The team behind the
groundbreaking Guilty Gear Xrd has delivered the iconic
Dragon Ball series to the fighting
game world, on a golden platter, to kick off 2018. I can't think of anyone better than Arc System Works to
bring the vibrant Dragon Ball Z universe into the fighting game arena...
and do it right. Unlike the vast majority of previous Dragon Ball
releases (example: the Budokai series) - which heavily catered to casual
gamers and lacked the
basic of fighting
Dragon Ball FighterZ was clearly designed as a competitive fighting game,
first and foremost. It's been a long time coming.
Dragon Ball FighterZ's character selection screen as of March 2021.
In terms of gameplay, what Arc System Works achieved in DBFZ makes for an
easy-to-get-into, yet technically intriguing 3-on-3 fighting game experience. The variety of
gameplay systems, intuitive combo engine, and 7-tier super meter offers a great balance of flashiness and fun.
Team synergy and meter management play a huge role in your success or failure...
and with a nice-sized roster of 30 fighters (and growing), expect a significant
amount of "trial and error" before finding a main team
you'll feel comfortable with. Many elements that I loved (and still love) about
the early Marvel Vs. Capcom series are "spiritually-inspired" into DBFZ's
gameplay... but DBFZ
takes the idea of air-combos and "air-fighting" to the next level.
Best looking air-combos in any fighting game? Quite possibly. Not only
is the gameplay visually stunning for spectators, it's very appealing for the
player's eyes as well.
You might've heard DBFZ is a "mash-fest"... but that's not entirely true.
Yes, the beginner-friendly elements (example: brainlessly mash light or medium for an
auto-combo into super) might make it easy for 2D fighting
game purists to throw shade on the game... but DBFZ is deeper than
it lets on. Once you learn some of the legit full combos and air-combo
each character has, you'll realize DBFZ has more potential than
you might've thought at first, and offers something that "feels unique"
for fans of high-flying, air-dashy 2D fighters. Even as an old school FG player, I
actually find DBFZ's gameplay to be
more "fun" than some traditional 2D fighters in recent years. For the
"style" of gameplay Arc System Works was going for with DBFZ, the mix of simplicity and
complexity is smartly balanced and designed. It even makes me wish I was more of a Dragon
Ball Z fan... (even though that's never going to happen. I have my reasons.)
Assist Attacks, fast-paced high-flying action... everything MVC used to
To talk a bit more about the
characters have the Dragon Rush ability which breaks an opponent's guard
and launches them into the air for a follow-up combo. Super Dash resembles the homing style dashes of
the Arcana Heart series, making it easy to chase down your opponent
anywhere on the screen. There's also a "Ki Charge" mechanic
for charging meter and a parry mechanic used to deflect projectiles. Vanish Attack
has your character teleport
directly behind the opponent before kicking them out of the air, and can be used within combos.
Auto Combos initiate by rapidly pressing Light or Medium attacks and, interestingly, feature unique animation not seen
in regular combos. Most characters have 1-button projectiles (Ki
Blasts) with no
directional inputs required. I both dislike and like the idea of 1-button
projectiles, but considering how damn cool fireballs look in this game
(especially when they get deflected and break stuff in the background), I can get over the
Besides, projectile wars are pretty damn fun in DBFZ. Lastly, Z Change
lets you switch out your characters through super moves, a la MVC2.
Mix-in some cool Assist Attacks to put the pressure on your opponent, and
you've got one of the most fast-paced and frantic 2D fighters since MVC2/MVC3.
The way characters can fly around, in and out of combos, is not only true to the
source material... but it just looks "right" as a Dragon Ball fighting game. (It makes much more
sense than Injustice 2, for example, where DC's super-humans are awkwardly stuck on the ground throwing random shit at each
other). What's cool in DBFZ is... if you want to zone a bit and spam
projectiles like a jerk, you're free to do so... but if you're defending against
you have a ton of room to move around on the stage and
plenty of options for dealing with projectiles. The 3-on-3 tag system also naturally changes up the flow and pace of
the action, so no one "tactic" is seen too often.
Dragon Ball FighterZ includes a basic Tutorial and 10 Combo Challenges
for each character.
Unfortunately, many of the combo challenges seem to be afterthoughts, with some requiring
only single-button presses for an entire combo.
While these missions can help total "nooblets" understand how basic timing for
fighting game combos
work, it would've been nice if ASW included a wider variety of actual combos for
learning how to use each character properly. Furthermore, several of the more complex
combos require very strange, and "unnatural" timing... in my
hard to explain, but certain combos seem overly difficult to connect and just don't "feel good" to perform. It's
a combo drops because it was "0.45 milliseconds"
too slow or too fast, even when your inputs were perfect.
