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Review: DNF Duel - The Explosive Fighter is Impressively Simple to Pick up and Play

It's becoming quite a popular trend to take free-to-play games and transform them into fighting games. DNF Duel follows in the footsteps Granblue..

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It's becoming quite a popular trend to take free-to-play games and transform them into fighting games. DNF Duel follows in the footsteps Granblue Fantasy Versus. It is based on South Korean action game Dungeon Fighter Online. The character roster includes playable classes based on the source material, including nameless adventurers who have specific combat styles. Dungeon Fighter's tone and design lend themselves well to one-on-one fighting. It features a fantastical art direction, and over-the top battle techniques.

DNF Duel is a collaborative effort by Arc System Works, a fighting game developer (Guilty Gear and BlazBlue) and Eighting, a lesser-known Japanese developer who has been involved in many different projects over the years. This team has a lot of experience and you can feel the difference in the game's smoothness from the moment it is launched.

Granblue Fantasy Versus will be the third time we mention it in the same paragraphs. However, it is hard to overlook the similarities between DNF and the 2020 release. The games were designed to be accessible and feature simple button inputs that allow players of all skill levels to perform crazy moves without having to spend hours training. Each character can activate a variety of special moves by simply pressing one button in each direction. Super moves are available only if your health falls below a certain level. They can also be activated by pressing one button. Easy-peasy.



Although it's easy to forget the importance of being approachable when making fighting games more appealing to a wider audience than they are, it's not hard to see how DNF welcomes new players to the fold. The game has a decently-sized roster, 16 characters at launch. There are many single-player modes and stunning visuals that help to increase its appeal.

The title also focuses on the most important aspect: the game is fun to play. The pace is slower than other anime-style fighters, as there's no air dash. This means you're almost always on the ground. It feels similar to Street Fighter titles, Granblue Fantasy Versus, or Street Fighter due to how important spacing seems for most of the cast.

DNF becomes a more recognisable, anime-infused brawler once you have landed a big hit. Once you have the momentum, and your opponent is in the corner of the stage, combo pressure can be very brutal. If you are unfortunate enough to be clipped by someone who is skilled, this can cause serious damage. The game's health-sacrificing system makes aggressive playing even more difficult. You can increase your attack power to the point that your opponent's defenses can be blown away by giving up some of your grey health, which is health that can be restored over time.



The range of most characters is amazing. Nearly every fighter, whether they use oversized swords or actual firearms, can fill a large portion of the screen with their specials as well as a lot of their regulars. Matches can sometimes become a fishing tournament, with both players standing close to each other, pressing their most secure, longest-reaching buttons to find an opening.

It doesn't sound very engaging, doesn't it? The game is still very engaging once the attack hits. It should also be noted, however, that every character has a forward dodge, which grants a brief invulnerability. This technique can be used to weave through projectiles and other predictable moves, closing down the gap, or retaliating in a more dangerous place.

While we have concerns about character balance at this early stage, the bottom line is that DNF can be very entertaining. The attacks have a satisfying chunkiness, which is a result of Arc System Works’ excellent graphics engine.

The only thing that worries us is the potential for it to have an impact on the existing fighting game landscape. It's hard to see DNF in the context of similar titles such as Guilty Gear Strive, which dominate the discussion, and Street Fighter 6, which is due for release in 2023. Many are concerned that this brawler will be a second pick and may not last long, both in competitive and casual gaming. It's too early to draw any conclusions.



We haven't had the opportunity to play the online mode of the title yet as the servers are not available until launch. We have seen the rollback netcode work flawlessly in beta testing. However, we will need to wait and see how it works when there are players from all around the globe.

We have managed to spend a lot of time on single-player modes which are very solid. Story mode allows each fighter to tell their story through beautifully drawn stills and dialogue between characters. It also features relatively easy battles. Although the plot is often convoluted and not going to win any awards for writing, it helps give each character some personality. If you want to play simple action, there are two options: survival or eight-match arcade mode. You can also learn a lot from the tutorials. Each character has its own strategic overview and combo trials.

Conclusion

DNF Duel is a fun and exciting fighting game. It's easy to play, even though it isn't the most recognisable fighting game. It's a great package with crazy combos, cool characters, and lots of game modes. After we have had a chance to play the title online, we will update this review with the score and other details.

Approachable, satisfying gameplayExplosive, over-the-top combosSolid character rosterGood selection of modesGreat visualsSome catchy tunesOffense can feel overpoweredQuestionable character balanceLacks personality compared to peersLongevity up for debate Score Pending Nexon has provided Scoring Policy Review copy