ESGS 2017: Doubts About DISSIDIA Final Fantasy NT
Being an avid fan of the Final Fantasy series and having put over a hundred hours in the previous Dissidia Final Fantasy titles on the PlayStation Portable, you can imagine my excitement when they first revealed that the series was revealed to be an HD sequel on modern arcade machines. After praying to the Square-Enix gods day and night for them to announce Dissidia Final Fantasy NT to come out on PlayStation 4, this is finally a reality with the home console release soon coming to a home console platform in the next few months. With January slowly approaching, you'd think I'd be more excited about this. But the more I see of Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, the less enthusiastic I get about the game.
The base rules of combat are still very similar to the previous titles, with how the value of your Brave attacks equal to the damage of an HP attack. And landing these HP attacks will actually register damage to the opponent's hit points. This coupled with the 3rd arena movement, air dashing, wall running, and attacks changing whether you are grounded or airborne, these should be familiar to any season Dissidia player. From here on, things get a little different. The game has gone from a 1v1 arena fighter into a 3v3 team based action brawler, with characters being divided into one of four classes. Assassins are built for speed and attack with multiple swift hits to strike down opponents. Vanguards are your hard hitters. They deal a lot of damage and have a lot of moves that sends opponents flying or knocks them into walls leading into an easy HP attack. The Marksmen class are your ranged magic users that is meant to hit opponents at a distance. And the Specialist is a bit of a mixed bag but their moves generally benefit their teammates by providing buffs to allies and debuffs to opponents.
System-wise, the game looks to lend itself well to a hectic and intense combat with all these attacks and explosions happening on screen. A time-constrained playthrough against easy difficulty AI may not be the prime method of experiencing the game but from the looks of things at higher-level play, the game looks fun and solid. My doubts come from the single player content, or from the looks of it, a lack-there-of. Usually, when it comes to Japanese game trailers and video previews, Japanese game publisher would be brutally honest with their videos. You'd see a lot of long previews, demos, and features for their games wherein they discuss the game's mechanics and show a lot of almost every game mode available. There doesn't seem to be much of those for Dissidia NT. We did get a glimpse of what looks to be a 1 on 1 fight against one of the summon creature but it looked like the jankiest unfair your-meant-to-lose-and-put-in-more-quarters kind of fight. The summon creature would just do their regular attack patterns, similar as to when they are summoned in a regular match and they do not flinch to player attacks. There hasn't been a trailer showing any form of story progression either. The former Dissidia games on PSP had a substantially lengthy story modes. What you did in the story mode didn't stray far from your typical "fight a crystal clone version of existing characters until you reach a boss" but the game had you run through most of the cast (primarily, the heroes) and had plenty of in-game cutscenes and fully voiced FMV cutscenes. There doesn't seem to be a mode like that in Dissidia NT and, to be honest, I'm not really expecting anything outside of a half-assed arcade mode at this point.
Dissidia NT looks to be a very online dependent game when it comes to it's versus features. I'm not aware as to how challenging the AI's difficulty can get but you can only get so much enjoyment from fighitng computer controller opponents. I wasn't able to play the closed beta of the PS4 version that came out a few weeks ago but there was word of the online connection not being up to par for most people. This doesn't bode well for us over here in the Philippines as our internet connection speeds aren't as well developed as other countries.
Aside from these doubts about the netcode not being up to par and the single player possibly being lackluster, my other concern stems from the potential lack of customization for the characters. It looks like you have a selection of at least two different HP attacks and perhaps a slew of Ex-skills. But, at the very least from what I've seen, there doesn't seem to be a way to change up the Brave attacks. I would very much like to be proven wrong with this regard.
Perhaps I'm just expecting too much from Dissidia NT and this expectation is making my outlook on the game very cynical. Or perhaps the PSP games delivered too much given the platform that the earlier games were on. The perfect scenario would be that Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy would be ported to the PS4 and be released alongside Dissidia NT, maybe then I wouldn't be as hard on an unreleased game that I barely played 30 minutes of over a long hectic weekend in a game convention full of people. It could also be that Dissidia NT is getting released alongside heavy hitters such as Monster Hunter World (whose demo blew me away) and Dragon Ball FighterZ (which I cannot wait to play more of), making it all the more difficult to choose where to put my money on first. Long story short, I really want Dissidia Final Fantasy NT to be good. I want it to have enough single player content to keep entertained and for it to have a decent netcode.
Here's a full video of me playing the demo of Dissidia Final Fantasy NT on the show floor in the PlayStation booth at ESGS 2017 (Electronic Sports and Gaming Summit).