(Luckily, this only seems to be an issue with certain characters and how
their movesets were designed.) Overall, Tutorial
offers a fairly good starting point on how to play DBFZ.
you wanted to use Goku... worry not... you have 27 versions of Goku to
As important as it is.... Gameplay
isn't "everything" in fighting games. Yes, character designs and the way
their movesets "feel" actually matter. Characters aren't just
"functions". (We learned that lesson with MVC: Infinite,
didn't we Capcom?)
Who you're using to fight, and how you feel about them, makes a big difference in
the long-term enjoyment of a fighting game. In some ways, Dragon Ball Fighter Z
lives and dies
by its tried-and-true roster of immediately recognizable anime icons. These
characters are household names, for better or worse. (Because if you don't
"like" Goku, you're probably not going to
like half of the roster of this game.)
Repetitive hair-styles? Check. Overly dramatic yelling?
Check. Typical anime / weeb business that only a "special breed of nerd" can
fully understand? Check. Super-happy best-friend earrings that grant special powers?
I'm done. Jokes aside, the character-specific interactions and dialogue before,
during, and after fights is pretty amazing stuff in terms of attention to
even if you don't fully "get it" (because you haven't watched all 291
episodes of DBZ).
It's true that some character designs are "timeless" and
really don't need to change
over the years. Some older character designs stay fresh with a
"revamp" of sorts... a new outfit, for example. However, in DBFZ...
a new outfit, a different hair color, or even "a piece of hair in a
different place" somehow means an entirely new character.
Artistically, this doesn't do anything for me. I'm not
inspired by this... and it even messes with my OCD. Two Wolverines in MVC2 was
bad enough... 10+ characters who look exactly like Goku is another thing
entirely. I understand what they're doing for fans of the
for everyone else (and believe it or not, there are a lot of us)... these
Goku-clones become visually monotonous, and part of the
reason I never became that interested in DBZ. Akira Toriyama is awesome
and all, but he sure has a weird obsession with "one kind of hairstyle".
Thankfully, no matter how many Goku's are on the screen at once, Dragon Ball
FighterZ is one hell of a beautiful video game. It's one of those games that makes me
scratch my old-man-beard and say... "My my my, vid-yah games suuure have come a
way." (Right before I yell at some kids to get off my lawn.) Back in my
day, most video games based on cartoons or anime almost always looked laughably bad. (Insert
NES/SNES/Genesis memories here.)
Even the "best"
of those games had major visual
imperfections when compared to the TV or movie adaptations.
However, DBFZ looks crisper and cleaner than "some" of the
actual anime productions (especially portions of Dragon Ball Super). The vibrancy and motion of character
models during DBFZ's cinematics and gameplay
are seamless, looking spectacular from all angles, at all times. All projectiles, particle effects, and "support" effects like
wind and environmental interaction / destruction spectacularly scream
"next-gen fighting game". Regardless of what you think about DBFZ's gameplay, you'd have to admit DBFZ is a visual
no frame of animation that looks bad. Yet again, ASW has raised
the bar for 2.5D visuals. (I only wish there were more characters to look
at, besides Goku, Clone Goku, Evil Goku, Green Goku, Buff Goku, and Midget Goku.
Seriously, I'd love to see a Capcom Vs. Whatever
with this amazing visual style, but that's just me.)
so much fan service... and then some. Look at these guys.
Similarly to Guilty
Gear Xrd, Dragon Ball FighterZ features interactive online lobbies where
players take control of cute 3D avatars of their character of choice and explore
different areas / online modes. There are both offline and online versions of the
lobby - where you can interact and chat with other players. If the lobby system doesn't suit your fancy,
there's also a traditional menu with all of the modes
readily available. DBFZ packs a decent variety of single-player and
multi-player modes. Some fighting games in recent years can't even launch with a
proper Arcade Mode. Well, good news... DBFZ has one (and it's great)!
The various courses and cleverly named CPU teams make Arcade Mode very
replayable, and even makes you care about getting a high-score, like old times!
Playing through 1-player modes earn you "Zenny", an in-game currency used to unlock character colors, new avatars,
player card customizations, etc.
Various "Quests" also
appear onscreen which guide you on exploring different modes and drop extra Zenny.
The unlocking system even reminds me of MVC2... yet another appreciated
throw-back for old school players.
Dragon Ball FighterZ's modes include: World Match, Party Match, Story,
Practice, Arcade, Local Battle, Arena Match, Rankings, Replay, Z Union, and
Shop. Online matchmaking is in line with previous ASW fighting games, and
outside of a few hiccups, the game has pretty solid netplay, matchmaking, and
overdone and a bit quirky... but DBFZ's lobby system is neat.
