What do you get when you combine an acclaimed fighting game developer and one of the biggest anime franchises of all time?
The product is “Dragon Ball FighterZ,” the latest in a long lineage of fighting games set in the Dragon Ball universe, available now on Xbox One, PlayStation4 and Windows.
“Dragon Ball FighterZ” is a 2D 3v3 fighting game from developer Arc System Works, who are known for their work on series such as BlazBlue and Guilty Gear.
In the game, players assemble a squad of Dragon Ball’s iconic characters and battle other fighters across the universe. The game features 24 playable characters, ranging from classics like Goku and Piccolo to newer additions such as Beerus and Hit.
Gameplay wise “Dragon Ball FighterZ” is the best Dragon Ball game yet. I grew up playing games like “Dragon Ball Z: Budokai,” but “Dragon Ball FighterZ” pretty easily outclasses the older games.
Mechanically speaking it is simple. Unlike other fighting games it doesn’t feature a complex control scheme, and the game is easy to get a grasp on after a little practice.
The game also makes it easy to play every character from the beginning by giving them similar control schemes. For example, the way to summon the ultimate for every character is the same button combination. Each fighter does have things that make them unique, but on the whole you should be able to play most characters well after just a little use.
Despite being easy to grasp, the game is certainly hard to master. If you really want to excel with a certain fighter or team you will have to put the work in. You will have to practice combos, transitions and counters to truly become a premier fighter. But, once you put it all together the feeling of dominating opponents is truly rewarding.
The game offers multiple modes for the player to explore including: Practice, Arcade, Story and Multiplayer.
The Story mode is where fighting game novices should start. It will teach you the fundamentals of the game while progressing through an original Dragon Ball story. The story is split into three parts which have different perspectives on the story. The story is pretty nonsensical, but it does introduce a new character in Android 21. Android 21 is the main antagonist of the story, where she travels around consuming brave warriors by turning them into tasty treats to increase her power level. I like her design, she is kind of a female version of Buu, but her character is nothing really new for the series.
Besides that for me the story mode is mostly a disappointment. It is drawn out, boring and painfully easy. After the first story arc, I just started skipping the semi-cutscenes because things of note rarely happened. It may be one of the easiest games I have played however, and I am not that good at fighting games. During my 12-hour run through one of the story I only died once and it was at the final boss. Besides towards the end, the AI in the game is basically the equivalent of a training dummy, and it puts you to sleep. I wouldn’t have finished it, but beating it is the only way to unlock Android 21 as a playable character. It does prepare you for jumping into the other modes, I just wish is wasn’t such a drag.
The other major mode in “Dragon Ball FighterZ” is its multiplayer suite. Multiplayer is the foundation of modern fighting games and having strong matchmaking is essential to creating a community around the game. But unfortunately Dragon Ball Fighter Z fails in that regard.
Matchmaking in the game is a mess. I won’t bore you with specifics, but it takes way too long to find matches. It’s not unusual to wait for over five minutes to find an opponent online, and it has taken me as long as 30 minutes to find a match. What makes it even more annoying is a decent amount of the matches end in disconnects. Nothing is more frustrating than when you are dominating someone and then you don’t get the win because it disconnects during your final combo. The game has even crashed multiple times on me during matches.
This poor of matchmaking is just not acceptable. Arc System Works needs to fix these matchmaking issues in order to let the game flourish and keep the community strong.
“Dragon Ball FighterZ” has the core of a great fighting game, but at this moment it is not. When you are actually fighting, the game is a blast, but the story is repetitive and painfully easy, and matchmaking, the core basis of a modern-day fighting game, is a mess. Unless you are a major Dragon Ball fan, I would stay away from this one for now. Within a few months hopefully these matchmaking issues will be ironed out, the game will be cheaper and there will be some quality downloadable content that will make it worth picking up.