|System: PS4, Xbox One, PC|
|Dev: Arc System Works|
|Pub: Bandai Namco|
|Release: January 26, 2018|
|Players: 1-2 Player|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Cartoon Violence, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes|
It also helps that the barrier of entry for Dragon Ball FighterZ feels pretty low for a three-on-three, Marvel vs Capcom-style fighting game. Character movesets are pared down significantly compared to most other fighters, with more of a focus on the animations and unique properties of each button press as related to each character. The controls also come out of the box with baked-in shortcuts for some of the more advanced techniques, as well as an auto-combo system that’s essentially molded in with the fundamental mechanics. Sometimes this works to the game’s detriment, but it feels like an appropriate way to streamline and make accessible this specific kind of fighter.
The biggest risk when simplifying a fighter’s mechanics is inadvertently making all the characters feel too similar to each other. While some of the more colorful members of the cast do have distinct-feeling play styles, many of the main cast feel pretty samey. Granted, the ArcSys style is generally built on a foundation of simple, almost universal basic combos, so it may be a nasty side effect of a roster that feels full of dudes wearing orange martial arts clothes. Luckily for this game, it’s also one of the most eye-melting visual experiences you can get in a fighting game.
Building on a style first introduced with the most recent Guilty Gear, ArcSys uses 3D animation in a way that nobody has before, recreating the look of 2D animation in most cases. Dragon Ball FighterZ literally looks like the anime in motion. Moving things to Unreal Engine 4 and current hardware exclusivity feels like it makes a real difference. The animations are smoother and more complex, the colors brighter, and the details more intense. When the super moves start to fly, dramatic zooms and pans around characters’ drastically emotive faces combine with Dragon Ball’s signature energy beams to make for some insane spectacle, the kind that many felt was missing from the latest Marvel vs Capcom.
Since Persona 4 Arena, it has been obvious Arc System Works has been searching for ways to make its anime-style fighting games less obtuse on entry. Each try feels more successful than the last, with a few caveats here and there. Dragon Ball FighterZ feels like it hits a sweet spot, retaining the look and feel of a versus fighter while reining in the complexities that make fighting games still so hard to get into. The mechanical streamlining is supplemented with a story mode that is a silly love letter to the license, that takes its time to let the player learn how to play the game while still having fun and enjoying a new story. It’s a full, hearty experience that fans of Dragon Ball will go nuts over, and fighting games on the outside won’t be able to resist diving into either.