Of course, there's only so much
"creative freedom" Arc System Works had when creating DBFZ. The
devs decided to respectfully represent the source material in nearly every way
I definitely respect what they did with this project, even though I'm not a DBZ
fanatic. Aside from being one of the
authentic, competitively-sound Dragon Ball fighting games in existence, FighterZ
oozes with fan service and
throwbacks to the iconic manga/anime. Lifelong DBZ fans probably go nuts over
this stuff. Possibly the most impressive part, ASW used direct animation references
from the manga/anime when designing veteran characters' movesets, down to their
specific normal attacks, specials, and super moves (and even camera angles).
The immediately eye-catching visuals of Dragon Ball FighterZ
expertly highlight these smartly dynamic animations through brilliant camera-work and vivid facial expressions,
bringing to life iconic moments from the anime / manga.
Arc System Works demonstrates even crazier attention to detail with
"Dramatic Enactments". This level of detail is also a first for
fighting games. When players perform certain actions with
specific characters or teams, before or during a
battle, they can initiate "special cinematics" reenacting memorable moments
from the anime. This includes unique pre-fight introductions when certain
teams face each
other, and during gameplay if certain conditions are met. If
specific characters stay alive on the same team, some will even team-up during super moves. Additionally, Dramatic Finishes occur when specific characters
defeat their appropriate rivals on a specific stage. For example, Nappa killing
Yamcha on Rocky Fields (or the other way around), or Goku defeating Frieza on a
destroyed Namek. The basic stage destructions / stage transitions also look
amazing on their own. Even non-DBZ fans should be able to appreciate this crazy
level of polish.
DBFZ's Story Mode itself is, expectedly, a bit monotonous.
Like most ASW fighting games, you're looking at a multi-chapter,
multi-hour chore to complete... with (I'm guessing) 20+ hours of dialogue? Story
Mode has you take on different opponents as you advance through certain
"paths" of your choice. As
expected, a lot of the dialogue in the cinematics is cheesy, and pretty typical mainstream anime fare.
If you're invested in DBZ characters and know them well from the source
material, I suppose their dialogue is more passable. For everyone else, most
cutscenes might put you to sleep. Overlooking its repetitiveness,
Story Mode's manga-like cutscenes do have their cool moments, showing off the game's cool 3D
models in neat manga-style camera angles, allowing you to fully appreciate the game's visuals. It takes a few chapters, but the story
actually starts to pick up midway - beginning with Android 21's debut. Overall, it's a step above the production
of GGXrd's story mode - which certainly wasn't bad.
The lore and elements that built up the unmistakable reputations of DBZ characters
(and their power-levels)
are nowhere to be found in DBFZ's story mode. To get the desired effect, you really have to know
"who is more powerful than whom" to appreciate most scenes where
things actually happen.
|December 20th, 2021
| Arc System Works
4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Feb. 1st, 2018
Sept. 27th, 2018
Sept. 28th, 2018
Trunks, Tien Shinhan, Frieza,
Ginyu, Majin Buu, Kid Buu, Adult Gohan,
Black, Goku (SSB), Vegeta (SSB), Android
21, Broly, Bardock,
(Base Form), Vegeta (Base Form),
Cooler, Android 17, Jiren,
Gogeta (SS4), Broly (DBS), Kid
Janemba, Ultra Instinct Goku,
Kefla, Ultra Instinct Goku,
Super Baby 2, Android 21 (Lab Coat)
Gear -STRIVE-, Guilty
Gear Xrd REV2, Guilty
Gear Xrd -REVELATOR-, Guilty
Gear Xrd -SIGN-, Guilty
Gear XX Accent Core Plus R, Hokuto No Ken, Sunday
X Magazine, Street
Fighter V, SF5: Arcade
Edition, Under Night
In-Birth: EXE Late[st], Injustice 2,
Tekken 7, MVC: Infinite,
Fighting EX Layer, Blade
Strangers, BlazBlue: Central Fiction,
Cross Tag Battle,
Granblue Fantasy Versus, DNF
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
9.5 / 10
9.5 / 10
/ Sound Effects
8.5 / 10
9.0 / 10
10 / 10
8.0 / 10
Options / Extras
8.5 / 10
Intro / Presentation
9.0 / 10
Replayability / Fun
7.5 / 10
8.5 / 10
7.0 / 10
Review based on PS4
Any way you look at it, Dragon Ball FighterZ is
a huge achievement by Arc System Works, and in more
ways than one. The in-game presentation is unlike anything seen
before in a fighting game or video game (besides GGXrd, of course). DBFZ
packs groundbreaking levels of fan-service, an innovative new style of
air-based combat, and overall very solid execution. As a game, DBFZ offers an easy starting point for new /
novice fighting game players and considerable depth for more
experienced fighters. At the highest level, DBFZ's pace is as frantic as
the iconic MVC series... but perhaps even succeeds MVC2/3 as an
ultra-polished and exciting spectator game.
