Square Enix honored the wishes of many Final Fantasy fans when they announced a non-handheld version of Dissidia Final Fantasy for arcades, despite the changes that were being made compared to previous games. This new title focused entirely on the fighting instead of having a 60/40 focus between that and the story, and changed the combat format from one-on-one to three-on-three to shake up the established formula.
In other words, the transition from handheld to the big screen allowed Dissidia to fully embrace its party game potential. Dissidia came from the same mold of games like Super Smash Bros. and Power Stone in being a fighting game whose fundamentals are easy to learn, but difficult to master. While Nintendo’s franchise started out as a party experience by being a four-player game (with options to increase the count from there), Capcom realized Power Stone’s potential in elevating that title to a four-player game after the first game was one-on-one. Square Enix and developer Team Ninja applied that logic here, and could afford to have six characters fighting simultaneously thanks to the wonders of modern technology. According to those who’ve been playing it in arcades in Japan for nearly two years, it turned out well.
Plenty outside that venue will enjoy it soon, since Square Enix announced at E3 2017 that it will come to PlayStation 4 in the form of Dissidia Final Fantasy NT. The original game released in arcades with only the heroes from the original Dissidia, while other heroes, villains, and stages have been slowly released on an intermittent basis. Now that it’s received enough content, it’s a good time to bring the experience to those playing on home consoles, and outside Japan in general thanks to the lack of arcade centers in western territories. It will release in Japan on January 11th, and in the west on the 30th of the same month.
They didn’t wait until then, though, as the developers gave console owners a sneak peek through a closed beta session. It lasted from August 25th to September 3rd, and allowed for players to try out heroes from Final Fantasy I to XIV. This marked an opportunity for those who got in the beta to see how some characters changed from the handheld versions, and also gave them the first chance at trying FF XIV’s Y’shtola. Fortunately for the developers, those who got in came away impressed with most elements.
NT is similar to previous installments in how characters have access to “Bravery” attacks and normal attacks, which damage an opponent’s Bravery and HP, respectively. Doing enough damage to their Bravery will allow for normal attacks to do far more damage upon impact, so both have to be used on a regular basis. Characters also still have their Limit Break-style attacks, though the animations aren’t as long due to the three-on-three nature. Most fans came away feeling the shift from one-on-one was smooth. Square Enix will have to take time to polish the finicky online connectivity issues, though testing the online is part of the point of having a beta-testing phase. There’s a chance they’ll have another beta, so it could be improved by then.
Interestingly, every character used their Japanese voice for the beta. The final version will reportedly have both Japanese and English options, even though this title won’t have a dedicated story mode like the handheld installments.
The console release is on the horizon, but that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped releasing characters for the arcade game, as Final Fantasy VIII’s Ultimecia was announced this week. She’s similar to her original Dissidia counterpart in her move set being overwhelmingly focused on long-range attacks, while most of her melee techniques will push the opponent back. Of course, this means she’ll have some problems when opponents are up close, and know which way to move to dodge her keep-away attacks. She’ll be added through an update sometime this month.
The team has added several characters to the arcade version since its release, including heroes like the aforementioned Ramza, Kain, and Final Fantasy Type-0’s Ace, along with nearly every villain from the original Dissidia. But there’s still time for them to add more characters before or slightly after the home version releases. It would be nice if Delita came with Ramza, even though he doesn’t quite qualify as a villain. I’d also be surprised if Final Fantasy XV’s Noctis didn’t join the game for the home release; if he’s not there for launch, there’s a good chance he’ll be a DLC character down the line.
If Square Enix provides another beta session, they should announce it a few weeks in advance. It will likely be another closed beta, and this site will update with info on how to get a code. They’ll also provide more promotional videos soon, one of which should include a preview of the English voicework. In the meantime, there are plenty of videos from tournament players on YouTube, and Ultimecia will be among the characters featured in them soon.