I vividly remember when the first Dissidia Final Fantasy game came out in 2009, which also happened to be the same year I graduated from high dchool. A demo came out that summer that I was very excited for and put dozens of hours into before the actual game came out. Eventually I would put hundreds into the full game whenever it came out that August—clearly I was hooked. It was like Square Enix’s answer to Super Smash Brothers for the Final Fantasy franchise. One day I thought, “How cool would it be for Dissidia to be on a console?”
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is an answer to the fans that shared those same thoughts. Actually, it started in the arcades and became a hit overseas. The developers and publishers have recently said that Dissidia NT was originally built with the PS4 in mind; they were set on bringing it to consoles since its inception. Though, there seems to be a catch with that statement. To build a game to work on an arcade machine and to have its console brethren in mind means that some things are going to be different. That is what I discovered as I spent some time with Dissidia Final Fantasy NT.
Violence: In Dissidia NT, players engage in battles involving two teams of three warriors. The warriors wield various kinds of melee weapons to subdue one another in combat.There is no blood, but combat is accompanied by various explosive and light effects along with cries of pain. The objective of each fight is for one team’s health to be depleted, which means characters can revive until that occurs
Spiritual Themes: The Final Fantasy series is known for characters that have magical abilities, and those same abilities are depicted in Dissidia as well. These attacks come in both arcane and elemental forms. An ability that is open to all teams and characters is the summoning of large creatures and beings that will aid a player’s team in battle with either abilities. This is not quite optional since an A.I. ally will use the summon ability when it becomes available in battle.
Language/Crude Humor: There are no major swear words to be found in the game; the only word present is “bastard.”
Sexual Content: A small number of female characters wear revealing clothing that seem to barely cover their breasts and buttocks. One character in particular has a transformation ability in which she seems to be nude, though she glows enough to a point that does not reveal any private parts that can be discerned.
Many fans have wanted a Dissidia game on their home console since its days on the PSP. We now have that, but not in the same form that we once did on PSP, especially in terms of content. It is now much lighter with a lot less story and RPG elements. Clearly some things had to be sacrificed because of its arcade origins. Before I get into all of that, I do want to go over what I really liked about Dissidia NT.
The presentation comes out strong, as it should in a series that once lived on a handheld device. The characters and summons all look great; they have been successfully realized in high fidelity graphics that are far beyond the systems Dissida first appeared on. Some of the environments look outstanding while others are less inspired, but they all come from locales we are all familiar with from previous games. One of the complaints of the original was that it felt rough to play in some of the enclosed stages, but that is no longer a problem since the environments are now built for the 3 on 3 battles.
Another aspect of the Dissidia games I have always enjoyed was the various music tracks from all of past games in the series. Dissidia NT continues that trend of including those tracks in battle and even letting players create a playlist of some of their favorites. These can also be unlocked through the in-game shop or the treasure sigils.
Now speaking of battle, I actually don’t mind the 3 on 3 combat. It feels sort of like a callback to the Final Fantasy series and how all of the games include a party system, except that when playing online, your party members can be your friends. This new style of combat is accompanied by a live system—a loss comes as a result of anyone dying three times in battle. There is potential for a deep level of strategy when the summoning core becomes involved and both teams are going for it.
The best thing I can really say about the combat is that it controls just like its predecessors. I quickly got a grasp of the controls after refreshing my memory in the tutorial. The “square” and “X” buttons both represent the “Brave” and “HP” attacks once again. The same concept of breaking your enemies’ bravery before attacking their health continues to be engaging. Though I remember being able to customize more than one attack to a button which might be something that was simplified for this release. Either way, the flow of combat was easy to get back into once my brain kicked back into gear.
On the subject of missing features It’s time to discuss content: there isn’t much. The original games had robust story campaigns that had light RPG elements inspired by the Final Fantasy series. You could level-up characters, get stat boosting equipment, and extensively customize your moveset. The scope of Dissidia NT‘s story is padded out in such a way that makes moving through it a big slog. A currency called Memoria is earned as you gain player experience through all other modes of the game. It costs Memoria to unlock a player battle or sometimes a single cutscene—this is a grind I wasn’t compelled to invest in. It would take around twenty hours of battles just to experience the entire story mode; this creates a situation where few can get invested in the actual events of the story or blow through the game just to experience it.
Most of my time in Dissidia NT has been spent playing the gauntlet mode. This acts as a survival mode in which you can pick your battles and choose how you want the difficulty to escalate. A new match type called “Core Battle” can also be played in gauntlet mode, a great use of the new 3-on-3 combat. Not to be confused with the summoning core, players must attack a red enemy core while defending their own blue one. The strategy behind Core Battle is what really made it stand out to me. Out of the three gameplay modes I found it to be perfectly fine and something I enjoy dropping into for a few hours. Most of my time spent with fighting games is spent within these kind of arcade and challenge modes rather than online.
The reason for the dialed-back story mode is for the competitive online mode. Dissidia NT‘s focus in the arcade was for players to compete against each other and that has not changed. I did not experience any hitches or connection issues when I jumped online. Players have the option of matchmaking with two other random people in a team or joining forces with friends who also own the game. I never had the opportunity to get a party together but from my experience teaming up with random players was pleasant. It was a great experience to battle against other players in a Dissidia game for the first time, but without others to team up with, there are other games that I would rather jump into for online play.
Aside from unlocking story chapters, there are a few other things that players can unlock. There is a shop that contains avatar icons and titles to customize an online profile, music tracks, including character costumes and weapons. All of these things can also be unlocked from loot box-like object called treasure that will be earned through player progression. None of the items within the loot are pay-to win and cannot be purchased with real money at the time this review was written. I am in favor of unlocking those costumes, weapons, and music tracks; its the customizeable profile I don’t have much of a use for.
For what it does, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is a solid entry into the series. The gameplay is familiar and there is so much to enjoy for fans of the series. Personally, that large amount of single player content was an important component to me. I really like the way they tried to innovate and possibly even improve on the original formula of combat, but I still dearly miss the feel of those intense one on one battles. There is enough missing in Dissidia NT that it feels like half of a game I once knew and loved, which is a bummer considering this is the first time its been on a console.
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The Bottom Line
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT looks and plays like the Dissidia games we had on PSP but lacks the longevity. The addition of 3v3 is unique and works well but the intense moments of the 1v1 battles are dearly missed. The robust RPG elements of the story mode are now gone in favor of strange padding. All of those hours of content have been chopped down in favor of online gameplay.