Dragon Ball FighterZ (XB1) Review

I pick the spiky-haired guy…

Wow. If there is one word to sum up my experience with Dragon Ball FighterZ, it is wow. This game came out of nowhere for me. Being a huge fan of the genre, I will try out almost anything. With no reverence for DBZ and absolutely no knowledge, I dove into Arc System Works latest brawler with little to no expectation. Their BlazBlue and Guilty Gear games have always been a glorious spectacle, but far too deep for my casual fighting game mind. FighterZ remedies that while putting on the developer’s best spectacle to date. This is one game no fighting game enthusiast should miss.

FighterZ adopts the 3 vs. 3 system found in titles such as Marvel vs. Capcom. Players can tag in and out based on a meter, and even call in their partners for assists. Combos are all done automatically, meaning mashing each of the attack buttons will pull off flashy moves. There are three main attacks and a fireball button. All of the special moves are done with simple quarter circles, and supers are easy to execute. Basically it is extremely easy to pull of impressive moves with little effort.

MSRP: $59.99
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $59.99

There are 24 fighters on the roster, with three being unlockable through story and arcade mode. This seems like a lot, but coming from little knowledge of the series, a lot of them seem similar on the surface. The fact that all moves are the same across characters doesn’t help differentiate them either. Still after about 20 matches I started to see the unique traits of each one. While I still feel it is weird that some characters are literally just older or younger versions of other characters, the roster is well-rounded and everyone is fun to play.

Speaking of modes there are plenty in FighterZ. There is a story mode that is extremely eccentric. I am not versed in the lore so a lot of the nuance was lost on me, but it was entertaining enough to push me through the fights. I liked the map design. Being able to fight any battle I wanted was great, and the perks awarded at the end of each match made it feel progressive. I also appreciate the leveling system, while not game-changing, it did make me feel accomplished.

The arcade mode is also unique. Instead of a set path of fighters to take down, each match graded my performance and sent me down a different path depending on how I did. If I lost a match, continuing would lower my score. It is a cool way to incentivize getting better at the game. Sadly the downside to this mode is the difficulty spike. I would be tearing along the top tier until the last fight and suddenly I couldn’t take out one fighter. It can be frustrating, but I still appreciate the approach.

The biggest bummer about FighterZ is its reliance to online structure. The game boots players into an online lobby by default. I have had several issues with this since launch. It would search and search, find nothing with any room, and eventually give me a list to choose from. I would love to just boot into a solo lobby, or better yet, a standard menu system. Everything is done in a lobby, including all of the single player modes, which I find perplexing.

I get what they were going for with the lobby system. Arc System Works has always had interesting online lobbies, but to shoehorn the entire game into it feels cumbersome at best. I don’t need stickers and emotes when I just want to play an arcade match. Thankfully I can simply pull the left trigger and select which mode I want. Sadly I shouldn’t have to be fighting with menus before I even start fighting with fireballs.

It cannot be understated just how amazing this game looks. Arc System Works has honed their 3D models to mimic the look of a 2D animated sprite. The models and backgrounds are simply stunning. Colors are spraying all over the screen and it just looks incredible in motion. Toss in the fact that it supports a higher resolution on the X and Pro and this game is seriously a center piece for graphical design. I am in awe most of the time while playing.

Audio also excels with great music tracks and character specific dialogue that is sure to please fans of Dragon Ball. Everything is just top-tier when it comes to presentation.

Dragon Ball FighterZ is simply a marvel. For Dragon Ball fans it is a no-brainer, for fighting game fans it is a must-have, even for those like me who know next to nothing about the series. It is extremely easy to get into, a blast to play, and it looks outstanding. This is a sleeper of 2018 for me, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Visually Stunning
  • Lots of modes
  • Fighting is just fun
  • Great spectacle
  • Lobby system
  • Online issues
Ken McKown
Written by
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.

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