As a Final Fantasy obsessed crazy person, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT has been on my “want to play right now” list since it was first announced as an arcade game in Japan. I played the two other PSP games, so I was looking forward to how this online arcade fighter would play—especially the story mode. I actually played the demo at SDCC in 2017 and back then I was sorely disappointed. Yes, you read that right. I was disappointed in a Final Fantasy game! I had no idea how the controls worked or anything. However, I waited for the actual release—I did not play the beta—and while this game is far from perfect, I’ve come to enjoy it a lot more than I did the first time I played it.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is an arena-style 3 vs. 3 online fighting game that pits everyone’s favorite Final Fantasy villains and heroes against each other. Characters, music and arenas come from all of the numbered Final Fantasy titles (1-15), Type-0, and Tactics, with more characters and arenas coming out later down the line as DLC. Each character is assigned a fighting type—marksman, vanguard, assassin, or specialist—and you and your friends can create balanced teams using those classifications or, more often than not, get paired up online randomly in an unbalanced mess!
The game itself is visually stunning and the cutscenes in the story mode are top-notch. I haven’t actually touched the story mode too much, but it’s another battle between a goddess of light recruiting the heroes of the Final Fantasy games to fight against chaos and the villains of the same franchise. It’s always amusing to see how all of the characters interact with each other though. I had a good laugh when Squall was brooding about wanting to go home and Y’shtola was just stalking him quietly and scares him. Some of the characters are surprisingly bro-y with each other too, like Zidane, Firion, and Bartz. It really plays to any Final Fantasy fan’s ultimate fan-fantasy! My BIGGEST problem with the story mode is that it’s not available immediately. The game forces you to play offline and online A LOT before you can actually get through it. As someone who mainly got the game to get through the story, that was really annoying.
The tutorial for this game is horrible, so you should probably just ignore it. The point of each battle is to kill the other team’s people three times. The way you are supposed to play is by breaking a player’s bravery points down to zero while building your own bravery (bravery = how hard you hit). Once you’ve built your bravery and broken your opponents, then you attack their HP and kill them. You can also attack cores that appear on the field and build your team’s summon points. Once the bar for summoning is full, you can summon classic summons such as Ifrit, Shiva, and Bahamut. Of course, most people just HP spam and don’t actually play correctly which can be incredibly frustrating.
There are two modes—offline and online. The offline mode allows you to level up characters and unlock their abilities, level them up and practice against a frustrating AI that breaks the game’s own mechanics by HP spamming you until you die. Luckily, that offline HP spamming prepares you for the real deal as this game has a serious button-mashing problem. Offline rank difficulties go from bronze to chaos (bronze being the easiest and chaos being a horrible mess) and you can either do standard 7-round gauntlet or a core battle 7-round gauntlet. I have no idea how the core battle works, but standard is what you’d find online, but just with NPCs. What I like about the offline mode’s level is that despite only controlling the one character you have as your main on your team, your two sub-characters (AI’s) also gain experience and can level, cutting the leveling time down a bit.
Online play works best if you have friends to play with. Similar to the offline mode, you have a solo and team rank that goes from bronze to chaos and the more you win, the more you rank up. The online mode with friends works best because you can ensure a balanced team. When you leave it to chance and queue solo, you can kind of end up with anyone. The game has no dedicated servers, so it connects you by your internet speed. Meaning, as a gold player on solo, I can end up with bronze, mythril or higher players just because we matched—and our teams could be totally unbalanced. Or, worse, you have three random people vs. a full team. Pre-made teams can also double up on players though. My friends and I created an all-Squall team called Team “Whatever” where we troll button mashers because we were getting frustrated. The other problem with Online play is that you can get matched with the same team over and over again. So if your team fairly beat them the first time, they tend to come back and button mash you to death the second time out of frustration.
The other Online mode is custom rooms where you can set conditions and play with your friends. My friends utilize this feature to shuffle us into different teams and we choose random characters and fight each other. Meaning, we can end up with characters we are really good at or really bad at. It’s really fun and probably my favorite part of the game.
Overall, despite frustrations, I’ve had a lot of fun with this game. I’ve met a lot of amazing people through this game and the Dissidia community overall is really great. This game is best played with friends who know how to play or are willing to learn how to play properly. Using voice chat to coordinate also makes the game a lot easier and enjoyable. I really hope Square Enix fixes their online matching system, rebalances a lot of characters (because Garland HP spam sucks) and reworks how the HP attacks work so they cannot be spammed. I am looking forward to seeing how this game is updated down the line and despite my frustrations, I really do enjoy playing it with my friends.
Hint: Button mashing really is a problem in this game and it can get frustrating at times. Offline modes really do prepare you for it though, so practice there! Also, try a variety of different characters and see who you like the most. Try to get good at a character in class so you have a variety to choose from! I say this but I mostly just play Ace from Type-0…don’t be like me.
by Marlene First
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