Here we have one of the more popular fighting games of the generation. Dragon Ball FighterZ is a collaboration between Bandai Namco and Arc System Works revealed at Microsoft’s E3 2017 conference. Leaving high expectations since it’s reveal, FighterZ was the talk of the town up until it’s release the following year and it’s safe to say it delivered.
Upon release, FighterZ was pretty much everywhere. Everyone was playing it and was highly praised by critics. For good reason because the game is excellent and an example of a fighting game giving bang for your buck. In the meantime, here’s an in-depth review of Dragon Ball FighterZ.
Quality & Quantity of the Roster
What’s a good fighting game without a good roster? Worry not, because FighterZ has a really good roster. At least now it does, it wasn’t that much the case at launch. It had a good roster at first, just a really small one. Now it’s up to 40 characters with DLC and still it has more to come.
Covering almost every aspect of the franchise, the roster is quite varied. Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super get their fair share, even Dragon Ball GT gets love. Speaking of non-canon, characters like Broly, Janemba and Cooler are here. The only negative here would be the overt repetition of Goku’s in the roster. However…
…all the characters are really distinct and play unique to themselves, even the many Goku’s. Because of that, not only are the characters fun to play, they play their own style of fighting game archetypes. Overall, the game does have a really good roster.
Visuals, Art Style, Voice Acting and Music
Pretty much goes without saying, but FighterZ looks absolutely stunning. Easily one of the more gorgeous fighting games out there. Arc System Works really knows how to make their games look absolutely beautiful and this is one of the their biggest showcases.
It doesn’t have the technical prowess of something like Mortal Kombat 11 but it makes up for it with a fantastic art style. I don’t think there’s going to be a Dragon Ball game that will ever look this good. Everything down to the particle effects, character models, etc. From a technical standpoint, it is the best Dragon Ball game to date.
As per standard in an Arc System Works games, the music is absolutely fantastic. Orchestra and metal are the key genres here and some of the games best rival Guilty Gear and BlazBlue in quality. It also has a unique jazz track with Hit’s musical theme. Kind of sounds like something out of Cowboy Bebop and that isn’t a bad thing at all.
The voice acting is all around quite good. Jeanne Tirado does a great job as newcomer Android 21 and has become quite the popular character. Everyone else from the cast does a great job as their respective characters from Goku and Vegeta to Broly (Vic Mignogna and Johnny Yong Bosch). However, some of Chris Sabat’s line delivery as Base Vegeta, particularly in the Dramatic Finish sounds off.
Gameplay and Depth
FighterZ is pretty much Arc System Work’s take on the Marvel vs. Capcom formula, in particular Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Team based combat, 3 vs. 3, multiple assists, iconic characters, a comeback factor, there is a lot here. Thankfully, it does those elements really well and it puts it’s own spin on them with it’s system.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is mix-up heavy game with lots of emphasis on assists and high-lows. Don’t think that it’s a scary game to pick up, however. It’s surprisingly very accessible for new players to pick up and play due to it’s simple controls.
Those willing to delve deeper into it’s mechanics will see a game that’s similar to Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Camp and play neutral with your assists until one player gets hit and the player that got hit loses their character in an instant.
For quite a while after it’s launch, it was seen as a game that was too simplistic and not enough depth in it’s gameplay. Certainly not the case anymore so those who want to get in the game professionally, worry not for there is plenty of depth to be found within the game’s mechanics.
FighterZ’s Overall Game Balance
FighterZ has actually been lauded as one of the more balanced fighting games of the generation, where even the weaker characters can do well competitively. Perfect it is not, however, as there are examples of characters that are a bit too good and some mechanics that could use tuning.
As pictured above, Bardock is an example of a character who can literally do anything and has an answer for everything. And what do they give him in season 3? An assist that puts him in front of his opponent that delivers absurd block-stun that gives anyone 50-50 mixups. Bardock is pretty much the Doctor Doom from UMvC3 in this game.
Then there are characters like Jiren, Nappa and Videl who wish they could have half the options Bardock has. Jiren has a special move that is deemed useless by everyone who plays him. Look at this video that shows why this move is…questionable.
One thing people mention that creates problems is FighterZ’s lack of defensive options. Reflect is the best defensive mechanic in the game while Guard Cancel is quite easy to beat. Videl is a character that doesn’t have Reflect, instead she dodges. This immediately makes her the most susceptible character to mix-ups and pressure as she has no good way to deal with it.
So while there are some questionable balance problems, when it comes to character viability it is one of the more balanced games out there. Even weaker characters like Goku Black can turn the tables quickly if optimized. Overall, the balance is among the best of any fighting game.
Story Mode & Plot of FighterZ
Arc System Works games are known for having story modes and FighterZ is no different. It offers three different arcs available (pictured above) but you only start off with one and unlock the rest.
The Super Warrior Arc is probably the more generic of the three stories. It isn’t necessarily the longest, but it certainly feels like it. Though this is isn’t completely it’s fault because there is one recurring problem with this mode that I’ll mention later. But in terms of the Super Warrior Arc, it’s literally just there to show what you can expect in terms of the mode, nothing more.
The Enemy Warrior Arc is much more interesting due to the fact that you play as the villains. And all of the villains are a treat to watch here. Despite them being the protagonists, they still act like how they would in the show. Cell in particular is just a blast to watch with how much he roasts everyone. This arc is enjoyable just by the virtue of playing the villains and it’s the one that least overstays it’s welcome.
The Android 21 Arc is completely focused on the Androids and on newcomer Android 21. Easily the longest one, it also shows the biggest problem of this mode. Repetition. All you do is fight clones and with how easy it is, it gets old really quickly.
Online Functionality…or Lack Thereof
And here we come to the most derided aspect of FighterZ: the online mode. Unfortunately, this is a recurring thing with Arc System Works titles, the online mode isn’t good. Pretty ridiculous if you ask me. The amount of frames of delay is quite baffling and the lag on even good connections is unacceptable. For some people, the online mode being is as bad as it is makes them drop the game altogether.
For some reason, Arc System Works always makes the online hub more interesting then the mode itself. It’s one thing that I hope Arc System Works fixes in the upcoming next generation because this is ridiculous.
Overall, Dragon Ball FighterZ is a fantastic game that gives you plenty of bang for your buck. Even at full price, the fighting is stellar and will want you coming for more. The roster is very good, varied with it’s characters and play styles and all of them are unique. Visually, the game is spectacular, the voice acting is really good and the music is fantastic.
The biggest negative the game has is the online mode which for a modern fighting game, is a rather big no-no. However, the game has enough content for the single player to keep themselves busy offline.
A love letter to the multi-media franchise that is Dragon Ball, this is easily the best game the series has ever had. From the characters having moves and poses straight from the pages of the manga to the Dramatic Finishes. It’s everything that a Dragon Ball fan could ask for in a game.