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DNF Duel Beta Hands-On Preview and Impressions

Despite the numerous issues the night prior, DNF Duel‘s beta is finally here and we’re finally able to bring you this DNF Duel preview. With a tag line like “Who’s Next”, you might confuse it with Mortal Kombat 11‘s slogan. It’s a new game spinoff from the popular beat-em up 2D game Dungeon Fighter Online.

Sporting 10 characters to choose from with more on the way, there is a character for every play style. New elements for meters such as HP bars, MP bars, and Conversion make for some interesting new concepts. Here’s our first impressions of the beta that is available now on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.

DNF Duel
Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher: Nexon
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (Played), PlayStation 5, More TBA
Release Date: TBA
Players: 1 (Up to 8 Online)
Price: TBA

For starters, the servers are hosted by Nexon which already sparked my concern, and at the start, they not only didn’t work but even dropped for server maintenance. DNF Duel‘s beta was definitely off to a rough start connectivity wise but is now finally in a fully playable state. While I’m not very good at fighting games on a technical level, I can still appreciate what has been done here.

It’s a game with a streamlined HUD and a more simplified battle system. There are 10 characters to choose from in the beta that are based off of the 14 classes in Dungeon Fighter Online. Play styles will obviously be different between them so taking your time to find one that works for you is normal.

Since the servers were down for maintenance, I got the chance to try out every character and see which ones I liked the most. Hefty built characters like the Crusader are fun if you’re into slower characters that have weighty attacks and great set ups. Most of the best attacks require use of the skill or MP (Mana Points) button.

If you’re already familiar with other Arc System Works games, then you’ve basically already played this one. That’s not a negative but it’s more of something to help you be adjusted – as this game falls somewhere between the skill level of Granblue Fantasy VS and Guilty Gear -Strive-. Since it’s a first time learning characters, characters like Hitman have a good collection of mid and close range attacks to diversify.

Some characters play like other characters from previous Arc System Works but with a new coat of paint. My personal favorites were Inquisitor and Striker. Rush-down style of gameplay and fist-to-fist is more my cup of tea on top of how mechanically sound they are.

One thing that perplexes me is how basic attacks don’t do much damage but I’m still in the learning phase of everything. MP is used via the X button to unleash a mana skill to deal good damage to your opponent. It’s a gauge that can be used whenever but can also be completely exhausted.

Using the gauge to your advantage, you can use your special moves. Standard things like this are present so anybody can get into it, even if they’re not familiar. Starting with this is a good step but I’m sure there will be more opportunities in the full release.

Stages are created with the same style of Guilty Gear, so lots of locations are either wooden or metal. Maybe because I’m a drinker, I preferred the Moonlight Tavern but could always appreciate the blue skies of other areas. Obviously on better hardware like the PS5, everything is smoothed out and doesn’t have jagged edges.

On PS4, I was still glad to see how they made the environments look good at 1080p. Cell shading on characters gives a great style to characters too no matter who you use. Striker is one of my favorites and maybe it’s because of her tight clothing. Hitman definitely has drip though and I like his style.

Every character has their own unique style which is much appreciated. Some designs are much different than their previous counterparts of the past. Arc System Works does an excellent job at moving 2D sprites and art to 3D with their perfect character models.

Music is a particular beast in the regards that it’s perfect for fighting games but weird for the setting. It’s huge and vast, making it feel at home at times but other times it’s rock music and you can jam out. Most people may turn off this music because of the abstract nature but I’ll most likely keep it on.

Big booming sounds and magic chimes flood this game. Bass is well adjusted and most sounds are loud and cover up some of the voice clips from characters. Where you’ll adjust these sounds, it’s perfectly normal and I’d rather they be loud than too quiet.

For those that might have heard it, the characters are voiced over in Korean. You can adjust the audio to be in other languages like Chinese and Japanese if you prefer. I changed it to Japanese because I’m a weeb but all versions of audio sound great and they should push for English.

Overall, it’s a good beta that is worth your time, if you have a chance to play it. Give it a try and not be as bad as me when it comes to something more technical. My preferred fighting game is Mortal Kombat and playing Arc System Works games have never really been my thing.

Impressive sounds and music along with the stylized graphics give this game the potential to be a strong contender for fighting game of the year. The beta is openly and freely available right now on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 via the PlayStation Store. No other updates as far as platform or release date have been shared at this time.

DNF Duel is currently in beta and available to download on PS4 and PS5.

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