As an appreciator of martial arts, DBFZ's characters are perhaps more
enticing to watch (and use) than Guilty Gear's bizarre cast of characters (as much as I love those
crazy bastards). It's a breath of fresh air to see Arc System Works fighting game characters
who throw mostly punches and kicks, for once!
They nailed the key fighting animations, complimenting the most important
parts of a fighting game with a magnificent in-game graphics engine. Arc System Works
did it again... Dragon Ball FighterZ is a work of art.
Worth mentioning, Dragon Ball FighterZ appeals to a wider audience than
most fighting games due to the "legacy popularity" of the series. If you're
over the age of 20... you probably have a fairly solid opinion about the series in general,
for better or worse. That said, as great as DBFZ looks and plays... it probably won't
make you an insta-DBZ fan if you
weren't already a fan since the late 80's or 90's.
double-edged sword of a fighting game based on classic anime / manga. It is
what it is. However, I will say if you're a fighting game fan who appreciates "small details" in
your fighters... there are tons of interesting & innovative touches to be surprised by in DBFZ. You
can tell ASW are DBZ fans, and it's a nice thing to
My biggest issue with the game? It's Dragon Ball Z...
It only does so much for me. All of the clone Gokus (AKA nearly half the roster)
is a redundant visual in this game. As far as fighting game
character "designs" go, DBFZ might lack excitement in some
areas... but the iconic roster does offer some very interesting fighters(
besides characters with Goku's hairstyle). Every character in DBZF is represented amazingly well,
fleshed-out in their personalities, unique movesets, and role in the original
lore. On a side note, DBFZ
characters have some of the most badass-looking super moves I've seen in a long while!
(And many are interesting successors to those we know and love from MVC.)
Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the most "immediately visually
appealing" fighting games of
this era. In some cases, unskilled players can make a fighting game look really bad when
they mash buttons... but that's not the case with DBFZ. The game always looks
good. That said... DBFZ might even be too epic for its own
How is that possible, you ask? The awe of "flashy cinematics" eventually
wear off in long-term play, and what you're left with is... the game itself - the most
important part. Is it "easy" to
see when something truly epic happens in a DBFZ match? It's
debatable, since practically every match appears as an epic battle. It's
an interesting (and mostly good) problem for a fighting game to have, but hear
me out. Since the
1990's, I've lived for "epic moments" in fighting games. These
moments I speak of are created by the player's skill and decision-making, not
Of course, these moments are still very possible in DBFZ, but they can end up being
anti-climatic due to the ridiculousness of any given match. When
everything's epic... the truly special moments of a match don't quite stand out as
Also considering the 20-second corner trap combos, and the general
"long" matches at a high level... in my opinion, DBFZ isn't
quite as fun to watch competitively as other tournament fighting games.
I think some fighting game players (including myself) are a bit salty that DBFZ
looks as amazing as it does... yet doesn't feature any "original"
fighting game characters. Games like Street Fighter and King of
Fighters have recently experimented with new 3D graphics, but have yet to achieve anything
as "natural" or nearly as beautiful 2.5D as DBFZ's visuals. That said, you die-hard DBZ fans
better adore this game, and appreciate Arc System Works for the insane amount of
polish they put into it. (*Inb4 DBZ uber-fans claim they won't play Dragon Ball
FighterZ due to unbalanced character power-levels or some bullshit.)
Fact: DBFZ has some of the best fan-service in a video game ever,
whether or not the spoiled brats of the fanbase fully appreciate it.
You can also thank Arc System Works for the first Dragon Ball fighting
game appearing on your favorite fighting game website, FightersGeneration.com.
I don't put up a TFG profile
for just any mainstream anime fighter. But DBFZ is a
through-and-through 2D fighter with a strong foundation, heavily taking
inspiration from some of the best "arcade" 2D fighting games of all
After 20+ years, a Dragon Ball fighting game is finally relevant in the
competitive scene. DBFZ has achieved unmistakable success with big turnouts
at major tournaments since its release in early 2018. How long will it stay on top? Legendary
competitive fighting games like MVC2 and many iterations of Street Fighter
kept players inspired for decades. If DBFZ is as great as hardcore fans claim, it
should be around for years to come. Either way, DBFZ
brilliantly shows off what the fighting genre can offer in 2018. Even if
DBFZ doesn't float your boat, it's one of the best high-flying 2D fighters in recent
memory. (DBFZ is the new Mahvel, as some are sayin'.) So when's Marvel VS
Dragonball? Or DragonBall Vs. Something else? I'd actually like to see a ASW crossover
after DBFZ runs its course. Think of the possibilities. Besides, we do need more
characters in this game besides Goku.