Dissidia Final Fantasy NT has to be Square Enix’s most ambitious attempt on this branch of the franchise yet. Developed by Team Ninja, who is responsible for the Dead or Alive series, it shows some merit in the form of three-versus-three combat that requires for coordinated team play to secure victory. Initially released for Japanese arcades in 2015, it seemed like a promising successor to both the original Dissidia title and the follow-up, Dissidia 012. While the console version of this arcade fighter fulfills some expectations in some areas, it leaves much to be desired in others.
Last month I had the opportunity to try out the open beta for Dissidia Final Fantasy NT on the PlayStation 4. While I had a great time trying out the roster of characters that were released in batches over the three day period, I found my experience hindered by poor connectivity that remained persistent between matches. Unfortunately, regarding the Online experience little has changed. I quickly booted up Dissidia NT upon release and queued for Solo Ranked – one of the two modes available for online play in NT. While my first match went without incident, the several that followed were riddled with lag. Inputs failed to register and characters moved around the beautiful, dynamic environments at a snail’s pace, breaking the fast and deeply immersive combat.
After a few hours experiencing persistent connectivity issues I decided to opt for the Offline modes. I immediately dove into Gauntlet mode which features a series of six three-versus-three fights similar to other arcade fighters. Players are able to select their entire team, including the A.I. controlled characters, to fashion your team to your needs. Once in Gauntlet players can select from a handful of teams for them to fight, all ranked from Bronze to Mythril depending on progression. After some time grinding away in Gauntlet I decided to mix it up and try Core mode. This is a fairly simple mode where players must defend their own crystal and shatter the enemy’s to achieve victory. The first few times I found this entertaining, but I quickly grew bored with and jumped back into Gauntlet mode. However, there is one incredibly frustrating element to these A.I. fights that cannot be avoided without hours upon hours of grinding and that is the A.I. itself.
The A.I., while helpful for a time, quickly becomes a hindrance in Gauntlet mode. Players must spend hours fighting against the A.I. to level up their own A.I. players which become useless as they progress through higher difficulties. Instead you are left desperately defending your A.I. comrades from the opponent, babysitting them and hoping you are able to K.O. the enemy A.I. before time runs out or your own partners are knocked out. This quickly became the case for me as I progressed through Gauntlet to attain player levels without subjecting myself to the Online connectivity issues in order to progress the story.
And this is what I find most unfortunate regarding story progression in Dissidia Final Fantasy NT – the lock behind player level. In order to progress the story, players must grind out player levels to unlock Memoria, an in-game currency to redeem story scenes and battles. While I spent a large amount of time grinding out player levels in Dissidia NT, I became exhausted with this system as experience awarded to a player through combat is determined on their placement after a match. Given my network issues with the Online play it was rare that I came out in first through third place (which are the most beneficial ranks to receive experience from) which left me with little rewards or experience. This was incredibly similar to the beta, which was an incredibly similar experience to me when compared to the final product.
Outside of the slow, tedious progression of the story, the narrative itself is similar to that of the previous titles. It is nonsensical and loaded with fanservice. Interactions between the cast are fun to watch, as the unique personalities of both the Warriors of ‘Cosmos’ and Warriors of ‘Chaos’ interact and come together for an explosive final encounter. As a long time fan of Final Fantasy VIII, I was always happy to see Squall on screen and watch his interactions with his comrades – and perhaps this was one of my favorite things about Dissidia NT. Simply watching my favorite characters interact and share brief moments of dialogue that left me feeling nostalgic for their respective titles.
This can be said for the shop purchases as well. Grinding out currency from battles is one way to choose character icons, skins, weapons,music tracks, and more to customize your experience. I snatched up the original version of Final Fantasy XIV’s Heroes as quick as I could, adding it to my personal playlist to make the fights more invigorating. Treasure mode allows you to spend currency received from increasing your player level to use the loot box mechanic mentioned in my impressions piece. This time around I wasn’t nearly as fortunate and racked up large amount of icons before I received my first player skin and music track. These items cannot be sold to the shop either to spend your currency on items you’d rather have in your possession, which isn’t uncommon for these mechanics.
While my experience with Dissidia Final Fantasy NT was mostly the same, I found myself with a similar feeling when the beta ended. The game has a lot of unrecognized potential due to the unstable netcode, but when everything comes together it works incredibly well; combat is smooth and fluid, character animations and models are gorgeous, and the dynamic battlefields are incredibly engaging. I just wish I could have appreciated all of this without feeling some kind of frustration when inputs wouldn’t work in the online mode, or when having to babysit my A.I. companions in the offline mode.
All in all, those who enjoyed both the original Dissidia and Dissidia 012 will deeply appreciate what Dissidia Final Fantasy has to offer. That being said, those who are Final Fantasy fans and want to see their favorites duke it out in nostalgic battlefields might want to take a chance with this fighter as well. However, if you are worried about connectivity issues or aren’t particularly invested in fighters, this might not be for you.
- Gorgeous graphics, character models, and beautiful dynamic environments.
- Lends itself heavily to nostalgia, making it enjoyable to fans of the series.
- Unstable network, leading to potentially frustrating matches.
- Hours of grinding required to level up A.I. companions to make Gauntlet and Core modes tolerable beyond Bronze level.
- Story progression locked behind Player Level and in-game currency.
Disclaimer: Review code for Dissidia Final Fantasy NT was provided to Nova Crystallis by the publisher Square Enix.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is now available on PlayStation 4.