Dragon Ball FighterZ’s Rollback Update Was Too Little Too Late

The story of a game-saving update reduced to atoms.

Story Highlights

  • To improve the online, Bandai Namco announced in 2022 that DBFZ would get rollback netcode.
  • However, the update’s constant unforeseen delays kept killing its hype and anticipation.
  • When rollback netcode finally launched in 2024, it was riddled with visual bugs and glitches.

Despite the Dragon Ball franchise having so many fighting games within its catalog, Dragon Ball FighterZ is often hailed as one of its most fluid and tactically advanced titles. Although the game was a massive success and has had an extensive lifespan compared to other fighting games, it had a massive problem with its online component.

Based on a delay-based netcode, you were bound to have a near-unplayable experience if your opponent had anything other than a perfect connection. So, when the developers announced that DBFZ would be getting rollback netcode back in EVO 2022, players were obviously excited to witness a smooth experience on their beloved game.

However, after several delays, this update, once highly anticipated by the fans, didn’t turn out to be the lifesaver everyone thought it’d be.

The Delays For Rollback Netcode Were Consistently Killing The Hype

After a long cycle since 2017, Dragon Ball FighterZ effectively reached its end-of-life stage when it released Android 21 (Lab Coat) in mid-December 2021. The game wasn’t going to get any new characters or major updates, and fans expected its one final appearance in EVO that year. For those unaware, once a fighting game stops appearing in EVO, its playerbase drops massively because it loses its competitive audience.

This is why Arc System Works, the developers behind FighterZ, shocked the FGC when they announced at the end of its EVO tournament that the game was getting rollback netcode. It wasn’t clear when the update would come out, but the announcement breathed life back into FighterZ’s community. 

DBFZ – Rollback Netcode Official Announcement
byu/Shreeder4092 indragonballfighterz

However, the days passed, yet the news regarding rollback never went beyond the initial announcement. Days quickly turned weeks, then months, but there still wasn’t any new information coming out. Of course, most players, including myself, knew the challenges of implementing rollback netcode into an old fighting game, as adding it half-baked would ruin the multiplayer completely.

Over the months, DBFZ continued releasing unexpected balance updates despite reaching its end-of-life, yet Bandai Namco was still delaying the rollback beta test. The team did say that they were further improving and stabilizing the mechanic, but as you know, in most cases, that may mean development is much more daunting than expected.

Some players, including myself, began losing hope, and the hype for this much-awaited update was slowly dying down. The playerbase was steadily dwindling, meaning the people were no longer keeping track of the rollback update’s status. 

As such, when the rollback’s beta testing phase and even the final launch came to pass, the people who actively tried it out were a fraction of the original population that looked forward to it back at the EVO announcement.

Rollback Netcode’s Wanky Launch Sealed DBFZ’s Fate Forever

When rollback’s beta phase started on November 30, 2023, impressions and the overall reception were generally good. Most popular YouTubers, like Maximillian Dood, uploaded multiple videos trying out Dragon Ball FighterZ’s new netcode. Not everything was sunshine and rainbows, though — players reported visual bugs and mid-combat glitches, but it seemed these issues would get ironed out upon full release.

YouTube video

Unfortunately, when the full release came out on February 28, 2024, the issues were not, in fact, ironed out. The visual bugs are still present where characters seem frozen, T-posing, and generally broken mid-matches. That’s not even the worst part, though; the actual connectivity, which rollback initially meant improving, hasn’t been too successful.

https://twitter.com/WhatDanielDo/status/1763288821435609337?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Matches with high ping were basically unplayable because the game was projecting frames that hadn’t happened yet. For instance, if you hit your opponent and they blocked the attack, it would sometimes seem that the opponent didn’t block it at all. 

That misunderstanding would cause you to make follow-up attacks that quickly backfire. It might seem minor, but these mishaps could make you lose the match in a game like DBFZ, where every frame is important. rollback netcode is supposed to lower the impacts of input lag by skipping frames, but FighterZ clearly messed up the formula, and now the players lacking top-notch connections are paying the price.

There’s still one more issue that’s made matchmaking even more difficult: mutual exclusivity between delay-based and rollback-based players. For those unaware, with the rollback, the game lets you decide between delay-based and rollback-based matchmaking before you jump into multiplayer.

One major caveat, though, is that players who choose delay can’t fight players with rollback and vice versa. This makes searching for an opponent even longer, especially since DBFZ doesn’t support crossplay. So, if you pick the delay-based version, good luck finding someone.

The Aftershock And Looking Forward To Any Sequel

Despite our best wishes, Dragon Ball FighterZ is not in a good state. The dev team has picked up on the user complaints and is looking to address these issues to at least make the game playable. However, any hope for a renaissance with this game is dead in the water. It’s been a long road, old friend, but good things always come to an end.

So, here’s another question: what about Dragon Ball FighterZ 2? Will it still have the same dodgy netcode? And fortunately, I don’t think so. Although rollback wasn’t added as seamlessly as we had hoped, Arc System Works are undoubtedly talented developers.

They’ve already shown that they can properly implement rollback when they released Guilty Gear -Strive, and looking at DBFZ’s overall success, Bandai Namco likely won’t take any shortcuts with its sequel. Still, seeing the original and first truly competitive Dragon Ball fighting game fall from grace like this is sad to witness.

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Daniyal is a Guides Writer and Editor at eXputer with over one year of experience in content writing. He's had a passion for tech and gaming for more than 15 years. Ever since his first console, the PS2, he's constantly branching off to different genres, and his go-to at the moment is the Souls experience pioneered by FromSoftware, which is evident by his 1,500+ hours of game time on Elden Ring. You can learn some more about Daniyal's gaming journey on his Steam & Xbox profiles.

Experience: 1+ Years || Mainly Covers Guides || Education: Bachelors in Computer Sciences.

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