So, Dragon Ball Fighter Z won’t be live until next year, but this weekend we got to play in the Closed Beta on Saturday and Sunday! I do have a gripe or two before I get into any actual thoughts though: Not being able to play a training mode, and having to Google move lists was pretty disappointing. I mean sure, the moves are easy (Fireball/Tatsumaki and a button for almost every move, a few Down+Down+Button moves). But as a fan of both Fighting Games (anime fighters in particular) and Dragon Ball Z, this game had everything I wanted in one convenient place. I daresay this is the best single Dragon Ball game to ever be made. That’s with the Budokai/Xenoverse titles on the table. Not a one of them comes this close to capturing what Dragon Ball is. In the Beta, we got to play as Goku, Teen Gohan, Cell, Frieza, Vegeta, Trunks, Krillin, and Android 18 (with 17 as her support). I cannot say enough how fun and authentic of an experience this was.
Only being able to play in weird blocks was very frustrating, but maybe there’s a reason to it. Lots of people probably wouldn’t have stopped playing, and I wouldn’t blame them. But if you’ve played BlazBlue you can play this. You can teleport, dash around, double jump/air dash and for those who don’t know, it’s a standard ArcSys four button fighter. Your four face buttons are your main attacks, and (for PS4) your R1/R2 are your support/action buttons. This is a three-on-three where you can tag in your other characters for assist attacks, or swap out at the end of a combo. For a beta, it was very smooth. It does feel like auto-combos are in the game right now because I was able to perform combos without any real idea of what I was doing, other than having played Blazblue/Guilty Gear in the past. Colton had a pretty easy time figuring out his team and what he wanted to do, which will be evident later.
I enjoyed that each character felt unique, and even though the Kamehameha is a pretty common ki blast, they are still pretty different from character to character. You can charge ki up (your super meter), use some of it to teleport behind opponents to continue combos, There are standard moves, which use a pretty common ArcSys system (direction on the pad+button for a variety of attacks. 5a being a neutral A attack, 2A being crouch, etc. Think of it like a Number Pad) and for fans of these games, it’ll be like a fish in water. But that’s where the auto-combo system comes into play. For those new folks, it’ll be simple to get into. Manual combos still do better damage and look cooler, but auto-combo is for people that want to get an idea of what a character can/should do. But there are so many cool mechanics, from the Dragon Rush, Jump Cancels, Dragon Install (Transformations, but the only character who can right now is Frieza, turning into Golden Frieza. Think Sol’s Dragon Install from Guilty Gear). There’s also a “Universal Overhead”, an Overhead attack that everyone can use. It’s 6+M (Medium Attack, B?) but you can’t combo off it without spending an Assist in prep for the move. You can’t just throw it out and do stuff.
Can We Wish This Game Here Faster? HYPE TRAIN OVERLOAD:
I jest. I want this to take as long as it has to; please do not rush to publish! The action is fast and furious and feels like a blend of Marvel vs. Capcom plus Dragon Ball. If your opponent summons both of their assists, you can what in the FGC, is known as Happy Birthday! them. You can attack all three members of their team at once, dealing massive damage and putting them at a serious weakness. But you know what I really love about this? While each character has their own strengths and weaknesses, characters like Krillin aren’t weak, just because they aren’t Sayajins like in the source material. I’m sure there will be a clear, defined Tier List where certain characters perform better than others, but it’s nice to know that if you want to play Krillin, or Tienshinhan, one of the Androids, or whomever, you can and be happy. I am hoping to see Hercule Satan in the game though (if you’re reading this, Bandai Namco, make this happen for me!) and I have to say that without a doubt, I have not played a fighting game that has made me this happy in years. Possibly ever. I haven’t had this much exciting gameplay since Street Fighter Alpha 3.
There are lots of little things that show me they know the source material and care about the fans. Android 18 teams up with 17 as an assist, but some of her moves, depending on if Krillin is in the match/alive, she’ll summon Krillin instead to help her (on her Super Art). It was such a wonderful experience. The clash and cool anime cutscenes when a character falls/a new one enters the fray is wonderful. The post-match victory screens are grand. Other than not having a training lobby, I loved everything about this. I heard that there were problems finding a match on the Xbox One, but on PS4 there were gigantic lobbies full of players. Want to see what it was like for yourself? I and Colton played it this weekend and Colt hosted the stream! Check it out!