This weekend I had the chance to try out the Dragon Ball FighterZ closed beta, and whether you’re a Dragon Ball fan or not, you should be excited.
I’ve already said countless times that Dragon Ball is one of my favorite things on the entire planet, so I’ll spare you of the usual paragraph of explanations. Dragon Ball FighterZ is a fighting game by Arc System Works (of Guilty Gear and Blazblue fame), based on the monumentally popular Dragon Ball manga and anime series. The game uses 3D models on a 2D plain, and while the game itself runs at a gorgeous (and so far uninterrupted) 60fps, the models’ animations are 24fps, to emulate the appearance of the anime.
The closed beta held this past weekend let players take the highly anticipated fighter for a spin, featuring a roster of every announced character excluding Tien, Yamcha, and Android 21. I tried my hand at each character through a variety of matches, and while I likely won’t be participating in EVO any time soon, FighterZ was some of the most fun I’ve had with a fighting game in years.
First off, the main hub of the game is the iconic World Tournament arena, where you and several other players can run around as a chibi (small and cuter) version of your favorite character. While quite a few areas of the arena were blocked off (presumably serving as other modes in the full game) the main focus of the beta was Online VS mode. Matches were found surprisingly quick, but more importantly, I was amazed at the netcode for the game. Even when facing off against people with one bar, I never had any noticeable issues with lag or delays. Each match was smooth and almost perfect, with every win or loss coming down to skill rather than latency issues. I can’t stress enough just how impressed I am with the netcode from the beta, and I’m looking forward to seeing it in the full game.
In terms of gameplay, it’s safe to say Dragon Ball FighterZ has secured its spot as my current most-anticipated game. Every character in the roster plays entirely different from the others, and boasts a number of super moves lifted directly from the series. The three character team format fits the game perfectly, making matches the perfect length while allowing for some ridiculous combos. The combat is as fluid as it gets, with each combo allowing for transitions into new combos. Air combos are still a big part of the game, as they were in the show. Getting enemies into the air is easy enough, while keeping them there is just the right amount of challenging. I definitely messed up quite a few combos, but when I was able to pull them off I felt like a (Super Saiyan) god. I found the fighting to be so satisfying that an hour flew by without my notice, so I can only speculate the full game will ruin my semblance of a social life (in the best way possible).
While I personally found my Freeza/Gohan/Vegeta worked best for me, my brother excelled with Cell/Vegeta/Android 18. Each character is unique enough that I’m thinking any player will be able to find a few strong mains at launch. Also, a minor thing for fellow manga readers, Frieza is finally spelled Freeza! It’s an incredibly minor change that changes nothing about the game, but it’s nice to finally have the direct translation. This little detail combined with the 24fps models has instilled me with a great deal of confidence in Arc Systems’s ability to make a truly worth Dragon Ball game.
FighterZ is as gorgeous as it looks, with the 60-24fps trick I mentioned earlier working incredibly well. The way the models move is sure to evoke nostalgia from anyone who watched Dragon Ball back in the day, as I found myself taken aback at how well the original animation style has been imitated. This feature doesn’t interfere with gameplay in the slightest however, so there’s no need to worry about that.
Dragon Ball FighterZ keeps looking, and playing, better and better as time goes on. There’s an open beta in January if you’re interested in the game, and if you try it I think you’ll find FighterZ to be something truly special, especially for Dragon Ball fans. Dragon Ball FighterZ comes out for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC in 2018. For all the latest news on FighterZ, stay tuned to MonsterVine.