Though There were few doubts concerning Arc System Works’ Dragon Ball adaptation given their fighting game track record, the developers managed to exceed some already lofty expectations that are nonnegotiable whenever the Dragon Ball name is on the table. Dragon Ball FighterZ presents players with everything they’d hope to find in a fighting game – furious combos, character mastery, and the chance to trounce others in ranked matches being just some of these features – but it’s got an understanding and appreciation of what makes the Dragon Ball anime so wonderful that elevates it above other attempts.
Before you even get a chance to enter World Tournament Arena, or Namek, or whatever fighting grounds you choose, the first thing that’ll strike players is just how gorgeous this game is. The opening animation will catch your eyes and ears at the beginning, and it’s a 100 percent accurate look at what you’ll find in each fight. Iconic characters like Goku, Yamcha, Frieza, and Cell come alive with their facial expressions and mannerisms that’ll draw you even more towards your favorites. The booming of two Super Dashes colliding or a Kamehameha
That’s really where much of the success of Dragon Ball FighterZ comes
But despite being a faithful take on the anime, Dragon Ball FighterZ also manages to rope newcomers in with accessible gameplay and easy-to-learn, hard-to-master combos. Each character has a combo tutorial to explain their nuances and differing tactics, and while fighting game veterans will breeze through these and move straight to PvP, the tutorial is patient with newbies. Simple combos such as a chain of light attacks are all it takes to send opponents flying, but the way you finish these with Super and Meteor attacks and diversify tactics to throw off opponents is where the skill expression comes in that makes the high-level matches so impressive to watch via the in-game replay feature.
A downside of this accessibility is that it does lend its way to the possibility of button-mashing in hopes of putting on pressure or getting yourself out of a dreaded corner, but even then, there are ample tools to come out on top. Blocking appropriately is obviously your primary defensive tool, but vanish attacks, deflects that give some breathing room, and timing character swaps correctly allow for ample counterattack techniques to turn the tide of a fight. Gameplay videos prior to the game’s release showed top-level fighters establishing (some may call it abusing) almost guaranteed combos while using the same attack or two over and over, but that’s hardly a fighting game problem that’s limited to Dragon Ball FighterZ and is something that’ll be more or less ironed out as players adapt to seeing these trends.
The team makeup of Dragon Ball FighterZ also undoubtedly deserves a spotlight for how well it works and diversifies each fight. If a fighter starts taking too much damage, you can swap them out with another member of your team to let them partially regain their health, a tactic that’s essential in winning fights. As an injured character leaves, another soars on-screen to take their place in a fast animation that keeps a steady pace and allows for yet another “I’ll save you!” anime moment. An explosive collision centerstage follows the transition if a newcomer came in after a character was fully downed, and the fighters’ positions are reset to allow for a breath of fresh air and let you get out of that cursed corner that you were held hostage in. While holding the button for the character swap will change your fighter, simply tapping it allows you to call in a quick assist from a teammate. This adds yet another layer of strategy with each character having a different assist, meaning that who you choose to round out your team is just as important when they’re on the field as when they’re on the sidelines.
Dragon Ball FighterZ also offers a little something for everyone no matter what you’re looking for. The game’s story mode which introduces a completely new arc outfitted with the playable Android 21 takes players through a board game-styled adventure where you move about a map, issuing and accepting PvE challenges along the way. The story mode brings back iconic characters new and old such as Android 16, Cell, and Beerus, and if you’re looking for a
At its core, Dragon Ball FighterZ is a game that’ll leave anime fans completely satisfied while giving fighting game veterans a challenge to master and transition into a PvP whooping. Accessibility is key here for players who just want their anime fix, and Arc System Works found a way to succeed in this area while still presenting others with a high skill ceiling to explore. Those who wish to climb to the top of the rankings will do so by mastering seamless combos and perfecting their team compositions, and for those who can’t or don’t want to do so, you can watch others do it through the previously mentioned replay feature and feel like you’re still watching the anime that you know and love.
Throughout the Budokais and Xenoverses over the years, Dragon Ball FighterZ stands out as a staple in not just a Dragon Ball fan’s collection, but in the game library of any fighting game aficionado as well. Dragon Ball FighterZ confidently presents itself as one of the best fighting games that’ll be released this year as perhaps the best adaptation the franchise has ever seen, a co-op couch brawler and online PvP game that players will return to for years.
WWG's Score: 4.5 /5