Step into the Dissidia Final Fantasy NT arena
Following two previous entries on Sony’s PSP, Square Enix’s arena brawler Dissidia Final Fantasy is set to debut on PS4. Arriving January 30th, 2018, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT revolutionizes the series with all-new combat mechanics built from the ground up. It features a star-studded roster from the mainline Final Fantasy games, and a couple of characters from Type-0 and Tactics.
To get us into the action early, Square Enix launched their Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Open Beta on January 12th. The open beta runs for a full nine days, ending on Sunday, January 21st. Unlike last August’s closed beta, this time it’s open to all PS4 players—and PS Plus membership isn’t required.
I’ve been putting the beta through its paces over the last three days and here are my thoughts so far:
The graphics are incredible
If there’s one thing the Final Fantasy series has always prided itself on, it’s first-rate, cutting-edge graphics. Dissidia Final Fantasy NT falls right in line here with perhaps the most detailed representations of iconic FF characters yet. The beta features 15 of the 28 characters available at launch, like legendary heroes Cecil Harvey and Cloud Strife. Powerful forces of evil are also on the roster, including FF2‘s The Emperor and FFIV‘s Golbez.
Each character is created with absolutely splendid detail. Seeing gorgeous 3D-polygonal versions of Terra Branford, the Onion Knight, or FF1‘s Warrior of Light is mind-blowing at first sight. I’m still used to their 8- and 16-bit sprites, so viewing them up close in HD—with this level of detail—is simply incredible. Characters like Cloud Strife, Squall Lionheart, and Lightning have each received detailed touch-ups as well. Take a look at the character model quality below, and keep in mind these are in-game graphics:
Training is essential
My first few matches of Dissidia Final Fantasy were terrifying, and it’s all because of the HUD. To put it bluntly: there’s a lot going on. You’ve got HP bars for each 3-person team, individual HP bars for all 6 characters, a Summon meter, and a Bravery counter. And those are just the meters. You’ve also got EX Skill indicators, a mini-map, and chat short-cuts on screen. It’s a lot to take in, especially for newcomers to this series.
The good news is this: the beta includes a wealth of tutorials to prime you for battle. A lot has changed from the PSP games, so even veteran gamers should run through the tutorials. Tutorials are divided up into Combat (Basic, Advanced, Core Battles) and a bunch that review the systems. By going through the tutorials you’ll learn the fundamentals including targeting, defending, the Bravery System, EX Skills, Summons, and more.
Gameplay gets more satisfying over time
My first couple of hours with Dissidia Final Fantasy intrigued me, but was admittedly a little confused. The action is fast and furious, the graphics are very flashy, and gameplay is pretty deep. All combined and it can feel a little daunting at first. But don’t give up, the best is yet to come.
Soon I got a handle on the basic gameplay loop: build up your Bravery then unleash punishing HP Attacks. Essentially how it works is first you unleash Bravery attacks, which are all mapped to the X button. Every character has six Bravery attacks depending on which direction you push and whether you’re in the air. Connecting with a Bravery Attack builds up your Bravery count, while also diminishing your opponent’s Bravery by the same amount. The important thing to note is Bravery Attacks don’t actually diminish your opponent’s HP—they simply increase your Bravery count.
Your second attack type is called HP Attacks, and these are mapped to the square button. Here’s the essential part—the damage you inflict with HP Attacks is equal to your Bravery count. So basically you rack up “potential” HP damage through Bravery Attacks, then dole our actual damage with HP Attacks. Deciding when to build up Bravery, and when to inflict real damage is integral to the game’s strategy. Once you get a hang of this unique gameplay loop the fun amps up big time. There really isn’t any other fighting game like it.
There are Story, Offline, and Online modes
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT contains a plethora of modes, but offline and online. The first I checked out is the game’s Story mode, which presents a map with branching paths. On the map there are blue nodes, representing cutscenes, and red nodes indicating Battles you must complete to progress. In the beta only four blue nodes are accessible, and help prime you for the story. The basic premise is two powerful forces bring together legendary Final Fantasy heroes and villains for an ultimate showdown.
Moving over the the offline modes, the main attraction is called Gauntlet Mode. In it you’ll face a series of increasingly difficult A.I. battles for a variety of rewards. These include raising your Player Level, your Character Levels, and your Character Rankings. Leveling up offers rewards like new EX Skills, HP Attacks, and treasure. Treasure can then be claimed for additional bonuses like new skins, player icons, and battle music tracks. It looks like the game’s final release will include more offline modes as well.
Finally you’ve got the game’s online modes, which included Ranked Solo and Team matches. Custom matches is another option, but it was unavailable in the beta. Ranked matches are 3 vs. 3 online where you’ll be match with players ranked similar to you. This is where I spent the bulk of my time with the beta, and my gosh is it fun. All that training was put into practice; sometimes I stumbled, sometimes I succeeded, but it was exciting the entire time.
Well, that about wraps up my impressions so far with the Dissidia Final Fantasy NT beta. There’s so much more to get into so stay tuned right here on the Best Buy Plug-In Blog. I’ll have a full review in the coming weeks going over all the game modes and features. Plus I’ll be taking a deeper diver into Dissidia‘s four character types, including Vanguards, Assassins, Marksman, and Specialists.
One thing I am certain of right now though—if you enjoyed the previous Dissidia games, or Final Fantasy as a series, this is the game for you. And on that note, I’m off to play more!
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