Dragon Ball FighterZ Review — Uniting Veterans And Rookies

The Z Fighters make their most serious appearance yet!

Dragon Ball FighterZ Review
Overall
4
  • Story And Setting
  • Gameplay
  • Visuals

Verdict

Dragon Ball FighterZ takes the traditional fighting game formula and enhances it with flair to make it accessible and opportunistic.

Pros

  • Accessible.
  • Immersive Visuals.
  • Incredible Gameplay.
  • A Diverse And Recognizable Roster.

Cons

  • Underwhelming Storyline.
  • Poor Online Netcode.
  • Lackluster Customization.

Largely carried by its anime and manga, the Dragon Ball franchise has always been in an evergreen state, especially in video games. Most of you reading this review have probably played or at least heard of the Xenoverse and Budokai series, which were a global success back in the day.

However, as fighting games go, they were considered unorthodox because of their casual nature, but Dragon FighterZ is the first game in the franchise that’s the closest we’ve ever gotten to a traditional, competitive fighting game. As always, it resonated with the casual audience, but this time, the skill ceiling was high enough that you could go pro if you wanted to and participate in serious tournaments.

Key Takeaways
  • Developer: Arc System Works
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Release Date: January 13, 2018
  • Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, Nintendo Switch
  • Game Length: 12 Hours
  • Time Played: 600+ Hours
  • Editor’s Note: We thoroughly tested Dragon FighterZ on PC, putting over 600 hours into its offline and online modes.

Story And Setting

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The evil Z Fighters in the Story Mode (Captured by eXputer)

Unlike most Dragon Ball games, whose campaigns are usually a retelling of the anime, Dragon Ball FighterZ tries to feature a brand new story in its offline mode, a commendable yet mediocre attempt. It’s treated like an afterthought, and it’s honestly just there for the sake of existing and unlocking a new character that you can fight as.

The campaign offers three different arcs: Heroes, Villains, and Androids. The player protagonist gets linked to Goku’s mind and can fight with his body, and you must series of opponents and fight Android 21, the sister to the other androids, in the end. The only major difference between the arcs is the type of opponents you fight, and the storyline between the fights is almost non-existent.

Unlike most Dragon Ball games whose campaigns are usually a retelling of the anime, Dragon Ball FighterZ tries to feature a brand new story in its offline mode, a commendable yet mediocre attempt.

The world and setting are as you’d expect from Dragon Ball—lively, rich, and vibrant, with a constant battle between good and evil. It’s a safe approach, but staying true to its tried-and-tested tone and spirit is the optimal way to go, especially when it’s backed by solid music tracks. I just wish we had a memorable story to highlight that world, but realistically, you wouldn’t expect a stellar narrative from a fighting game.

Gameplay

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Dragon Ball FighterZ’s gameplay (Captured by eXputer)

The meat and potatoes of Dragon Ball FighterZ rest within its combat, a culmination of fast-paced fighting that encourages quick reflexes, learning offense and defense, and understanding the risk-reward of each move. As you begin learning frame-advantages, spacing, movement, and other fighting mechanics, the possibilities start opening and believe me, the possibilities are truly endless when it comes to this game.

Arc System Works probably knew most gamers coming into DBFZ would be brand new to this style, so to make things easier, they incorporated auto-combos as a permanent move to each fighter. Auto-combos still exist in other traditional fighting games, but you can swap those out for one-button, one-hit controls once you’re comfortable enough. In DBFZ, there is no choice, so pros and beginners have the same initial experience.

The meat and potatoes of Dragon Ball FighterZ rest within its combat, a culmination of fast-paced fighting that encourages quick reflexes, learning offense and defense, and understanding the risk-reward of each move.

As a 3v3 fighting game, your goal is to completely eliminate all characters in your opponent’s team. Like Marvel vs. Capcom, you can tag out your active characters at any time and use your inactive characters as assists to extend pressure and combos. Each character in your team has an A, B, and C assist, of which you can pick one pre-match and use repeatedly in-game, but you can’t spam it since it has a cooldown after each use.

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Selecting assists in the Character Select Screen (Captured by eXputer)

Each character has three different auto-combos—Light, Medium, and Heavy—each with different uses. Light is your fastest starter, so you generally use it to open up your opponents. Medium is slightly lower but offers better damage and range, so you can close the gap between each other. Heavy is your knockdown mechanic, so it’s generally your combo ender, forcing opponents to get up late.

Besides these buttons, you have a Special button, which is mainly your projectiles and beam attacks. In the early-game phase, you’ll likely spam the auto-combos to get your damage in. However, you can chain Light, Medium, and Heavy attacks into one, so if you feel the need to maximize your damage potential, you can combine all these attacks to make a long-lasting combo.

Of course, FighterZ wouldn’t be a true Dragon Ball game if it didn’t have its flashiness, and I’m happy to report that the spectacle part hasn’t gone away one bit.

