Posted June 21, 2017 by Adam Ghiggino in Feature

E3 2017: Dragon Ball FighterZ is the DBZ Fighting Game We’ve Waited For (Hands-On)

One of the standout titles from Microsoft’s press conference, was undoubtedly Dragon Ball FighterZ (pronounced Fighterz and not Fighter Zee like I initially thought). It brings together Dragon Ball, which is now hip and fresh again thanks to the success of the Dragon Ball Super anime, with Arc System Works, developers of legendary 2D fighting games like Blazblue and Guilty Gear. A 2D Dragon Ball fighting game that takes advantage of the power of modern hardware to make a near anime-perfect visual experience? It really does sound like a match made in heaven, and my brief time with the game confirmed it’s just like playing an episode of the show.

The incredible anime-style visuals are what the developers call Extreme Animation – it’s a 2.5D graphical style is meant to look just like the Akira Toriyama’s hand-drawn style, while still being able to utilise 3D space for dynamic camera angles and movement. This gives the game the added advantage of being able to dynamically create really cinematic moments. It runs at 1080p at a constant 60fps, and at a higher resolution (the team weren’t specific on quite what this is yet) on PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. It really does look brilliant.

Arc System Works intend for Dragon Ball FighterZ‘s gameplay to be deep and challenging with a huge skill curve, while at the same time remaining accessible for newcomers. It’s a weird dichotomy, but I can at least confirm that from playing it, that the game was pretty easy to get into. I played the game’s demo on Xbox One, and a lot of the combos transfer across multiple characters – quarter circle forward will always result in some kind of energy blast, whether it’s Goku’s Kamehameha or Freiza’s Death Ball. You can charge your ki at any time to access more bars to pull off moves by holding A and X. A lower level super move for Gohan may be an ordinary energy wave, but if you’re able to get your ki to level 3 or above, it turns into the famous Father-Son Kamehameha from the Cell saga, complete with authentic visuals.

Six characters are confirmed right now – Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, Frieza, Buu and Cell. Each character does feel unique as well – I was surprised by how viable the corpulent Buu is against powerhouses like Goku and Vegeta – he can crush them under his weight and pummel them with button mashing with ease, and also comes complete with his famous chocolate beam (although it seems to have become a biscuit beam in this game). The controls are tight, and while I only played two rounds and wasn’t able to get too technical – from a newcomers accessibility standpoint it was super easy to get into the action and pull off some amazing looking moves.

One thing I haven’t mentioned is that Dragon Ball FighterZ offers 3v3 gameplay with two players, so you can tag in and out with the multiple characters you select to unleash some interesting moves – for instance Z-Assist (to call a teammate for covering fire), Z-Change (to change characters) or Ultimate Z-Change (use two characters to unleash a super attack while also switching out to your third character to use straight after).

The developers are also focusing a lot on aerial space, since most of the DBZ characters can fly. This doesn’t mean you can just take off whenever you feel like it, but you do have to be mindful of the space above you when working out combos. If you throw someone into the air, you can follow them and chase them, continue the combo and then bring them back to the ground, bounce them and keep it going. The aerial combos add a level of strategy that feels unique to this game and to the Dragon Ball property.

I wish I had more time to spend with Dragon Ball FighterZ, but the demo was short and the line of people wanting to try it out was incredibly long. It looks so authentic to the show and mechanically is so accessible to play, that it was a joy to get into on the floor, but hopefully there’s a lot more depth to master to make it a real candidate for fighting game tournaments. As an additional note, for anime fans, both Japanese and English voiceovers will be recorded, into order to please fanbases of both dubs. Dragon Ball FighterZ is due in early 2018 on PS4, Xbox One and PC, but the developers are aiming to have a closed beta before the end of the North Amreican summer.

Adam Ghiggino

Owner, Executive Editor of Rocket Chainsaw. I also edit TV, films and make average pancakes.


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