Thoughts on Dissidia NT Closed Beta

With the Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Closed Beta underway I’ve been able to play it quite a bit so I thought it’d be interesting to share my thoughts. Especially since Dissidia 012 Duodecim Final Fantasy was one of my favorite games to play.

Background

For those who don’t know, Dissidia Final Fantasy is a semi-canon spinoff for the Final Fantasy series originally created for the PSP in 2008. It starred the main stars and villains of Final Fantasy’s 1-10 a hero from 11 and a villain from 12.

Dissidia_cast
Warrior of Light (FF1), Firion (FF2), Onion Knight (FF3), Cecil (FF4), Bartz (FF5), Terra (FF6), Cloud (FF7), Squall (FF8), Zidane (FF9), Tidus (FF10), Shantotto (FF11), Cosmos (Dissidia), Garland (FF1), The Emperor (FF2), Cloud of Darkness (FF3), Golbez (FF4), Exdeath (FF5), Kefka (FF6), Sephiroth (FF7), Ultimecia (FF8), Kuja (FF9), Jecht (FF10), Gabranth (FF12), Chaos (FF1)

It was about the Warriors of Cosmos and the Warriors of Chaos who were trapped in an endless cycle of battle and resurrection with the Warriors of Chaos winning a majority of theses matches. Letting Chaos and his warriors grow in strength along the way. Each Warrior of Cosmos dealing with their own character development that referenced their character arcs from their individual games for the most part. Warrior of Light being given a personality and defining traits and Cloud/Sephiroth being more like their Kingdom Hearts and Advent Children iterations being noticeable at times for different reasons.

It’s sequel, Dissidia Duodecim 012 Final Fantasy came out 3 years later in 2011 and covered the “12th Cycle”. The cycle that came prior to the original game which was the 13th cycle. Telling the tale of the previous Warriors of Cosmos, why they didn’t appear in the original Dissidia, and the creation of the Manikins who were the generic fodder from the original game.

Dissidia_012_Main_Cast
Warrior of Light (FF1), Squall (FF8), Onion Knight (FF3), Firion (FF2), Zidane (FF9), Vaan (FF12), Yuna (FF10), Lightning (FF13), Laguna (FF8), Jecht (FF10), Shantotto (FF11), Bartz (FF5), Tifa (FF7), Cecil (FF4), Kain (FF4), Golbez (FF5), Cloud (FF7), Sephiroth (FF7), Cloud of Darkness (FF3), The Emperor (FF2), Tidus (FF10), Garland (FF1), Terra (FF6), Kuja (FF9), Kefka (FF6), Gabranth (FF12), Golbez (FF4), Ultimecia (FF8) Not featured here are Gilgamesh (FF5), Prishe (FF11), and Feral Chaos (Dissidia 012)

Duodecim was an interesting case of being a sequel that kinda felt like an expansion pack. The new Duodecim story being only part of the game with the new improved story system being brought over to a remade original story which now uses the new world map and references their former allies subtlely.

This now brings us to Dissidia Final Fantasy (2015) which is the third in the series and was originally released on Arcades in Japan. It’s only now in 2017 that it’s getting a Beta for a January 2018 release on PS4. Making it the first console of any Dissidia game (the Theatrhythm series and Opera Omnia being on mobile platforms).

Dissidia_Final_Fantasy_2015_Main_Heroes
Cloud (FF7), Vaan (FF12), Lightning (FF13), Zidane (FF9), Cecil (FF4), Y’shtola (FF14), Bartz (FF5), Terra (FF6), Warrior of Light (FF1), Squall (FF8), Firion (FF2), Shantotto (FF11), Onion Knight (FF3), Tidus (FF10) Not featured as of this posting include Garland (FF1), The Emperor (FF2), Kain (FF4), Exdeath (FF5), Kefka (FF6), Sephiroth (FF7), Kuja (FF9), Jecht (FF10), Ramza (Tactics), and Ace (Type-0)

Dissidia NT is also going to mark the debut of the new story mode which appears to be a reboot of sorts as Chaos and Cosmos are no longer around, being replaced with the all new Spiritus and Materia. Not much is known beyond what the announcement trailer showed so we’ll have to wait for the full release to know more pending announcements.

Gameplay Overview

The gameplay is both similar and very different from the previous installment (Due to Duodecim being an overall improvement on the original all comparisons will be made with that.

