Wowing with its initial reveal, fighting game enthusiasts and Dragon Ball Z fans alike are eyeing Dragon Ball FighterZ with a lot of interest. Helmed by famed Guilty Gear developer Arc System Works, Dragon Ball FighterZ has a lofty pedigree both in source material and studio. Fighting our way through over 9000 other fans, Siliconera was able to get some hands on time during E3.
The roster we got to try out consisted of the holy Saiyan trinity of Goku, Vegeta, and Gohan and big baddies Frieza, Majin Buu, and Cell. You pick a team of three characters with one being played actively and the other two able to be called out to temporarily assist or swap places with your active character.
Right off the first thing we noticed that all the characters kind of felt the same. While Vegeta was considered a rush down (get in your opponent’s face and apply constant pressure) and Goku was labeled as a balanced character, they were hard to distinguish gameplay wise at a glance. Part of this stems from the fact that the game has to stay true to the source material, so there are some core mechanics that fans would expect all Dragon Ball Z characters to be able to do. However, this type of standardization sometimes makes it harder to distinguish characters right off the bat.
Some things we noticed all characters could do:
– Fireballs. Lots and lots and lots of fireballs.
– Fireball deflection (beam types like Kamehamehas are not affected).
– A Vanish teleport to dodge all those fireballs, but costs 1 meter to use.
– Aerial combos.
– Auto-Combos (Persona 4 Arena style).
– Did we mention fireballs? Just Saiyan.
– Fast movement abilities.
The design philosophy behind the Saiyan characters could be compared to Ryu and Ken from Street Fighter, who actually play quite differently even though they on the outside they seem very similar. However, once players achieve a certain level of proficiency these differences become apparent and important to their fundamental gameplay. On the flip side, characters in Guilty Gear like Potemkin and Faust look and feel quite differently and help players gravitate towards a certain playstyle quickly.
Mechanics wise, we noticed a few things in the build we played:
– Each character is stays in a specific form throughout the fight, with things like super moves temporarily transforming them. For instance, Goku is always in Super Saiyan form, but his level 3 super will turn him into Super Saiyan 3 during the move cutscene. Frieza has the ability to transform into a controllable Golden Frieza for a short period of time, enhancing his abilities. This is similar to Guilty Gear character Sol Badguy’s Dragon Install super.
– Assists moves are always the same per character and have a short cooldown before they could be used again. This means that technically you could have up to 6 characters on screen at the same time. They can also be hit once they’re called out, so technically your entire team could die at the same time. Merry Christmas!
– Tagging in a new playable character is called a Z-Change, and you’re able to slightly change the direction the tagged character flies into the screen to either avoid or squarely get hit by your opponent’s trap.
– There is a "Burst" style mechanic that can be used once per fight that powers up your character and regenerates any blue health on your active character, very similar to "X-Factor" from Marvel vs Capcom 3. Tomoko Hiroki, producer of Dragon Ball FighterZ, said they are still working on balancing this system.
Some other tidbits we also picked up from meeting with Bandai Namco:
– Dragon Ball Z FighterZ will run on 1080p 60fps, with higher resolutions on the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X
– The game uses 2.5d animation like Guilty Gear and 24fps on the characters to make them feel like they are ripped straight from the TV series. They call this "Extreme Animation".
– It’ll launch with both Japanese and English V.O. so fans will be able to scream the names of moves in their language of choice.
On an interesting note for "Versus" style fighting game fans, for us, Dragon Ball FighterZ feels like it’s pushing the classic Vs. formula further down the same road, while Marvel vs Capcom Infinite is taking a different, but just as interesting route. Dragon Ball fighting game fans, you can eagerly expect to wait 5 episodes while Goku charges his spirit ball and screams incoherently early 2018, with a closed beta announced for 2017.