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Scsigs

Ansem 2nd Form in Dream Drop Distance On Critical Mode Reveals How Bad the Game's Combat Truly Is

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I'm sorry to rain on anyone's parade here, but Dream Drop Distance's combat is just awful, especially on a higher difficulty. However, the second form Ansem battle is what truly opened my eyes to how bad it gets. I know people like this game, but both it & Birth By Sleep, which uses the same combat engine, have outright terrible gameplay when examined under a microscope. I spend 2 hours fighting Ansem in his second form (his first, though still tough, was easy enough to deal with) & it revealed to me how awful the Osaka team's philosophy before 0.2 actually was & why you should never expect KHII-quality gameplay from these people no matter how much they've improved in the last 7 years. Now, I know that they've been harkening back to KHII with KHIII, which I'm happy to see in the various trailers & gameplay videos that have been put out in the last almost a year, but whoever designed this messy, broken, disjointed combat system needs to be either fired, or moved to another position in the company away from gameplay design for everyone's sakes. That is legitimately how bad this gameplay is.

Now, the list, in no particular order, is as such...

Boss attacks being randomized a LOT with this game's RNG. Like, there's no rhyme or reason to their attack patterns. They just do whatever they want whenever they want. Best example with Ansem's second form. He starts off doing some normal energy attacks to try to chip away your health while you try to chip away his. All fine & dandy until he pushes you far away & you need to run back to him (which can happen pretty early in Critical Mode, since the bosses activate their desperation moves faster than normal). Then comes the bullshit. He brings up these 2 energy orbs. What they do depends on his hand & arm movements. If he raises them above them, he's just gonna shoot easily dodgeable energy attacks at you. You can dodge them or deflect them if you're fast enough to react to them. Fine. However, he can also point to you, which then activates 4 lasers shooting at you, which can 2-shot you on Critical Mode because of how much damage the enemies do to you. You CAN dodge these, but the problem is that they lock on to where you're going & not where you are & they always come out half a second later than you expect, & I mean "half". I timed it myself as I played this over & over for 2 hours. Then they can suddenly switch up attacks on a dime & you have 0 time to anticipate or react to something until it's already happened. Which leads me to my next point...

You NEEDING to be frame perfect with your dodges, or else you're not getting "I" frames, or are wasting the few you DO have. You are give little to NO "I" frames at all when dodging or jumping. I say jumping as well because, even though I timed my jumps enough to avoid his energy attacks at the start of the round, some of them STILL hit me every so often, even though there SHOULD be invincibility frames for more than a millisecond when I go into a jump, double jump, or dodge roll. When Ansem does that laser attack, you CAN roll out of it. You'll either take all the damage, because it aims where you're going & not where you are like I previously typed, none because you just barely have it not hit you, or half to way too much, but not all, which happens more often than not because of the god awful amount of "I" frames you're given. Then the next part...

Stagger. No boss in this game does that despite the fact that they SHOULD & you stagger TOO MUCH. This is only something I encountered in Re:COM, which I hated there too. You take TOO MUCH hitstun from enemies. Oh, sure, you're given a recovery...that never works ever because something's wrong with the button inputs, so you can't get out of a boss' attacks long enough to get a good shot out, or heal yourself. Which leads me to my next 2 points...

The enemy attacks doing a LOT of damage, & you doing jack all, & you move too slowly. This is especially noticeable on Critical, where your damage output is halved & the enemy damage output is doubled. Who designed THIS part? Because they deserve to be fired. I get taking more damage, but doing less? Who's THAT fun for when it's both at the same time? It's especially egregious when the enemies are damage sponges who have randomized attack patterns & you aren't. The enemies also still move like it's KHII, but you still move like it's KHI, or Sora in Limit Form, which is STILL better than this game's combat. Then there's the next point...

Flowmotion not giving you "I" frames. I thought this was part of the game's design. Turns out, NOPE! You still take damage if an enemy hits you in Flowmotion. Ain't that great? Never mind that you're enveloped in a purple energy moving at a fast speed, never mind that you have a LOT of attack power, never mind that you SHOULD be given some amount of good "I" frames. Flowmotion is USELESS as a means of defense. If an enemy hits you while you're in Flowmotion, you're last kind of special attack in case you don't have any others, you're outta luck for a last line of defense. Hope you've got enough time to charge your command abilities.