Compared to the Duodecim, Dissidia NT is a much more grounded game similar to the Gundam Versus series. You can dash constantly but you’ll be doing a lot more actual running than flying everywhere. Also like Gundam Versus, you have a team “life bar” that when someone dies it’s drained. Whichever team hits 0 first loses making teamwork key.

In action, this is both super fun and kinda frustrating. As you can win by being a good team or lose because one person got ganked on the opposite side of the map. But it does let you experiment with team composition. Theoretically anyway, currently you just get a random setup with whoever you’re matchmade with.

Mechanic Revamps

Because there’s quite a bit we’ll do this segment patch notes style!

  1. Assists no longer exist in light of the 3v3 format
  2. As referenced earlier, dashes can be done for as long as you have stamina. But you’ll need to be grounded to recharge it
  3. Character gimmicks have been changed or altered to compensate for the considerably larger stages and team format. Instead, characters have a “Class type”
    • Vanguard- The melee characters
    • Marksman- The ranged characters
    • Assassin- The speedy characters
    • Specialist/Unique- Unique characters who don’t fully fit one of the above
  4. Characters all have an EX Skill that can be used when off cooldown as well as two lesser Skills that are used similarly. EX Skills, however, are unique to each person
  5. Parrying has been replaced with an actual block and air dodges have been removed. Ground dodges are still there but I honestly didn’t find myself using it nearly as much as in the past.
  6. The grind rails, instant jumps, and pitfalls (at least as of writing this) are no longer present
  7. EX Gauges are gone as are the EX Bursts connected to them. They’re connected to the next point
  8. Summons replace the EX Modes and use the crystals to fill its meter and after at least one party member finishes charging, they appear as a fourth party member and do their all powerful thing on top of giving buffs. As such (currently) only Ifrit, Shiva, Ramuh, Odin, Leviathan, Alexander, and Bahamut are present
  9. If you don’t have a full team, an AI shall be provided to compensate
  10. Little change but Music & Stages can’t be selected. Summons are also voted on by the team so there is a degree of randomness to matches now

Character Revamps

Warrior of Light (Paragon > Vanguard)

DFF15_WoL_Trailer

Warrior of Light remains a bit on the balanced side but takes up a bit more of a Tank style role. Having a new EX Skill that makes everyone in range forced to lock onto him. His Shield of Light HP attack that’d block and counter an attack is now a Brave attack and he has assimilated one of Exdeaths all mighty barriers for his dash. He no longer can cast spells but his Radiant Sword HP attack is similarly a Brave attack now so he can do “some” ranged attacks.

Firion (Weapon Specialist > Vanguard)

DFF15_Firion_Trailer

Firion remains almost identical to his previous iterations. With everyone being grounded he is immensely better and his combos can keep going whether or not they actually hit their target. His old spells with his Wand have been merged into parts of his ground chain attacks and his bow has increased use in it as well to make up for not being an HP attack. His old EX Mode, Blood Weapon, is now his EX Skill as well.

Onion Knight (Mystic Fencer > Specialist)

DFF15_Onion_Knight_Trailer

Onion Knight is one of the people that got an upgrade in Dissidia NT. His moveset is fairly similar to before but now, outside of using his HP Attacks, he can manually (well randomly) switch to either Ninja or Sage Classes using his EX Skill Job Change. Both individual classes have also been improved immensely making them far more effective, especially Sage.

Cecil Harvey (Split Soul > Vanguard)

DFF15_Cecil_Trailer

Cecil also got a big upgrade in that you can decide what class you start as before starting a match. Paladin is still geared towards fighting in the air while Dark Knight geared towards fighting on the ground but both aren’t utterly useless on the ground or in the air respectively. Having new moves to use for both and this time having their HP attacks working in both modes but with different effects. Like Onion Knight, his EX Skull Job Change, lets him manually swap. Though unlike Onion Knight it naturally isn’t random.

Bartz Klauser (Mimic > Specialist)

DFF15_Bartz_Trailer

Bartz is one of the ones who changed immensely between Duodecim and NT. Instead of just mimicking the other characters on the roster Mokujin style, Bartz represents different classes from FF5 (Specifically Monk, Dragoon, Black Mage, Mystick Knight, Blue Mage, Ranger, Ninja, Samurai, Geomancer, Knight, and Dancer). After enough use, each ability can be mastered and it’ll boost his stats. Using his new EX Skill, Good Luck Charm, gives the boost to his teammates as well while active.

