How Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is an Evolution of the Dissidia Franchise


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Much has happened since the game's closed beta test earlier last year. The last batch of villain reveals from the original Dissidia have finally come full circle, Noctis Lucis Caelum of Final Fantasy XV has been formally revealed on terms of gameplay, Team Ninja (the developer behind this title) formally announced with heavy hearts at NEC its discontinuation of DLC support for Dead or Alive 5 Last Round and taking a break from the franchise for other titles (such as this one). And more recently this year in 2018, a much-improved open beta surfaced.

Compared to the closed beta, the most notable improvements include a far less busy, more simplified UI, an offline arcade mode, an actual hands-on tutorial as opposed to the generic tutorial video, and even the customization option longtime Dissidia fans are all too familiar with. But the biggest draw here was the option to create a custom lobby online and invite friends to play in teams for rank matches, which was all but non-existent in the closed beta, where you were randomly paired with either human teammates, or heaven forbid, an AI-controlled teammates. Needless to say, the open beta was but a small taste of what to expect from the full game, minus the painfully obvious limitations of the beta itself.

Even with these improvements, some players - notably longtime players coming fresh out of Dissidia 012 - feel uneasy with the drastic changes Dissidia NT has in store for them. Some say it's a step backward on terms of gameplay, while others feel disoriented for the game's lack of RPG elements and focus on single player content. In this editorial - with help and inspiration from a particular YouTuber who has been keeping track of this game for 2 years - I will explain how Dissidia NT is not only a step forward for the Dissidia franchise, but an evolution. To keep things relevant on terms of information, I will only be making comparisons to the more recent installment of the series, Dissidia 012.

As we know, both Dissidia NT and Dissidia 012 at its core share the same Bravery system. The Wall Rush is present. Hard knockdowns are accounted for. And of course, you can dash. But that's where the similarities end, and the differences start to get crazy.

Bravery Damage Modifiers / Wall Rush Changes

- In Dissidia 012, Bravery attacks to not do a fixed amount of damage, varies based upon the equipment you're wearing, and Critical Damage is present when counterattacking or in EX mode. Your opponent also takes an additional 50% of HP damage if the HP attack results in a wall rush or a hard knockdown, and only an assist can guarantee a follow-up from either situation.

- In Dissidia NT, Bravery attacks do a fixed amount of damage, equipment is only a cosmetic change, and Critical Damage is removed. Instead it's replaced by Poise, which means that depending on the character class, one attack will have priority over the other if they connect at the same time. It is also possible to guarantee a follow-up from the first wall rush. The decision for fixed bravery damage allows for a more transparent approach to dispatching opponents near the wall without the need to worry about lucking out with Critical Damage.

Dashing / Jumping Changes

- In Dissidia 012, dashing has a limited distance, but you could immediately dash again, even when in midair. Dashing speed can also be modified along with the amount of times you can jump in midair.

- In Dissidia NT, the limitation of dashing is bound to the dash meter, and you can't dash in midair once the meter is depleted. To recover the dash meter, you must touch the ground. This makes the use of dashing and aerial dashing more strategic and forces you to consider ground game options.

It should also be noted that each character class has different startup frames when beginning to dash:

Marksman - 16 frames
Assassin- 18 frames
Specialist - 18 frames
Vanguard - 26 frames

Furthermore, the amount of times you can jump are dependent on the character class. Assassin types can jump the most times in midair, while Vanguards can jump the least.


EX Changes

- In Dissidia 012, much of your core enhancements outside of equipment were bound to the EX gauge. The most effective way to fill the gauge was to be on the lookout for items called EX Cores. This meter allowed you to go to an enhanced mode where the most common enhancements were HP Regen and 1.5 times strength and defense, but some characters had more unique enhancements. If you landed an HP attack during this state, you could unleash EX Burst, a cinematic QTE super combo that saps a lot of the opponent's bravery before landing an HP attack. If you activate the EX gauge when stunned, you could unleash EX Revenge, a combo breaker that stops time temporarily. During this time freeze you can land a few bravery attacks before using an HP attack.

