Square-Enix allowed fans from all over the world to try out their newest fighting game, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, at San Diego Comic-Con 2017. Not only did they give players some casual free-play, but they even hosted a tournament with lots of cool prizes. During the casual play, I was given a chance to get some hands-on time with the game (having missed the opportunity at E3 last month). Players queued in line would be put into teams of three to try out the three-on-three multiplayer of the game.
Not many fighting games have a six-player mode, and for something like Dissidia, with all the different targets and objectives, it can get pretty hectic on the battlefield. Each player would pick their character, the demo featuring heroes from the numbered Final Fantasy titles from the first one all the way up to Final Fantasy XIV. Fans that have played previous Dissidia Final Fantasy titles may be familiar with the hero selection, including favorites like Cloud from Final Fantasy VII, or even Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII.
Once players have selected their character, they would choose a battle set of moves and abilities to use, then vote on a summon spirit for their team. The demo currently had seven different summons, including Ifrit, Shiva, Ramuh, Odin, Leviathan, Alexander, and last but not least, Bahamut. Summons will typically aid teams with buffs or bonuses, or even debuff the enemy team for a period, so they work more to turn the tides in a battle more than anything else. Once all of that is selected, the players get a moment to study their opponents, able to see their battle sets and summon spirit. The goal of the match was to get three KO’s from the other team, and players could respawn after getting incapacitated.
Once in battle, players will have quite a few options. They can target the nearest enemy and go on the offensive, using a dash ability to close some distance and strike with their HP or Brave attacks. HP attacks will directly damage an opponent’s health bar while Brave attacks power up the HP attacks (while draining Bravery from the opponent). It’s a very interesting system and it takes a little getting used to the mechanics to truly master. It helps to learn when to guard or dodge as well, as that can make a difference between taking full damage or countering with a deadly attack of your own.
Summon crystals will appear on the map from time to time and players can alternatively focus on those to gain meter for their summon. Destroying the crystals with attacks will fill the summon meter exponentially, so it can really help to prioritize them. There are also EX abilities players can use with the triangle button and either up or down on the analog stick. It’s an odd control method and it takes getting used to, but once you do, it will help to master the game. EX abilities range from status effect magic like Poisonga to helpful magic like HP Regen, and they can only be used in specific moments.
The demo had over a dozen playable heroes, though we only had a chance to play with four of them. Cloud is already considered to be a little overpowered with fast abilities and a powerful Cross Slash attack that can be charged, making it go from three hits to four. Tidus of Final Fantasy X is a very nimble fighter that attacks with charged up Blitzball kicks and quick sword slashes. Lightning feels very similar to both Cloud and Tidus, being pretty fast and having a decent amount of power to back it up. All three of them seem to be easy to pick up and play, but some characters are a little more technical.
Final Fantasy IV’s Cecil was a more unique character we played, having the ability to change class between Dark Knight and Paladin. Changing class gives Cecil a brief power boost to his attacks, so switching is encouraged. His attacks, at least as a Dark Knight, are slow to start, but incredibly powerful when unleashed. He’s considered a bit more advanced than some other characters, but I managed to pull off a win with him, even winning a one-on-one with a Cloud player. Unfortunately, I didn’t change to a Paladin during my time with him, as the match was over quick (plus I didn’t know how to change class).
Outside of the gameplay, the presentation is done with simple menus, which makes sense given the arcade foundation for the game. Music is fitting and though the voice acting was all in Japanese, the game will likely have most if not all the voice actors from previous games return. The graphics themselves aren’t pushing the power of the PlayStation 4, but it does give the characters a nice HD boost that most of them have never seen before. Animation seems pretty solid so far and environments are large enough to give extra depth and variety.
Overall, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is a fun little fighter, even if it is a bit more complex than it has to be. The system does work, but it might be a bit much for the more casual player. Even so, fans that take time to master the combat will likely find a lot of depth with the various characters. With heroes and villains from most of the Final Fantasy games planned for the final release, it will be easy to find a favorite. The three-on-three approach is a great way to add to the game as well to make it stand out from the previous portable releases. Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is currently in closed beta, which can be signed up for here (PAL region here), and it is looking to release exclusively for PlayStation 4 early next year.