbalanced squad. There’s even a chance multiple versions of the same character are selected, which doesn’t help things either. For a game that’s based around the team mechanic, online play was not made very team friendly. Thus making the online play with randoms the proverbial crapshoot.
A true feeling of nostalgia
The class system offers a well thought out challenge
Servers for the game are based on player connection, making it lag and is sometimes unplayable
May be too chaotic for those used to regular brawlers or fighting games
Summon battles are challenging and feel sometimes almost impossible
Overall Score: 8.0 Out of 10. After experiencing the beta, I had some doubts on issues with lag, how the game played, and how chaotic the game was. But experiencing the final product, Dissidia NT turned out to be an amazing game. It has a different feel compared to other fighting games. Bringing with it something new that not only changes the genre but also introduces a real team E-Sports competitive feel. The challenge the game offers, along with the nostalgia from the characters, music and environments make it easy for me to put this high on my list of best games for 2018.
Yes, the chaos is still there, but it has been improved greatly. The summon battles, while very difficult, really bring out the challenge the game needs in singleplayer. The fact that the only money spent is on the full game and on its season pass is a rather satisfactory feeling. Grinding is a gamer’s pride and joy. And Square-Enix certainly knows who it is catering this to. For that, I appreciate Dissidia NT greatly and enjoy it even more. This is a game that can’t be missed, especially if you’re a Final Fantasy fan.
This game was reviewed using a retail copy purchased by the reviewer.