Back in August I had the opportunity to play Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, Square Enix’s ambitious 3 vs 3 fighter. While the roster was small, I was fairly impressed with the team-based gameplay and focus on cooperation between allies in order to secure victory. Despite the cluttered UI, which has since been changed due to player feedback, I found the game mostly enjoyable – if not somewhat of a variation to the previous Dissidia titles. Local multiplayer worked quite well and inputs were incredibly responsive as a result, allowing for an enjoyable experience overall for both those familiar and unfamiliar with the series.
The most recent open beta expands upon the roster and mechanics, allowing for players to get into the thick of it and explore different features available to Dissidia NT shortly before its scheduled launch. A handful of new characters allowed for a better look at the diversity of the lineup, giving the players the chance to test out the different character styles available to NT. Recently, however, my experience with the open beta have caused my impressions to shift.
Once I loaded up the beta on my PS4 I immediately took to playing Jecht, one of the primary antagonists of Final Fantasy X, and found his new moveset to be a great deviation from the previous installments. His basic combos no longer require timed button presses to allow for different executions or chains in his attacks. Even his HP attacks like Triumphant Grasp have been changed, and while it took some getting used to, it is a system more accessible to newcomers. These simplified controls, outside of the addition of EX attacks, are beneficial to characters like Y’shtola or Ramza.
However, lack of proper tutorials on each character’s specific skill set, or any sort of interface that would have given me any clue as to what skills were available to each directional input, left me scratching me head and fumbling around during online battles. There were instances while playing Lightning that I would accidentally trigger her Paradigm Shift, causing my attacks to change and, as a result, would sometimes cost me a valuable stock. Dissidia NT could greatly benefit from unique tutorials for each character regarding their specific skill set, or another sub menu to allow for the viewing of how to prompt or use specific attacks and directional attacks.
The emphasis on team-based gameplay can cause unexpected and even disastrous shifts in the battle if you are matched with someone unfamiliar with even the most basic mechanics of the game. This can lead to frustrations among team members, as the balance can quickly become shifted if a player is stuck against a wall and left to constant wall-juggling if an ally does not come to their aid. While this was a common mechanic in both the original Dissidia and Duodecim, in NT it can quickly result in the loss of a stock, and subsequently a defeat as there are virtually no other ways to escape.
Due to issues with network connectivity inputs, such as pressing L1 to guard or dodge, can be rendered useless, leaving you at defenseless against Bravery or HP attacks from your enemy. Both this and an unfortunately high amount of lag left me feeling less than satisfactory regarding my experience. This often left me at the mercy of my opponent while I would desperately be pressing my bumper to evade, hoping the game would recognize the input despite the lag and take my character so safety while the connection either stabilized or sent me, and my team, back to the main menu.
Summoning felt incredibly rewarding when matches were long enough to execute them. While beneficial, they didn’t immediately signal a loss for the team unable to execute this feature first which I found to be incredibly fair – since I was often part of teams unable to execute this feature quickly. Summons do have benefits outside of casting a variety of Bravery breaking AoEs across the field. Odin and Shiva provide especially beneficial effects that can swing the tide of battle towards the summoning team with passives that allow for slower Bravery regeneration or simply lower the enemy team’s Bravery to zero.
Outside of the online and offline combat, the beta offers a brief glimpse at the Treasure and Story features. While the Story option is rather self explanatory, players need to acquire player levels in order to unlock currency to redeem cutscenes or unlock battles in the branching path. What story elements were shown proved to be pretty barren in terms of any explanation or motive. Those unfamiliar with the previous story line of the Dissidia franchise might just as confused as the Crown Prince Noctis, who is thrust into scenario unexpectedly, but hopefully future cutscenes will elaborate and flesh out and fill in any gaps for those who are new to the series. As it stands there is little to say about this function in particular.
The Treasure menu was locked to loot boxes, the Shop function remaining locked until the full release of the game. In order to get currency players need to level up their individual player level in order to spend said currency for items. These can range from character skins, icons, weapons skins, and voice lines. All of these items so far seem completely cosmetic and won’t affect the combat whatsoever. While this didn’t initially bother me, I realized that currency easily became difficult to acquire if I was not ranked in the top three at the end of every battle. Gil is handed out sparingly while character and player level experience is rewarded based on rank, which can make grinding for items and rewards tiresome. This concept is not unique to Dissidia and can be found in a variety of other competitive titles, but I felt like the reward of four or five gil at the end of a defeat was incredibly discouraging.
That being said, I felt as though my time spent with the beta was hindered by connectivity issues and a lack of better explanation of mechanics in the game itself. While Dissida Final Fantasy NT has a lot to offer, I couldn’t ignore these glaring flaws, despite having a few exciting matches. One can only hope the issues with the netcode are resolved on launch, as Dissida NT could prove to be a enjoyable, if not unique, experience overall.
Please look forward to our full review of Dissidia Final Fantasy NT which will be posted sometime after launch.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT will release January 30th on PlayStation 4. The Open Beta will run until January 21st.