Review: Dissidia Final Fantasy NT

The trilogy is now complete! The third and latest game in the Final Fantasy Dissidia series is here! After months of hype from Square Enix and Team Ninja, let’s see how this home version of the arcade sensation measures up.

As I mentioned above, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is actually a port of the Japanese arcade title “Dissidia Final Fantasy“. The arcade version drew inspiration from the previous Dissidia games for PSP, but was completely redesigned from the ground up to be a six-player competitive title. The PS4 release is essentially an enhanced port of the arcade version. It is Square Enix’s first foray into the the world of professional competitive gaming.

Like the previous Dissidia titles, NT is a fighting game. But this time, the focus is on team battles instead of one-on-one combat. For Dissidia NT, teams are made up of three players each. There are currently two modes of play available: Regular and Core Battles (which is essentially Capture the Flag). The combat itself is similar to previous Dissidia titles. Characters can execute both Bravery and Hit Point attacks against their opponents. They have special abilities at their disposal and can also collect energy that enables them to execute special summons – these summons can really turn the tide of battle in an instant. This time, characters are assigned specific roles. The options are: Vanguard (This is essentially a tank/melee fighter), Assassin (Speedy, with weak individual attacks that can combo-chain and result in significant damage), Marksman (ranged attacker), and Specialists (This is a catch all-role. Each Specialist character offers something unique to the arena – usually buff and de-buff focused.) As you continue to play and level up individual characters, new abilities are unlocked.

The roster of characters for Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is as follows:

Warrior of Light (Vanguard)  *  Garland (Vanguard)  *  Firion (Vanguard)  *  Emperor (Marksman)  *  Onion Knight (Specialist)  *  Cloud of Darkness (Vanguard)  *  Cecil (Vanguard)  *  Kain (Assassin)  *  Golbez (Marksman)  *  Bartz (Specialist)  *  Exdeath (Specialist)  *  Terra (Marksman)  *  Kefka (Marksman)  *  Cloud (Vanguard)  *  Sephiroth (Vanguard)  *  Squall (Assassin)  *  Ultimecia (Marksman)  *  Zidane (Assassin)  *  Kuja (Assassin)  *  Tidus (Assassin)  *  Jecht (Assassin)  *  Shantotto (Marksman)  *  Vaan (Specialist)  *  Lightning (Assassin)  *  Y’shtola (Marksman)  *  Noctis (Assassin)  *  Ramza (Specialist)  *  Ace (Marksman)

The main focus of this game is online multiplayer. The game does feature a single-player story mode, but this consists of nothing but a series of cutscenes that must be unlocked by spending tokens called “Memoria”. Memoria is earned whenever you level up a character. So unlocking all of the cutscenes will require quite a bit of grind. Again, in this title, the storyline really takes a backseat. The main point of the game is to participate in ranked online matches. So, if you’re the type of person that really gets into ladder rankings and eSports statistics, you’re likely to find this game much more interesting than someone who isn’t. Lore enthusiasts are still able to find an enjoyable storyline that fits in nicely with the other Dissidia titles. However, understand that this is delivered almost exclusively through cutscenes – not through gameplay.

Compared to other fighting games, and even other Dissidia titles, NT has quite a huge learning curve. The game does offer various tutorials. However, these leave a lot to be desired. The tutorials are poorly written and the screenshots included are not particularly helpful. To be honest, the only way you’re really going to understand the gist of the game is if you play. The downside is, the game will likely feel overly-chaotic and confusing to the point of frustration, especially for a new player.

The biggest issue for me was understanding the targeting system. The tutorial does a decent job of explaining how to switch between various targets. But, in practice it is not quite that simple. Often times I would find myself locked on to a particular target and I would start advancing towards them, only to have them suddenly dart across the screen. My character would continue to follow them of course, but the camera would no longer be focused on my character. On more than one occasion, I would find myself staring at the screen, clueless, trying to find myself amidst all the chaos.

Movement is also a bit of an issue. The game’s movement and camera controls are simple enough. But, due to the fast-paced nature of the combat, you’ll spend most of your time moving around at high-speed. Being a 4D battlefield, you’ll often end up chasing down a target only to find yourself suspended in mid-air unable to land a blow.  Now, obviously a lot of this is simply an issue of experience. The more I played the game, the more I was able to understand the basic concepts of battle and movement. However, the in-game tutorials do a terrible job of getting a new player ready for their first encounter. Which brings me to the next big issue….

Both the single player AI and the online matchmaking are terribly out of balance. Considering that Dissidia NT is a team-based game, skill-balance should really be a major focus. When playing single player mode, the AI versions of your teammates are nearly useless. In most cases, I felt like I was actually playing a 1-on-3 match. On the other side of the coin, the opponent AI seems slightly overpowered. This is worsened as you continue to play and the difficulty level increases. After winning a few single player matches, the difficulty spikes in a way that seems very disproportionate.

When being grouped with other players online, the game is supposed to try to match you with players of an equal skill. However, I’ve found this not to be the case. To make matters worse, the online game is currently suffering from both matchmaking errors and lag issues. These are items that simply must be corrected in short order if the game is to have any chance of success.

As far as eSports titles go, Dissidia NT does have a lot of potential. Gamers that enjoy ranked competition and who want to try their hand at a different type of fighting game may find just what they’re looking for here. Casual players are likely to be turned off by this title.

