Posted January 16, 2018 by Joseph Rositano in Feature

Dragon Ball FighterZ Open Beta Impressions

In September last year I was fortunate to take part in a closed beta session for Dragon Ball FighterZ. While I didn’t have a clue what I doing due to the lack of tutorials, the beta gave me very strong impressions of the fighter and it was easy to see fans were in for a treat come January 26, 2018.

The open beta that launched this weekend has sadly had several technical issues. Fans have struggled to log on to the severs, let alone find online matches to get their first true experience of Dragon Ball FighterZ. A quick search on social media reveals gamers have been frustrated to say the least, but perhaps are being a bit too hasty saying they will no longer be purchasing the game. After all, there’s a reason game companies have open betas to test servers. I am hopeful Bandai Namco will learn from the experience and iron out the technical issues to have a successful and smooth launch.

Technical issues aside, I was very pleased to see the latest beta had a new training mode to give players a better idea of how the controls work. The mode is divided up into missions focused on different movesets, such as blocking and unleashing ki blasts. Dragon Ball FighterZ is a typical fighter in that players have light, medium, heavy and long range attacks, as well as guard moves and the ability to jump. The aim here is of course to string together different combos and read your opponents movements and act accordingly. Being a Dragon Ball Z fighter, characters can also charge up super meters to unleash devastating special attacks.

Each character controls similarly to each other in that they have the same standard combo moves, making the game accessible to veterans and newcomers alike. Where characters differ however are their overall stats; including attack reach, power, technique, speed and energy. Dragon Ball FighterZ also features a 3-man team system where your character is joined by two other team mates. You can switch between characters mid-match or utilise them to assist with attacking or defending against an opponent. A match is won when all three fighters in the opposing team are defeated. Taking into account the different stats of each fighter and the literally hundreds of team combinations you can create, there’s a lot of strategy at play here for those that like their fighting games to have more depth.

One of the more interesting mechanics in Dragon Ball FighterZ is the ability summon Shenron mid-battle. You do this by collecting the seven Dragon Balls while fighting, which are usually awarded by performing a combo of seven or more attacks. Shenron grants the player “a wish”, which entitles you to the option of restoring your current character to full health, reviving a teammate with 20% health, powering up your current character’s attacks or restoring a small amount of health and filling up your super meter. The “wish” is enough to change the tide of a close battle and there’s always a sense of urgency when Shenron is about to be summoned. In fact, due to the game-changing nature of Shenron it almost seemed like he appeared too frequently and should be saved for a more rare occurrence. Granted, I’m sure pro players would have no trouble in breaking a combo before a Dragon Ball is awarded.

Gameplay is fluid, fast paced and even confusing at times (in a good way) if you don’t pay close attention to the battlefield. This game prides itself on strategy and encourages players to know every last move and ability in their arsenal so that they can best an opponent; matches get intense and outcomes can change quickly if you don’t adapt. The game looks incredible as well with its cel-shaded graphics capturing the spirit and style of the anime. It is practically a love letter to both Dragon Ball fans and fighting game fans alike.

It’s worth noting that by default the game will feature a Japanese dub for characters. However there is an option to switch the voice work to English, so this will appease all fans regardless of which version of the anime they have watched over the years.

The beta did unfortunately suffer from constant disconnects due to technical issues, so its difficult to gauge on the reliability of online matches in the final release. There are Australian lobbies, which is a plus for local gamers and should help with latency during matches. When server connectivity wasn’t being an issue I found online matchmaking was a lot quicker than it was in September’s closed beta. Also I very rarely experienced lag, with matches running smoothly from beginning to end.

Ignoring the technical issues the open beta has suffered from, Dragon Ball FighterZ stands to be one of the best Dragon Ball Z fighters yet. The game is challenging, has high production values and it’s clear a lot of effort has been put into creating something special for fans. Hopefully Bandai Namco rectify the server issues before launch, because if they do this is looking to be a real winner.

Joseph Rositano

While Joseph's main hobby has always centered around video games, he's also taken an interest in movies, musicals and traveling around the world. No one quite knows what Joseph's true motivations are, but rest assured he is always planning his next grand adventure!