Another year, another Dragon Ball Z video game. It seems like after Dragon Ball Budokai Tenkaichi 3 came out way back in 2007, Bandai has been unable to replicate its success. Even Dragon Ball Xenoverse was pretty damn underwhelming. Does Dragon Ball FighterZ redeem the franchise to greater heights? Let’s take a look.
Watch the Trailer
Dragon Ball FighterZ’s story is a bit confusing at first, but after the first hour you sort of get the gist of what’s going on. The game assumes you know everything that’s happened in the Dragon Ball storyline, and that includes the events of Dragon Ball Super.
If you’re not caught up on the anime, just know that Dragon Ball GT pretty much never happened and that Dragon Ball Super begins directly after the Majin Buu Saga.
The Story Mode of Dragon Ball FighterZ follows the main character (you), who is essentially a spirit possessing the body of Goku and our other Z-Fighter friends. The explanation for this is just as corny as you’d expect from an anime. You can jump from character to character, explaining why the player is controlling each fighter. You fight with a team of 3 fighters that you can switch out mid-battle in the same way as Marvel vs. Capcom.
Yeah, it’s pretty complicating. The goal of the story is to find your own body while also fighting clones of all of the characters. You level up the characters you choose by “possessing” their bodies in the battles.
Let’s get to the real game…
The online multiplayer mode is where the game really shines. Dragon Ball FighterZ forces you to play in an online lobby that can fit up to 64 players. If you don’t have connection to the internet, it just puts you in a lobby by yourself. Just like story mode, you choose your team of 3 fighters and use that team in the various battle modes.
These battle modes are split up into multiple zones that include Arcade, Local Battle, Global Arena, Practice and Story Mode.
Each zone is pretty self explanatory, but the main zones for gameplay are Arcade Mode and Global Arena.
The Arcade Mode lets you fight up a ladder of players, but the twist is that you are graded after every battle, and the path in which you move up the ladder is determined by how good or bad you did in battle.
Arcade Mode is good for practice and earning the game’s currency, which can be used to buy Z-Capsules that contain chibi lobby characters, character card designs and more.
Global Arena let’s you battle players from around the globe. Your public scorecard shows how many battles you have played as well as how many you’ve won. Increasing your win count as well as you the points you gain from winning will determine which rank of fighter you are.
Ranks start at Saibaman, and increase to Earthling, then Namekian and so on and so forth. The real goal is to increase your rank os that you can show off to other players online.
Gameplay is essentially the same as Marvel vs. Capcom. If you’re unfamiliar, here’s the basics:
You pick a team of 3 fighters which you can swap out mid-battle whenever it suits you. The goal is to KO all three of your opponent’s fighters. You can chain all three of your character’s super moves if you have enough Ki.
You Ki bar can reach 7 bars and your super moves use 1-3 bars. You charge up your Ki bar by taking damage or giving it. You can also charge it up rapidly by doing the classic DBZ Power Up Stance, but the gameplay is so fast-paced that you’ll never get the chance to do so without leaving yourself open for attack.
Each character has their classic moves and fighting styles and the animation is GREAT! If you deal a particularly harsh blow to the opponent, a cutscene will be triggered showing the environment of the map you are on being blown away. The developers gave a lot of attention to detail in the game and it shows in these cutscenes. For example, if your character has yellow Ki blasts, the cutscene will display a giant yellow explosion. If the Ki is blue, it’ll reflect that also.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is the Dragon Ball fighting game that we always asked for, even if it has a few kinks to work out. The voice cast is great and the interactions between characters in battle are a nice touch of detail. This is definitely a button masher, but after you get the hang of it, you’ll learn to string combos and rank up past a member of the Frieza Clan! The animation is beautiful and it almost feels like you’re controlling the character in an anime.
This is a must have for any Dragon Ball fan, new or old.