Dissidia NT has a steep initial learning curve, with several systems to learn and lots of stuff to keep track of. While Dissidia Final Fantasy NT has a built-in battle tutorial, this two-part series covers the overarching core concepts crucial to quickly ramping up, building situational awareness and holding your own in combat.
This article covers combat concepts. See the matching article for teamwork concepts. For all levels of coverage, from high-level concepts to minute details and historic nostalgia, check out the official Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Prima guide.
Implications of HP Attacks and the Bravery Reset System
To new players, it may seem intuitive to relegate HP Attacks as finishing attacks after accumulating lots of Bravery. After all, they're called HP Attacks and they're the only way to actually knock out opponents. However, HP Attacks can and should be used just as liberally as Bravery Attacks (and in many cases, more so). HP Attacks have several key attributes that separate them from Bravery Attacks, aside from dealing HP damage. HP Attacks are unguardable and have max poise and interrupt potential. With max poise/interrupt values, HP Attacks can only be interrupted by other HP Attacks. (Poise increase is active as your character "swings", and ends when the attack is in its recovery period.) They can't be guarded with a standard barrier and blow through most parry/counter moves (with few exceptions, like with Bartz and Exdeath).
You might wonder, "what's the point of landing an HP Attack if it won't KO?" It's because of the Bravery "reset" system. Whenever you deal HP damage with an HP Attack, your Bravery value is consumed and it's set to 0. As soon as this occurs, a short timer begins and if you're not hit by a Bravery Attack at this time, your Bravery resets to a default value (normally, 1000, but can be increased through buffs, such as Shiva's post-summoning effect). This means HP Attacks indirectly reward you with Bravery as long as you avoid Bravery Attack retaliation just after your successful HP Attack.
Additionally, HP Attacks cause a "hard knockdown" state that puts the victim out of commission for a short time. Whereas Bravery combos can be recovered from with an air flip, HP Attacks force the stricken fighter into a significantly lengthy out-of-commission state, grounded and unable to participate in the skirmish. However, players in this state are invulnerable, so you can't infinitely chain HP Attacks into additional HP Attacks on the same target. If you hit an opponent with an HP Attack, it's generally best to immediately target other enemies. For instance, if you're fighting a 3v3 skirmish and you score an HP Attack on a foe, it essentially becomes a 3v2 while the foe is forced out of the battle for the duration of their hard knockdown state.
While HP Attacks are powerful in this regard, it's important to note that because your Bravery is set to 0 after you successfully score an HP Attack, you're briefly vulnerable to the Break effect. If you take Bravery damage that pushes your Bravery lower than 0 immediately after landing your HP Attack, the opponent who hit you is rewarded with an additional 1000 Bravery. All of these Bravery/HP mechanical components combined essentially introduces several layered rock-paper-scissors subsystems.
- Bravery Attacks are quick and safe.
- Bravery Attacks can be chained together between multiple allies or through self-propagated wall rush combos.
- Guarding keeps you safe against Bravery Attacks.
- HP Attacks are unguardable, but can be instantly punished with highly rewarding Bravery break attacks.
- HP Attacks cause a hard knockdown state, leaving the victim invulnerable, but unable to act for a certain duration.
- After a successful HP Attack, Bravery is reset to 1000 (after a brief stay at 0).
Since guarding is great for blocking Bravery Attacks but useless against HP Attacks, it's important to learn to recognize when an HP Attack is inbound. This will help you hone the right reflexes, guarding versus Bravery Attacks but dashing/sidestepping out of the way versus HP Attacks. Luckily, there are lot of strong cues:
- White targeting lines pointing from enemy to you: They're focused on you, but not attacking. You should at least stay frosty, and check on the mini-map how far away they are, which is your first clue how worried you should be.
- Red targeting lines: They're actively attacking, though it could be a Bravery Attack, or from a harmless range.
- Text above enemy's head: They're using an EX Skill or HP Attack (Bravery Attacks don't display move names).
- Faint tunnel vision along the edges of the screen: An HP Attack is inbound!
Fighting in the vertical space is common in Dissidia. While the height of your attacks play a large role in your effectiveness on the vertical plane, the vertical tracking aspect of attacks is vital as well.
Attacks can have weak or strong tracking verticality. The better the attack's vertical tracking, the more reliable it is for hitting opponents farther away from you in terms of altitude (regardless of whether it's aiming up or down). Attacks with weak vertical tracking require you to stay level with your target in order for them to make contact, while attacks with strong tracking provide ample leeway to hit enemies high above or far beneath you.
For instance, Squall has two lunge-type aerial attacks with decent horizontal range: airborne [up]+[x] (Savage Claw) and dashing [x] (Devastating Slug). However, Savage Claw is much less effective than Devastating Slug for reaching opponents sharply above and below him. Devastating Slug will track aggressively at enemies above or below, while Savage Claw will only curve slightly, staying at the same general altitude.
Note that some attacks are explicitly designed as ground-to-air and air-to-ground attacks. They have no vertical homing since their attack angles are predetermined. For instance, Zidane's airborne [down]+[x] (Meo Twister) is an air-to-ground swoop that always starts with a downswing. While this attack is exceptional for attacking enemies below you, it has no vertical tracking, so even if you target and attack an enemy above you, you'll still swoop downward. Attacks with strong vertical tracking home in on the enemy regardless of their relative vertical position.
This makes attacks with strong vertical tracking exceptional thanks to the heavy air-based combat prevalent in Dissidia. Maneuvering in the vertical space is generally more difficult than maneuvering in the horizontal plane. Thanks to sidesteps and dashing, it's much easier to suddenly move laterally than it is to suddenly ascend or descend. Rapid climbing requires jumping, lock-on dashing toward someone directly above, or wall running upward. Rapid plunging requires falling at a static rate (guard to fall straight down), lock-on dashing at someone below, or using air-to-ground attacks.
The recovery period of most Bravery Attacks can be canceled with various maneuvers. This can allow you to act a tiny bit more quickly than had you simply let the attack recover naturally, and can also accomplish various other goals. To keep up an offensive after successful Bravery combos, chasing the victim down with a dash cancel, hold R1. To cancel the end of an attack by blocking, hold down L1 to guard cancel. From midair attacks, this is also the quickest way to return to the ground, by falling straight down inside a guarding shell. To evasion cancel an attack, press a direction on the left analog stick while holding L1. This can either sidestep an incoming enemy attack, or simply allow you to get back to attacking quicker. Evasion cancel toward enemies to move in before another attack, or evasion cancel backward from attacks to put space between you and the enemy team before returning to ranged strikes. Evasion canceling an attack then attacking again immediately is slightly faster than attacking repeatedly with natural recovery.
At the very least, if any hostiles are nearby when you whiff an attack, you should at least guard cancel, which will block Bravery Attacks. If you've visually confirmed an HP Attack is inbound, evasion cancel in a direction that'll (hopefully) clear it and leave your fighter unharmed.
The Best Offense is Not Getting Incapacitated
Don't be overzealous, because the only way for a team to lose is to eat three knockouts. If you make up two or all three of those, you might be doing something wrong. Don't get greedy on combos or when chasing foes, and don't dive constantly into the fray without backup, or a plan, or as a low-poise fighter. Zeal is great, but overaggression will just tend to put you on the losing side. Stick with your team, be patient, wait for enemies to blink first so they overextend themselves.