Terra Branford (Esperkin > Marksman)

DFF15_Terra_Trailer

Terra got made even better than before. Being able to not attack which will make her attacks stronger. Like holy hell she’ll job out anyone Cena style. Her moves are all the same as before but pimped out and her old EX Mode has become the EX Skill Trance that, as far as I can tell, make her already ungodly attacks even stronger.

Cloud Strife (Buster Basher > Vanguard)

DFF15_Cloud_Trailer

Cloud may have lost the fancy title but he’s still very much a Buster Basher. Every single attack of his can be charged to be stronger and also let him just smash through attacks and your face Little Mac style. He’s also the use of his Fire Materia but gets all his Limitbreaks this time. Including the new EX Skill Limit Break which improves his stats and abilities.

Squall Leonhart (Relentless Revolver > Assassin)

Squalldissidia

Squall remains quite similar to his old self but now only uses his Lightning spell. If you tap the inputs when his attacks land like in FF8 they’ll do additional damage from the Gunblades trigger. His EX Skill, Draw & Junction, will grant Squall a different passive bonus depending on who he uses it on.

Zidane Tribal (Aerial Ace > Assassin)

Zidane-Dissidia-Arcade-2015

Zidane’s moveset hasn’t changed much but unfortunately, he takes a bit of a hit with the game changing around him. In Duodecim he was the master of Aerial battles but now his largely air based moveset is a bit odd to use. But now he gets a thief motif and can use Steal on enemies at the end of attacks. It reduces their stats while boosting your own. His old EX Mode Trance is now his EX Skill and like before it boosts his stats but also turns Steal into Mug so it’ll do damage. Oh and he gets a third jump in the air now.

Tidus (Spry Striker > Assassin)

Tidus-Dissidia-2015

Tidus is an interesting one in that his moveset is still the same but the mechanics behind them are different. Originally, he was built entirely around Dodging before doing an attack (Save his normal Blitzball attack which got cut). While he still keeps the largely flowing and leap based moveset rather than avoid the attack it more just increases the distance used. His EX Skill is also a comboing HP attack.

Shantotto (Chainspeller > Marksman)

Shantotto-Dissidia-Arcade-2015

Shantotto got a huge upgrade from Duodecim. Gone is having to get your Bravery high so her moves were halfway decent. Now they’re ALWAYS at max level. Which makes it more terrifying when her HP is low and she switches into Play Rough mode which makes her do even more attacks alongside her original ones. Oh, and her EX Skill Colossal Shantotto turns her into a giant for temporary invincibility while performing an HP wave attack.

Vaan (Adroit Attacker > Unique)

Vaan got a massive overhaul to his moveset and is almost indistinguishable from his previous iteration. Instead of representing FF12s entire Gambit system in one body, he just uses his Short Sword and some Spells. But now he’s built heavily around his HP attacks which are his Quickenings from FF12. If he does 2 successful HP attacks he’ll perform Luminescence at the end and if he successfully does 5 he’ll do Black Hole. Both of which add additional damage to the attacks. His new EX Skill Dreadnought allows him to charge up his Bravery and wherever he stops, it locks on it temporarily allowing him to neither increase or decrease it.

Lightning (Paradigm Commando > Assassin)

DFF15_Lightning_Trailer

Lightning is back and this time she’s ditching the Medic Paradigm leaving her only with Commando & Ravager. She’s an interesting case where Paradigm Shift is done by pushing the left stick in while her EX Skill is her HP attack Army of One. Being the only person who can switch class without a cooldown. Ironically, she no longer uses the gun part of her Gunblade outside of brief moments of Army of One which makes me sad since that set her apart from Squall.

New Characters

Y’shtola Rhul (Marksman)

DFF15_Y'shtola_Trailer

Y’shtola is the only 100% new person in the Betas starting roster and is the current sole representative for Final Fantasy 14, my personal favorite Final Fantasy. Being that she’s the sole newbie I’ll go into detail about what she can do compared to the others who are quite similar or could be covered in a trailer. Brief sidebar, all her animations are taken straight from the Conjurer/White Mage and Thaumaturge Class/Jobs in FF14 which I love as part of the little details they put into her.

First off, Y’shtola is the Support of the game in the most literal sense. She has quite a few abilities that support or debuff the enemy team. All while mixed with a type of trap play style that’d make old Emperor proud.