Next, some serious things with the command decks. While a neat idea, it clearly was NOT intended for this kind of combat system, where the enemies are fast & frantic, while you aren't. It charges rather slowly unless you have the right Dream Eaters & doesn't fit a lot, since you only get a certain number of slots. The systems converging also has an unintended side effect, especially on higher difficulties. The games encourage you to cheese them, especially DDD. With how fast & frantic the bosses are, as well as how hard they can hit, it's almost requiring you to have higher level abilities than would normally in these games. However, this can get you into trouble. With physical combos also being next to useless, you NEED to rely on powerful abilities like these as well. See where I said the game encourages it? But, where BBS was fun to cheese, since you could experiment for a while with the commend melding system, DDD...doesn't. They took the melding system out...for stuff with the Dream Eaters. Stuff that isn't fun, if you catch my drift. I would've been more than glad if they kept in the melding system, but for the ingredients for the Dream Eaters if they were deadset on not letting us meld commands anymore like they seemed not to be. With how BBS was taken & how DDD was as well, I think it could've needed it.

There's also the attributes being tied to Dream Eaters. This makes no sense to me. In BBS, once you unlocked an attribute, that was it. It stayed on you when you got it. in DDD, only more permanent upgrades like Once More & the like stay, but the rest...don't for some reason. Instead, you need to keep certain Dream Eaters in your party...for some reason. I get that they're one of the new things for the game, but this is incredibly stupid, honestly. I don't get why they changed it.

The Dream Eaters are also somehow being even MORE useless than Donald Duck. Now, they're more flexible, since they can use different types of attacks from Donald, but they're somehow less useful. With Donald, I can at least count on him to do something other than chip damage, but the Dream Eaters really aren't that useful outside of maybe some slight chip damage on enemies. Otherwise, it's you putting in all the work.

All of these problems are also in BBS, but that game felt like it was programmed around the limitations of the gameplay for the most part, while DDD doesn't. Oh yeah, the boss arenas are also inconsistently scaled. Some of them are the right size (a decently-big area) for a boss fight, but then some areas can be HUGE with objects that block your attacks if an enemy hides behind them, then there are the areas that clearly weren't designed for boss battles that are too small & clausterphobic.

 

TL;DR: Disperate combat systems that don't work well together, limiting combat, terrible enemy AI, & just a mess of a system. How any of this passed game testing, I'll never know. All I can say is, I'm glad the Osaka team is hearkening back to KHII to base III off of because this system isn't good whatsoever. If you want flashy combat, do that. If you want randomized enemy attack patterns, do that. Don't just try to mash them together with no balance checking, especially for the higher difficulties.

Edited by Scsigs

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Having just beaten the game on Proud mode, I can only find myself agreeing about the lack of i-frames during Flowmotion. The rest of what you brought up is very trivial. I didn't have much trouble with Ansem 2 at all. Took a few tries to learn his patterns (which yes, are random, but give you PLENTY of time to react once you've memorized which actions yield which attack). The orbs are easily avoidable if you have any projectile attacks (Fire/Blizzard/Raid/Balloonra/etc.). It also sounds like you didn't take much time to make good spirits because the higher level spirits can cast protect, shell, and even heal you if leveled enough. I finished the game with the Lion and T-Rex spirits, and they were both livesavers in the final boss rushes.

I think it comes down to you not taking full advantage of Link Portals or Sales in the moogle shops to create the best spirits and to get the best abilities and commands. Sorry, but if you're not willing to put in the effort to buff Sora/Riku/your spirits, you're gonna have a tougher time, which is totally fair in my opinion.

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It took you that long to realize that "Balloon Spam: The Game" has terrible combat? You patience is insane.

3 hours ago, Toominator said:

Having just beaten the game on Proud mode, I can only find myself agreeing about the lack of i-frames during Flowmotion. The rest of what you brought up is very trivial. I didn't have much trouble with Ansem 2 at all. Took a few tries to learn his patterns (which yes, are random, but give you PLENTY of time to react once you've memorized which actions yield which attack). The orbs are easily avoidable if you have any projectile attacks (Fire/Blizzard/Raid/Balloonra/etc.). It also sounds like you didn't take much time to make good spirits because the higher level spirits can cast protect, shell, and even heal you if leveled enough. I finished the game with the Lion and T-Rex spirits, and they were both livesavers in the final boss rushes.

I think it comes down to you not taking full advantage of Link Portals or Sales in the moogle shops to create the best spirits and to get the best abilities and commands. Sorry, but if you're not willing to put in the effort to buff Sora/Riku/your spirits, you're gonna have a tougher time, which is totally fair in my opinion.

1.) Of course you had an easier time if you played on Proud.

2.) Working on getting good Spirits is extremely grind-intensive, which is a problem also present in BBS. Reminder that the games with good combat and character progression (like II) never asked you to grind for anything during the story.

