The DNF DUEL Open Beta has been highly anticipated since its announcement. More so, it had some balls to do so on the same days as the second open beta for The King of Fighters XV, especially with their patch notes which discuss things like fixes to the one-sided rollback issue we had in the previous beta.
In preparation for the beta, they dropped a few things such as the Command List for the characters and an overview of the System Mechanics. However, with that in mind, it was time to dive into the beta.
The first issue that everyone encountered with DNF DUEL was attempting to download it. This game did not have the ability to pre-download, and it was not available in the PlayStation Store. I had to grab an internet link to the PS store download, add it to my library, and download it to my PS4 from the website.
Getting into the game, you immediately notice a number of things; no Player vs CPU option and No training mode. There is absolutely no good reason why a modern fighting game coming out does not have the ability to solo practice without having to go into matches. With how complicated the system is in DNF DUEL, as far as the meter usage, conversion system, etc. You want to make sure that you’re able to pull off what you want in the heat of combat, plus things like sharing tech and seeing well constructed combos brings hype and further the communities support.
An immediate woe was that the online was not working (what a surprise). Even though this is just a beta, we expected to have at least something of a functional online out the gate. Originally it would not connect to the client (sometimes it did, but the menu was invisible but you could see the options on the bottom), and when it did connect you were thrown into an empty room with no one else able to join. Eventually you were told “Server maintenance in progress. Begin Free Battle with CPU” (as seen in the picture at the start of this section), .
The problem with the CPU match is that you didn’t get to pick the character you chose for online battles. DNF DUEL gave you a random character. There was no option to pause the game, see the command list, or end the match immediately. Also, there was absolutely no option to rematch to keep playing the same character, so if you liked someone you had to random match until you got them again.NETCODE/ONLINE
When the game finally got up and running for everyone, I can tell that the rollback will allow for smooth gameplay experiences. When watching twitch streamer “Sonic_Sol”, he explained that he was barely experiencing any lag at all despite playing on mobile hotspot from his cellphone. My own personal experience mimicked his with no real issues with lag from fighting opponents (I was on fiber optic though). However, I did experience issues as far as failure to find any rooms, dropping matches/disconnecting (“Room has been disbanded”), and the frustration of not being able to invite/find certain people.
As far as the lobbies, they are set up very similar to the Guilty Gear -Revealator- and Granblue Fantasy Versus series with having chibi avatars and arcade machines. While many are saying they knew Arc System Works would do this, I am happy with the “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” approach. I much prefer these lobbies than what we received in Guilty Gear Strive.
After being in maintenance for quite a bit, I actually got to play a little bit of DNF DUEL. While being offline, I played some Apex Legends so I didn’t get to practice against the CPU at all, mainly because I wanted to fight against people if they wouldn’t allow me to lab in Training Mode. For this Open Beta, I chose to use the “Dragon Knight” character, mainly because I really love the way her “Biting Dragon” special looks (not to mention she’s really cute). I enjoyed what I played during the beta, probably totally closer to 40 or so matches.
We were given a video to talk about the basic mechanics of the game, but looking at them and understanding them are two different things. The MP system is easy enough and straight forward, but utilizing the conversion system is fairly tricky. Some MP Skills (such as Dragon Knights Biting Dragon) cannot be Conversion canceled, even during its recovery frames. Also, while you may want to save white life to actually use a Conversion cancel or go for a mix-up, the auto-healing of your white life will simply negate that, so things have to be done quickly or not at all.
The easy commands allow for anyone to jump in and have fun, meaning that it will come down to player skill in decision making and positioning that makes more of a difference. However, MP Skills have an alternate traditional input that comes up “Cool” when performed, however, I do not know the bonuses that these award in DNF DUEL. In Granblue Fantasy Versus, doing the traditional input as opposed to the easy way of doing things would allow for skills to cool down faster as an incentive, there is nothing along the lines for that in DNF DUEL from what I can see (MP Skills cost the same no matter what type of input you use). While someone claimed that manual inputs starts cooldown sooner, I haven’t experienced anything on my end to support this.
The gameplay itself is fairly addicting despite how simple the controls are. The combo system feels good and the meter system is fairly straight forward. One of the things I didn’t fully utilize was the “Conversion” system, mainly because I had no idea what it could be used for with Dragon Knight aside from mix-ups (and you cannot do it after “Dragon Bite”). Even the Sonic_Sol player I was watching said he was just now starting to figure it out towards the very end of the beta. I have no idea about the optimal combos that Dragon Knight can do, but found a few cool things on twitter some other players posted. There was a lot of discovery during this period, and some stylish things were found out despite the lack of a training mode.
From what I have seen an experienced, it seems that Crusader, Vanguard, and Berserker are considered some of the strongest within the game with Crusader possibly needing a nerf. Everyone seems to agree that Grappler is amongst the weakest, but has an infinite which needs to be patched out. Ranger seems like he has no neutral, and I didn’t run into many of them or HItman players. Kunoichi seems the most well balanced while Dragon Knight has the most depth. Striker seems very good, but her damage output requires constant rushdown to an opponent, and while Inquisitor’s “Burning Wheel” is majorly oppressive, it feels like she cannot really gain much mix-up from it.