Dragon Ball FighterZ Preview – Beautiful Standard
Right before its launch, Dragon Ball FighterZ held one of those obligatory “betas” or rather stress test for its servers, seemingly a necessary step considering how screenshots of server errors just come crashing onto my twitter timeline lately, on Xbox One in particular. Nonetheless, I got the opportunity to spend some extra time with it thanks to Bandai Namco providing me with an early access beta code, so let´s have a look at this surprisingly unsurprising fighter!
Arc System Works is known for their great fighting game series like Guilty Gear or BlazBlue and their skill truly shines here. The only playable modes are online battles as well as the obligatory training and AI matches, frankly, those are the most important one for any fan of the genre and it´s definitely something else than the very beginner friendly Guilty Gear.
Dragon Ball FighterZ mostly feels like a lot of other fighters, judging solely on its controls. You played Street Fighter or any other title and you probably know how this plays out. Everything is still controlled by the Joystick/D-pad, in combination with different button combinations and that´s basically it. Naturally, there are three different kinds of attacks, light, medium and heavy, individual combos for all of them and the necessity to combine them with each other, in order to create truly devastating combo chains.
Although, as several people pointed out, Dragon Ball FighterZ lays a bigger focus on horizontality, in contrast to the source material. Since no game in this franchise would be complete with the dozens of special attacks or Ki Blasts, very long-range attacks, Arc System Works widened the game area in length, to compensate for the partially giant attacks.
On the other hand, aerial combat is still necessary to chain the combos together, as well as finishing them but staying in air for a longer period of time is almost impossible. In this regard, Arc System Works’ latest fighter feels like many other, actually, it´s almost entirely bound to your combo, meaning, as soon as your opponent breaks out of it, both either fall to the ground or the enemy has the ability to land a few hits before doing so. A lot of it really depends on your movement, reaction times and button mashing resistance.
The Ki gauge is also nothing more than your average special attacks bar, with the only difference being the collectible 7 dragon balls, rewarded for big combos etc, able to grant you one of 4 huge buffs, like a full healing, when you´ve collected them. Neat and something truly unique but naturally only appearing in one of a few dozens of matches.
Nonetheless, there´s one truly great aspect about it, the presentation … it´s simply wonderful. For any Dragon Ball fan, FighterZ is probably pure porn when it comes to special attacks. Typically for Arc System Works, everything from the normal character models to stages looks beautiful and when one of the players finishes a combo, executes special attacks or anything else, the effect firework is nothing more than breathtaking at some points. It´s one of those games that manage to convey the feeling of power behind every single move while rewarding the player in a great way.
Even losing doesn´t seem to feel that bad, since you´re still presented with these effects. Additionally, there´re also little dialogues between the characters before each match, varying depending on their relationship, a nice little feature for fans. If only the netcode and lobby waiting times of 30-60 seconds would be reduced now, there really wouldn´t be much to criticise.
All in all, I enjoyed Dragon Ball FighterZ´s beta, although it doesn´t really offer many unique systems, often being nothing more than an average fighter in a Dragon Ball skin. Yet, that may be the exact intention, bringing together fans of the series as well as fans of the genre with a game everyone can sort of understand, play and master, without scaring too many away with too many ideas. Let´s see what the final game will look like (and improve, I´m looking at you netcode).