What have we been playing? The name of the game this week is pretty much just Dragon Ball FighterZ, even though it was only in beta on the weekend — though some of us have played this build at various press events. Even so, we can’t help but think about it constantly. The fruits of these thoughts are below.
I didn’t get nearly as much time with the Dragon Ball FighterZ beta as I wanted this past weekend, I only managed to hop on the first and the fourth session, but man was it good.
First of all, the game is gorgeous. Arc System Works are already well established as cel-shading wizards, but the amount of work that they’ve put into making FighterZ look ‘right’ is just awe inspiring. Every single animation is a reference to something from the show, projectiles and explosions fill the screen with beautiful mayhem, and the stages take damage in the backgrounds from the spectacular fisticuffs on-screen. It is truly a sight to behold.
When I first hopped on to the FighterZ beta I was greeted with a Guilty Gear style lobby, full of little Gokus wandering around and spamming emotes at me. I picked my team from the menu (Goku/Android 16/Frieza) of course, the best boys, and it was all smooth sailing from there. The netcode worked very well in my EU lobby and finding matches was quick and easy.
I struggled with the game quite a bit in the first session. Gameplay in FighterZ is fairly simple, with four attack buttons, 2 assist buttons, all quarter circle moves and some easy to input auto combos if you get lost, but at a beginner level it is dominated by random supers and the “super dash”, a move that lets you close in on your opponent with a flying dash at the stroke of a button.
I found it a bit frustrating as it was both very quick and completely safe on block, I couldn’t quite figure out how to deal with it and I lost quite a few matches to opponents who were just abusing it all day. I probably lost 5-6 matches for every match I won. I even got bodied by our very own Mitch Jay!
Despite all the losing though, it never ceased being fun, I had a great time from start to finish. Towards the end of the session, the server dropped and the game would only let me play ‘trial matches’, which was a blessing in disguise, allowing me some time against the fairly easy computer to try out different characters and get to grips with the combo system.
In the day or so between the first session and the fourth session, I couldn’t get FighterZ out of my head. I thought about setups, ways of using the assists to cover my approach, potential combo routes and just how sweet it is when you finish a round with a level 3 super and explode the world. It’s a very good sign if I’m thinking about a game when I’m not playing it, as it’s definitely sparked an interest in the old brainstickles.
Once the fourth session came around and I was back in the game, I had an epiphany. Watching some match videos the night before while hiding from my girlfriend in the bathroom, I noticed that there’s a quick little ‘guts pose’ the characters do before they activate the super dash that haunted my first session, and that if I watched for it, I would know when the super dash was about to come out.
It did the trick. I quickly realised that both H, down H and the back S parry move would beat the super dash clean if timed correctly. In no time at all I was consistently intercepting the super dash and preventing opponents from pressuring me. Learning to deal with the super dash is much like learning to stop people from jumping in on you in Street Fighter – it changes the game. Opponents were either killing themselves because they never realised they couldn’t just blindly mash on super dash, or they would become more careful after eating a few hefty punishes.
Once you ‘establish respect’ as it were, FighterZ slowed down quite a lot and changed from a frantic pace to more of a measured one. Approaching carefully, juking and faking approaches and using your assists to cover yourself became paramount. Converting hits in the neutral game into big damage is not hard in FighterZ, making the neutral game quite tense and exciting.
The fourth and final session came to a close, but Bandai Namco thankfully allowed us an extra 30 minutes of trial matches at the end so we could practice some more.
Since the beta, I can’t stop myself of thinking about playing some more Dragon Ball FighterZ. I can’t wait to get my hands on it proper. It’s an easy game to play, but a hard one to master. It has something for everyone, from beginners to grizzled world warriors, just oozes fun from every pore and seems to be the perfect game to get your friends into fighting games.
All hail our new fighting game overlord, Dragon Ball FighterZ!
I already took an extensive look at the very first build of Dragon Ball FighterZ‘ first build some time ago, so check out that preview if you just want to know what makes it unique as a fighter. And believe me, a lot makes it unique. This new build for the beta last weekend, and that was at Gamescom, adds some new fighters into the mix: Trunks, Krillin, Picollo, Android 16, and Android 18 (who has some moves alongside Android 17).
The previous roster we got to try out felt quite similar, thought he villains had their own little twists. That’s just one thing you can’t avoid so much when the inputs are mostly all the same across characters to aid accessibility — which I’m down with to be honest. It almost takes me back to the Budokai series, where characters also mostly shared the same inputs — but manages to keep it feeling competitively viable.
Getting hands on with 4 all new characters allows us to see how FighterZ will be shaking things up to make the characters feel different, and all four of these new ones do definitely feel unique. Krillin has quite a few mix-up options, Android 18 has a bunch of moves that bring Android 17 into the fight that can help with zoning, Trunks has some great anti-air responses with his sword, and Picollo has a special long-armed grab and teleport strikes.
The star of the show for me was Android 16, and you can see me being very cheap with him below (I was coming off a losing streak, okay?). He’s the most dedicated grappler we’ve seen so far, and has some brutal, bone-crunching moves. It’s especially satisfying to pull them off in the air, slamming them into the ground below. Not to mention his neutral H has armour, so you can feel like you’re shrugging off damage, piercing through to get them into your loving arms of death.
I’ve been having a lot of fun checking out videos of people playing FighterZ in the beta. I know my own game is pretty weak so far, so I really want to roll up my sleeves and work on getting better.
I’ve been playing a game which isn’t even out until next year, and that marvellous little game is Dragon Ball FighterZ. I play a whole bunch of fighters, pretty much any that come to PS4, but I’m so incredibly excited to get my hands on more FighterZ, and to learn more about its roster, that it may begin disrupting my day to day life.
It looks stunning, animates brilliant and feels amazing to play. I’ve enjoyed Xenoverse 2 plenty but it’s nice to have a proper 2.5d Dragon Ball fighting game again, and Arc System Works are at the top of their game with this one. It’s one of the most accessible fighters I’ve played but has plenty of mechanics and options to play with if you wish to delve deeper, and I think that FighterZ will be one of the hypest games at Evo next year, and of 2018 in general.