Game Review: Dragon Ball FighterZ (PS4)

It has been less than a year since Bandai Namco Entertainment unveiled Dragon Ball FighterZ at the Xbox One E3 Media Conference and since then we have eagerly been waiting for its arrival. So; does Dragon Ball FighterZ live up to the hype created over these past few months? The answer is YES!

  Title: Dragon Ball FighterZ
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Developer: Arc System Works
Platform: PS4
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Audio: Japanese & English
Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian
Local Players: 1 – 2
Online Players: 2
Install: YES (4GB)

Our View:

Developed by Arc System Works, the studio best known for the BlazBlue and Guilty Gear franchises, comes Dragon Ball FighterZ; a true fighting game based upon the Dragon Ball franchise and a perfect fusion between anime and game.

A perfect fusion? What exactly could I mean? Well Dragon Ball FighterZ, or DBFighterZ for short, is a 2.5D three-vs-three tag team themed fighting game built around the Dragon Ball Z, and in turn Dragon Ball Super, universe; but it has been done so with an almost inhuman attention to detail that shows a high level of respect for the franchise.

As a result the visual quality from the game, whether it be from the 3D Cell-Shaded character models before a fight or the character models during a fight, remain consistent with the presentation of the anime. At a quick glance you wouldn’t even notice a difference between the game or anime; especially with all of the notable voice-actors returning to reprise their roles in both English and Japanese audio tracks.

A visually perfect recreation of the anime is what Dragon Ball FighterZ has in store for fans and, as mentioned, this isn’t just limited to the cut-scenes as even the character models act as they would within the anime. Minor details, such as being hit, a movement pose or a special attack have all been replicated in this game, and it gets better when iconic special attacks, such as Vegeta’s Final Flash or Piccolo’s Hellzone Grenade, are played out on screen.

Of course this is only a small part of what Dragon Ball FighterZ has to offer; but in my mind it is one of the games key selling points. Anime Perfect Visuals. In addition to the ‘anime perfect visuals’ fans will be able to play a variety of traditional fighting game modes as well as experience a completely stand-a-lone story that takes place within the later stages of the Dragon Ball Super arc; most likely before the Universe Survival Arc of the anime.

Thats right; unlike past Dragon Ball games, which have focused on retelling an ever-aging story, Dragon Ball FighterZ tries something different by focusing on a brand new character as well as a new enemies quest for dominance… or so you would think at least. I won’t spoil the complete story details but it is a story which sees the newly introduced character, Android 21, use a special device in order to disrupt the power of our heroes in a bid to consume them.

As a result of this ‘power disruption’ characters are not able to use their own powers and as such they rely upon a ‘spirit’ (i.e. the player) to take control of them in order to bring out their potential in fights. Realistically this is just an ‘over-complicated’ way of explaining how characters can switch in battle; as the idea is that the ‘spirit’ will act as a link and can change between available characters in order to fight on screen. It’s definitively more complicated than it needs to be and an explanation on how this ‘spirit’ came to be will elude players for sometime as part of the main story.

This story within Dragon Ball FighterZ is played out over three different story arcs, each of which can last around four hours in length and will follow a different group of characters. For instance the first story arc will follow our group of heroes, such as Goku and Piccolo, while the second story arc will follow the bad guys, such as Cell and Frieza, as they all try to uncover the mystery that currently surrounds earth’s fate. A third, and final, story arc is also present and this will deliver the story from the Androids perspective.

The idea is that the story of Android 21’s conquest will be delivered from these three different perspectives; and upon completion of the final arc (of which cannot be played until the other two arcs have been completed) the explanation into her objectives will be explained. It is a rather mysterious story and it’s one that will keep Dragon Ball fans coming back – especially as it takes a rather considerable amount of time to finish.

Realistically these story arcs can be finished within a short period of time; as the visual novel dialogue sequences in between chapters could be skipped to shorten the overall completion time. Unfortunately doing this will not only disrupt the games enjoyment but you’ll miss the games highlights of ‘anime perfect visuals’, high quality voice-over work and some rather comical moments between characters; some of which only appear when selective characters are chosen as part of your team.

Regardless of which story arc is chosen they are all played in the same manner. In this case choosing a story arc will begin the visual novel styled sections which see full 3D character models engaging with each other. These act as a way of delivering the story to the player but it’s the next step which is the most interesting. How exactly? Well just like with Dragon Ball Z Budokai 2 players will find themselves on a map with multiple locations.

At this point the player can freely move around the map and doing so will ignite a battle with ‘clones’ of the most powerful warriors on earth. The idea is that players will battle these clones to increase their power level, which mostly upgrades the characters base health in story mode, in order to defeat the boss at the end of the story arc; namely Android 21.

These maps within story mode serve multiple purposes; firstly to increase the characters base level, secondly to teach the player about the game and thirdly to locate new characters to unlock for use within the games story mode. To make this even more challenging players will have limited turns and enemies can become stronger over long periods of time.

Landing on a spot that has a enemy will ignite the battle to which, depending on the event, can act as a tutorial, boss battle or regular battle. A tutorial battle will be random in its teachings but the enemy will fight at a lower difficulty while boss and regular battles can deliver a challenging fight depending on the base difficulty of the game.

Regardless it is an interesting system and it combines the RPG elements from Dragon Ball Xenoverse, as low-level characters will struggle with stronger enemies, with the traditional map based selection from Dragon Ball Z Budokai 2 with simplistic fighting game mechanics.

