The characters from Shonen Jump are coming together again. Jump Force is poised to be the next way for people to use their favorite heroes and villains and fight one another in a team-based brawler with a mix of real-world and fantasy locations. The first closed beta has come and gone and honestly, it was rather encouraging. I was able to take part in two of the four sessions and in each one, the characters looked good, the matches went well, and it was much easier to adjust to the experience than I expected.
The Jump Force beta started people out with 15 characters from Bleach, Dragon Ball Z, Hunter x Hunter, Naruto, One Piece, Saint Seiya, and Yu Yu Hakusho. six avatar characters that have different appearances and the same moveset, and the Hong Kong, Matterhorn, Namek, and New York stages. It was possible to fight in a best of three match against the computer or against a real life opponent. You know, the general things you would expect from a fighting game beta. After you picked your three characters and stage, you headed into a match and fight it out.
What was great about the Jump Force beta is that it was easy to see some of the technical elements here that will add depth and allow people to form strategies, but it was also very easy to jump into and enjoy. The character’s four special attacks are pulled off by holding down the right trigger while pressing one of the face buttons, which allows people to avoid worrying about memorizing inputs for every character. But, you also have to consider how to perform the sorts of high-speed counter, dodges, and perfect smashes to avoid, counter, and deal even more damage. The matches versus CPU helped with figuring out how to handle chases to close distance between enemies, work out timing on dodges and smashes, while the actual matches let you face genuinely difficult opponents.
The selection of characters available was also balanced. We have characters like Frieza and Sasuke performing iconic attacks, like You Might Die This Time and Amaterasu. The models looked really good both when they were stationary or in action. Nothing seemed out of place and the art style employed helped make it seem plausible that they did all fit together in this world. While I didn’t see any specific quotes directed toward certain matchups or characters while I was playing, perhaps due to who I was facing, even the quips helped keep people in character. For example, one of Zoro’s lines ahead of a match will have him referencing his terrible sense of direction.
I really loved how we could see the impact of attacks on other characters and the stage. The effect on areas are temporary. Standard attacks can cause rubble to temporarily appear, as your characters knock enemies back with punches or sword strikes. But even more impressive is when people use a major attack, like Goku’s Super Spirit Bomb or Toguro’s Stronger, which can cause temporary craters. More permanent are the effects left on characters as you fight. People become bloodied as they take damage. Their clothes may tear. Seeing the appearances change on these unrealistic looking characters in areas that look far more authentic somehow makes them seem more realistic and natural. I was generally very impressed.
I felt like the Jump Force beta was encouraging. There have been some screenshots ahead of launch that made me wonder about how the final product might look. (I’m not exactly sure how I feel about how Kurapika and Yugi look.) I was also worried about flow and accessibility, but this initial sample seemed to fit together well. It was easy to learn how to play, the characters seemed to all look much better in action than they might have in preliminary images, and it was an enjoyable experience. It left me looking forward to the final game and hoping it stays strong.
Jump Force releases in February 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.