Edited by Karxrida

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DDD and BBS both can be rather clunky like that... I played BBS after playing DDD though, so I'd have to replay DDD to really see about that. And considering I only have the 3DS version, I'm not about to lol. I do believe you about the bosses being a bitch though.

If by Ansem's 2nd form you mean the one where he's a big black heartless and uses the lasers, then yeah, that fight's a bitch if you're underleveled. Such was the case for me. On Normal, I grinded from around lv 35 to lv 50 before attempting him again and it was worth it - a lot easier. I was able to enjoy the following bosses with frustration that was there, but not too aggravating to make me quit for 6 months again.

Square Enix RPGs tend to be cheeseable by overlevelling, and I guess Kingdom Hearts is no exception.

Edited by xenoblade.chronicles.3d

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23 hours ago, Toominator said:

Having just beaten the game on Proud mode, I can only find myself agreeing about the lack of i-frames during Flowmotion. The rest of what you brought up is very trivial. I didn't have much trouble with Ansem 2 at all. Took a few tries to learn his patterns (which yes, are random, but give you PLENTY of time to react once you've memorized which actions yield which attack). The orbs are easily avoidable if you have any projectile attacks (Fire/Blizzard/Raid/Balloonra/etc.). It also sounds like you didn't take much time to make good spirits because the higher level spirits can cast protect, shell, and even heal you if leveled enough. I finished the game with the Lion and T-Rex spirits, and they were both live savers in the final boss rushes.

I think it comes down to you not taking full advantage of Link Portals or Sales in the moogle shops to create the best spirits and to get the best abilities and commands. Sorry, but if you're not willing to put in the effort to buff Sora/Riku/your spirits, you're gonna have a tougher time, which is totally fair in my opinion.

1. If you haven't played the game on Critical yet, please don't try to condescend to someone who has. I know you may not have intended to do so, but that's how what you said feels like. Proud only has you take more damage & lets you do level 1 runs. Critical also halves your damage output so fights take longer, enemies flinch less often (they already didn't, or hardly ever did, when it comes to the bosses), bosses activate desperation moves earlier than normal, & allows Risky Winds to happen more often. You can't really compare Proud to Critical because it's literally only introduces 2/6 of the stuff Critical does. Please get back to me after you've actually played Critical Mode in this game so you can have a better understanding of this situation.

2. You completely misunderstood what I typed. None of that is trivial, it's understanding the game's broken mechanics. I'm talking about is how all of these things come together & don't mix well. Yes, you CAN tell most of the time when Ansem is gonna do something. However, that doesn't apply to the rest of the bosses where you can't. It also doesn't solve the timing issue, or lack of "I" frames. I said that, even though I was doing everything right that I was supposed to for avoiding his attacks, he still managed to hit me when I should've had invincibility. A lack of those hurts trying to survive a boss. His lasers also, as I said, went off a bit after you'd expect & aimed where you were going rather than where you were & took too much health. I would have full health when getting hit by those things & they'd 2-shot me because, since your movement speed & reaction times are so slow in the game, that I can't dodge out of them when being shot by them. Yeah, brilliant design.
One thing I forgot to mention above is that the game is also designed to prioritize the enemy hitting you over you surviving, with the "I" frames being a dead giveaway, so, even though I'm timing everything right, there's absolutely NO flexibility for you on the higher difficulties. The randomness of the attacks from bosses is also indicative of this, as Ansem can do one thing, then immediately do another thing & catch you completely off guard, giving you ZERO time to react to his attacks. The lack of "I" frames is also viewable in the KHIII promo material, as Sora STILL doesn't have them when he should during some attacks that they programmed to be long & arduous. The only difference I can see is that the combat style is based on KHII's combat style, so there's more to work with when it comes to your moveset than what's in DDD.

3. You assume I didn't raise any dream eaters. I don't know where I would give that air, but ok. This is where you're wrong. In an attempt to make the game more manageable, I DID. I specifically spent close to 12 hours or so grinding Sora & Riku when a few bosses required me to cheese the game because the game's designed really poorly. I specifically did the grinding to raise their levels when they were under-leveled. I also made some Dream Eaters & trained them up too to get their abilities. By this point, I have Second Chance, all the HP boosts, the Magic Boosts & Hastes, & most of the defense boosts. I'm also roughly where I imagine the game wants you to be at. The commands I have are Bloonga, 3 Balloonras, & 3 Curagas. They didn't help much outside of doing damage & providing me extra cheesing with "I" frames, since I also have Leaf Bracer. Literally this was all luck. Very little of my skill was used here. I tried, but by the end, it was all up to the game's terrible RNG. I can link you the videos I'll have uploaded to my YouTube channel at some point int he near future if you wanna analyze my gameplay.

