Dragon Ball FighterZ released on January 26th for PS4, Xbox One and PC. The title is developed by Arc System Works and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment, and you can definitely feel Arc System Works’ incredible experience in developing fighting titles from the get go. They managed to take everything good in Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, made it even better then looked at its flaws and almost eliminated all of them. The development team managed to excellently portray the 2.5D art style they were aiming for, while maintaining a recognizable, vibrant and color-saturated Dragon Ball universe around the fight in front of you.
Right from the get go, you are thrown into a fighter hub world, a familiar feature to Xenoverse players. However, unfortunately, the hub isn’t as well-developed and engaging as it was in Xenoverse. It is a nice place to roam around and just check out fellow Dragon Ball players if you have some spare time to waste.
Arc System Works drew inspiration from Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s three-man fighting system. Playable characters are unlockable through accomplishing objectives and finishing chapters from the storyline. There are three main storyline paths available for players to complete, the Super Warrior Arc, the Enemy Warrior Arc and I will keep the third Arc’s name a secret because it spoils one of the story’s main plot points. Throughout these Arcs, players will unlock various characters to add them to their team going forward. There are several smaller fights building up to the bigger boss fights, and their main purpose is to allow players to gain boosts and level up their characters. As exhausting as it can be, a few levels can make a difference in one of the major boss fights.
However, the story mode’s presentation leaves room for improvement. Each chapter is presented on a world map, where players are free to pick and choose their fights along the storyline leading up to the boss fight. Along the main storyline branch, occasionally there is kind of a side-quest branch where players can go to to unlock a character or an achievement or so on. It can get a little bit frustrating and time-consuming because you know you have to go do it, even if you don’t want to, if you want to completely finish the storyline, unlock everything and see all the cutscenes the game has to offer.
Now to the main talking point, the combat. This is by far the most enjoyable and well-executed part of the game. Arc System Works really outdone themselves in this aspect of Dragon Ball FighterZ. The fighting mechanic is easy to learn and is very inviting to any new players to the fighting genre, yet still has complex combos and finishing moves that leave room for players with a desire to master the game. For example, Super attacks, teleports and simple combos are basic attacks that allow beginners to win and have fun doing it, but combine teleports with a combo at the right timing and you have a devastating and satisfying attack that staggers your enemy. The combat manages to perfectly capture the Dragon Ball vibes, with characters screaming often during the fight or whenever they land a major hit.
At the bottom of the screen at both sides, there is a seven level meter that fuels up throughout fights or whenever you attack and manage to accumulate combos. This seven level meter allows players to unleash both offensive or defensive super moves, and when you have two capable players, things can get a little heated and turn into one of those Dragon Ball classic episodes.
All in all, Arc System Works did an outstanding job in presenting one of the best Dragon Ball fighting games we got in recent times. The combat is relatively flawless, capturing the true nature of Dragon Ball fights, with high-paced action, perfect art style, chaotic Super Saiyan-level attacks and much more that bring nostalgia to my young self. Dragon Ball FighterZ is at the top of the 2D fighting game scene right now, with its only weakness resembled in its story mode.
Full Disclosure: A copy of the video game was provided by the publisher for purpose of review.