Ground Bravery Attacks

  1. Stone- As the name suggests she launches stones at her target. If they hit their mark the target will be slowed for 5 seconds much like if they got hit in FF14
  2. Virus- Lower targets attack & defense for 25 seconds while being able to stack 2 times. Just like the Arcanists in FF14
  3. Blizzard II- Hit a target and leave a frozen patch of land. Whoever touches it will be stunned for 5 seconds. In a meta way, it works just like the Thaumaturge in FF14 by giving you more Bravery/MP upon hit
  4. Stone II- Sets an earth trap that will trigger when targets get close enough

Air Bravery Attacks

  1. Ruin- Shoots three homing magical bolts. Thankfully more useful than when Arcanists do it in FF14
  2. Aero- Fire a homing burst of air that upon hitting drains Bravery for 10 seconds
  3. Fluid Aura- Fire a stream of water that will knock back and stun targets for 2 seconds
  4. Aero II- Set a wind trap that when triggered acts just like Aero but does more initial damage upon triggering

HP Attacks

  1. Holy- Summon Holy above your head, pulling in nearby targets, and stunning for 6 seconds. Once activated, it WILL trigger regardless of if Y’shtola is hit and interrupted or not. Making it a pseudo trap
  2. Vivifying Lance- Fire a lance of light that upon hitting the target will heal allies.

EX Skill

  1. Aetherial Burst- Become stationary and create a massive AOE that charges your Bravery and any allies in its effect radius. Only HP attacks seem to be able to knock Y’shtola out of this so be careful!

Despite my initial hate of Y’shtola for getting in over…anyone else from FF14, she has fast become my favorite to play as in the Dissidia NT Beta. She makes a good addition to the game especially with the team based format.

Summon Revamps

Summons got a huge overhaul and no longer are items. In fact, they replace the old EX Mode/EX Burst. Around the stage when the Summon Crystals appear you can beat them up for points. Get enough to fill your creature and you can perform the Summoning. A process which forces you to remain defenseless while a timer goes off. But when they do…Prepare to feel the Summons wrath.

Summons aren’t to be trifled with. They act like a fourth party member and will devastate any enemies in their path. Not only are they awesome and epic to see but the Summons each got unique designs made just for this. A nice little touch to make them feel unique and not bring horrific nightmares of Bahamut causing the Calamity that almost wiped out all life in Eorzea or Leviathan flooding an entire city in a hissy fit. But aside from bringing down their divine wrath, Summons apply buffs both before and after they’re summoned so picking the right one for your team is key. As awesome as Ramuh is he may not be best for all parties.

Stage Revamps

The stages are amazing to look at in this game. Though as referenced earlier, none currently have any rails to grind on, pitfalls, or auto leap points. They basically removed the stage gimmicks so they didn’t interfere with the battle. But the stages now do transitions…

By the end, all stages will have changed in some way. Usually tied to the storyline of the game they originated from (Meteor appearing in Midgar, Alexandria spawning its wings, or Besaid becoming a sunset to name a few).

Soundtrack

Now, this is one of the things I didn’t really attach to as much as the previous soundtrack. While Dissidia NT has the same composer as before the music doesn’t feel as impactful as before. Some are arrangements, some originals are lifted from Dissidia 012, but most are originals that were ported over. For example, Blinded by Light was one of the coolest tracks in Duodecim. Here’s the one for NT

Now here’s the one from Duodecim

Like the one they used is a good remix. But it doesn’t quite feel like a battle theme which I feel about a lot of the music in Dissidia NT. They’re nice but they don’t fit the game and unlike in the past I’m not finding myself getting excited and hype because of the theme playing. It’s just background noise to me I barely notice half the time which bothers me.

Final Thoughts

I started out absolutely HATING everything about Dissidia Arcade whenever I saw anything involving it. I loved the original two so much this just rubbed me the wrong way. I literally applied for the Closed Beta so I could try it first hand and see if it changed my mind. In case you haven’t guessed, it did. In fact, it did in the very first match I played. The complaints I have are small and the pros outweigh the cons. It’s very different in its ways from the originals I so loved but that’s not entirely a bad thing. I’m excited to get this when it is released and fully intend to see what the story is for this game. I fully recommend this for old fans of the Dissidia series, fans of Final Fantasy in general, and people who want a game like Gundam Versus that will actually get ported. All I ask is you bring back some of the Duodecim costumes. Namely Jecht, Tidus, Squall, Cloud, and you know…Kingdom Hearts Squall has fans in the US too.

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