- Game: Dragon Ball FighterZ
- Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
- Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Developer: Arc System Works
Review copy supplied by the publisher.
There’s been a whole lot of love sent in the direction of the Z Warriors lately. After the blockbuster success of the Battle of the Gods film, Akira Toriyama saw fit to revive his brand of super powered battles with Dragon Ball Super. The upsurge in popularity for the entire Dragon Ball franchise will continue rolling on now that the the most requested video game concept has become a reality. Dragon Ball FighterZ has arrived with the most hype 2D, 3v3 fighter that Arc System Works has ever crafted. The fighting game developer’s acute attention to detail for the source material and masterful implementation of balanced mechanics pushes this fighter to near perfection.
Anyone not living under a boulder has already seen Dragon Ball FighterZ in action and realized just how amazing it looks. The 2.5D animated coat of paint glistens throughout every portion of the game. Even the chibi-stylized models of each character looks so cute as they wobble around the main lobby. But the real attraction here are the fights themselves. For anyone who’s ever watched an episode of the long-running anime, you’re in for a treat. The entire roster of Z Fighters and past foes who had entire story arcs dedicated to them mimic their anime selves to a T. Goku’s Super Saiyan 3 assisted Kamehameha, Yamcha’s Wolf Fang Fist repertoire, and Tien’s assistance from Chiaotzu are just a few examples of the familiar character behaviors wonderfully transferred into the game. Dragon Ball FighterZ’s graphics are impressive, to say the least. The audio is on the same level thanks to the rocking soundtrack and vocal performances that comes straight from the Japanese/American voice actors who play them.
Dragon Ball FighterZ makes a concerted effort to appeal to casual fans who just want to pull off double digit combos with ease. Unlike other fighters, the one-button combos play a bigger part in how battles unfold since they activate the Dragon Ball’s Shenron mechanic. But the more you play, the more you’ll realize that it’s worth learning the in’s and outs of the game’s deeper mechanics. This fighter lives off of the motto “Easy to Pick Up, Hard to Master.”
There’s assist moves, warp attacks, different ways to recover, Ki Charging and a host of other abilities that makes each battle unfold differently. Plus pulling off a Dramatic Finish that results in your foe getting slammed through a nearby mountain never gets old. By the time you’ve mastered your team’s synergy and several characters’ combo potential, you’ll find yourself realizing just how deeper this game appears than at first glance. Hopefully, all the systems in place get even more interesting if Arc System Works includes an update with multiple assist types. Just having one for each character at the moment is kind of a letdown.
There’s no shortage of things to do here. Besides the basic Training, Online, and Replay modes, there’s a unique Arcade Mode in place. Arcade Mode tests your mettle by allowing you to take on different ladders that changes up your path depending on each battle’s result. There’s a lot of replay value to be had here as you take on tougher teams and acquire better clear times and currency. Speaking of currency, the money you accrue is applied to the equivalent of loot boxes. Relax! Put down your pitch forks, folks! There’s no need to worry since they only supply cool cosmetic goodies.
The biggest mode there is is the Story Mode. While Arc System Works’ other fighters’ story modes are nothing more than visual novels, that’s not the case here. In a cool twist, you inhabit the bodies of the heroes and tackle the threat of androids and revived baddies. The cutscenes look marvelous as expected and the wealth of inside jokes are a joy every time you hear them (Goku’s parenting or lack thereof is hilariously brought up). It’s worth going through for your first time playthrough and replaying battles you may have missed. There’s so much more to the overall plot, which is why you’ll get your money’s worth understanding all of it. The RPG progression pushes you to acquire new items, acquire new team members, level them up, and unlock special cutscenes. A lot of care and love has been dedicated to making the cinematic experience of Dragon Ball FighterZ as memorable as the ongoing saga of the anime.
Dragon Ball FighterZ has already provided 2018 with one of the best games of the year. Its mix of stunning graphics, collection of fun modes to conquer, meaty roster, and fascinating gameplay mechanics shouldn’t be passed up. Hardcore fighting game fans will get a lot out of mastering the hyperactive team battles, plus casual fans won’t be left out in the cold either. There’s a lot to appreciate here. Arc System Works took a peek inside the heads of Dragon Ball fans to create the dream fighter they’ve always ever wanted.
- The visuals are simply sublime and looks even better than the source material itself
- While the move inputs are simple, there’s a deep combat system in place that’s worth mastering
- The Story Mode is a nice mix of RPG progression, big battles and hilarious inside jokes
- Not being able to select your teammates’ assist move is a slight blemish