• The Dissidia NT Beta is a Strange & Wonderful Reminder of Final Fantasy's Roots

    The time has finally come: after nearly two years of waiting, you can finally try the home console version of the new Dissidia Final Fantasy for yourself--provided you were lucky enough to receive a code, that is. While the game is currently just in its closed beta phase, months of feedback and new content releases in Japanese arcades mean this is already a fleshed-out and mature title under the hood. To demonstrate, the amount of content available far exceeds what you usually get in tests like these--a large roster of characters and maps is already at your fingertips, and the beta is running for an entire week to give players a chance to try it all.

    However, it's easy to get distracted from what an achievement in fighting game design Dissidia NT is. For one thing, it plays so smoothly that the underlying mechanics are largely transparent.

    For another, it's the most jarringly Japanese Final Fantasy game we've gotten yet.

    (Excuse my music-syncing menu spamming)

    Despite Square Enix outsourcing development to a third-party studio, Dissidia NT is quite faithful on the whole to what players of the original PSP games expect. There's some significant alterations to the controls, so your muscle memory will work against you at first, but once you get used to it you'll be pleasantly surprised with how little has changed. What was great about Dissidia on PSP is still there in Dissidia on PS4, just dialed up and evolved. The addition of up to six combatants in team deathmatch is a surprisingly natural upgrade, and existing mechanics like air dash have been enhanced with finer control while being limited to a stamina bar to compensate.

    And yet, for how natural and familiar it feels, the atmosphere of Dissidia NT is like nothing most western Final Fantasy players have ever experienced. Final Fantasy has always been a Japanese series of course, but a Japanese series infatuated with western themes. Not so with Dissidia. The menu and UI design, the hyped-up remixes of Final Fantasy tunes, the sound effects and battle dialog--all of it is bizarrely arcade-y for a region that more or less abandoned its arcade scene 15 years ago.

    But don't take that as a knock on the game--not a bit. While at first it may seem a disrespect to the series' storied history, given a few minutes it oozes a strange sort of charm that keeps you wanting to come back again and again. Matches are generally quite brief, and too fast and frenetic to fully comprehend while they last. It's just the right amount of sensory overload to keep you engaged and determined to improve your skills, believing that just one more match is all you need. It's the sort of game that's best played with friends, not necessarily at once, but with a crowd of onlookers cheering you on before you pass the controller and see how the next challenger will fare. Which, by no accident whatsoever, is exactly the thrill of the arcade.

    Dissidia NT will ship with a single-player story mode as well (the 'NT' stands for 'new tale,' if you were wondering), but the multiplayer mode is without a doubt its main attraction. It's a throwback to a simpler era where games didn't require a constant drip of DLC to stay relevant for more than a month, and based on what I've seen, this game has enough arcade charm in its crystal heart to keep players coming back for a long time to come.
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Galadín's Avatar
      Galadín -
      It is good to see that the game play isn't as different as initially expected. I'm still curious as to if the move-set itself and secondary abilities are as cutomisable as in previous titles.

      The PvP battles on the PSP generation games were pretty epic and could last a solid 5-10 minutes if the players were decent, and I sort of liked the fact that there was time and strategy and counter strategies all wrapped up in there. The matches for NT do seem very quick in comparison; more like a 3 round Tekken match than an epic showdown at high noon.

      It's flashy though and it still looks a load of fun, Terra's abilities seem to have been nicely revamped! The interaction between players on the loading menus is a lovely touch! ♥
    1. AuronX's Avatar
      AuronX -
      Quote Originally Posted by Galadín View Post
      I'm still curious as to if the move-set itself and secondary abilities are as cutomisable as in previous titles.
      The beta gives you the choice of two movesets for each character but there are several empty slots left on the menu. Probably will be more options there in the full game.

      What I haven't seen is any sort of equipment system, which makes sense for an arcade game. Summons are definitely not treated as equipment anymore. Each player votes on which summon to bring into battle, and then charging and unleashing it is a shared activity for the whole team.

      If the story mode plays out like a JRPG then I imagine we'll see more equipment options there, but it'd be understandable if SE/Koei decided to even the playing field in multiplayer matches. That being said, match results contribute to or deduct from a class ranking stat, so it's possible that equipment could simply play a role in which rank you're matched against. I guess we'll see!
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