Dragon Ball FighterZ Review

Richard Walker

Dragon Ball Z has had its fair share of video game adaptations, but few have been 2D fighters of late, not since the popular anime and its cadre of colourful characters had several outings in the Butoden series and its array of follow-ups. While Dragon Ball Xenoverse and its sequel (and several DBZ games before it) have brought the series to life with frenetic 3D battles, Dragon Ball FighterZ feels like the most authentic Dragon Ball game yet, its visuals aping the source material to a tee. In essence, it looks and feels exactly like you're playing an episode of the anime, something that's bound to get fans hot under the collar.

Comprising 3v3 tag-team bouts, Dragon Ball FighterZ is a riot of searing fire and raging fury, every button press making something insane happen on-screen. Ostensibly, DBF can seem like a simplistic button-masher, but BlazBlue and Guilty Gear developer Arc System Works has gone to great lengths to thrust tutorials into your face at every given opportunity to ensure you're well aware that there's actually a lot more to it than hammering buttons.


Don't make Goku angry.

There's actually a little bit of nuance behind Dragon Ball FighterZ' basics, although this might be Arc Sys's most accessible fighting game yet. Hitting the same face button in rapid succession unleashes an impressive looking light, medium or heavy combo, while a tap of a shoulder or trigger button sends your character zipping across the screen, smashing your opponent into the air. You can dash through projectiles, recover health with a strategic Sparking Burst, break a combo with a Z Reflect, guard cancel to turn the tables... There are loads of tactical options at your disposal.

The depth stuffed beneath all of FighterZ' fundamentals comes in these abilities to deflect attacks and interrupt combos, time an input during a guard to switch an alternate character in and counter attack, vanish and reappear on the other side of your opponent or hurl a few projectiles to keep rivals at bay. It's a cliché to say this, but Dragon Ball FighterZ is easy to learn, difficult to master. You'll soon understand how tough the game can get when you take on the game's branching Arcade Mode, pitted against some stiff competition from the game's AI, but it's online that your skills will truly be put to the test and where these additional tactics come to the fore.

Accessed via the game's bright and breezy hub, where you can walk around as a diminutive chibi version of your favourite DBZ character interacting with other players, you can jump into offline modes or the online lobby. Here you'll find standard casual or ranked matches in the World Match mode, alongside 6-player Party Matches and the 8-player Circle Match mode. There's a shop to spend your hard-earned Zeni on unlockable cosmetic gubbins in loot capsules (none of which cost actual money), a Replay gallery, a place to play local battles, and a practice arena where you can hone your skills. It's got everything you could possibly think of.

Getting a match online isn't easy, though. Enter a full lobby and you'll find yourself waiting for a very long time before the game will matchmake you with a suitable opponent., assuming your match conditions align. Once you get into a World Match or Arena Match, the action proves pretty stable with little in the way of lag - at least in my experience. Just be aware that if you're hoping for instant gratification online, in its current state, Dragon Ball FighterZ doesn't really offer that. There's a lot of having to wait around for matchmaking to find you a opponent,

While there's potentially plenty of action online if you can get into a match, Dragon Ball Z aficionados will no doubt gravitate towards the single-player Story mode, where there's an original narrative featuring new character Android 21, created under the supervision of DBZ maestro Akira Toriyama. A succession of bouts primarily against clones of Goku, Gohan, Yamcha, Piccolo, Vegeta, Captain Ginyu, Frieza, Cell et al. who are running amok across the world, Dragon Ball FighterZ' trio of story arcs isn't particularly riveting stuff, as you navigate your way across a map from island to island in a certain number of turns in whatever order you like, taking on all-comers levelling up as you go.


Balls all over the place.

Upon beating the first story Super Warrior story arc, you'll unlock the ability to play as the bad guys, before then tackling a third story arc featuring more insight into Android 21. During the course of the story, you recruit allies, level them up and assign three different buffs like increased attack power, defence or whatever. Story mode is fine, but it's incredibly repetitive, wearing thin very quickly indeed, save for the reprieve offered by the game's enjoyable cut-scenes. The concept revolves around Goku, Frieza and the rest of the DBZ gang having their powers suppressed and the only way they're able to fight is via a link to a living soul. Specifically, your soul.

And so you'll control a bunch of different characters, deciding which to swap in and swap out, which to level up and which to rest between fights to regenerate their health. It's not particularly taxing; in fact I don't think I lost a single battle for the entirety of the story and its 100-and-something fights. Nonetheless, it's an enjoyable enough aside to the other stuff going on in Dragon Ball FighterZ, and there's plenty of it. In fact, you could just play Arcade mode, enjoy Local Battle mode, dabble online and ignore everything else, and Dragon Ball FighterZ would still feel like a generous, full-featured package.

Vitally, however, Dragon Ball FighterZ is a fantastic fighting game that can initially seem a bit shallow, but the more time you spend learning its various intricacies while enjoying the eye-scorching light show that ensues, the more you'll discover.

Dragon Ball FighterZ

A hugely enjoyable, exciting and eye-wateringly good-looking fighting game, Dragon Ball FighterZ is utterly essential for any and all self-respecting DBZ fans. And even if you're not, you'll still probably get a big old kick out Arc System Works' exuberant fighter.

Form widget
80%
Audio
75%

The sound of “kamehameha” being screamed and fast-paced rockin' guitar riffs just about sums up Dragon Ball FighterZ soundtrack. Voice performances are great too and you can also choose between Japanese or English language options.

Visuals
90%

Completely and utterly stunning, FighterZ' visuals hit you in the face like a light grenade. Every character has been lovingly rendered and animated, while 3D backdrops tie the whole thing together. It quite possibly looks even better than the anime.

Playability
80%

At surface level, FighterZ can seem like a bit of a button masher, but scratch beneath the veneer and you'll find tactical depth, with a few fairly intricate fight mechanics that makes things interesting. Will it be the sort of fighter they'll play at EVO? Possibly not, but it's still fantastic.

Delivery
80%

Packed with practically everything you'd expect from a fighting game, FighterZ has a Story Mode, myriad local and online options, and a smart interactive hub area to explore at the heart of it all. Every little bit has been lavished with due care and attention.

Achievements
70%

A solid enough list that covers Story Mode and all of the other departments. Perfectly serviceable.

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