We were lucky enough to be invited to try out the Dragon Ball FigherZ beta this passing weekend (well, when we could actually log on). But how is the anime styled fighter shaping up? And are there any reasons to be concerned about before its release on the 26th?
For those not in the know, Dragon Ball FighterZ is a collaborative work between Namco Bandai Games and Arc System Works, the team behind the Guilty Gear franchise. As if there was any doubt in that, as just taking a quick look at FighterZ will show you their now defining cel shaded 3D models. And out of all their recent video game outings, FighterZ stands as their most impressive looking game yet.
Getting into the game itself, the online component of the game runs in a lobby system quite unlike any other fighting game before it. Instead of sitting on a menu screen as the game searches for a match, the player is allowed to pick an avatar and explore a massive open area with all the different online modes being different locations to visit on the map.
This little detail caught us off guard and filled us with delight as we were able to run around as a chibi lil’ Gohan and run up to other fighters hanging around in the lobby.
When running around as your favourite miniature Z Warriors gets boring, you’re able to access online matches via one of the NPCs hanging around the budokai tournament stage. Here you pick your team of three characters and go head to head against another player.
That is, if you can get into a match.
The beta was to test the online servers for the game, and so it was an online only event. However due to server issues, many players had connectivity issues with the game. We had many failed attempts when trying to connect into the lobby, and there were numerous times we were kicked out of matches before being returned to the title screen. We hope that these connectivity issues are resolved before the games release.
Thankfully, connectivity issues were the only issue that loomed over this beta event. As once we were able to actually find a game, we were having the time of our lives.
FighterZ is a fighting game quite unlike any other, choosing to combine the over-the-top bombastic action of the series with the mechanics and move sets of a complex fighting game. What emerges out of this is a finely tuned and incredibly well balanced fighter that’s hard not to fall in love with.
Matches are similar to many other fighting games, with characters slapping and tickling each other until one team is defeated. Plus it has many of the tried and true mechanics of previous Arc System games, with a special meter at the bottom and an assist recharge being part and parcel at this point. But then it introduces the Dragon Ball mechanic and everything gets flipped on its head.
By landing combo hits during a match, players will cause the seven dragon balls to appear. If all balls are present at the bottom of the screen, then one of the players can summon the all-powerful dragon Shenron. The catch? You need to have 7 fully charged super bars. That means the player needs to be constantly making the choice to either use their special energy to perform a super attack, or save it in hopes of summoning Shenron and making a wish.
Granted the players could always charge their Ki to reach 7 bars, but it’s incredibly difficult to charge your Ki without getting hit by a barrage of attacks. During high level matches, it’s rare to see players stop to charge their Ki at all.
But it’s not just the mechanics that makes FighterZ such an interesting game, the real drive is the thing that’s always made Dragon Ball so appealing, the characters.
The beta allowed access to only a small amount of characters from the full game. But from what we played, they all stand as perfect translations of their manga counterparts, with different move sets and play styles to reflect each individuals personality.
There are the good all-round fighters like Goku and Vegeta, who use brute strength and simple attacks to cause massive damage. But then there are characters like Beerus and Freiza who feel completely different to anyone else.
Beerus can cause Ki balls to hover in place that deal a good amount of damage if touched. And so quickly the match turns into a mind game about luring your opponent toward your attack without giving away your plan.
As for Freiza, he can perform risk / reward moves such as boomerang destructo disks. He throws them at his opponent, only for them to return off screen a few moments later. While this gives him a second chance to hurt his enemy, it also leaves him wide open to take the damage too.
But the real stand out character of the beta was Adult Gohan. Unlike all other characters, his special attack doesn’t focus on damage (although it’ll still ruin your day if you’re near him), but instead powers him up toward his Ultimate form.
This means the player can make the conscious choice to sacrifice their super meter to make Gohan’s base attacks stronger. This adds tons of depth and room for experimentation with his character, and made him one of the most enjoyable characters to learn.
These characters vary in complexity, and help create a roster of diverse and unique characters.
While there’s a great deal to talk about with Dragon Ball FighterZ, we need to hold out until the full game releases to give a full, in-depth review on the game. But from what we’ve played so far, our excitement levels are over 9000!
And if you want more Dragon Ball in your life, we at AllTime Gaming talked about 6 of the best Dragon Ball games that will keep you tied over until FigherZ launches:
Thanks to Bandai Namco for supplying a beta code