Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Beta Impressions

Posted September 22, 2017 by Jeremy Winslow in Video Games
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Logo

It’s been nearly 10 years since Dissidia Final Fantasy graced the PlayStation Portable back in 2009. Selling approximately 2.24 million units globally in its lifetime and averaging a 79 on Metacritic, the popular Final Fantasy fighter was bound to receive another release. And two years later, it became thus: In 2011, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy crashed onto the PlayStation Portable. Being both a prequel and a remake, Dissidia 012 improved upon the mechanics set forth by its predecessor, as well as adding additional enhancements and tweaks to balance the game for new and returning players alike. Unfortunately, this would be the last time the Final Fantasy brawler would see widespread release, as the franchise’s upcoming installment, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, was only released on arcade cabinets in Japan. However, developer Team Ninja and publish Square Enix, realizing the popularity of Dissidia, has pegged a worldwide console release exclusively to the PlayStation 4. And the beta, which began on August 25 and ended on September 3, was our first taste of the new characters, new environments, new graphics, new mechanics, and more new stuff.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Cloud

For those familiar with Dissidia, NT is largely unchanged. You have various Final Fantasy characters making a return — Cloud, Squall, Tidus, Warrior of Light, etc. — and new characters being introduced — Ace (Final Fantasy Type 0), Ramza Beoulve (Final Fantasy Tactics), and Y’shtola (Final Fantasy XIV) — with more to come, according to the official Dissidia Final Fantasy NT website. (It’s safe to assume some characters from other Final Fantasy games, like Noctis from Final Fantasy XV, will make an appearance in NT.) For the beta, though, there was a limited roster of 14 characters available out of the 22 currently announced for the full release. (It’s worth noting that Dissidia Final Fantasy only had 22 characters in its roster, while Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy had 31 characters in its roster.)

Something new for NT is a class-based system, grouping characters with certain attributes together to create four separate classes akin to a hero shooter or MOBA: Assassin (e.g. Squall), Marksman (e.g. Ace), Specialist (e.g. Ramza), and Vanguard (e.g. Cloud). Although you’d think this class-based system would elicit some sort of rock-paper-scissors type of decision and gameplay, it ultimately doesn’t matter, as any character can absolutely destroy another character so long as you’re good. I played as Cloud during the entirety of the beta and I rekt most other players, regardless of what class they fell in. It’s a novel idea to modernize the series but feels inconsequential in its execution.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Combat with Lightning

Another change for NT is the new 3v3, squad-based matchmaking. In previous Dissidia games, it was a 1v1, with you selecting a character and either going up against another player or a CPU. Now, with NT, you select a character and can either group up with two CPUs or two other players. While commendable to try and introduce randos together on the battlefield as their favorite Final Fantasy character, each player’s life is tied to the same health bar. Meaning, when you finally die, your entire team loses a notch in the health bar. Because your team only has three notches, if you are downed three times, the match is over.

The execution of the idea isn’t the problem. The problem is matchmaking. There is a strong possibility of getting grouped with randos who are brand new to Dissidia‘s gameplay. Moreover, there is nothing preventing players from double- or triple-teaming on someone in these rather large maps. Couple these with the ease with which it is to do critical damage and you have a recipe for frustration and rage-quitting. And since 3v3 was the only way to play, most matches ended just as quickly as they began.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Combat with Cloud

And once matches are over, you have the option of rematching or returning to the lobby. In most cases, though, you will return to the lobby. There are no numbers regarding player count during the duration of the beta, but sometimes it took five or more minutes just to find a match. Even with CPUs, matches took forever to start and connect to servers. Since NT is an online multiplayer game, it was possible to get requeued because of either faulty connection or host migration upon connection. This added to lobby wait time. And since there was nothing to do while waiting for matches to begin, you spent a good portion of your time staring at the characters and map selected.

At least NT is pretty to look at. Each character, regardless of the era of Final Fantasy or console generation, all have high-rendered, 3D models that are extremely pristine. Hair strands are distinguished and eye color is deeply saturated. Over the course of the match, characters will begin to show damage, with dirt, grime, and various muck slathered on the face. Once a summon arrives to wreak its havoc, explosions are gorgeous in the over-the-top, This-Is-Final-Fantasy kind of way. Unfortunately, NT doesn’t run as good as it looks. The game’s performance was rather atrocious, with frame drops during double- and triple-teaming and summon attacks. In some instances, NT froze, forcing me to quit the application and restart it to regain functionality. Even though it was a beta and beta’s are the time to find and sort out these issues, that’s not an excuse for the performance problems I encountered during the beta.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Roster

As it stands, unfortunately, NT was barren, lacking any of the substance that made Dissida compelling and Dissidia 012 a worthy “sequel.” Much like the original Dissida back in 2009, NT‘s beta doesn’t show any promise for the Final Fantasy fighter. With the emergence of new genres, new ways to play, and remasters that add substantial content to the base game, NT will have to provide players with more than just a smorgasbord of Final Fantasy characters to do battle. Though the beta only allowed us to test its multiplayer functionality, Square Enix hasn’t talked about much of anything regarding the game. And considering the game has been in arcade cabinets for two years now, this leads me to believe that the final, full release of the game will only include what the arcade cabinets feature: 3v3 combat, and that’s it. I don’t want to think that Square Enix can’t add more content to NT, but if it doesn’t, NT will fade into obscurity just as quickly as it emerges.

Let’s hope that’s not the case, as the foundation here is built well enough to sustain the game for a little while. It’s the game’s longevity I’m concerned about.

About the Author

Jeremy Winslow

Just a word smithing, coffee loving, vinyl collecting, anime watching, film viewing, video game playing Black guy.