What do you get when you mix Guilty Gear, Marvel vs Capcom, and Dragon Ball Z? One of the most amazing looking fighting games I’ve ever seen. Arc System Works, developers of the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue games, have revealed Dragon Ball FighterZ as their newest project. It is set to release in early 2018 on Xbox One, PS4 and Steam and there is going to be a closed beta coming for the console versions this season.
DBFZ is described as a 2.5D, 3v3 fighting game in the Dragon Ball universe. 2.5D refers to fighting games that use 3D models on a 2D plane, such as Street Fighter V and Guilty Gear Xrd. It combines mechanics from both Arc System Works’ anime fighters and Capcom’s versus games to create the most competitive Dragon Ball fighting game ever, which is something the designers of the game are adamant about.
The E3 demo of the game contained six characters: Goku, Gohan, Vegeta, Frieza, Majin Buu and Cell. Since the game is 3v3 I would expect a roster size to sit somewhere in the mid 20s-30. Bring on Future Trunks and Piccolo!
There are a lot of familiar gameplay mechanics here, as well as some unique ones to give it the feel of a real Dragon Ball game. You’ve got Light, Medium and Heavy normals, a special button which fires basic Ki blasts, and two assist buttons for your other two characters to tag in or assist with a single attack. You are also able to parry Ki blasts and push block (a mechanic which leaves you with less block stun and pushes the attacker back) by pressing a button as you block. In the current build of the game, which is said to only be 20% complete, you cannot choose different assists for each character but, unlike the Marvel vs Capcom games, you can call in both assists at once.
Like in other Dragon Ball games, you can charge up your Ki (this game’s meter), if you find yourself in a safe position, to a maximum of seven bars. The two uses of meter are for supers and teleports, known as vanishes. Vanishes cost one bar of meter to teleport behind your opponent and has a variety of uses. It can be used as a tool to create mixups, punish an opponent who is trying to zone with projectiles, or to extend combos like Guilty Gear’s roman cancel system.
Each character seems to have different levels of supers as I’ve seen basic Level 1 supers, Goku’s Super Saiyan 3 super which costs 3 bars, and Gohan’s iconic father son Kamehameha which costs 5 whole bars. You also have the ability to use DHCs but I haven’t seen any team supers yet. One of the coolest moments I’ve seen in gameplay occurs at 2:35 in the video where Frieza misses Gohan with his Death Saucer, which then comes back and hits himself, causing him to use a Level 3 super. Fans of the show will recognise this as Frieza’s last sequence of attacks from his fight with Goku.
Now, here’s where it gets interesting. The other three main mechanics are the Dragon Rush, Super Dash and Sparkling Blast. Dragon Rush is a mix of throws and Guilty Gear’s dust attack. It’s an unblockable attack that launches the opponent into the air, giving you the chance for a full combo. If both players use Dragon Rush it results in a clash where both characters attack each other without doing any damage and reset to a neutral position. This is the equivalent of a throw tech. Super Dash is a homing dash attack that can be used to follow up on your launcher attacks or to get through an opponents projectiles and punish them. I’m not 100% clear on Sparkling Blast yet but it seems to be similar to MvC3’s Xfactor in that it recovers your character’s red health when used. I think you only get to use it once per game.
Transformations, one of the most important parts of Dragon Ball, seem to be very character specific at the moment. Goku transforms to Super Saiyan 3 for his Level 3 super but transforms back after it’s over and one of Frieza’s supers has him transforming into his golden form as a temporary buff.
A lot of work seems to have gone into the insane presentation of the game. The character’s have never looked this good in a video game and you can thank Arc System Works’ unique art style for this. It looks like it employs the same style as Guilty Gear where characters are shaded in a specific way to make them look like sprites while actually being 3D models. The attention to detail in all of the characters attacks, sounds, and even the stages are just amazing. As the battle progresses you can see the background taking more and more damage and there are even some supers that completely destroy the stage.
Arc System Works’ have their work cut out for them if they want to make this both a game for hardcore Dragon Ball fans and hardcore fighting game players but, if anyone can do it, they can. Expect to hear a lot more on Dragon Ball FighterZ from us when the beta drops.