Finally, let’s look at a few other aspects of the game itself. Like many arena style games, players can earn and unlock various outfits, color schemes, and emotes to equip on their characters. These are earned via a gacha-style draw system. Thankfully, instead of being available in real-money loot boxes, treasure is earned by spending in-game points. A handful of outfits and weapons are also available in the form of DLC (currently as pre-order perks and promotional redemptions). I expect to see these available for individual purchase on PSN eventually. SE has also promised that six new playable characters will be available in the future as part of a Season Pass.

In summary, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is a game that’s designed for a very specific niche of gamers. You’re either going to love it or hate it. Personally, it’s not the type of game that I enjoy in the long term. Typically, I tend to play a game to completion before I post a review. However, due to the nature of this title I decided to share my thoughts after spending a few solid days with it. I’m not a competitive gamer. I prefer to play games to unwind. While I don’t mind the occasional grind, the reward has to be worth the time I’m putting in. In this case, I found very little in Dissidia NT to keep my interest. Grinding battle after battle for trophies is not my cup of tea and considering I have no interest in ladder rankings – there’s just not a lot that’s going to keep me playing once I’ve cleared the story mode. I’m curious to see if the eSports crowd adopts this title or if it is ultimately going to be forgotten. Regardless, it is a noble attempt from Square Enix and a pretty impressive debut into the evolving genre of professional online gaming.

Difficulty: Variable –  Being primarily an online title, you are competing against other players. Therefore, the difficulty of the battles you will encounter will vary greatly. Generally speaking, this type of game attracts players of a very competitive nature. So, if you’re a casual player, expect to find yourself pitted against those of a much greater skill level – this is true even though the game claims to match you players of an equal skill. For single player challenges, the game may feel overly difficult at first. The unusual nature of the game will provide quite a learning curve, even for players used to brawlers. However, it should generally become a bit easier as you’re able to grasp the concepts of the game and get a little more experience under your belt.

Story: This is the game’s weakest link. Dissidia NT is technically a sequel to other games in the Dissidia series. However, once again, the storyline provided is barebones at best. The game’s overall plot unfolds through a series of cutscenes that players can unlock as they grind through battles. It serves as nothing more than a loose excuse to throw a bunch of characters from various Final Fantasy games together in one title. But, considering the nature of the game itself, this is forgivable.

Originality: Fighting games are nothing new. Dissidia NT manages to stay unique by providing a 3-on-3 experience and an original battle concept. It borrows heavily from the previous Dissidia titles, but also isn’t shy about venturing off into a new direction.

Soundtrack: This game features a variety of background tracks hailing from the entire line of previous Final Fantasy games. These classic tracks have been rearranged fairly well and are fitting for the style of gameplay. The voice acting is a mixed bag. It’s great to hear Noctis and Lightning again, but some of the characters are downright annoying.

Fun: If fast-paced competitive gaming is your thing, you’ll find to find a lot of like about Dissidia NT. If you’re expecting a battle game with RPG elements like the previous Dissidia titles, prepare to be disappointed. It’s as simple as that.

Graphics: High marks here. This is a simply beautiful game. Everything from the characters to the environments are breathtakingly rendered. The battle effects are colorful and well done. This game is filled with eye candy.

Playcontrol:  This will be an issue for many players. While the controls are responsive and well thought out, they are unusual. Mastering the controls will take practice. Thankfully, they are customizable. The chase camera needs some work. But there’s always manual camera controls if needed.

Downloadable Content: YES – At the time of this writing, DLC is restricted to pre-order, and promotional codes for vanity items. A season pass will also be available and currently promises six additional playable characters. Price to be announced.

Mature Content: Skimpy outfits on some characters. Online interactions.

Value:  The game currently retails for the premier price of $60.00. This is likely to decrease in the months to come. If you’re the type of player that enjoys these style of games, the full price might very well be worth it. However, if you’re on the fence it might be best to wait a while.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 2 – I wanted to like this game. But, in the end I decided that it’s just not for me. That alone doesn’t sink the title. But when combined with a poor tutorial, connection issues, and the current unbalanced play. I have to call a spade a spade. Dissidia NT has a lot of potential. Thankfully, in the world we live in now, games can be patched and refined. I hope to see many of my concerns addressed in the months to come. If you’re a Final Fantasy RPG fan who wants a little fighting action, perhaps Dissidia 012 on the PSP will be more your speed. However, if you’re a hardcore MOBA gamer who’s in the mood for something unique, Dissdia NT might be exactly what you’re looking for

Available on: PS4

Other Reviews In This Series:

Main Series:

I – II – III – IV – V – VI – VII – VIII – IX – X – X2 – XI – XII – XIII – XIII 2 – XIII Lightning Returns – XIV – XV 

IV: After Years – VII: Dirge of Cerberus – VII: Crisis Core – VII: Advent Children (Movie) – XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s Tale – XV: Brotherhood (Anime) – XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

Misc Titles:

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics:

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia:

Dissidia – Dissidia 012 – Dissidia NT

Crystal Chronicles:

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Mobile Titles:

Dimensions – Dimensions 2 – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight  – Dissida Final Fantasy Opera Omnia

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