Like most modern fighting games, judging how good it is has to take into account both playing against friends and how it handles online play. Dragon Ball FighterZ has seen a hefty amount of beta testing with mixed results, but there are also modes that have not featured in those test periods. In light of this, we can’t at this stage rate the game, so really the best we can do at this point is give opinions on the offline offerings and how jaw-dropping the presentation is.
While certainly photogenic, Dragon Ball FighterZ is also a very good fighting game at its core. Fighting is as frantic as any 3v3 fighter can be; assists and chained supers are indeed very possible and potentially very damaging. With the initial roster of 21 characters and a handful of unlockable fighters, there’s a ton of diversity and shenanigans on offer that aren’t really found in any other fighter. What other character than Android 16 can instantly KO another by simply grabbing onto them?
The Arcade Mode is by far the mode challenging mode of the two available offline, as there is a choice to tackle three trees with a number of teams to fight. Upon completing a tree, a harder difficulty is unlocked giving even more of a challenge. There weren’t any secret fights that I could see – something kept players playing the likes of Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat – but having unlockable characters behind certain conditions was a smart design choice.
As much as I liked the actual plot of Story Mode, I hated the gameplay. Why? It was too easy and full of filler. Since each map is populated with tons of clones, it becomes a tedious slog to wade your way through to the goal of each map. There’s no real obligation to knock all of them out either, since the battles are generally so easy that it’s almost not worth the effort. The hidden cut scenes are a nice touch and do flesh out the story with details that would put a smile on the face of a Dragon Ball Z fan, but it’s just not fun to sit through.
Then there’s the elephant in the room that does need some explanation: the Shop. After completing each match, you’re rewarded with a small amount of Zeni, with occasional bulk awards for completing certain offline modes in the game. The Z Capsules unlock colours for characters, as well as new avatars and emotes, and are in a similar vein to loot boxes, including some kind of premium currency that we’re currently unsure of whether it can be purchased with real cash. There are unconfirmed reports that this currency is obtained in place of duplicate item drops, though again, nothing can be confirmed at this stage.
That’s not really too concerning, as the cost for each Z Capsule option is a relatively low amount, meaning that the need for premium currency is almost non-existent. You can also unlock a couple of characters by saving up the money, but you don’t need to spend it to get them. Having character colours locked behind these capsules is somewhat annoying though, especially if there’s a particular colour or emote you want. I’d have liked the option to unlock the stuff I want with rather than leave it to chance.
As far as what I’ve experienced so far goes, I’ve definitely had a lot of fun with Dragon Ball FighterZ. The combat is thrilling and the presentation is excellent. I certainly have reservations about both the story mode and the way Z Capsules work, but neither stops it from being a fun game that’s worth investing in. While my time with the offline offerings for Dragon Ball FighterZ is at an end, my hope is that the issues that surrounded the beta’s online test periods don’t resurface when the game launches later this week.