Dragon Ball FighterZ Review

By Marc Hollinshead,
Gamer or not, most people have undoubtedly heard of Dragon Ball. The anime franchise has materialised in many different forms over the years, so even if you aren't well acquainted with the Super Saiyans, you may well have seen them in action. There are also plenty of games focusing on the fighting genre that have been released over the years, but the latest title to join the series is the most refined yet. Now a full blown 2D fighting game, Dragon Ball FighterZ pits the characters you've come to know and love (or hate) against each other with some highly chaotic, yet extremely entertaining results.

Wallpaper

Dragon Ball FighterZ stands out to the rest of the games in the franchise in that it is a fighting game down to its very core. Every match has you teaming up three different characters to take down the opposition in a menagerie of colour and chaos, and it is clear from the get-go that Arc System Works has aimed to accentuate everything for which Dragon Ball is known, while also making it accessible to every skill level. This all comes together in a pleasing swathe of colour and chaos as each match takes place. From kicking the enemy into a building for a destructive finish, to outright destroying the planet in a barrage of energy, Dragon Ball FighterZ doesn't hold back with its visuals. A vibrant colour palette constantly litters the screen to make everything you do a treat to behold.

An easy element to get wrong in a fighting game is that the complex nature of movesets and combos means that only veterans can truly enjoy the experience. That is not the case here. Many combos and abilities aren't in need of nimble fingers in order to successfully pull them off. However, the game isn't over simplified, either and there is a great balance between accessibility and complexity. Veterans can show off their skills, while beginners can feel like they aren't out of their depth and can look like a killing machine on the battlefield if they so choose.

While button mashing can come with successful results to some degree, the game does have the Ki gauge to cement the concept of strategy in all fights. This helps to strengthen that balance of simplicity and complexity, so with specific button inputs, the tables can be turned immediately with a special attack that can absolutely devastate an opponent when used at the most opportune moment. Each fighter is imprinted with standard combos and attacks that span across the whole roster, but for those who want to delve a little deeper, there is a fighting style that should suit the needs of all who jump in. There is an ever present fast-paced nature to the game, but heavier and larger fighters will act accordingly.

Press RB and watch the colour flood your screen.Press RB and watch the colour flood your screen.

The roster doesn't cover the entirety of the cast, of course, so a few fan favourites may be absent. Nonetheless, there is a welcome diversity and spreading of villains, saiyans and others to complete the list. The likes of Goku and Krillin are no surprise, but watching Majin Buu transform Android 18 into a gingerbread man to gobble up is sure to please those who desire someone more out of the ordinary with which to fight.

After mastering the mechanics of the game, you'll definitely want to jump into Dragon Ball FighterZ's story mode. This deceptively long mode follows three potential arcs, starting with Goku and friends. In an unusual tale involving cupcakes, waves and a brand new android, the cast find themselves being linked with a faceless soul that has seemingly inhabited their bodies overnight. This friendly soul does all their fighting for them, which means that without it, all the heroes are rendered useless. To make matters worse, clones of all the cast are also scattered across the world. It's an odd story at first, but things clear up as it goes along, with each arc adding a piece to the overall puzzle as you progress.

The story mode, while always pushing you forward, still allows some level of freedom. Each chapter will present a number of maps and they will have varying amounts of spaces in them. A specific amount of turns will be assigned to you as you begin a new map, and once this happens, you have free reign to move around the map as you choose, engaging in as many of the available fights as you see fit. Every character has their own link level and will level up with use, so the more fights you engage in, the stronger each fighter will become. With this in mind, the story can be as long or as short as you like. Mandatory bosses are required to complete each map, but this interesting take on how the mode works means that it isn't just a throwaway part of the game. Instead, it's very much at the heart of what Dragon Ball FighterZ is, so you'll find yourself spending a lot of time here and enjoying every bit of it as the events unfold.

Even androids can't resist delicious cupcakes.Even androids can't resist delicious cupcakes.

Outside of the story, if you're a little timid to jump into the online world then you'll be struggling to keep yourself fully entertained. The practice mode is there for you to sharpen your skills in battle and combo challenges should you choose to take a stab at those, but it is the arcade mode that offers the most rewards. Three courses varying in length are available, with the chance to earn the in-game currency "Zeni" at the end of it. Chasing the coveted S rank will mean that harder fights will ensue, so if you want to test against the best NPC opponents, this is a good place to start. You can also try your hand in Local Battle, engaging in tournaments with real players or CPU opponents.

At the time of writing this review, the online modes were unavailable, but ranked and arena matches are where you'll be spending your time when facing off against players around the world. It's nothing particularly innovative for a fighting game but it's everything you should still expect the game to have to satiate your desire to bash human opponents to pieces. The game also sets itself up as an interactive lobby, so a miniature version of one of the characters is your vehicle to choose between modes.

Who will win?Who will win?

Dragon Ball FighterZ's achievement list has 35 achievements in total. For more casual players, it will come as a relief that the game doesn't require 50,000 perfect matches online or anything too outrageous. Dedication is still required, though, as you will need to amass 20,000,000 of the in-game currency and level a character up a lot throughout the story arcs. With enough play, anyone who is willing to complete it should manage it in the end.

Summary

Dragon Ball FighterZ is a fitting entrance into the 2D fighting world for the franchise. Combat looks brilliant as you pummel the enemy and watch the vibrant colours fly across the screen, and both casual players and veterans alike will easily get their fill from the accessible controls. The substantial story is also a breath of fresh air, so there is plenty to see and do there. If you aren't willing to use the rest of your time online, however, then you may be wondering where to go next. Regardless, whether you're a Dragon Ball fan or fighting game fan, this a game that will easily satiate your appetite for a long time.
4 / 5
Dragon Ball FighterZ
Positives
  • Combat is vibrant and chaotically brilliant
  • Surprisingly substantial story mode
  • Good balance of simplicity for beginners and complexity for veterans
Negatives
  • Content may feel slightly thin on the ground outside of the story for some
Ethics
The reviewer spent 13 hours saving the world with Goku and friends, and also kicking their butts as the enemy. 12 of the game's 35 achievements were earned in the process for 260 Gamerscore. An Xbox One code for the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Marc Hollinshead
Written by Marc Hollinshead
To summarize Marc in two words, it would be "Christian Gamer." You will usually find him getting stuck into story heavy action-adventure games, RPG's and the odd quirky title when he isn't raving about Dark Souls and Mass Effect. Outside the world of gaming, Marc attends and helps out in his church on a regular basis and has a not-so thrilling job in a supermarket.