Dragon Ball FighterZ is the newest in a long line of Dragon Ball fighting games, though the first in quite some time to actually be done in a 2.5D Style. Developed by Arc System Works, the people behind Guilty Gear, BlazBlue. Persona 4 Arena and even some older Dragon Ball fighting games. Crashing into our view at E3, DBFZ shocked many a fan with its new style and mechanics, gaining even more attention when gameplay and character roster was revealed. With so much disdain surrounding the recent Xenoverse, FighterZ hits the stage to take the series even further beyond!
I played the PS4 Beta, and such my preview is based on that build. It may feature problems or advantages the Xbox One version does not. Controls are also based on the PS4 Controller.
We recently were dazzled with another open beta for those who pre-ordered the game, lasting longer than the last with 4 days over the previous 2. Changing up the roster of characters to now only include: SSJ Goku, SSJ Vegeta, Piccolo, Frieza, Cell, Android 18, Krillin, Kid Buu, Nappa, Adult Gohan and Beerus. Sadly my main guy Trunks was taken out for this particular beta and he is sorely missed on the explosive battlefield.
Just like before each match had a time limit of 300 seconds, with most matches only lasting 2-4 minutes. Though added into this beta was the choice between casual play amongst players and ranked matches that gave you BP and rankings in the leaderboards, containing well over 100,000 players on the board itself within its 3rd day of activity.
The gameplay hasn’t changed much from the first beta, DBFZ plays like many other 2D fighting games, though I felt the most similarity with Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3. You choose a team of 3 fighters, along with deciding between 6 different colour schemes for each, to fight against an opposing team. X is for special attacks and Ki blasts, Square for light attacks, Triangle for medium attacks and Circle for heavy attacks. If you combine X and Square you will charge your Ki, Square and Triangle for Dragon Rush (or Supers), Triangle and Circle for vanishing behind enemies and finally Circle and X to super dash towards your opponent.
The trigger buttons are mostly for quick inputs and character change, L1 and L2 are to call in your 2 other members to use their own attack, or held down to swap into them. This can also be chained when you use a Super move, having your teammates use theirs at the same time. R1 is the quick button for Dragon Rush whereas R2 is for Super Dash. Combining R1 and R2 puts you into Sparking Blast, increasing damage and gives health regeneration. Sparking Blast is only once per battle and lasts longer if you have fewer teammates alive.
To activate certain supers you will need to input commands with the left analogue stick, utilizing quarter circles. For example, Level 1 Supers requires you to rotate down and then towards your enemy, whereas Level 3 Supers require you to go down and then away. These motions can also be used with your normal attacks, using different Ki blasts, charged melee attacks and other moves. Most of the command moves take a bar of your Ki meter, which is on the bottom of the screen, whereas the level of Supers depletes by that amount. You gain Ki by taking or dealing damage, or by charging, with a maximum of 7 Ki bars.
Thankfully this new beta included a tutorial mode of sorts, teaching you the basic controls for movement, attacks, specials and mechanics of the game itself. Totalling 12 tutorials, you fought against old and new characters, not available to play in this beta, to mainly show them off. In a strange turn of events, this tutorial also showed a greyed out training mode which we could not access, even though you could do trial matches if the servers were down for maintenance. Alongside the training, there was also mention of a Combo challenge, which reminded me of the challenges within Tekken, but again we could not access those.
The new characters introduced a few new supers, both close range like Gohan’s level 1 super and Nappa’s level 3 super, and long range like Buu’s level 1 super or Beerus’ level 3 super. Another new addition to the mechanics was that of the Dragon Ball system, gaining a Dragon Ball after completing a light combo, hitting a certain amount of hits in a combo and dealing damage with your level 3 super. Once all the Dragon Balls were collected, the next person to complete a light combo with 7 Ki gauges would summon Shenron and could select from 4 wishes. You could revive a dead teammate with around 1/5 of their health, completely heal the active character, extending your recoverable health to the entire bar rather than a small blue bar or giving your team an extra sparking gauge.
With the introduction of the Dragon Ball system it adds a new dynamic to how people will play during matches, favouring the light combo or level 3 supers over other techniques. However, as I played it did not seem to affect most of the later players, mainly going for quick kills than relying on Shenron. I had only summoned the dragon 5 times throughout the beta itself, being able to test each of the wishes. If you’re good at the game, then these secure your victory, but if you just haphazardly got a wish during a losing match it won’t guarantee a comeback.
The music in the Beta was totally my style, feeling rather reminiscent of older DBZ tracks from the Faulconer team and the Freeza theme song in Resurrection of F, combining rock tunes and metal notes. Each stage has its own track, with each feeling rather fitting to the area as well as being similar to that of the shows depictions and other games. The sound design is also on point, from the amazing announcer voice to the blasts and explosions. It sounds clear and infuses your soul with the energy that is being hurled around on the battlefield. The newest beta also included English voice acting, which was on par with the anime, even if Teen Gohan had the wrong voice for his SSJ2 form during practice matches.
With the updates and initial downtime of the server for maintenance, this new beta fixed some of the previous issues I had with connectivity and matchmaking. You can choose to fight people with good connectivity to stop the lag between players or possible dropouts. I was only disconnected from fights around 2 times, being kicked to the server select only once. They continued to offer trial matches against AI during down times or at the end of sessions.
My overall experience with the Open Beta was rather positive, with the same pros as the previous beta. It continued to hamper my fun when I couldn’t find any way to train or test characters in the training mode, though the new tutorials did alleviate this discomfort somewhat. The new characters felt solid, with myself swapping out my old team of Trunks, Vegeta and Freeza for Kid Buu, Gohan and Nappa.
The game continues to improve and I am still very excited to get into Dragon Ball FighterZ when it finally releases, and as of now, I highly recommend keeping an eye on it, to fans of the series or just general fighting games.