Dragon Ball FighterZ Beta Hands-On
So this past weekend the general public had the chance to get their hands on Dragon Ball FighterZ in its first open beta.
Well, sort of…
The beta ran from Saturday through Monday. Saturday was only for people who preordered the game, but only for those who preordered DIGITALLY. I heard from so many people who preordered physical discs that were surprised they couldn’t get in on Saturday. Including people who preordered JUST to get into the beta. This was a bizarre move on Bandai Namco’s part, and I can’t fathom why this decision was made. Other than that, everything seemed to be going good. There were a few instances of people talking about dropped connections, but that is normal for a beta.
Then Sunday happened… Hoo boy… Sunday was a fustercluck of epic proportions. People would be in lobbies for HOURS at a time with no connections made, and the few who were lucky enough to get a match almost always had a premature disconnect. That isn’t even considering the fact that just logging into the network was an exercise in futility. The internet was overflowing with salt. I myself tried for multiple hours to get something going, to no avail. Even in a lobby with just myself and one local friend (who only lives 3 hours away) couldn’t get anything going.
I was playing Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite into the wee hours of the morning, and at just after 3 am Monday morning I decided to randomly give it a go. Lo and behold, somebody, somewhere must have flipped a switch and done something because I got a match within ten minutes. I played for a few hours and headed to bed.
That same morning, at around 11am, I was able to get a match within 5 minutes of turning my PS4 on, and I continued to play until the late evening, garnering about 10 hours of total playtime on Monday.
Some characters were removed since the closed beta from late 2017, and some new ones were added. Fat Buu was replaced with Kid Buu, Teen Gohan was replaced with Adult Gohan, and newer characters Nappa and Beerus were added. I was surprised to see Beerus considering he was only revealed about a month ago. Trunks and Android 16 were also dropped, and I can only assume it was because they had enough data on those two, which is understandable.
The gameplay remains the same from the earlier build I played at EVO 2017 (which you can check out here), but with the addition of the Dragon Ball system. Not much was known about how this system worked, but now that we do, it is a bit underwhelming. The way to obtain the dragon balls is by performing the Square (or X on X Box One) auto combo. You also summon Shenron by using the Square auto combo with full super meter (7 bars). So, after all that mystery, the secret to summoning Shenron is pressing square about 40 times… Once Shenron is summoned, the player can make a wish to either; revive a dead partner, regain your blue (recoverable) health, slowly regenerate your health, or gain a second Sparking Blast (this games version of Guilty Gear’s “Burst” mechanic). It is important to note that both players share a collective pool of Dragon Balls. Meaning that if one player does the work to get all 7, the other player can just perform one more auto combo to summon Shenron. While it is an interesting mechanic, it feels shallow and seems too gimmicky. I doubt it is going to see much use in tournaments because players would be stuck sticking to the far less damaging auto combos.
The auto combos in the game do a decent amount of damage, however. Nothing crazy, but it does make them feel at least a little more useful than in, say, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite. Also, the damage output for characters was increased greatly since the closed beta. Before it almost wasn’t worth using your super meter to add a super to the end of your combo since the damage gained was minuscule at best. Thankfully, this has now been changed and it feels worthwhile to use your super meter for more than just Vanish attacks.
Other than that, all the basic mechanics are the same. Of the new characters added, Kid Buu and Adult Gohan are going to be MONSTERS once players get their hands on them when the full game releases. Kid Buu is an aggressive rushdown character that can pressure the opponent with almost little to no risk. Gohan is a bit more technical, as he has the ability to break normal combo structure and combo any of his normals one after the other in his “Ultimate Mode”. For example, he can cancel his Heavy attacks into his Light attacks to trick the opponent and catch them off guard. He will be a strong character once players can truly break him down.
Nappa and Krillin are both interesting characters, but seem a little too gimmicky for my tastes, with Krillin throwing Senzu Beans and Nappa summoning Saibamen. However, these are definitely the types of characters that certain players will gravitate to and make something special out of. I completely expect to hear things along the lines of “X Player’s Nappa is GODLIKE!” when the game starts hitting the tournament circuit.
Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like I was able to really experiment with the game. A tutorial was included, which was a nice touch, but as far as actual games though I found it lacking. Not from the game, though. It just seemed as if almost all of the players I played were downright terrible. Not blocking anything, and just getting hit by everything that I threw out. I am not trying to toot my own horn or anything, but I guess it is to be expected from the very casual friendly atmosphere of DBFZ. For every 5 matches I won, I maybe lost 1. Good players were hard to find, and this made it a bit harder for me to really stretch my legs.
This game is VERY casual friendly though, and make no mistake, that is a very good thing. Fighting games need to be more accessible to get more people involved, and between the general appeal of the Dragon Ball license and the easy to grasp controls, I expect a lot of new fighting game players to be born with the release of Dragon Ball FighterZ.
Because most of Sunday was unplayable, Bandai Namco (rightly) decided to extend the beta an extra day, today (at the time of this writing) the 17th. I was not able to play today, but I do feel it was a mistake to make it today and not Friday or the weekend. People work, and Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition dropped today as well, so a large majority of the Fighting Game Community will be preoccupied. Sure you can say “Well I don’t care about Street Fighter”, and while that may be true, it is still in Bandai Namco’s best interest to make sure as many people would be playing as possible, and extending the beta to a Wednesday wasn’t the best idea to accomplish that.
All in all, despite the few hiccups and minor complaints, Dragon Ball FighterZ is shaping up to be one of the biggest releases of the year, fighting game or otherwise, and I am sitting on pins and needles waiting in anticipation for the full release.