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Dragon Ball FighterZ – Tales from the Beta – For every Goku, you need a Krillin!

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With the next instalment of the Dragon Ball series heading to console in a little over a week, Bandai Namco decided to run an Open Beta for their own testing purposes and to allow fans to get a feel for what to expect when Dragon Ball FighterZ hits the stores. Having played most other Dragon Ball games, I was intrigued as to how the usually free-flowing, free-roaming action would cope when limited to a 2.5D fighting arena. But early signs are positive.

After rocking up in the hub of the game, the options were rightfully minimal in the Beta, offering just a tutorial section and an online versus mode for the time being. Navigating the hub shows off the lobby avatars, which are just cute versions of your favourite characters, and communication here is restricted to Z Stamps. Whilst having preset Z Stamps appear above your head is a safe way for all to communicate, more choice is needed come the full release.

But I didn’t enter the realm of Dragon Ball FighterZ to simply walk around and make small talk. After a fairly in-depth tutorial, I took to the VS section to experience the 3vs3 battle against a fellow human. The amount of characters available to use – 11 – were more than adequate for the short Open Beta, and creating the ultimate team to suit your playstyle will play a crucial part for sure. For every Goku in your line-up, you really should have a Krillin for support.

Once the battle begins, you’ll barely have a second to think tactically as the sheer pace of the action is just as frantic as you’d find in the anime. Knowing the characters inside out is a must, because instinct is really all that’ll save you from a crushing defeat. And even that wasn’t enough to gain a victory myself, but it didn’t matter, for I love the high-octane fighting – it’s the way it should be.

Whether you’re tagging in and out, calling for support, or trying to let Vegeta solo it the way he likes it, every action can change the outcome and the flow of a fight. It’s not over until the victor is taunting you via a visually impressive cutscene when all your team’s health is depleted. Building up Ki with great combo attacks and then spending it on awesome moves such as Final Flash, Kamehameha and Destructo-Disc, seldom fails to excite. Even the defensive manoeuvres are cool to pull off in the heat of battle and require as much skill as launching an attack.

One of the most interesting features is set to be the Shenron System, which is surely a game-changer when activated. Collecting all seven Dragon Balls mid-battle will allow you to make a wish to the all powerful Shenron, with four options presented to choose from. Having the ability to regain health or revive a fallen ally is a real reward worth reaching for. However, in order to collect the Dragon Balls, you need to unleash seven great combos on the opponent. It seems an awful lot for a battle that’s over pretty swiftly. When you’re bossing a fight like that though, I don’t see the benefit in the wishes if I’m being honest. Here’s hoping it’s tweaked before launch…

While the gameplay is exciting, the controls are easy enough to get the hang of, and the visuals beautifully capture the magic of Dragon Ball, it’s not all rosy. Matchmaking has been a real chore across both Ranked and Casual forms of the online versus matches. There can be a whole lobby full of gamers, multiple lobbies for the same region, but it will still take an absolute age to find an opponent. We’re talking half an hour at times when the Beta was buzzing and full of life, so the hope is that the developers Arc System Works can resolve this.

With Dragon Ball FighterZ arriving for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, on 26th January, there’s no doubt that the excitement levels are high after the Beta. The aesthetics faithfully recreate the world and characters of Dragon Ball wonderfully, whilst the gameplay itself is certainly up to speed and is sure to be difficult to master. I can’t wait to see how the other modes turn out in the finished product, but for now I’ll be stocking up on Senzu Beans to recover from all my upcoming defeats!

If anyone is curious to check it out, the Beta re-opens at 5am UK time on 18th January for an extra day on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

James Birks
James Birks
Been gaming casually since the SNES as a youngster but found my true passion for games on the Playstation 1 (the forbidden word ooo). My addiction grew to its pinnacle with the purchase of an Xbox 360 & Xbox Live Service. A recovering GS hunter that will still play literally any game.
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