Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy Character Basics Guide

When you’ve got 31 of Final Fantasy’s greatest heroes and villains to choose from in Dissidia 012: Duodecim, selecting a character as a main can be a daunting task. Some are complex while others are simple; some are best suited for offensive pressure while others are better off punishing defensively. While you should choose to play whomever you like best, there aren't enough hours in the day to get a feel for all of them. Don't worry, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you.

We’ve included a brief synopsis of each character’s strengths and weaknesses, and how easy it is to learn their style. Any character can potentially become complex when you consider level, gear and equipped abilities, but we’ve got the basics covered.


Basic Terms

Bravery attacks: Attacks that reduce your opponent’s bravery pool while increasing your own. These do not damage an enemy’s actual health bar.

HP attacks: A secondary set of abilities that deal damage -- equal to your bravery rating -- to your opponent’s health meter.

Start-up speed: The time it takes an attack to actually launch after using the correct input. Some abilities have longer launching animations than others, which can potentially affect whether or not they’re interrupted or countered.

Ex Mode: Attacking opponents fills your Ex Meter. Activate Ex Mode when the meter is full by pressing Right Bumper + Square. Each character receives special bonuses while Ex Mode is active, such as HP regen or a boost in critical strike chances, and can use their Ex Burst ability, an HP attack more powerful than typical HP abilities.

Tracking: A ranged attack’s ability to follow an opponent.



Bartz Klauser

First appeared in: Final Fantasy V

Combat proficiency: Mid / close-range, melee


Bartz has the unique ability to mimic the moves of other characters, combining two different attacks into one hybrid strike. He has a solid close quarters game with fast abilities, high damage output and versatile HP attacks. Holy is good for putting pressure on opponents and can combo into Flare to chip away at your foe’s HP pool, and Reel Impulse can be used to pull distant enemies into melee range.


Best suited for ground combat, Bartz’ air game is rather mediocre. Some of his bravery attacks are also difficult to land or easy to counter.

Learning curve: Easy


Cecil Harvey

First appeared in: Final Fantasy IV

Combat proficiency: Close-range, melee


With the ability to switch between two different forms, Cecil can adapt well to combat on the ground or in the air. His bravery attacks in Dark Knight form are powerful, and he can use the Dark Cannon ability to draw enemies within melee range. If the opponent takes to the air, switch to Paladin form to access aerial combos. He also has a flexible pool of HP attacks with a solid mix of range and tracking.


Because Cecil has two forms, each with a different set of abilities, memorizing all of his skills can be tricky. Though his Dark Knight form has strong attacks, they have a rather slow start-up speed, so you’ll have to time your strikes carefully.

Learning curve: Moderate


Cloud of Darkness

First appeared in: Final Fantasy III

Combat proficiency: Mid / close-range, melee


Cloud of Darkness uses her tentacles to execute stylish combos with devastating results. She plays very well as a pressure character, as her tentacle abilities can combo to various ranges depending on your opponent’s location. She has some of the most adaptable HP attacks in the game and is a solid choice for anyone looking to play an in-your-face character.


Because you’ll want to blitz your opponent whenever possible, Cloud of Darkness is vulnerable to skilled ranged players, as she has little to offer in terms of ranged attacks. All of her bravery attacks rely on her tentacles, so experienced opponents will be able to counter many of your attacks.

Learning curve: Moderate


Cloud Strife

First appeared in: Final Fantasy VII

Combat proficiency: Close-range, melee


If you’re looking for an easy character to pickup and play, look no further. Cloud has a strong ground game with high-damage bravery attacks and a few mid-ranged abilities. Sonic Break can combo with Finishing Touch, putting a nice dent in your opponent’s HP pool, while Double Cut allows for a quick strike when you’re in a pinch.


Cloud’s air game isn’t that great -- he does have Aerial Fang which is useful for bringing the fight back to the ground, but he’s weak when it comes to aerial skirmishes. A lack of mid / long-ranged attacks means you’ll want to keep up with ranged opponents when they try to build distance.

Learning curve: Easy


  • silversunset23 - June 18, 2011 7:55 a.m.

    Am I the only one who plays as Jecht here? He's such a badass...
  • ranzatsu - May 30, 2011 2:14 p.m.

    My bests are Firion (since his ground attacks deal heavy damage), Squall, Sephiroth and (sorry if he's not on the list) Feral Chaos. I use Cloud for emergencies on party battles. Jecht's an awesome Assist, especially after a Wall Rush attack. Laguna is hateable, but his Sticky Bomb and Machine Gun attacks are fun.
  • jacobtussler - May 12, 2011 4:21 p.m.

