This past weekend, Siliconera was able to get some hands on time with Dragon Ball FighterZ in an online multiplayer only closed beta test.
Once players logged on they would enter a lobby that held up to 64 people reminiscent of developer Arc System Works flagship series, Guilty Gear. Players could choose a chibi DBZ character as their avatar and interact with other players via a simple but gloriously memey sticker emote system. Players could customize their Dragon Ball FighterZ avatar by picking a color, but there weren’t more visually diverse options such as unlockable hats in Guilty Gear. A player’s avatar holds game data including up to 10 of their favorite fighters, stages, and BGM combinations for quick selection.
During the beta, players could battle each other in versus matches, watch replays, or simply observe live matches. Replay mode was especially robust and included features such as:
-Player input in both joystick and directional formats
-The super handy ability to pause and step through the replay one frame at a time
-And finally, the Niconico/Twitch like ability to spam emotes nonstop for other viewers. These could be turned off if you didn’t want to see them.
Of the eleven playable characters available in the closed beta, Siliconera spent most of our time on the more recently revealed characters Android 16, Android 18, Piccolo, Trunks, and Krillin. In general, the game felt like an extremely streamlined version of the Marvel vs. Capcom series of fighters, with command moves all consisting of a traditional fireball (down to down-forward to forward motion) or backwards fireball motion, with the only exception we found being a down-down motion for Android 18’s barrier move.
Android 16 was the beefiest of the crew with a bruiser playstyle that revolved around tactical use of his command grabs to either end or extend his combos, with his strong version easily allowing him to combo into Hell Flash, his level 3 super. By far the saltiest and most satisfying way to finish any round is Android 16’s level 3 super, which will cause him to grab his opponent and self-destruct, instantly killing them but leaving him with a sliver of life.
Android 18 was able to call her brother, Android 17 as a sort of extra assist with moves ranging from a forward dashing attack, simple fireball burst, or even having him do a strong energy wave blast. This allows Android 18 to be able to have up to 3 assists on the screen at once, compared to a max of 2 by the rest of the current cast. By preemptively using these assists, Android 18 will be able to create a variety of setups to keep her foe on their toes. When called out, Android 17 can also take a hit if in the line of fire of your opponents attack, canceling his move, but allowing Android 18 to continue her assault. In a nice nod to fans when using her level 3 super, Accel Dance, Krillin will replace Android 17 during the attack if he is in your party.
Out of all the characters we tried, Piccolo was by far the most interesting and fairly technical thanks to his multitude of delayed moves. His slow moving homing energy blasts are good for controlling space while setting up for future attacks, with the Hellzone Grenade super creating a field of fireballs that doesn’t hit on activation, but home in on the opponent after a short delay, increasing juggle potential during Piccolo’s combos. His Special Beam Cannon super also allows him to charge and shift positions constantly before firing. During aerial combos, Piccolo players also have to rely on precise timing for his extendable limb attacks to pull opponents back in closer for him to continue the combo.
Thanks to his wide sword slashes and strong diagonal air energy blast, Trunks players are able to cover and consistently control space at a decent range. Combined with his Shining Slash sword specials and command forward/backward flips, Trunks players will have a lot of tools to keep constant pressure on their opponent and keep them guessing at where exactly they will be attacking from next. This playstyle will definitely be enjoyed by players that like aggressive rushdown style characters.
Krillin was definitely the character we played that had the most unorthodox move set. His normal fireball could change directions and he also has a move that would throw out rocks with the chance of a healing Senzu bean coming out randomly. To compensate for his short reach, Krillin was also able to use his Solar Flare technique to stun nearby enemies, or a short range afterimage strike that he could either choose to swap places with or simply be a decoy. One really cool ability Krillin had was for players to keep throwing out additional Destructo Discs during his super, at the cost of additional meter for when you needed that extra bit of damage.
While in our initial impression we felt that all the characters did not have too much differentiation, this time there was a lot more diversity of playstyle in the cast. In an already aggressive game, Trunks felt even more so suited to the rushdown role because of his built in pressure tools, while characters such as Android 18 and Piccolo players would want to set the battlefield up in their favor before engaging their opponent. And Krillin, well, Krillin always tries really hard. We’ll be rooting for you little buddy.
Dragonball FighterZ will launch for PS4, Xbox One, and Steam in February 2018.