In recent years, a lot of moderate Dragon Ball games have been reviewed. A licensing deal obliges Namco Bandai to release a new game almost every year, provided they want to keep the license. The emphasis on mediocrity seems to be over with the arrival of Dragon Ball FighterZ. And that is mainly due to an old acquaintance in the fighting game world.
- Beautiful style
- Easy to learn
- Enough nuance
- Searching for friends online is inconvenient
- Stretched story
Table Of Contents Summary
Dragon Ball FighterZ
- Developer: Arc System Works / Bandai Namco
- Price: € 59.99
- Genre: Fight
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Dragon Ball FighterZ was developed by Arc System Works, the studio that we also know from the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series. As a result, the company is not only specialized in the development of fighters but also knows how to pour a big anime sauce like no other A style that Dragon Ball FighterZ knows how to connect to.
The game uses the same custom Unreal 4 engine from the latest Guilty Gears. Characters look like two-dimensional sprites but are in real 3D models. The camera can thus suddenly change perspective during a Kamehameha beam to create a dynamic scene, without the game losing the charm of a sprite fighter. There is something in the background. For example, characters have the same amount of animation frames as a 2D sprite. That would look weird in every other game but in FighterZ it emphasizes the animation style that we also know from the TV series.
You play with a team of three fighters against three other opponents. You would think that a six-man battle would take a lot of time, but the reality is different. The energy rays, attack combinations and special super attacks you fly around the ears, so you often have a new fight within a minute. All of that looks phenomenal. The game is difficult to distinguish from modern Japanese animation – and more than in ten well-animated episodes of Dragon Ball Super in one fight.
Easy to learn
All those crowds look complicated, but FighterZ is surprisingly easy to pick up. With the action buttons, you perform a soft, medium or hard blow, or shoot an energy ball. If you press the right trigger, you shoot at your enemy in a quick sprint to attack. Special skills are almost all performed by making quarter circles forward or backward on the direction button, followed by pressing one or two action buttons.
This simplicity ensures that characters in the base play about the same. Dragon Ball FighterZ is not comparable to, for example, a Street Fighter, in which a character such as Guile uses ‘charging attacks’ by continuing to push a direction backward. If you master the quarter circle of one character, you learn to play with the rest fairly quickly.
Yet there are differences as soon as you dive into the depth. Although you perform the same thing with everyone, these skills are all slightly different. For example, Goku shoots a strong Kamehameha when activated, while the adult version of Gohan unlocks its potential in this way and gives new parameters to its basic skills.
You can carry out a combination attack by performing a light, medium and heavy attack after each other. Inside there is often slight variation per person – which means that sometimes you can string more complex combos together. The game also lets you run a simple basic combo by repeatedly pressing the light or medium attack button, but here you never get the maximum damage as with a more complex combination.
Like any capable fighting game, FighterZ is largely about the location where your character is in the fight. Some characters prefer to keep a small distance, while others close up on the ground the best blows. This ‘zoning’ uses a simple system that allows you and your enemy to fight for territory. This consists of three attacks: the ki attack, the ‘super dash’ and an uppercut. You can shoot ki-attacks to attack an opponent from afar, but with a super dash, you sprint through these energy balls as if they were raindrops. Is someone trying to get close to you continuously? Then you can turn him off with an uppercut to keep your advantage. It ensures that you constantly have to keep an eye on what your enemy is doing,
In terms of complexity, FighterZ looks a bit like a Street Fighter and a casual game like Super Smash Bros. to sit in. Each character has a little bit to learn on the surface, but below that, there is more nuance for players who are looking for that. That’s a great combination that makes Dragon Ball surprisingly easy to pick up for people who have rarely played this genre. And if you stick, then there are cunning strategies to learn.
This makes the core of Dragon Ball FighterZ very strong. That is important because in practice this core is the only thing that you find in the game. There is a story mode that should motivate to play alone but it consists of defeating dozens of “clones” in a plot that is clearly written to stretch the playing time. Unfortunately, there is no question of the creative transitions between films and battles as in the recent Mortal Kombat games.
No, you will mostly play online or offline against others. The basis for this is in itself: you can play casual pots or compete for a position in the rankings or set up a tournament mode with dozens of friend’s offline. We only miss a more flexible way to play online with a friend. You can start a ‘ring match’ to enter a virtual game room together but you first have to find each other in an often chaotic online lobby system Feasible but also quite awkward.
It is also useful to mention that the game uses a loot box system. The impact is minimal – the loot boxes contain at most alternative avatars for the online lobby and images for the chat. At the moment, essential items such as characters and levels are not locked. We are only slightly nervous about it, as Arc System Works is currently working on downloadable content. If this is offered through this system, it could turn out to be unpleasant.
However, this is a ‘what if’ scenario. At the moment Dragon Ball FighterZ is simply a strong fighter, with without doubt the best visual style in the genre. This game is more beautiful than most animated action series. That makes him not only a pleasure to play, but also to watch.