- In Dissidia NT, much of the relevant enhancements you gained in EX mode are now shared skills you can utilize during a set period of time. Some even debuff the opponent or manipulate their position. Furthermore, each character now has a unique EX skill of their own to give a sense of uniqueness to their strategy as a team player. However, because the game is mainly a 3v3 competitive game and Bravery damage is in a fixed state, mechanics such as the EX Burst and EX Revenge have been understandably removed to prevent the flow of combat from being broken.

Replacing the EX gauge was the Summon gauge, and the most effective way to fill this gauge is to look for and destroy giant crystals called Summon Cores. When this is filled, the team must hold down the summon button to not only have the associated Summon assist you in battle, but receive permanent post-summon enhancements to the team as well. These enhancements vary according to the summon chosen for your team.


Assist Changes

- In Dissidia 012, Assists were a crucial element to gaining extensive Bravery damage from a wall rush or a hard knockdown, and was the only way to guarantee a follow-up from either state. However, the character associated with the assist was bound to one Bravery or HP attack, and because of this, only a small handful of assists were ever truly effective competitively.

- In Dissidia NT, you and your teammates have a lot more freedom and control when it comes to assisting each other, using any bravery attacks, HP attacks, and good positioning at your disposal. The better your understanding of the game and your teammates' ability to synchronize, the more effective your skills as a team become. Experiment, practice, and above all, have fun.


Now that I've gone over the gameplay changes and how they made it an improvement - if not fair - for competitive play, I'll go over some other miscellaneous complaints I have often heard from most who don't understand how the game is played or what to do to be effective.

Q1: When I hit an opponent with an HP attack, it takes them forever to recover, why can't I just spam them with a bravery attack?

A: The opponent's invulnerability when they're knocked down from an HP attack is not an arbitrary game design flaw. It's basically the game telling you to move on to the next opponent who may or may not need your help to score a point easier. If you spend too much time chasing one opponent, you're giving the opposing team an opportunity to jeopardize another teammate's position. Be mindful of the mini map.
Q2: I can't see an attack coming, and when I'm attacked from behind, I can't turn around and react fast enough.

A: When this happens, immediately hit L2+R2 to target the nearest opponent. It will always target the one who hit you from behind so you can get the time to react to the next move. This can also be prevented early if you pay close attention to the lines that connect to the opponents targeting you. If the line turns red, you're about to be attacked. The second you see it, get in the habit of holding L1 to shield yourself. And again, be mindful of the mini map.
Q3: Why does most of the cast have only one HP attack, and why are there no branching HP attacks?

A: In a game designed around 3v3 combat and plenty of freedom to do potentially devastating 2on1 combinations, I wouldn't see a need for branching HP attacks or a need for more than one if their bravery attacks are decent. Vaan needed two HP attacks because his Bravery attacks were intentionally subpar compared to the rest of the cast, and his unique EX skill is a huge gamble that could make or break his effectiveness.

Overall, Dissidia NT has done plenty to fix and improve what is necessary to make the game competitive, and making it a 3v3 game not only adds a layer of depth to it that doesn't appear obvious at first, but also captures the spirit of Final Fantasy better in a way you didn't expect. The Final Fantasy series always had this recurring theme of bonds between friends to overcome any obstacle, and now the Dissidia series has captured this immersive feeling with the decision to make the game 3v3. You and your friends can now become that extension of this bond to overcome any obstacle, and with practice and cooperation, you can see the fruits of your labors and appreciate the game in ways you never thought possible. So grab a partner or two, dig deep into the endless character combinations, and above all, have fun while doing so.

If you want a further breakdown of Dissidia NT's gameplay mechanics or just a good starting point of understanding the characters, I highly recommend the YouTube channels of Trueblade Seeker and Leif3GHP. These two really know their stuff when it comes to competitive Dissidia and have been covering the game since its inception 2 years ago in arcades. Here are a couple of videos that show how informative they can be.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is out now in Japan, and hits store shelves everywhere today, on January 30, 2018. Look forward to it!
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