Guest Post By: Super Saiyan Scott
Being a big fan of both fighting games and the DragonBall franchise, it’s not hard to see why I have been incredibly excited for DragonBall FighterZ since it was revealed at E3 2017. So when I got a chance to play the open beta this last weekend, I sucked up every ounce of hands-on time with the game that my schedule would allow.
Right away, it’s obvious to see that the visual presentation of DragonBall FighterZ is polished beyond perfection. The clean, colorful appearance of the characters combined with fluid animation and screen-filling particle effects makes the game look better than the anime that the game is based on. The majority of the sound effects also seem to have been pulled straight from the show. And with most of the promotional material up to this point using the Japanese voiceovers, it was nice to finally be able to hear the English voice actors screaming their lungs out as the characters powered up.
The game’s music is an energy-pumping, electric guitar-fused shot of adrenaline that adds excitement to the matches. Although this music is not bad, I can’t help but notice that the stylings sounds very reminiscent of developer Arc System Works’ previous game, Guilty Gear Xrd. This slightly disappointed me, because as much as I also love the Guilty Gear games, it kind of detracted from the unique feel that a fresh new spin on a DragonBall fighting game should have. The anime series has a bunch of iconic music to choose from, which would have been nice to see incorporated into the game. Although this may be a non-issue, as Arc System Works has announced a DLC pack coming shortly after the game’s launch that adds in a handful of music from the show. Which songs are included has not been revealed as of yet, but it sounds like the music will be taken from the Japanese version of the show, so fans looking forward to Earth-shaking battles while “Rock the Dragon” plays in the background may be out of luck.
Anyone that has seen a trailer or gameplay clips knows most of this already. So how does it play? I’m happy to say that the controls are tight and fairly intuitive to pick up. Jumping right into the limited training mode, I got a feel for moving around pretty quickly and it wasn’t long before I was landing long combos with multiple cancels and flashy super attacks. I must say that, while a pro-fighting game player I am not, I am pretty familiar with most fighting game mechanics. So a lot of this came pretty naturally to me and it’s hard to say how intuitive it will be for fighting game newbies. The good
news is that Arc System has added in at least of couple of auto-combos for new players to get a feel for how combos work. By simply mashing one of the attack buttons, your character will do a preset combo that is pretty basic, but still looks cool. This mechanic won’t win a match by itself. The auto-combos are, in general, pretty low-damage compared to some of the manual combos that can be achieved and it takes a lot more than just knowing a good combo to be good at this game. But it is still a great way to get people new to fighting games interested and reward them with a good time even if they just know the basics.
One of the cool things about the auto-combos is you can start mashing a button like a noob and once you see the combo has started, you can switch things up and improvise on the rest of the combo adding in cancels and character tags or whatever else you can come up with. Normally, this seems like a really lazy way for a developer to make the game easy for mashers, but the auto-combos are really built right into how the game is supposed to be played. Mashing a single button usually gets you beat pretty quickly, but using it at the right time to just confirm landing a hit is very helpful when starting out. And it really helped out during some of the laggier matches to make sure that I didn’t drop a combo even if I couldn’t go for maximum damage.
Speaking of lag, I really didn’t have very many matches that ran poorly. There were a few connections that dropped down to around 20 frames of lag (shown by a handy little indicator at the top of the screen during a match), but for the most part I had a pretty steady connection with most people that I played. And even the ones that ran a few frames behind didn’t feel all that bad. It’s not exactly like playing with someone right next to you of course, but for a beta, I came away very optimistic about the future online playability of the game. I should also mention that I was playing on PlayStation 4 and from the sounds of people on forums, the Xbox One version did not fare as well, but I cannot speak to that. Unfortunately, even on PS4, the beta was down pretty much all of Sunday for maintenance. But in response to this, publisher Bandai Namco decided to add another day to the beta, which took place on that following Thursday where I got some of my best matches in.
I had some other very minor quibbles with the beta such as the very limited roster making for several mirror-matches and not being able to see a color on the character you were choosing, but the majority of these issue were only the result of it being a beta and will be resolved when the full game releases in just under two weeks. Overall, that feeling of glee that a DragonBall Z dork like me got from the second I booted up the game never left throughout my entire playtime and only got me more excited to delve deeper into the full game. I look very forward to going all in when the game comes out on Jan. 26, 2018.