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Dragon Ball FighterZ impressions


The moment a Dragon Ball fighting game by Arc System Works was announced I was beyond hyped. Then seeing it in action at E3 a few days later was just amazing. It looked exactly like the anime, I’d say moreso than any other DBZ game. I got into the closed beta some time ago (note: this was literally the last time I used my PS4 before yesterday… that console is so pointless), and I loved it. It was really fun and well-designed.

I’m not buying this game, at least not yet. I never end up playing fighting games that much when I do buy them, and this is another case of me finding the DLC to be excessively expensive, so if I get this at all, it’ll be a GotY edition. However, a friend bought it and came over to play it all evening yesterday, so I figured, since I’m probably never reviewing it, I better talk about it now.

This will be quick impressions rather than a full review. Let’s go.

Impressions

The game features 24 characters (one of which I couldn’t try due to Android 21 being unlockable through the story mode I assume, we did use the pre-order “DLC” to unlock SSB Goku and SSB Vegeta though), a story mode, an arcade mode, and a pretty decent tutorial (not QUITE as good as Guilty Gear Xrd’s, but still pretty solid).

The controls are fairly simple. The face buttons have a light, medium, heavy and special attack. The left shoulder buttons are for your assists, and the right shoulder buttons are for Dragon Rush and that dash attack thing (which can also be done with combinations of face buttons). Holding back (or back and down) makes you block. There’s various things you can do within those controls, like linking supers, switching characters or using their assist, cancel a block into a character switch, force the opponent to switch characters, there’s a lot you can do. The movelists tend to be pretty¬† simple with a few characters with varied things. In general moves are done with a single quarter circle and a button. Even supers just require a quarter circle plus pressing one of the right shoulder buttons. It’s simple, so combat comes down to timingand strategy rather than memorizing crazy button inputs. Also pressing all the face buttons does a Guilty Gear-style burst, which also acts like MvC3’s X-factor (you CAN use this to extend combos, which surprised me).

To me the funnest thing here is messing around with all the different characters. All of them feel very different. Even if some aspects of all the movesets do have similarities, but in general all the characters feel completely different from each other. They all have some mechanic or move style that no one else does, like Hit having a counter move and rekkas. Even the 2 (current) versions of Goku aren’t completely identical. Plus you choose 3 characters on your team, so that’s 2 different assist moves depending on your team too. Some characters also have follow-ups to some supers, for a slight bit of extra damage.

There’s a few characters I don’t quite “get” how I’m supposed to play them (Krillin, Tien, Android 18, Ginyu), but in general I have fun with most of them. I think my top favorites have been Frieza, Majin Buu, Goku Black and Beerus, but I quite enjoy most of them anyways.

The game itself is really fast, combo-focused but with massive damage drop-off the longer combos are (so trying for resets and cross-ups on wake-up is very effective). Damage is still pretty high though. Because I’m new to the game I was caught by surprise sometimes when one of my characters would die. The creativity of combos will come largely from assist use and using the character-switch supers, but the training mode does have a combo challenges category for each character and you can see from there what kind of things are possible, but they are probably not the best things possible.

The game clearly has a tremendous respect for Dragon Ball, with it not only looking like it and having the same voice acting, but even featuring fun little references to events from the show, or even full-on recreations of scenes from the show if you win battles with specific characters and such. Lots and lots of fanservice.

The one thing some people were worried about was the Shenron system, where you gather the Dragon Balls through a fight and summon Shenron to get a wish. Turns out it’s a completely meaningless system they could’ve just not put in, because it’s pretty much never gonna be used. It requires either getting a combo with a certain number of hits to gain the dragon balls (it goes by the number in the second digit), or doing the main square auto-combo. Then you need 7 super bars and to hit another auto-combo (either player can do this regardless of who got which dragon ball). This will never happen in a serious match. I don’t quite know what the effect of all the wishes are, but the one that revives a dead character in your team is useless, it revives them with maybe 20% health.

Another issue that was alleviated some time in the evening was the seeming requirement of online for anything (without requiring PS+ on the PS4), but we found that there’s an offline lobby so you can just do everything through there. Lobbies fill up fast though, so if you do want to play online (which is probably the case) it can be a bit hard if you want to stay within your area of the world..

Overall

This game is fucking awesome. The comboing, the style, the fanservice, everything is amazingly well done. I’d say it’s a combination of everything that’s good about UMvC3 and Guilty Gear, with a simplified but still good control scheme.

While I’m no pro fighting game player, I am somewhat proficient at them and what I saw in my few hours playing this was a game with a good amount of depth, even if the controls are simple. I think people will pull off lots of cool combos especially with assists. I’m sure people will discover really cool team compositions and blow this game wide open. I can’t wait to watch pro matches of this in the coming months.

Mini-rant incoming: The biggest problem really is the DLC. The main game is 60$ (US) for the game, all the modes (story, arcade, tutorial), the online functionality (lobby, ranked and non-ranked matches) and 24 characters, so how does it make sense for the DLC to be 35$ for only 8 characters? It shouldn’t even be 20$. I get the price is about on-par with other fighting game DLC, but that’s just because fighting game DLC is ALWAYS overpriced.¬†(there’s 2 datamine leaks with different characters so I don’t know which one is real, if either, but there’s some confusing choices and confusing omissions in one or both of them… depending on the leak there’s no Mr Satan or Kid Goku or Jiren or Caulifla or Arale or Roshi or Farmer with Shotgun or Lunch or Pilaf Machine or… *keeps going on for hours*)

Anyways, it’s very good, but I’ll go for the GotY version.

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