15th Jan2018

First Impressions: ‘Dragon Ball FighterZ’ (PS4)

by Phil Wheat

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I’m not going to lie, I’ve been suffering from Dragon Ball video game fatigue of late. Since the days of the PS3 there has been little to differentiate between each new title besides the odd story tweak – otherwise the similar game mechanics and graphics haven’t really warranted buying each and every game. But things changed with the announcement of Dragon Ball FighterZ.

What makes this game different? What peaked my interest? That would be the involvement of Arc System Works, a company whose experience in the genre goes back decades and whose games, at least since the PS2 era, I own pretty much every one of! Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, Battle Fantasia, Persona 4 Arena – these are just some of the spectacular fighting games the company has worked on, and now they bring that experience to the Dragon Ball series (though to be fair, they’ve already developed one DBZ game, Extreme Butōden, on the Nintendo 3DS) with Dragon Ball FighterZ.

This past weekend saw the latest game in the super-long running Dragon Ball franchise, Dragon Ball FighterZ, enter open beta and I got a chance to sit down and play of much of it as possible! So with that in mind, here’s my first impressions of the game, which comes from one of my favourite fight-franchise developers Arc System Works…

Right out of the gate, some characters seem to be much over-powered compared to the rest of the roster – in particular Beerus and Cell, even Super Saiyan Goku to some extent. I spent most of my time constantly getting perfects with Beerus, against a myriad of opponents and characters – and it wasn’t difficult to either: mashing one button and one direction on the d-pad (at the right time) lead to a swift 8 hit combo that you can repeat over and over for a quick win. Though to be fair the 38 hit combo in less than three seconds from Super Saiyan Goku was probably the most impressive combo I experienced.

For experienced fight game fans Dragon Ball FighterZ, at least from my time with the beta, won’t offer much of challenge in one player mode, if you pick the right character and learn the easiest and most effective ways to get combos… which only took a few minutes during my play with the open beta to be honest. It took one match with both characters for me to discover Beerus’ and Cell’s most effective and easy to execute moves for generating combos.

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Graphically Dragon Ball FighterZ looks as impressive as all the current-gen Dragon Ball games have, looking as if they have stepped straight out of the anime and on to your console. However with this game Arc System Works have added an extra visual flair to the matches. Obviously taking inspiration from their other titles, Dragon Ball FighterZ makes each character look incredibly impressive when performing a move, which makes the game as good to just watch as it is to play – it’s the kind of jaw-dropping wow factor that takes the DBZ video game franchise up a notch from what has come before. And what came before was impressive, so hats off to ASW for managing to one-up the rest of the franchise! Combos look amazingly vicious, super moves really pop, and the action looks incredibly frenetic – reminding me very much of how the Guilty Gear series look the 2D-fighter to the next level with its impressive visuals, which were in turn built upon in the superb BlazBlue franchise… Even the cutscenes as characters enter each level look stunning!

Dragon Ball FighterZ also manages to translate the humour of the anime into the game too.

Of course this being an Open Beta there were issues with the server, leading to me spending a few hours just playing a three-on-three match against the AI; which, to be fair, actually allowed me to work on discovering how each character plays. Though good on Bandai Namco/Arc System Works for not allowing you to choose your character in this iteration of the game – I can see how letting gamers, at this stage, chose the same character over and over would give people an unfair advantage come the official release… By limiting this portion of the Beta to automatically chosen characters, it also allowed time to experience ALL the roster, discovering who works for you and who doesn’t. It helped immensely that switching between your three-man (or woman) team was a breeze!

Of course this is only an Open Beta, so expect more thoughts on Dragon Ball FighterZ once we get our hands on the full game, which is released by Bandai Namco on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on January 26th 2018. After playing the Beta, I’d definitely consider this a day one purchase for DBZ and fight game fans alike!

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