After nearly seven years, we’ve finally gotten another Dissidia Final Fantasy game in the form of Dissidia Final Fantasy NT. This is the first entry in the series on a home console, as both other games were handheld. This one is a PS4 exclusive.
So, with all that extra power to play with and seven years of time to improve upon issues, how does the newest Dissidia stack up? Put simply, it’s a huge disappointment.
The basic premise of the Dissidia Final Fantasy games is that all the main Final Fantasy protagonists and antagonists have gathered in one universe to hash it out. Characters from the first game all the way up to Final Fantasy XV are included. As always, it’s an awesome idea to place these characters against each other as they would never actually meet in their respective games. We all have our favorite Final Fantasy characters, and with Dissidia we can actually put them to the test against others. You think Squall can beat Cloud? Well here’s your chance to prove it.
For any Final Fantasy fan this is an amazing concept, and they do a great job of making every character unique. This includes moves and attacks that are direct callbacks to each character’s respectful game. They put a lot of care into making every character great, which is important because, with so many Final Fantasy fans out there, every character is someone’s favorite. Final Fantasy VII is my favorite Final Fantasy, and they created Cloud’s character perfectly I could just play as Cloud for hours because they did such a great job of recreating him.
Characters also come with additional costumes and weapons to unlock. These unlocks are strictly cosmetic; they don’t affect gameplay. Some of the costumes are great, but each character really only has the default outfit and an extra one to unlock, so there’s basically only two variants of each character when you play online. And the addition of the costumes feels a lot like padding to extend the game experience because of how overpriced they are. Each match might give you 100 gil and it costs 10800 to unlock just one costume. There are ways to earn extra gil, so if there’s one costume you really want, you can unlock it fairly quickly. However if you want multiple costumes, you’re in for a hefty grind. You can also earn “treasure,” which in reality are just loot boxes. There’s a chance you’ll get a costume you want from those, but I wouldn’t count on it.
The story mode in Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is very odd and seems intentionally obtuse, like the developers were trying to do something “different,” without actually considering if that “different” thing was any good. You see, you can’t just play the story, you have to play online or the offline gauntlet to periodically unlock the story. By playing regular matches online or offline, you earn tokens that you can spend to unlock parts of the story. And much like the game’s rewards, buying parts of the story requires grinding and patience. You legitimately can’t just play the story mode by itself in this game if that’s what you want.
Taking choices away from the player like that and forcing them to grind is bad and there’s no good reason for it. Not only is it annoying to grind to unlock the story but it totally ruins any pacing in the story. “You played a story section, and want to see what’s next? Alright, go fight 10 random battles offline and earn the next part!” When I consider what Nether Realm did with Injustice and how they nailed the structure of a fighting game story, I can’t fathom the decisions behind Dissidia NT.
During the course of the story characters basically split into groups, and go on separate paths. These story paths all consist of cutscenes, fights, and a boss fight at the end. The fights are pretty easy until you reach the boss fights. Depending on the characters you have in the party to fight a particular boss, it can be awful. The first boss was so frustrating and not fun that I was in awe at how bad the design was. I love a good, challenging boss fight, but this was not that. Dissidia NT gameplay isn’t built to fight the bosses they’ve created. The core gameplay is built for fighting smaller targets and not giant area-of-effect attacks. It’s worth mentioning that before the final boss fight, there’s an absolutely amazing cutscene that’s an extended version of the opening cutscene. Honestly, it made me wish they had simply made a movie instead of this story.
As for the actual gameplay in Dissidia NT, I saved the best for last. The gameplay is great as always. Controlling the characters and pulling off awesome attacks is as enjoyable as ever. Like I said, characters feel unique and battles feel epic. With that said, even the gameplay has made some missteps. Every game mode is a 3v3 and there’s no other way to play it. Past Dissidia games, like most fighting games, where 1v1. For some bizarre reason, NT is 3v3 only, which is a huge blow to what made Dissidia so good in the first place. Those tense one on one fights, trying to predict opponents movements and attacks, timing dodges with counter attacks and really out-playing someone. Granted these things aren’t completely lost, but they’re far less prevalent. With the 3v3 structure, battles can sometimes devolve into a chaotic mess. Adding in summons and EX skills, the game is just too hectic and lacks the simplicity of the older games.
“A sad return to Dissidia Final Fantasy”
All told, Dissidia NT isn’t a terrible game. The core fighting mechanics that make Dissidia great are still in tact. The problem is that everything that surrounds those core mechanics is bad. I consider the original Dissidia games to be some of my all-time favorites, so I can’t help but be immensely disappointed by NT. At the same time, I’ve found a lot of fun in it because those core mechanics are still there and are still enjoyable. If you’ve never played a Dissidia game, this is one to skip. If you’re a fan, I’d wait for a price drop. I can only hope we’ll get another Dissidia game in the future that goes back to a simpler format. Until then, maybe dust off the old Vita and play the original Dissidia games.
+ Characters feel unique
+ Core mechanics are solid
– Bad story mode
– Forced 3v3 Battles
– Too much grinding