Of course, FighterZ wouldn’t be a true Dragon Ball game if it didn’t have its flashiness, and I’m happy to report that the spectacle part hasn’t gone away one bit. As the match progresses, you build up a Ki Gauge to spend on Vanish and your Special Level 1 and Level 3 attacks. The latter Special attacks remove a massive chunk of HP and are backed up by adrenaline-pumping animation, voice acting, and spectacle.

Speed Is The Name Of The Game

One of the things I realized as I got to higher ranks is that the game gives minimal breathing room, and you’re always encouraged to stay on the offense. Blockstrings last for quite a while and there are several ways to open up a blocking opponent. One such way is Dragon Rush, an unblockable 19-frame attack that launches your opponent into the air for a free combo. 

dragon rush in dbfz
Performing a Dragon Rush (Captured by eXputer)

Conversely, you need to practice defense since almost any hit in FighterZ can transition into a full combo. Fortunately, the game’s intuitive Practice Mode makes everything easier. You can learn combos and about Frame Data, like how long it takes for an attack to start or how long an attack stuns the opponent when they block it. DBFZ is a game about numbers; knowing your numbers gives you a massive advantage.

Besides its deep and insanely addictive combat, the learning curve in FighterZ is what makes it so good and refreshing.

Besides its deep and insanely addictive combat, FighterZ’s learning curve is what makes it so good and refreshing. You can learn as much or as little as you want and still have a good time, which lures both fighting game professionals and casuals. The aura and thrill of Dragon Ball, accompanied by a recognizable cast of characters, further elevate the experience and make you feel right at home.

Customization And Connectivity — The 2Cs Of Disappointment

You’ve heard me ramble and gush over DBFZ’s intricate gameplay, but there are some core fundamentals that it doesn’t get right. The online connectivity, for one, is abysmal and a near-unplayable experience unless you and your opponent have a perfect connection.

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Losing connection during an online match (Captured by eXputer)

FighterZ uses the old delay-based netcode, so you’ll likely experience tons of input lag, slowdowns, and disconnects because of the instability. The game recently added Rollback Netcode 6 years after its launch to improve online performance, but right now, it’s in a broken state.

The online connectivity is abysmal and a near-unplayable experience unless you and your opponent have a perfect connection.

There’s also the lackluster customization, which seems like a huge miss. Each character has roughly 12 color variations, which you can unlock from the shop. Unfortunately, most of these variations are either subpar in quality or don’t fit the character at all. I would’ve liked to see deeper cosmetic customization, but so far, the most personalized you can get is with your assists, which is purely gameplay-focused.

These are some of the tiny details I wish DBFZ executed properly, but it’s clear the game was aiming for enjoyable gameplay, which is something it nailed down to a tee.

Visuals And Performance

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The stunning visuals of DBFZ (Captured by eXputer)

Dragon Ball FighterZ has a timeless art style, using vibrant colors and animations that look like they’re ripped straight out of the anime. Arc System Works made a smart choice by implementing 2.5D visuals and removing some frames from each animation. This gives the game that anime-style vibe and fluidity, which is exactly what many other Dragon Ball fans and I wanted.

The arenas are packed with colors and distinct lighting, the character models are detailed and shaded to perfection, and everything looks polished and crafted with passion. I feel like this is the ideal art style for anime-based games just because it resembles the source material with precision and finesse.

Dragon Ball FighterZ is made with a timeless art style using vibrant colors and animations that look like they’re ripped straight out of the anime.  

Performance-wise, you can run this game on pretty much any device. While running it on maximum settings using a GTX 1660Ti and an i7-10750H, I hardly got any FPS drops, stutters, glitches, or visual bugs. The graphical menu settings also allow you to toggle several visual options to squeeze out every ounce of performance. 

Verdict

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Verdict (Captured by eXputer)

Dragon Ball FighterZ takes the traditional fighting game formula and enhances it with flair to make it accessible to beginners while opportunistic for professionals. It’s the ideal fighting game to get into if you’re looking for hardcore fun, and when you want to take things to the next level, you’ll have plenty of avenues to get into.

As I mentioned, online matchmaking isn’t anything state-of-the-art, and, in most cases, I wouldn’t recommend playing it all unless you have a wired connection. Besides that, every fundamental aspect of FighterZ has a sweet blend of intricacy and simplicity, and I can guarantee you’ll enjoy learning every character in it.

This has been my review of Dragon Ball FighterZ; if you enjoyed reading this, then be sure to check out similar articles from the list below:

This is box title
Get This Game
If you’re a fan of Dragon Ball and enjoy fighting games.
Dont Get This Game
If you dislike fighting games or want to have a smooth online experience.
Do I Need To Get This Game
Yes, Dragon Ball FighterZ does everything a fighting game needs to and, thanks to its simplistic nature, is widely accessible.
Alternative Fighting Games
  • Tekken Tag
  • Street Fighter 6
  • Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite
  • Guilty Gear -Strive
  • Mortal Kombat 11
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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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