Over the last week, we had a chance to jump into the Final Fantasy Dissidia NT beta and see for ourselves how it’s shaping up on PS4. All through the beta, each of the Final Fantasy games, excluding XV, had one iconic character representing that game, those names being Lighting, Cloud, and Zidane. Since Noctis is set to launch with the game as DLC, one would expect that more characters could be made available post-release, giving players plenty of opportunities to harness the power of their favorite characters.
What made Dissidia special in the first place way back on the PSP was how grand and accessible the scope of combat was. Maps were massive and detailed and offered plenty of tactical opportunities. Dissidia NT delivers that same feeling of hyperbolic combat to a different effect, and it all comes down to timing. Everything seems a bit more weighted than it did in the PSP games, which is a welcome addition to any fighting game. There are risks to pulling off heavy attacks, leaving you vulnerable as you attempt your action. This was always in these games, of course, but in NT it has a greater severity to it. I’ve played quite a few games, and I’m still not sure whether the combat has slowed down (because fights go by so quickly) or action timing is longer, but the result adds great tactical value to everything you do.
Apart from Practice Mode, Versus Mode was the only major game mode available in the beta. Versus Mode featured three-on-three combat through matchmaking lobbies, allowing all kinds of different combinations of players. In this, I would hope that Square considers altering how parties are formed, since each player chooses his or her preferred character before entering matchmaking. While this allows anyone to play whomever, it also implies that strategic party makeups aren’t that important to how the game is played. In this, it comes down to understanding how each character can benefit the flow of combat, which is a rather refreshing alternative to online modes that dip into established, overpowered combinations.
When a lobby gets formed, your team chooses a summon to use in combat. While fighting, crystals appear randomly around the map at different intervals, and destroying them grants crystal power used to summon. Unfortunately, while the summons add some extra damage and elements to the game, they lack a certain impact that one would expect from a Final Fantasy summon. Their damage output and effect on enemy players is rather minimal. I would liken the intentions of summons to that of, say, Supers or Finishers in fighting games, but they don’t have that same impact yet.
So far, the maps are rather open and uneventful, a contrast to many of the great maps that came with the portable games. I can say sincerely that more elaborate maps will come with the game’s official release, but having access to those maps in beta form can help to snuff out exploits pre-release. For now, it’s more about testing out the characters than anything, which is still fun as hell.
All in all, Dissidia NT offers a great deal of what it hopes to offer at launch. It’s this writer’s prerogative to say that a more vast, elaborate beta might benefit the game further, offering more players to gain access to it so that better balancing with summons and game options can be tested prior to release. Either way, the nitpicking points are more or less fine tuning a package that already has a ton to offer anyone even remotely interested in fighting games or Final Fantasy.