Dissidia Final Fantasy NT on PS4
Dissidia is a series that would only work with a series like Final Fantasy, a series with tons of prolific and beloved characters spanning generations. After years of waiting for the Dissidia arcade game to get a console release we now have Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, the very first game in the series on a home console. Dissidia NT feels less like a forwarding of the series’ gameplay, and more like a complete redefining of what Dissidia is.
The primary way Dissidia NT does this is by overhauling the combat system to focus on 3v3 battles, instead of the 1v1 of the past. This integrally changes the way you play the game, on top of the fact that each character now is separated into one of four classes. Vanguard, Marksman, Assassin, and Specialist make up the respective classes and they function on a rock-paper-scissors kind of dynamic. Assassins are strong against Marksmen, Marksmen are strong against Vanguards, and Vanguards are strong against Assassins. Specialists, the other hand, fall in on their own, and aren’t exceptionally weak or strong against any other class. While this general mechanic does apply to the game, what surprised me the most was just how meticulously built each character in Dissidia NT is.
The game comes with a pretty massive roster of 28 characters, and somehow each and every one of those characters manages to be completely unique. Every character has their own distinct move set, powers, EX skill, and more. While the classes group these characters together, you really need to learn how to play each one separately, and can’t simply move from one Vanguard to another for example.
Dissidia NT does use the same core concepts as past Dissidia games, giving you two kinds of attacks, Bravery and HP. Bravery damages enemies and adds to your BP pool, which dictates how much damage you do when you land an HP attack. Dissidia was always a complex fighting series, but Dissidia NT is complex in an entirely new way, meaning even fans of the past games have a bit of learning to do.
NT’s matches are absolute insanity, with six players dashing around the battlefield launching attacks and skills, not to mention the new Summon Crystal system that allows you to call summons directly into the battle.You also have EX skills now, one unique one for each character and two others that are general to every character. On top of this you need to now how the classes work together in order to know which enemy you need to target, and your character’s move set. Characters have different HP moves that they’ll unlock as they level up, and finding the right combination of EX skills for each character can be a challenge. What this means is that Dissidia NT really has a learning curve to it, and it is by no means a fighter that you can just jump into and play.
This, no doubt, might put off a few casual players who don’t really want to invest all that much time in the game. However, if you put in a little bit to even one character it can be immensely satisfying. I had a lot of trouble jumping online with Dissidia NT at first, finding myself getting demolished in match after match, but once I jumped offline and practiced with one character a bit, that changed.
I decided to double down on Noctis, an agile Assassin, and learn his move set. After a bit of practice I was able to use Noctis’ warp ability just right to surprise enemies, and knew the timing for all his attacks. This led to me doing much better in online matches, and from there I took the time with other characters. Unfortunately, the game’s tutorials don’t do a great job of explaining things, as they’re mostly filled with page after page of text without actually giving you onscreen prompts on how to do things while you’re playing.
Online matches make up the bulk of Dissidia NT’s gameplay, and it’s really the main focus of the game. It’s clear a lot of time and care went into crafting a competitive online experience, one that is fairly balanced for the most part. There are a few characters that seem stronger than others, but I was very surprised at how well each character works together in the game. It really does boil down to knowing how to use your character and how they work against others. If you know how to use someone, you can hold your own against practically any other character, it just comes down to skill.
Luckily, servers seem much improved over the recent beta for the game. For the most part matches ran smoothly, and although I had a few here and there that suffered from lag and choppiness, it wasn’t enough to dampen my experience.
In addition to online modes, Dissidia NT does provide a couple of offline options and a story mode. The offline options are nice, allowing you to set up battles against the AI that can even change the 3v3 format to 2v2 or any other combination. The other offline mode is Gauntlet mode, letting you play through a string of battles back-to-back with increasing difficulty.
Story mode on the other hand, feels more like an afterthought than anything. The story takes place after Dissidia 012, with two new gods named Materia and Spiritus taking over for Chaos and Cosmos. The story doesn’t play out like an normal campaign. Rather, it’s a series of nodes containing either a cutscene or a battle to play through.
To unlock a node you need to have Memoria, a resource you only earn by raising your player rank in the game, either through playing online matches, Gauntlet mode, or story battles. The amount of Memoria that’s needed means you’ll be grinding that player level quite a bit in order to see the full story through, which is disappointing. The amount of content in the story probably equals about 1-2 hours, but it’ll take you somewhere between 10-15 to unlock everything.
On top of this, the game never really explains what an offline rank is for each character, which as it turns out dictates how good your AI allies are in story battles and Gauntlet. The story features a number of epic boss battles with summons that are impressive to say the least, but also end up being horrendously difficult. When I say difficult I mean they’re actually difficult, and many of them took hours of retrying to actually beat. For these battles it’s absolutely integral that your raise your allies’ offline rank up, so they don’t just get demolished by the summons. I liked the idea of summon battles, but they ended up being horribly frustrating, grinding my enjoyment and progress to a halt as I had to deal with overly powerful move sets and summons spamming their HP attacks.
The story that Dissidia NT tells certainly isn’t anything to write home about, but it’s fun insofar as seeing these famous Final Fantasy characters interact. There are some fun moment between different characters, and a beautiful cutscene near the end of the game is probably one of the best things I’ve seen from the entire Final Fantasy series.
Dissidia NT also does a good job of periodically rewarding you; there’s a number of costumes, titles, player emblems, songs, and more to unlock. Every time you gain a player rank you’re rewarded with two treasure boxes, which each contain three cosmetic items. You can also use gil you earn to purchase any of these items, and there’s a ton of different options to unlock.
Visually Dissidia NT is an absolute treat, with vibrant environments from different Final Fantasy entries and character moves that have dazzling effects. Character models look stunning and the cutscenes in story mode, whether they’re CG or not, look great. This is especially true if you have a PS4 Pro and are able to turn on HDR. There’s also a good selection of music from across the franchise, combined with remixes specifically made for Dissidia NT.
There’s a lot to love about Dissidia NT, especially once you really get a feel for its systems and multiplayer. The game can be an absolute blast when everything clicks, but when it doesn’t, boy can it be tough to enjoy. The story mode has some really questionable design decisions, and the summons battles are frustrating. Make no mistake, this is a game you should only get if you plan on putting some time into the multiplayer, and the single-player options are just an added bonus. For Final Fantasy fans, this is an all-star fighter that you need to play. But for everyone else, you need to be committed to the experience.
Score: 3.5/5 – Fair
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