Looking Back at DragonBall FighterZ One Season Later
Nine months ago, Arc System Works released DragonBall FighterZ, to monumental success. Selling over 2 and a half million units since its January release and being the most viewed game at this year’s Evolution Fighting Game Championship in Las Vegas, DBFZ has cemented itself in competitive gaming as one of the largest fighting games in recent memory, rivaling that of Capcom’s Street Fighter. With the first season of DLC for FighterZ finished with the release of the Cooler/Android 17 pack a few weeks ago, it’s now time to see how much the game has evolved since its launch.
ASW had a lot of room to pull characters from the thirty plus years of Dragon Ball, and the final roster of the base game shows this by having a nice balance between Z and Super, with DLC characters expanding on both series and bringing some fan favorite movie villains along too. The DLC offers eight characters: Bardock, Broly, Vegito Blue, Fused Zamasu, Base Goku, Base Vegeta, Android 17, and Cooler in his final form.
Each character offers slight mechanical differences without drastically changing how you play, meaning that while characters take time to master they still function similarly enough to be played at a casual level. Of the eight, Base Goku and Vegeta were the least anticipated, as the base roster already featured two versions of Goku and Vegeta. In spite of this, the base forms have different enough move sets and assists that neither feels like a clone of the other.
Bardock and Android 17 stand out the most among the DLC in my opinion. Bardock for his all-around versatility, speed, and high damage output. Android 17 stands out thanks to his drive system, a set of reka special moves that change based on button inputs. This combined with his with his wall launch abilities make him incredibly fast and very mix-up heavy.
FighterZ has added two modes since launch: Party Battle, and Z Union. Party Battle allows two online teams of three (each controlling their own character) to go head to head. Players must communicate with one another to be manually swapped in when they feel they can best aid. Z Union acts similarly to a guild, with players joining a faction based on character. At the end of the period, the faction with the most points earned is rewarded currency to spend on items.
In addition to these new modes, online, local, and training modes were also tweaked. Online mode now better shows players who frequently disconnect, yet the netplay is still far from perfect. Training mode now has a wider variety of tools you can use to practice combos, though the lack of frame displays is disappointing. Local mode now allows players to choose the number of fighters they want on a team, meaning handicap matches are now possible. The drawback however is that damage dealt and received has not been adjusted, meaning that picking a smaller number of characters offers no real benefit, outside of bragging rights.
Along with the typical myriad of balance changes, a free update brought Frieza’s arena as a new stage.
The FigherZ community was feverish during the pre-launch period. Many were clamoring to play demos of the game, with the online beta highly contested. Since launch, its had the most EVO entrants of the tournament (beating out Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition), has had the twitch views during said tournament, and is being featured at multiple tournaments across the globe (with plenty of support from Bandai). If support continues in this direction, DBFZ is on track to earn a legacy and fan base that can live alongside (and in some areas surpass) ASW’s traditional fighting game competitors.
Where From Here?
So where should FighterZ go from here? More characters are an obvious solution. Adjusting the netplay so that matches have better connection and players who disconnect early are punished would help improve the online scene greatly. More stages would also be welcome, as the locales presented can get stale after a while and with Dragon Ball’s wide variety of planets and plains a more diverse backdrop would be greatly appreciated.
The rise of FighterZ through not only the fighting game, but anime game community is astounding. The game has brought fighters from all walks of life together in the mutual love for competition and Toriyama’s universes. As the first season ends I find myself eagerly anticipating the possibilities that a season two could bring. With such grand successes, I find it only a matter of time before said possibilities are realized.