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Dragon Ball FighterZ Marries Tight Mechanics, Gorgeous Graphics

LOS ANGELES – Before E3 2017, I didn’t know that I needed yet another Dragon Ball Z fighting game in my life. Then Dragon Ball FighterZ came along and kamehameha’d my expectations. This 2D fighting game from the team behind the Guilty Gear series doesn’t just look gorgeous; it plays like a dream, with fast, fluid combos and plenty of opportunity for strategic character combinations.

Credit: Bandai

(Image credit: Bandai)

I went hands on with Dragon Ball FighterZ at Bandai Namco’s booth on the E3 2017 show floor, and although I only got one match in, I could have stayed for much, much longer. Dragon Ball FighterZ is, unsurprisingly, a fighting game that features the colorful characters and over-the-top fighting style from the Dragon Ball Z anime. To win, you’ll need to string together flashy punches, kicks, and special moves, including aerial techniques and teleports.

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To begin a match, you choose three characters, and can switch between them at any point during the ensuing battle. I chose the villainous Frieza and Majin Buu, as well as the somewhat-villainous Vegeta, while my opponent went with the heroic Goku and Gohan, as well as the not-so-heroic Cell. These were the only six characters available for our demo, but the full game will draw on a much wider variety from the whole DBZ mythos.

The word that best describes FighterZ’s gameplay is “fast.” While other DBZ fighters like Budokai and Xenoverse delight in drawn-out, over-the-top sequences of characters smashing through mountains and performing complex super-moves, FighterZ keeps things much simpler. Even the most devastating special attack takes only a few seconds to perform, throwing you right back in the fight afterward. The vast majority of damage is dealt out via strategic punches and kicks rather than energy blasts or grapples.

With only a short time to play the game, I didn’t fully grasp each character’s move set or the game’s overall mechanics. There’s a ki bar at the bottom of the screen, which powers special moves, but I wasn’t sure exactly how to replenish it, or determine which moves make use of it. Furthermore, while I tried to avoid simply button-mashing, I also didn’t know how to take advantage of each character’s unique abilities. This is something that will likely only come with time and practice.

Dragon Ball FighterZ is sure to delight fans of the franchise, but it also has the potential to make a splash on the fighting game tournament scene. We’ll know for sure when it comes out early next year.