Over September 16-18, the upcoming Arc System Works fighting game, Dragon Ball FighterZ had a closed beta. I had the good fortune of receiving a code so naturally I tested it out to check out the game. There is a quite a bit to talk about so let’s get right into it!
The first point of discussion is the online server itself. It is most certainly the first beta of Dragon Ball FighterZ in every sense of the word. I had experienced quite a few disconnections and lag-filled matches. I was able to play in the first and third sessions (out of four total), and it did get a lot better as the beta went on. But in the very first session it was difficult to find a match and, whenever I did, it almost always timed out.
That being said, this is still a beta, so online issues are a given. In fact, I am happy that they organised sessions instead of leaving it open, allowing them to stress test the servers. The actual online lobby itself is really cool. You walk around with a chibi version of one of the characters. The beta had two modes, Replay and Arena. Replay just lets you view the matches you’ve played, but arena is where the bulk of your time will be spent. Selecting this mode literally puts your chibi character in an arena which acts as a matchmaker. You can check the connection strength before accepting a match, which is a good feature as it lets you avoid poor connectivity.
The way servers were set up in the beta is also great. First you select your continental region, such as Asia or North America. Then it was narrowed down to countries and individual servers. This was a very welcome addition. I was able to play with other players from Australia, giving me the best possible connection. Of course, you can still play in a region if you don’t live there, but expect a poorer connection.
Okay, so the online aspect of Dragon Ball FighterZ looks very promising with lots of options. But how about the gameplay? That’s what you’re probably most curious about. Well, to put it bluntly, I was a tad disappointed.
I’ve played a fair amount of Guilty Gear, another fighting game by Arc System Works. It is an excellent fighting game with easy to learn mechanics that take a lot of practice to master. Heading into Dragon Ball FighterZ, I was expecting something similar to Guilty Gear to a certain extent, but that isn’t really the case.
Okay, let’s do the positives first. The controls are tight and very responsive. Moving characters around feels great and satisfying. Another excellent addition is the fact that it is a 3v3 fighter. Having two assist characters that you can tag out in the middle of a combo adds a great deal of strategy to fighting. You also have a wide variety of special moves with a lot of references to the anime and manga. There is definitely a lot of potential here. There’s no doubt I had a lot fun playing the game.
But there are a lot issues I have with the current state of the gameplay. Dragon Ball FighterZ feels very simplistic and lacks the depth of other great fighters like Guilty Gear or Marvel vs Capcom. Even though the characters have different strengths and weaknesses, I found myself using the same tactics with all of them due to a lack of combo variety. If you’ve played other Arc System Works titles such as Guilty Gear, think of Dragon Ball FighterZ as a hybrid of the technical and stylish modes. This makes for a great pick up and play fighting game, but I still would have preferred more complexity.
Another simplification is the special moves and how they are implemented. In other fighting games, you have different analogue movements. In Dragon Ball FighterZ you only have two basic movements, the quarter circle forward or backward motion. Compare this to other games which have half circle movements or quarter circle into a half circle motion. The more simplistic motions results in a more accessible game. However, this also makes it easier to narrow the skill gap between players who practice, and those that play more casually. You no longer have to memorise long combos or complicated motions to execute special moves. I’m all for making these fighting games more accessible since I find them quite difficult as well, but forcing simple mechanics is not the appropriate way to go about it.
I’ve mentioned the lack of combo variety before, but what exactly did I mean? Dragon Ball FighterZ has a “dash” mechanic which is the primary method of starting or extending combos. Essentially, your aim is to smash the opponent into a wall, and follow up with a dash to land a string of air combos. You can then finish with a super move, or tag in one of your other characters to extend the combo further. That pretty much sums up how to play the game, and I was disappointed with the lack of variety.
There is still hope for Dragon Ball FighterZ. I’m sure that Arc System Works will receive a lot of great feedback from both those that played the beta. Also, there are still more characters to be revealed, which could have more unique techniques or tactics. Whatever happens, I am sure Dragon Ball FighterZ will be a fun game and the beta has me excited. Nevertheless, I hope the developers are able to continuously improve the game and make it amazing.
Stay tuned to Mammoth Gamers for more news and updates on Dragon Ball FighterZ.