Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4
Genre: Online Multiplayer
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Team Ninja
Release Date: Jan. 30, 2018


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PS4 Preview - 'Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on June 29, 2017 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT is a team-based brawler that pits legendary heroes and villains from the Final Fantasy franchise together in epic and strategic team battles.

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It's easy to forget that arcades are still a thing, especially if you live in North America. Sure, they exist, but it's rare for a new game to come out in arcades first unless you're discussing fighting games. That's what made Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT stand out. An arcade release was announced some time ago, and it was starting to look like we may never see a port to a home console, despite the arcade controller looking like a PS4's. It was a pleasant surprise when it was finally announced for the PS4.

Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT retains the large cast seen in the previous games, and there are some new additions. Each Final Fantasy title adds at least one character to the mix. As of this writing, the cast is largely represented by the heroes of each Final Fantasy game, with fan favorites Shantotto and Y'sholta standing in for the MMOs, though we can expect a full complement of villains and side characters to eventually join the mix. Also new are characters from the side games, such as Final Fantasy Tactics' Ramza, who is making his first-ever appearance outside of the original Final Fantasy Tactics.

Dissidia is a competitive fighting game starring the cast of Final Fantasy, but it's unlikeany other fighter on the planet. All characters are agile, high-mobility fighters who do a combination of super-jumps and flying to get around. For Final Fantasy fans, think of something like Advent Children. The arenas are large and open, and combat expects you to control a lot of space. It's not just about hitting your opponent but hitting them at the right time.

The thing that makes Dissidia so distinct is how it handles damage. Rather than having just an HP bar, every character has a Bravery Bar and an HP bar. Your bravery attacks do not damage your enemy, but they steal the enemy's bravery and can leave them stunned or unable to attack. In comparison, HP attacks dodamage to the enemy, but the damage depends on the amount of bravery in your possession at that point. The more bravery you have, the more damage you'll do. It's a balancing act between gathering bravery and spending it.

As a result, fights are all about mind games. Bravery attacks are easier to hit but have no permanent consequences unless you convert them into an HP attack. The more bravery attacks you win, the more successful your HP attack will be if it hits. Each character has six bravery attacks: three in the ground and three in the air. HP attacks can be customized, but you need to pick the one you want to bring in, which can significantly change your fighting style. The EX modes in the previous Dissidia are also gone in favor of EX skills, which are special abilities that can buff or debuff your characters or enemies. In general, it feels like the more exploitable or overpowered moves have been toned down in favor of something more competitive, though it will depend on how the final version turns out.

Of course, the biggest difference of all with Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT is that rather than the 1v1 battles of the previous games, they're now 3v3 fights, which greatly impacts the gameplay. Previously, it was almost all down to individual skill. You could call in AI supports for an assist, but you had to depend on the character matchup. With a 3v3 fighting mechanic, you no longer have to think about one specific character matchup but rather how the whole team works together.

This means that character abilities have been recast to compensate for this. For example, Y'sholta, the Miqo'te white mage from Final Fantasy XIV, is capable of dealing reliable damage, but she excels in support. Her skills not only hurt enemies but can also weaken or debuff them, making it easier for allies to follow up with attacks. When playing as Y'sholta, you can focus on weakening foes rather than attacking them.

This leads to a very different play style than in previous games. The older Dissidia titles encouraged you to find a play style that worked for your character and optimize around it. In Dissidia NT, you can't do that because there are too many different factors to keep in mind. Someone like Cloud, who specializes in brute-force attacks, will have to deal with the additional vulnerability of multiple people following him. Zidane, who's quick and tricky, can keep enemies off-balance to set them up for Cloud's HP attacks.

Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT is shaping up to be a solid evolution of the Dissidia engine. The change from 1v1 to 3v3 ensures that even though the cast is similar, the gameplay feels very different indeed. Assuming the final version is as enjoyable as the demo we played at E3, it should be a ton of fun for players of all types. Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT is coming exclusively to the PS4 sometime in 2018.

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