 

20 hours ago, Karxrida said:

It took you that long to realize that "Balloon Spam: The Game" has terrible combat? You patience is insane.

1.) Of course you had an easier time if you played on Proud.

2.) Working on getting good Spirits is extremely grind-intensive, which is a problem also present in BBS. Reminder that the games with good combat and character progression (like II) never asked you to grind for anything during the story.

No. I already knew it was terrible. The gameplay is shit & the story is just stupid setup for III. It's COM all over again.

19 hours ago, 2 quid is good said:

To add to the above, I never liked how abilities were hidden away behind walls for 3d and BBS instead of them being unlocked as you progressed.

Same. It makes the game horribly unbalanced. BBS was at least fun to Cheese because it had more to explore & the mixing system was great. DDD is just boring.

18 hours ago, xenoblade.chronicles.3d said:

DDD and BBS both can be rather clunky like that... I played BBS after playing DDD though, so I'd have to replay DDD to really see about that. And considering I only have the 3DS version, I'm not about to lol. I do believe you about the bosses being a bitch though.

If by Ansem's 2nd form you mean the one where he's a big black heartless and uses the lasers, then yeah, that fight's a bitch if you're under-leveled. Such was the case for me. On Normal, I grinded from around lv 35 to lv 50 before attempting him again and it was worth it - a lot easier. I was able to enjoy the following bosses with frustration that was there, but not too aggravating to make me quit for 6 months again.

Square Enix RPGs tend to be cheeseable by overlevelling, and I guess Kingdom Hearts is no exception.

Recommend Proud mode at best, my guy.

Yep. That one. I'm in the mid-40s with Riku & it is AWFUL. Probably gonna have to grind more with him before Young Xehanort, but that takes a LONG ass time, especially for the higher levels.

KH is only cheesable in COM/Re:COM, BBS, & DDD. The main games actually have good balance to them.

Edited by Scsigs

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I haven't played DDD because I don't have a PS4, and it never interested me. So I can't comment for sure how badly designed it is.

However from what you're describing it sounds like a case of 'Artificial Difficulty'. Essentially the game makes itself more difficult through unfair means and not with genuine challenge.

One example I can think of is Unknown in BBS, compared to Lingering Will in KH2. LW is a hard but fair fight that encourages learning the moveset, and knowing when to back off. Unknown just does what he feels like and it can be down to just luck. That's only my experience from watching Bizkit play against Unknown though, but it looked terrible. LW on the other hand, I enjoyed fighting very much.

Something I'm more familiar with is the difference between Halo CE and Halo 2 Legendary. Halo 2 is harder but more fair because of the way the game is designed. Halo CE has a lot of nonsense like vehicles one-shot killing you if you merely brush against them, or just spawning enemies behind you to make it harder. 

So yeah, that sounds like what's going on here. The command-deck game design of the handhelds is why I never bothered playing them, even on PS3. At least KH3 is returning to KH2 system.

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6 hours ago, Novayon said:

I haven't played DDD because I don't have a PS4, and it never interested me. So I can't comment for sure how badly designed it is.

However from what you're describing it sounds like a case of 'Artificial Difficulty'. Essentially the game makes itself more difficult through unfair means and not with genuine challenge.

One example I can think of is Unknown in BBS, compared to Lingering Will in KH2. LW is a hard but fair fight that encourages learning the moveset, and knowing when to back off. Unknown just does what he feels like and it can be down to just luck. That's only my experience from watching Bizkit play against Unknown though, but it looked terrible. LW on the other hand, I enjoyed fighting very much.

Something I'm more familiar with is the difference between Halo CE and Halo 2 Legendary. Halo 2 is harder but more fair because of the way the game is designed. Halo CE has a lot of nonsense like vehicles one-shot killing you if you merely brush against them, or just spawning enemies behind you to make it harder. 

So yeah, that sounds like what's going on here. The command-deck game design of the handhelds is why I never bothered playing them, even on PS3. At least KH3 is returning to KH2 system.

Agreed. Everything about the games is very poorly balanced. The whole Unknown boss fights are ones I skipped over because I saw footage of them, said, "screw that",  & went on my merry way. The games are NOT worth it when you have BS like that nonsense. I'm at least glad that Osaka are amending their previous mistakes with KHIII, where they're at least seeing why KHIIFM is seen as the golden standard & are adapting their programming to match that standard. It won't be an 100% match to what we expect, but I'm already impressed by the trailers & gameplay footage I've seen from the game so far. It's definitely a HUGE step up from what we've previously seen.

Edited by Scsigs

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