“Here Comes A Mighty Warrior!” The search for a worthy challenger continues in Arc Systems Works’ attempt at a 2D fighter based on the popular anime and manga series synonymous with audiences everywhere, Dragon Ball Z. In particular, this brawl keys in a lot of selling points, such as its addictive gameplay, graphics that feel right out of an episode of Z, and representation from the many different Arcs, chapters, and shows from the Dragon Ball universe that fans of both fighting games and Dragon Ball will enjoy.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is a 2D fighting game that’s similar to popular series like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Arc System Works is known for their 2D fighting games, garnering world renown for the Guilty Gear series. It has different modes that entice people to learn new skills and better their gameplay, and on almost all platforms, such as PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Dragon Ball FighterZ boasts its own story with Goku, Krillin, Vegeta, and the rest of the Z fighters, coming together to defeat a new foe, similar to arcs from the original series. This enemy, who came to be known as Android 21, is a new character made by the series creator Akira Toriyama.
You go through a map board, challenging enemies and rescuing allies until you get to the boss of the map, and then go onto the next. It can get a little repetitive, but the interactions between the characters and the unfolding story make the monotony bearable.
Fights are special as you have access to quite the varied roster, there are 21 playable characters from the get-go, and a few secret unlockables later on. Almost all of them have different moves and a unique playstyle to make even the numerous Gokus feel different.
FighterZ, however, like a lot of recent fighting games, has additional Downloadable Content for purchase. This includes unlocking a few characters early, as well as new characters periodically being released and music packs from the anime. If you don’t mind paying up, these characters are just as fun and enjoyable as the base roster.
You can choose from a wide array of arenas and music tracks, but one feature that might scare off players at first is its loot box system where you can buy Z Capsules for in-game currency. Thankfully, you can’t spend money on in-game cash, and the rewards are purely cosmetics for your player tag and character.
It’s refreshing to see a loot box system done right in a world where they are often abused.
Dragon Ball FighterZ plays like the traditional 2D fighter people are accustomed to. Up to three characters can be chosen to start a 1 on 1 match where the benched characters can either be tagged in or used for Z assist.
Systems, Moves and Controls
The Meter System is your Ki gauge, which lets you fire off Special moves that can destroy the arena. Light and Medium attacks are the standard fair, while heavy attacks are launchers that you can follow up on after a satisfying animation. The Unique attack button lets characters perform all sorts of moves, from firing Ki blasts to Kamehameha’s.
When fighting 3 v 3, benched characters can regenerate a small portion of their health back. This leads to matches lasting a little bit longer than you would think. It can be a bore to struggle through and even more of a drag when spectating matches.
The combo system is also something not to be overlooked. FighterZ allows certain moves to be chained, allowing you to extend combos and keep them going. You can go from a Light attack to a Medium attack and then to a Heavy attack without having to wait for the hitstun to end. It leads to combo strings that leave you satisfied while having matches centralize on how much damage you could get from a stray hit. This sort of “hit and run” gameplay can be confusing to learn at first and is frustrating when your combos do not do enough consistent damage, along with health regeneration negating your efforts.
Every character has their own command input move, similar to the quarter circle Hadouken from Street Fighter. Super Dash, an ability used in almost all Dragon Ball fights, lets you home in and fly after an opponent. Dragon Rush lets you use a flurry of moves on your opponent and throws them for a follow-up, similar to a grab. Vanish and Sparking Blast are moves that can turn the tide of a match. Vanish uses 1 bar of the Ki Gauge, and lets you disappear and reappear behind the opponent to attack them. Sparking Blast is an ability that you can only activate one per match for a limited time, but it buffs your Attack Power and Health Regeneration.
Keeping the user-friendly choices like auto combos or a dumbed-down simple controls option and advanced techniques such as air dashing and jump canceling, Fighterz has a high skill cap that provides new inventions and stylish combos to explore. This system doesn’t come without its faults, however. For the average player, learning all of these moves and how to connect them will be difficult to use efficiently at first. Command Inputs can only be perfected with extreme practice, so learning those full character elimination (a Touch Of Death or TOD) you will see online is a far ways off, and even further for doing it consistently. Another gripe is that some techniques aren’t even explained in any of the tutorials thrown at you, forcing you to research them on your own.
Dragon Ball FighterZ has a superfluous amount of modes for users to battle in. Along with the aforementioned Story mode, the main fighting mode, and Local Versus mode, is the fighting you’ve come to love, letting you play with people on the same console as you or against bots. Arcade mode is a classic Endurance mode with a set amount of battles and rankings, with high ranks giving you tougher battles and better rewards for the ending rank. The hardest difficulty can get brutal on higher paths, therefore anyone without competent skills should beware. Party match Is a mode where you play as a 3 Character Teams, where each character will have a different user control them.
The online mode takes the battle online, with Ranked and Casual settings for the competitive and noncompetitive user. Arena mode lets you fight players in the lobby, and Ring Match lets you create a room for people to join. Along with a Practice mode, there are other competitive online modes, but they are bogged down by the online infrastructure.
While the connection is usually good enough to navigate any of these modes and play online, you must join an online lobby that you can traverse with a mini avatar of a character to access the modes. The lobbies have a set limit for players, so connecting to a lobby can be a hassle, especially if you want to group up with friends. The common matchmaking time can range from a minute to 10 minutes, but your own experience may differ. While playing online, unless playing against people with your rank, you’ll often get destroyed by high-level players who take their craft seriously. This may discourage players from playing online, which is one of the main ways to get better.
A weird oversight is that you also can’t switch out teams in between matches, which is an annoying trait other fighting games seem to have. On the bright side, playing online matches seem to keep a consistent connection without lag, which is vital to perfecting frame perfect combos. If you want the Normal online experience as fast as possible and don’t mind playing with players of any skill, turn your Opponent Strength in Ranked and Casual to “Anything Goes,” otherwise, try opening a ring match or joining an Arena Match to fight people in your Lobby. While the online might be a hassle, it can still be an enjoyable experience if you can look past its several faults.
Dragon Ball FighterZ has stunning graphics, with a lot of shots and moves being one to one with their Anime and Manga counterparts. The character roster includes characters from all across Dragon Ball, including Dragon Ball Super and Dragon Ball Gt. Seeing these characters come to life will give fans feelings of nostalgia, and the interactions in their intros only add to this feeling.
FighterZ also features Dramatic Intros, Dramatic Finishes, and Destructive Finishes. These cutscenes are played when you use a specific team of characters on a map and meet a set of requirements during a match. From a devastating explosion to straight-up fight sequences from the anime, the amount of love and care Arc System Works put into the game is abundant considering these special touches.
From a fighting experience sublime to the point of perfection, a wide, varied amount of content for people to enjoy, and countless extras, Dragon Ball FighterZ encourages players to hone their craft, practice their characters, and become the best fighter they can; a theme also shared by the anime. The modes all give the player more incentives to play. Its online servers, while a little bit mismanaged, still provides a challenge to fight against strong fighters.
These features make Dragon Ball FighterZ an enjoyable way to pop in and have fun with friends, and even make new friends and rivals. If you enjoy Dragon Ball Z, fast-paced fighting games, and don’t mind a steep learning curve, or a little wait time in between, then FighterZ is a great pickup to add to your fighting game collection.
DRAGON BALL FighterZ gets a 7.5/10.