It’s been somewhat of a lengthy road to the home release of the Dissidia Final Fantasy arcade game, known as Dissidia Final Fantasy NT for its PS4 release. It hit arcades near the end of 2015, but released with a much smaller cast than what the PSP games started with. The cast consisted of most heroes from the previous titles at the start, with Final Fantasy XIV’s Y’shtola being the only new addition. But some heroes and plenty of villains were added over time, to make its cast feel more complete. Square Enix wanted to wait until its roster was more developed until they gave it a home release, which is why it took over two years to arrive.
NT released in Japan today, and will arrive in western territories on Tuesday, January 30th. Those playing the Japanese version (or plan to over the weekend or in the next few weeks) have access to 28 characters, including some recently released in arcades. Among those are villains Ultimecia and Golbez (the latter of whom is admittedly not that villainous), and hero Noctis from the most recent (and still being updated) Final Fantasy XV. Not everyone from the previous Dissidia games made their way to the initial cast, but it’s still a good ensemble.
This installment’s biggest change the focus on three-on-three battles instead of the one-on-one combat from its predecessor, which changes the entire game’s flow. But it’s not an entirely unfamiliar experience. Characters still perform Bravery and HP attacks, with the former reducing an opponent’s Bravery meter to make them more susceptible to an HP attack, and the latter actually lowering an opponent’s HP. It’s simplified here, as each character can only equip two Bravery attacks and one HP attack, to keep battles from becoming too chaotic and confusing.
When only two players are available, they’ll control one character among the team while the AI controls the other two, with the option to switch between them mid-battle. This explains why the Bravery and HP attack options have been simplified, as mentioned above, because it would have been brain-meltingly complicated to keep track of three characters with three Bravery and HP attacks each while fighting. They wanted to make sure it isn’t too intimidating, though it will still take a serious time investment to master.
Note that the option to have six players involved exists, with one team of three battle another team. This might be the preferable option if it’s too difficult to keep track of every character on the screen, and the most enjoyable one.
NT also has a story, though it’s smaller in scope this time. It occurs after the PSP titles, and involves the battle between Materia, the Goddess of Protection (who presumably isn’t a physical manifestation of one of Final Fantasy VII’s crystals), and Spiritus, the God of Destruction. Both summon Cosmos and Chaos from the previous Dissidia games (and Final Fantasy I in the latter’s case) to form the opposing sides on their behalf. It will still have story sequences, but they won’t be as plentiful as previous games.
Having 28 characters at launch is pretty good, but Square Enix confirmed that six more characters are coming as DLC, which players can of course pre-purchase with a Season Pass. They also provided the vaguest clues they could for their identities. The first character that will release is a male from the newer half of numbered Final Fantasy titles, followed by a male from the older half, followed by a female from the newer half, and another male from the newer half. The fifth character will be a female from the newer half of numbered titles that also appeared in previous Dissidia games, and the last will be another male from the newer half. Drew and I discussed how the fifth character is likely Yuna from Final Fantasy X (it could also be Prishe from Final Fantasy XI, but Yuna has a more unique move set), but the rest are anyone’s guess. Someone at Square Enix really wanted to see fans debate this over social media, and in comments and message boards across the internet.
NT is now available in Japan, but Square Enix wanted the west to get in on the fun by holding three open beta sessions until the 21st. The first is taking place from now until Monday, January 15th at 4PM ET, with the second happening from Monday, January 15th at 5PM ET to Thursday, January 18th at 4PM ET, and the last occurring from Thursday, January 18th at 5PM ET to Sunday, January 21st at 4PM ET. Each session will have different characters available to play, and Square Enix is using this opportunity to test whether servers can handle the online connections before it releases. We’ll see if everything goes well.
Expect Square Enix to release another round of characters beyond the six they have planned for DLC if the game sells well. If not, perhaps the western departments should take another look at how they approach marketing campaigns, or the entire company has to examine whether three-on-three action is what fans wanted from this game.