If you talked to any fighting game fans this time last year, the idea of an Arc Systems developed Dragon Ball fighting game would have sounded hugely unlikely. Even less likely would be the idea that it could be genuinely good. Well, after hands on time at various events, and now in the most recent beta, it seems as though Dragon Ball FighterZ is set to defy all the odds and be an extremely early contender for fighting game of the year.
Bandai Namco haven’t made things easy for us during this beta, mind you. The servers should have been online all weekend, but many players were left disappointed by multiple disconnects and lag, and that’s assuming they were able to connect in the first place. However, like a cheerful moderator breaking through a cloud-bank of angry internet types, the beta finally seemed to sort itself out yesterday and we were able to really sink our teeth into the hyperactive explosion-heavy action.
Here’s a collection of our thoughts from the beta.
Once the DragonBall FighterZ Open Beta decided to wake up and run smoothly, I had a rather good time with it, trying out a variety of characters out and weirdly getting into a very good flow. With a different roster compared to those found in the closed beta last year, I was able to try out a few more characters such as Beerus and Kid Buu, gravitating towards those characters as I played more.
Perhaps the ones with the biggest learning curve for newer players are Krillin, whose main purpose is distraction and throwing Sensu Beans to heal allies, and Nappa, who can plant Saibamen into the ground to, again, distract the enemy a bunch. Since a lot of the characters in the beta were beam heavy, there was little these two characters could pull off offensively, but I can imagine them being a nightmare in the right hands.
It will also be interesting to see how the newly characters interact with the nightmares from the closed beta, including those not found in the beta (Yamcha, Hit, Tien, Goku Black, and Captain Ginyu). As I recall, the likes of Majin Buu, Gohan (Kid), Trunks, and Android 16 were pretty effective, particularly Android 16’s nuclear level 3. The game at this point still looks incredible, though the final release should at the very least have improved matchmaking where friends can fight each other easily.
Being the incredibly smart man I am, I immediately went for Krillin – my follicly challenged brethren – and struggled like hell to get a grasp on how he worked while being punched repeatedly in the face. Switching out for a more mainline team, I opted for Piccolo, Kid Buu, and Goku, and suddenly the wins started rolling in. Just about.
The four attack buttons allow you to create a beautiful maelstrom without too much trouble, but the trick – yes I know, it goes for any fighting game – is knowing when to strike, when to block, and when to get the hell out of the way. Repeatedly mashing the same attack button will reward you with a set of canned combos, which as a groundwork for your game are surprisingly useful. Come up against someone who knows what they’re doing though and it simply won’t cut it.
The online lobby that we’ve got to see during the beta was incredibly cute, and allows you to do various things while waiting for a match, whether practicing some combos and techniques or checking out the leaderboards. I assume that for the full game you’ll also be able to challenge people in the same lobby as you, and invite your friends, but there were clear limitations in place. Considering the problems they had over the weekend, it’s not that surprising that they were focussing on just getting the thing to function at all.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of two best fighting games I’ve played in recent years, with the other being Tekken 7. The way it combines a relatively simplistic button scheme with fast-paced fighting works really well, and super and finishing moves look incredible. The art style and graphics rival the quality of the better Dragon Ball Super episodes currently airing!
My problem with the game is that there are some slight balancing issues between characters. I found Frieza’s grab to be a horrible combo breaker when going up against teams that utilise him, and this grab can be chained to other moves and finishers before you can even recover to block – this feels a little overpowered. Cell feels slower than he should and so does Beerus, whereas Goku is very speedy. Surprisingly Nappa and Gohan were quite fun to play with and offered a balanced move set too.
I think the gameplay itself is well designed and competitive and is a breath of fresh air considering how awful the Dragon Ball games have been in recent years. Combining this with the familiar locations and characters, Dragon Ball FighterZ feels like a true representation of how action-adventure the franchise is and that it’s here to stay, even after all this time.
What did you think of the FighterZ beta? Did you manage to get a few rounds in? Were you wowed by the graphics and drawn in by the fighting? Let us know in the comments.