    Zidane is my fave. Run up close, rumble rush then Meo twister. Works every time. I usually party him with Lightning, Vaan, Cloud & Yuna
  • dimadimadima581 - May 1, 2011 6:37 p.m.

    But golbez + terrible air game makes no sense at all... His Gravity float systems, which have great tracking and link into cosmic ray, EVEN if you block his meele, the magic laser / whatever still hits so block his air attacks is pointless.. My 2nd main after garland. Lack of air game is the least of his worries.
  • dimadimadima581 - May 1, 2011 6:32 p.m.

    Still maining Garland since Dissidia 1, + kuja and seph. Flare just adds to his close range hp attacks :)
  • someonetgsn - April 15, 2011 10:49 p.m.

    @Minxriot Ah, I see... sneaky editing... well at least you are unlike some internet folk who simply complain about thinks they never bothered to check. Then again, it wasn't just you who had made that comment.
  • MinxRiot - April 15, 2011 6:32 a.m.

    @Someonetgsn, Tifa was NOT originally in the list. She was added in later. I checked three times before posting that. Haha.
  • someonetgsn - April 14, 2011 7:46 p.m.

    @MinxRiot & miguju999: Tifa is second from the top on page 5. I am somewhat suprised you think Tifa was forgettable. Despite her apperent lack of involvement in the story, the internet assures me that she is quite unforgettable. Unfortunately I do not have the game personally, but I wanted to see how some of the characters may stack up against one another.
  • Mirako - April 14, 2011 3:48 p.m.

    I want to use Exdeath but waiting for computers to attack can be so boring. Is it just me or is the Ex mode duration shorter in this game? I used to use Gabranth but not as much anymore. Golbez has terrible air game? I wouldn't say so his gravity and float systems are great for grabbing people.
  • MinxRiot - April 14, 2011 4:04 a.m.

    Not surprising though that Tifa was forgotten, in the story it just seems like she was randomly thrown in there at the last minute because they felt like it. Haha
  • MinxRiot - April 14, 2011 3:57 a.m.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe Tifa is missing from this list. And also, the Emperor is not that hard to learn, frankly, none of the Dissidia characters are hard to learn how to play well. But maybe thats just how it is with me. @bigwill1221, At first I HATED playing Laguna but as I leveled him up and got used to him I actually started doing really well with him, so now I don't mind him so much. Is he my first team pick? No. Will that stop me from ever using him? Not really.
  • EnragedTortoise1 - April 14, 2011 12:07 a.m.

    Onion Knight all the way, beaches!
  • ashamaxa - April 13, 2011 11:56 p.m.

    Good Article. Im using Ultimecia as my main character and, is slow, but with a nice build-up can be deadly. Knight's Lance is awesome.
  • McSpermie - April 13, 2011 11:52 p.m.

    @Ryantalj Nice, I actually also switch between Yuna and Lightning as my main as well. I think I'm going to mainly use Yuna though now, thanks again for the article :)
  • TrAnMu - April 13, 2011 11:47 p.m.

    I freaking love using Vaan. With his moves set up right and a good assist character, you control all ranges! XD Zidane was my main character of the first game and he does have some decent long range moves. While they might not land, they do a good job of pressuring the opponent into closer range. Other characters that are fun to use are Lightning, Laguna (if you don't mind taking it slow), Kain, and Kuja.
  • Larinah - April 13, 2011 11:40 p.m.

    Great article. I personally use Lightning and Vaan, because I like how versatile they are. Also, @bigwill1221 I hate playing Laguna too. He feels so clunky, and it's hard to keep control with him. I also liked your comments on Sephiroth, Ryan. I tried using him full offense first time against Jecht, and got my ass whooped. He really does have to take advantage of any blunders your opponent makes, much like he does in Kingdom Hearts 1&2.
  • McSpermie - April 13, 2011 11:25 p.m.

    Very useful, I was hoping to find a character wrap up. Thank you. Who do you use Ryan? Would you recommend using them?
  • miguju999 - April 13, 2011 11:25 p.m.

    where's Tifa???
  • Corsair89 - April 13, 2011 11:02 p.m.

    Yuna and Cloud are the characters that I use most frequently.
  • bigwill1221 - April 13, 2011 10:37 p.m.

    Does any one else hate playing as Laguna? I feel his attacks are too slow and dodge-able to be any good(and whenever I play as him long matches FTL...) On side note.. why are computers god with ricochet shot.

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