The concept of Dissidia Final Fantasy NT sounds like a dream come true for many Final Fantasy fans—with everything from high-end graphics to a story with all their favorite heroes. However, after having played the game’s Japanese version, I felt that it might not be for everyone, including some of those who played its predecessors on PSP.
The topic I’ll be covering here is the game’s story mode. To be more specific, how one progresses through the story of Dissidia Final Fantasy NT. Those of you who played the demo might’ve gotten a glimpse of how its story works:
To put it simply, the story mode of Dissidia Final Fantasy NT works like a skill tree, but instead of unlocking new skills you unlock event scenes that show about a minute of the story scenes each. And instead of using skill points to unlock the path you use something called “Memoria” that you get from leveling up. There are also battles sprinkled about that require you to play as certain characters before unlocking the scene, but they’re basically pre-scene extra battles.
You get experience points by simply playing the game’s online or offline battles. While it sounds simple enough, Memoria doesn’t exactly grow like Kupo Nuts on Kupo Trees, so you’ll find yourself grinding your way through several battles just to get one. The most effective way that has worked for me is to just spam online solo queue matches and hope to join a team of decent players. The downside here is that online matches can take anywhere from less than a minute to close to 10 minutes in my experience, but usually somewhere in the middle. [I literally just made a sandwich while waiting for my last queue… only to have a game start before I could take a bite.]
I’ve played throughout different times of the day, including prime time hours in Japan but it’s always been the same. Apparently this has been a common complaint from the Japanese players as well, but hopefully it won’t be as bad when it releases in the West. Not only does matching take a while, but the matchmaking itself can feel pretty broken at times. To give you an example, in my very first game I started out as a lowly bright-eyed E rank with another E rank and a C rank on my team. We went up against against a team of full B ranks. Yeah, we got our asses handed to us, but at least it was quick.
After putting in a couple hours of practice, I felt more confident going up against other players, but in the end it is a team game, so a lot of your success depends on how well your team can work together and help each other out. But what about players who don’t like PvP or feel intimidated to go up against other players? Well, you can also level up by playing against the CPU.
The main mode to fight against the CPU is Rush Battle Mode, where you get to choose your own party of 3. It’s the closest thing the game offers to an “Arcade Mode” you’d see in other fighters. It gives you a total of six battles and after each match you get to choose the next set of opponents categorized by a difficulty that ranges from bronze, silver, gold, mythril, and so on. If you lose it is considered a failure and you have to start over, but it isn’t required to get all six wins to get the experience needed for Memoria, although it certainly helps.
So why do I stick to online battles if queues take forever and the matchmaking isn’t exactly friendly? Fighting against CPUs over and over gets old pretty fast. When I completed my first Rush Battle with six wins it felt like I spent 30 minutes fighting CPUs only to be rewarded with a one-minute cutscene. I was expecting to get several Memoria for clearing the Rush Battle but that wasn’t the case. Online battles can take a while to queue, but with 30 minutes you can get several games in and still get some levels from wins and losses.
In online mode you can create a room to play with friends and set your own rules, but unfortunately you don’t gain any experience from it. Offline mode also offers a “Free Battle” mode where you can set your own rules and play against CPUs. This is also the only way to play 1v1 in the game, but unfortunately again, it doesn’t offer experience.
Square Enix has been marketing Dissidia Final Fantasy NT and the arcade version, Dissidia Final Fantasy, to the eSports crowd for a while now. We’ve seen them make appearances at events such as EVO to demonstrate the game, and more recently an event that featured FGC commentator James Chen and other well-known members of the community. That said, the company’s push for eSports is certainly present in Dissidia Final Fantasy NT.
In conclusion, I felt that having to grind just to watch the story parts of Dissidia Final Fantasy NT made its pace difficult to enjoy, which is unfortunate since the character interactions are amusing and the graphics are beautiful. I feel that those who aren’t fans of online PvP might struggle or burn out from going up against nothing but NPCs. If you’re looking forward to Dissidia Final Fantasy NT for its story, make sure you’re comfortable, as you’re in for a long ride with gorgeous scenery.
Food for Thought: There’s a fight against Ramuh in the story that was actually pretty tough. It would’ve been nice if they added the option to choose a difficulty for its story parts, or even some kind of online co-op for fights against the Summoned Beasts. The option for 1v1 battles would’ve also been a nice addition.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is available in Japan on PlayStation 4. The game releases in North America and Europe on January 30, 2018. A demo is currently available to check out.