I’m a big fan of fighting games, but I’m no professional.
A lot of the time, I’ll fall in love with a game only to get my ass kicked the second I find a match online. There have only been a few times when I was able to hold my own against the endless amount of superior combatants — specifically, in Dead or Alive 4 in 2005, and more recently, in Injustice 2. Of course, even though my skills always undermine my own level of confidence when it comes to the genre, I can’t help but get excited. When you throw a property I already adore into the mix, like Final Fantasy? I’m sold.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is the third game in Square Enix’s crossover fighting game series. We’ve had tonnes of crossover Final Fantasy titles in the past like Fortune Street and Kingdom Hearts, but rarely do we get anything as focused as the Dissidia series. I remember playing the first one when it came out on the PSP, loving its pandering fanservice but hating its overly-complicated and imbalanced mechanics. Its sequel was a step in the right direction, but Dissidia Final Fantasy NT looks to be their best effort yet. At least, so far.
For the uninitiated, the Dissidia series is as… unique as it gets when it comes to fighting games. Most comparable to franchises like Gundam Versus or the various 3D Dragonball Z fighting games out there, the Dissidia games are 3D arena fighters that utilise both the traditional health meters and a “bravery” meter, which dictates your character’s strength and resilience. The juggling between the two has been the most identifying aspect of the games, and with Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, it seems to be leaning even more into that aspect.
Evolving fights to three-vs-three brawls, Dissidia NT is much more hectic than its predecessors. At a glance, it’s an intimidatingly complex game. Its controls are preposterously obtuse, and the HUD equally baffling to comprehend. Luckily, the game has added a less obtrusive version of Dissidia NT’s arcade HUD (the original version is still available, if you prefer) but it does little to aid against the exhausting amount of information on screen.
This has always been the problem for the Dissidia games to me. While most fighting games are hard enough as players manage various systems, combos and the like, Dissidia NT throws those conventions to the side and instead treats itself like an action game. I love the idea in premise, but the camera hampers the experience by forcing you to focus on one thing at a time. Always auto-locked on another player, it feels incredibly difficult to get an understanding of the battlefield. Just as I would incapacitate one player, I’d struggle finding my next target. Even more frustrating is that it takes the potential of the three-on-three dynamic and funnels it down, making it feel more like three one-on-one fights happening around one another.
Movement is also a struggle, despite the ability to pull off some pretty cool manoeuvres. While I could run up a tree or a wall if I wanted to, I never saw myself needing to outside of chasing my opponent when they did so. It turned a lot of my matches into cat and mouse chases after one of us realised we were losing the battle. There are a few options if this happens, of course, like shooting a long range attack or manoeuvring around the enemy to get the upper-hand, but it took me way more time than I would have expected to finally land the killing blow in these circumstances.
Probably the biggest takeaway I had from the beta was that Dissidia NT is a game about team cooperation. With so much going on, teams that were communicating and working together always came out on top. It’s weird, because it feels like the game knows this. It throws so much information at the player that it becomes impossible to understand everything that’s going on in a match without others constantly communicating with you. If you have a group of friends to play with, I can see how Dissidia NT could be a great time.
Despite the struggles I had with it though, the Dissidia Final Fantasy NT beta was fun. It’s hard to dismiss the charm of seeing my favourite characters from Final Fantasy duke it out in random locales like Final Fantasy VII’s Midgar or Final Fantasy XII’s City of Rabanastre. Despite some of the game’s larger hurdles, given time, they’re manageable to overcome. Thanks to the length of Dissidia NT’s open beta, I felt much more comfortable at the end of it than I had during its shorter closed beta from last year.
For Final Fantasy nerds like me, the game holds enough potential to at least be an engaging and fun single-player experience. It can’t be ignored, however, that Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is positioned as a hardcore fighting game. I don’t think Square Enix will be able to court the more traditional beat’em up players, but I think they’re probably fine with that. Dissidia has garnered its own loyal following and with the admiration of Dissidia NT’s arcade counterpart, it’s hard to see this franchise going away anytime soon.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is coming to PS4 on 30th January. Buy it now from Amazon.