Dragon Ball FighterZ is a tag team fighting game based on the popular anime television series. Very reminiscent of the Marvel v. Capcom franchise, FighterZ offers tight controls and flashy specials to deliver an over-the-top combat experience. Past the lobby frustration and the occasional crashing, FighterZ is a true, polished representation of what a Dragon Ball Z fighting game should be.
Currently pre-dlc, the Dragon Ball FighterZ roster of 24 fighters has a good mashup of popular characters from the Z series like Goku, Vegeta and Tien. Some characters from the new Dragon Ball Super series, like Beerus and Hit, also make an appearance. Although, characters like Goku and Vegeta have different version of themselves as stand-alone characters in the roster. So in reality only 20 of the characters are varied.
In typical fighting game fashion, players can select each character to find which one matches their play style. The great thing is that players don’t have to pick just one character. Dragon Ball FighterZ features a three person tag team system, which means that players pick their three fighters and head into battle after they chosen which color scheme they’d like. Once one character is defeated in battle the next takes their place, giving players the chance to master a variety of characters more easily. Players can also change characters mid-battle to unleash amazing combos and possibly save their best fighter for last.
FighterZ’s controls are tight and fluid, as well as easy to learn. Straightforward combos allow new players to grasp controls more easily and take control of a match. Simple button input allows for a mix-and-match of different chains of attacks by utilizing the usual light, medium, heavy and special attack buttons. Players who have never played a fighting game will be able to find their one-two punch rhythm in no time.
While FighterZ is easy to play, it may not be easy to master due to the focus on Esports. Knowing when to strike proves difficult at times due to the fast paced action. One wrong move could change the tide of the battle. Simple controls may actually lead to the downfall of a few players. While using auto-combos and rush attacks, a patient player may exploit the button mashing to deliver a high power attack to send their opponent flying, watch not to get too careless.
Players can also check their move list via the start menu. The move list is shared among whatever characters you have selected. Good for those who change characters mid battle as they already know what moves to use once they switch out. However, some inputs, like power moves, are universal for all characters, meaning that switching from one character to the other won’t be a difficult adjustment. Some moves can even knock your opponent out of their current character. You ever hit someone so hard that they turn into someone else? Teamwork is a core element of FighterZ; utilizing your team effectively can make all the difference in battle. Stringing together devastating combos only to have your second character rush in mid-battle and continue that combo is something that takes time to learn and perfect.
A fighter’s special meter also carries across your characters, different special attacks use up different amounts of your special meter. The super meter can be charged by doing damage to your opponent or charging up using a two button combination, although charging does leave you wide open for an attack. Your health meter can also be filled back up if you take a character out of combat for awhile. When taking damage you’ll see a blue bar left behind. When characters are switched out and given a chance to rest, that character’s health will be filled back up to that point.
Player’s can also summon Shenron to grant them a variety of wishes by landing seven auto-combo chains. However, this is sometimes difficult in-match and is rarely ever seen online. Shenron has the power to bring back a KO’d character (at low health), buff your character, or grant immortality.
The visuals are easily the best thing about Dragon Ball FighterZ. Not to say the combat and story aren’t great, but the art and visuals are what encompasses that Dragon Ball Feeling. The super attacks look and feel like a hi-res version of the television show, especially when you find yourself in the middle of the action. Stringing together combos, only to finish with a Final Flash that fills the whole screen with the bright yellow blast, makes this game what it is. The visuals provide the rush of excitement and make the player feel as if they are truly who they are playing as, it’s inspiring in a way.
FighterZ uses a two-dimensional background with three-dimensional characters. The animations are something to behold, when one character gets knocked down, your next comes rushing in and clashes with your current opponent, no better way to tell both players “it’s on!” When you end a round by kicking your opponent out of the ring, sending them crashing into an active volcano, you know that you’re a bad-ass
The fighting arenas are also pretty varied, although some feature the same area in a different shape, e.g. “West City” and “West City (Destroyed).” It feels as though this should have been an alternate stage for the original arena. The backgrounds also change as the battle goes on. The ground can become broken, and the background can see some damage. However, this doesn’t change gameplay.
Dragon Ball FighterZ’s main menu is actually a free-roaming lobby. Allowing the player, while connected to the internet, to chat with other players and spend their Zeni that they’ve earned in battle. Players can spend their Zeni on stickers and avatars to use in chat. It is here players can also choose which game mode they’d like to play: arcade, campaign or local battle.
Occasionally, you’ll be met with full lobby issues. From time to time you’ll have to search to find an available one. There are offline modes as well, if you’re just wanting to play locally or play through the campaign. Online match difficulties have also been reported; players occasionally experience low to high volumes of lag during their match. With a game as fast-paced as Dragon Ball FighterZ lag can mean the end for some even before the real match begins.
Dragon Ball FighterZ features a pretty lengthy campaign mode, featuring an all new character: Android 21, along with an army of clones. Good guys and bad guys come together to defeat the new baddie. Players will notice the obvious padding of story by fighting weak clones over and over again. Players gain new abilities from each match like health and defense boosts, but the boosts are hardly anything to charge up for.
Characters move around on a grid system and fight groups of enemies until they eventually get to the boss of the area. The story at times feels a little underwhelming, but it’s great to see characters’ interactions play out. Although characters suffer from Battle of Z syndrome, characters look a little too stiff in cut scenes. After awhile, it gets a bit awkward when they express emotion. The story is good for what it is, but at times it feels drawn-out. Although it’s great that it features an original plot line instead of the run through of the classic story.
Dragon Ball FighterZ the is best Dragon Ball game in years. It incorporates everything fans want in a true to source material DBZ game. High octane clashes between characters, stunning over the top visuals and easy to use controls. Players can get immerse like no other Dragon Ball game before. It’s obvious FighterZ was made to be an intro game for new fans, but it does it so well. While it has it’s hiccups, FighterZ makes up for those in all areas. Simply put, Dragon Ball FighterZ stands tall as not just one of the best Dragon Ball games of all time but one of the best fighting games of all time.