That’s not the only speciality either as completing matches and objectives can also unlock perks that you can equip to your character(s) for that added boost in support. Numerous perks are available and they become stronger (and better) the further your progressive through the story.

From a story perspective the story mode is great and stands extremely well as an independent storyline within the Dragon Ball universe, with the story being very reminisce to the OVA Movie Plan to the Destory the Saiyans, which had the same objective of a single man wanting to the destroy the saiyans through the use of power-disrupting-machines. Unfortunately however this story mode isn’t without its own problems; and it’s due to the core fundamentals of this game.

At launch Dragon Ball FighterZ features a total of twenty-two characters and sixteen of these will be encountered through the games story. As the game is a three-vs-three tag system it means we fight these same opponents over and over again and it gets repetitive very quickly. It seems the game is aware of this as occasionally the game will change how fights are played; with three vs two or three vs one matches. but even this isn’t enough to save myself from becoming a little bit bored.

Potential boredom aside the story mode within Dragon Ball FighterZ is a solid experience and the combination of Arc System Works simplistic fighting style with fully 3D character model visual novel dialogue scenes provides an entertaining experience from start to finish; and Android 21 is easily a highlight worth waiting for.

Fortunately for us Dragon Ball FighterZ wants to focus more on the ‘competitive’ multiplayer aspect of the game and while the Story is an obvious highlight the core fighting game mechanics is what draws people in. Confused? Well upon starting the game players will be thrown into a multiplayer lobby whereby they can immediately interact with other players online in order to battle with each other.

This lobby acts as the games main menu and just like the open beta players will be able to navigate around the map with a miniature character from the Drgaon Ball franchise, with the characters and colours unlocked through the use of the in-game shop.

Unfortunately the process for unlocking new characters, colours and title cards for your online persona are not as clear cut as other online centric games; as it is done in lootbox form. In this case money (Zeni) earned from all types of gameplay modes can be used to purchase a capsule, a capsule which will contain a random item. It’s completely unknown what you will receive until you’ve made your purchase; so you could spend countless Zeni on trying to unlock that ever desired item.

An additional currency, a golden coin known as Z-Coin, is also available and these Z-Coins can also be used to purchase items. Unlike Zeni, which is earned though regular gameplay, these Z-Coins can only be earned when duplicate items are received during the random lootbox style purchases. Once enough Z-Coins have been earned players can then purchase a ‘guaranteed’ new item from the shop. It is a simplistic system but it does mean you could spend a lot of time trying to get a specific lobby character, colour or title card.

In regards to the hub world, or main menu if you prefer, it is where players will be able to choose between the numerous gameplay modes on offer with Online Multiplayer, Offline Multiplayer, Arcade Mode, Tutorial and Story Mode being the obvious highlights.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to test the online multiplayer before writing this feature; but I would imagine it would operate in a similar manner to the open beta whereby players would talk to a World Tournament representative to engage in Casual, Ranked and Private Matchmaking types while another World Tournament representative would activate the Lobby styled rule set that appeared in previous closed beta events.

Regardless it is simple and straight forward; with character selections and fighter load outs done through the pause menu on the main lobby screen before talking with World Tournament representatives to activate the online features.

In regards to Tutorial, Arcade and Offline battle these can be accessed through the hub world and provide hours of offline entertainment. Tutorial features Training, Practice and Challenge modes that allow players to learn the basics of the game while in Arcade mode players will be challenged to battle through numerous routes, each having a different number of fights, in order to reach the end.

Points earned during Arcade mode will determine the rank earned and upon completing the hardest difficulty modes with an A Rank SSGSS Goku and SSGSS Vegeta can be unlocked for use in all game modes (those who pre-ordered will receive early access codes to unlock these characters from the start). Offline battle meanwhile allows players to battle amongst player’s offline or against the AI in battles with the traditional rule set.

Speaking of battles; the fighting within Dragon Ball FighterZ is played out in three-vs-three tag based gameplay whereby players can switch between characters at will in order to defeat their opponent before the timer runs out. It’s the Marvel Vs Capcom version of Dragon Ball Z; but it is so much more than that.

The attacks are ‘extremely’ easy to pull off with both simplistic and traditional fight patterns being available alongside quick combos, with quick combos activated by pressing the same button (such as square or triangle) numerous times.  Super Attacks meanwhile can be activated by powering up your characters KI and by pressing a few simple buttons (such as quarter-cricle R2) which will result in your character doing their trademark attack for devastating damage in dramatic fashion.

Whether you are complete newbie to fighting games, or a fighting game veteran, Dragon Ball FighterZ will offer something to you and it does an ‘extremely’ good job of inviting new fighting game players to the community.

Overall Dragon Ball FighterZ is an exceptional fighting game that is only let down with its lacklustre (but popular) roster of characters, a slightly repetitive story mode and its simplistic lootbox styled shop; but the true enjoyment of Dragon Ball FighterZ comes from the anime perfect visuals, its attention to detail and easily accessible gameplay.

In short Dragon Ball FighterZ is quite simply the best Dragon Ball game to date and will be enjoyed by Dragon Ball fans of all ages as well as fighting game enthusiasts.

Score: review-stars-5

Dragon Ball FighterZ will be available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC (via Steam) on the 26th January 2018 within Europe.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

2 Responses to Game Review: Dragon Ball FighterZ (PS4)

  1. Pingback: Dragon Ball FighterZ Launch Trailer Knows No Limit | AnimeBlurayUK

  2. Pingback: How To Unlock SSGSS Goku & SSGSS Vegeta in Dragon Ball FighterZ | AnimeBlurayUK

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