Bandai Namco and Guilty Gear developer Arc System Works are teaming up to make Dragon Ball FighterZ. While other Dragon Ball games like the Xenoverse series were designed for a broader audience, Dragon Ball FighterZ is designed as a competitive fighting game. Siliconera spoke with Tomoko Hiroki from Bandai Namco about the game’s 3-on-3 combat system and how they turning the Z-Warriors into fighting game characters.
Previously, Dragon Ball games like the Budokai series and Xenoverse were 3D and casual fighting games while Dragon Ball FighterZ is designed to be a hardcore 3v3 fighter. What was the reason behind this change?
Tomoko Hiroki, Producer: We know the previous game Dragon Ball Xenoverse was even a challenge for us and through that challenge we were able to bring in new fans. Now that we have a broad audience, thanks to Dragon Ball Xenoverse, we thought it would be the right time to make this game since there are a lot of fans who say 2D fighting is the root of Dragon Ball and we think so too as well.
One of our goals for Dragon Ball FighterZ is to aim for the core fighting game audience and eventually we would like to make those casual Dragon Ball fans into core fighting gamers. Since eSports is very huge and within the fighting genre it’s quite large too and combining that with a beloved franchise all over the world would be a great fit.
Are there plans on the eSports side to create tournaments or bring the game to EVO?
We are strongly considering it, but we would like to listen to user feedback first.
How did you build the combat system with Arc System Works? Was it taking the Guilty Gear series to the next level or was the system built from the ground up?
We were thinking from building the game from scratch. There are systems from the Guilty Gear series. For example, Guilty Gear and this game as well have high speed battles even compared to other fighting games. That kind of DNA comes from the developers.
When we are looking at the current roster shown at E3, the characters feel quite similar since everyone has a rush attack with the Dragon Rush and fireball attacks. Are there plans to have characters that are different from the line up?
When you think about a fighting game with original characters, the developers think about how the characters should move or fight then create the character based on that design. But for a franchise that already exists like Dragon Ball everyone knows what a character is like ahead of time. It was difficult to bring that into a fighting game since people have an idea of how those characters fight already.
What we did is we went even deeper in the Dragon Ball anime and gathered small details that we haven’t been able to reproduce in previous Dragon Ball games and we believe by doing that we have been able to create something new. Even though we are trying our best to create each character so they are individual and different from one other we believe that with the combinations in the 3v3 system we can make the battle system even deeper. Depending on what the opponent is using we can change our character to turn the tables on them.
For the six characters we have shown so far, maybe Majin Boo is unique, but the other characters are similar. Although we want to say who the new characters are we can promise they are very unique and not standard at all. Please look forward to that.
Does Dragon Ball FighterZ take a character’s power level into account? For example, could Yamcha actually beat Goku in this game?
We’re trying to balance that out with the 3v3 aspect. There may be characters that are better at assisting or supporting than fighting. It could destroy the image of Dragon Ball if, for example, a weak character could destroy Goku. Thanks to the 3v3 feature we can balance that out with the Dragon Ball universe.
Does that mean there are some characters with supportive assists that can buff another character or heal a character instead of fighting?
There aren’t characters that are only specific for assisting, but basically each of the characters have different supporting skills. We can’t go into the details because we can’t reveal the entire roster. We can tell you it isn’t just coming out and dealing attacks and it is very different across the characters.
Out of all of the new features in Dragon Ball FighterZ, what do you think will affect casual players and hardcore players the most?
First for casual users, we can imagine the hurdle of a fighting game can be quite high. We made it so the controls aren’t too complicated this way you can feel you’re controlling the anime with your hands. While this may not be a feature, this may be one of the big things that catch the hearts of Dragon Ball fans.
For the core audience, we believe the fit of a 3v3 fighting game and Dragon Ball is a good match. One thing we have heard is there is no time to do a ki charge. Since it’s a high speed battle we agree there is limited time to do this even if you want to charge up your gauge. Since this is a 3v3 fighting game you can use an assist attack to connect your combo or have the assist character go between you and your opponent so you can back up and charge your ki gauge. I believe the assist system will be interesting for core gamers.
Do you have any assists that change depending on your team make up, like using the Father-Son Kamehameha?
We don’t have specific cut scenes and unfortunately we couldn’t have this in the build today, but the characters have actions when they tag in and out. For example, if Gohan comes out Goku screams his name. If Vegeta tags out Goku, he says Kakarot instead of Goku. We want to make rich interactions like this, but we don’t have specific character team ups since that could change the balance of which characters you use.
When playing the game I noticed two characters can clash and then break apart. How does that happen in the game?
That happens when you do the Dragon Rush at the same time. The Dragon Rush kind of plays a role of a throw when you both throw at the same time that even occurs.
Sparking kind of reminds me of the X-Factor from Marvel vs. Capcom 3. This triggers health regeneration does it have other abilities?
You can use this ability one time per battle with all three characters. In addition to recovering health you also power up characters, but we are still working on balancing that. Since you can only use this once the timing of when you use it is really important.
In the casual Dragon Ball games there is story content where characters can grow and get stronger. Are there plans to include deep single player story content or is the focus on player vs. player?
It’s true we are focusing on combat. That is why we are not putting in a level up or customization system so you can win with your gameplay skills. We will have a rich single player mode so it won’t be difficult for fans to go in, but we can’t go into details right now. We were kind of greedy, but we want to appeal to casual Dragon Ball fans and hardcore fans as well. We have been working on the balance for both audiences.
Will there be content from Dragon Ball Super in the game?
This is just the first announcement so we can’t reveal that yet. But, we can say we are choosing characters so a broad generation of fans will be satisfied. Please look forward to future announcements.
Who is your favorite character?
Gohan. I recently had a daughter and she is two years old. As I watch her grow up it reminds me of Gohan. He’s smart and strong, maybe not as strong in the recent episodes, but he’s tough.
What is your favorite Dragon Ball arc in the story?
My favorite, because of love Gohan, is the Cell arc from Dragon Ball Z and when he started going to high school as Super Saiyaman.
Can you tell us one character that definitely won’t be in the game?
[Laughs] One that defiantly won’t be in the game… we’re not going to have Taopaipai in the game.