Fight like a Saiyan
Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the most wonderfully inviting fighting games out there, but if you want to get to the top of the online leaderboards, you'll need to do more than mash buttons. Bandai Namco's gorgeous, frenetic tag fighter is deceptively deep, and you'll have make proper use of tagging, assists and a myriad of other mechanics if you want to rack up big combos and keep your opponent on their toes. If you're looking to be less of a Yamcha and more of a Goku, here are 10 essential tips for dominating Dragon Ball FighterZ.
Image: Bandai Namco
Play the tutorials
Your first stop in Dragon Ball FighterZ should be the Battle Tutorial mode, which does an excellent job of walking you through the game's core mechanics. After that, do a few combo challenges for the characters you're interested in. This will give you a good idea of how FighterZ's combo system works, as well as provide some basic, decently high-damage strings that you can use in matches. Better still: If you complete combo challenges you can earn a ton of Zeni, which you can spend on capsules filled with in-game cosmetics.
Those 50-hit combos you've mastered aren't going to mean much if you can't land a hit in the first place. Make sure to spend some time in training mode getting comfortable with your characters' basic light, medium, heavy and special attacks. Note that every character has a forward + medium overhead attack that hits crouching opponents, as well as a down + medium low attack, which can lead to combos. Knowing the range and speed of your basic moves is key to opening your opponent up and getting an offense going.
Tagging is essential to keeping all three of your fighters alive, but doing so recklessly could lead to your incoming character taking big damage. Fortunately, there are a few ways to swap out safely.
If you successfully land a heavy attack and bounce your opponent off the wall, you can immediately tag to keep the combo going with your next character. If you have at least two bars of Ki Gauge, you can perform an Ultimate Z Change by pressing one of your two assist buttons while your main character is performing a super-move. This will allow your next character to follow up with their own super, piling on the damage and bringing them into the fight unscathed. You can also bring your partner in with a Guard Cancel Change, which costs one bar of gauge and can be performed by pressing forward + assist while blocking.
Build a strong team
There's more to building a three-fighter team than simply grouping together your favorite spiky-haired Saiyans. Each character has his or her own unique assist attack, from Piccolo's slow-moving homing fireball to Gohan's get-off-me uppercut, and they all affect your team's combo potential and defensive capabilities. You'll also want to look for super-moves that chain together nicely when performing an Ultimate Z Change. Be sure to spend time in training mode, experimenting with assists and supers until you find some good synergy.
Turn the tides with Sparking Blast
Don't forget about your Sparking Blast, which you can perform once per battle by pressing Light, Medium, Heavy and Special all at once (or by simply pressing R1 + R2). This is an excellent comeback mechanic that temporarily boosts your attack power, health recovery and combo capabilities, and lasts longer the fewer fighters you have left on your side. You can combo into Sparking Blast for extra-high damage, and activating the ability creates a small energy burst that's great for knocking aggressive enemies away.
Master the Vanish
Few mechanics in DBFZ are more essential than the Vanish attack, which costs one bar of Ki Gauge and can be performed by pressing medium + heavy together. This move allows you to teleport behind your opponent for a surprise attack, which is both a great defensive tool and an excellent combo extender. While in Sparkling Burst, you can hold M+H to teleport behind your opponent without attacking, giving you even more options for mixing them up.
Play some casual matches online
The best way to improve at any fighting game is to play a ton of matches against real people, and FighterZ's casual match mode is the perfect place to do so without having to worry about your online rank. On top of getting to put your own combos and strategies to the test, you'll likely pick up a few pointers from your opponents. Once you're feeling confident, feel free to step up to ranked matches.
Finish in style
Knocking out one of your opponent's characters with a heavy attack will send them hurtling into the background, and ending the fight with your level 3 Meteor Attack will often lead to a "destructive finish," which essentially destroys the arena around you. You can also trigger "dramatic finishes" that pay homage to classic Dragon Ball scenes by winning under very specific conditions, such as Goku beating Frieza on the Planet Namek (Destroyed) stage.
None of these finishers has any gameplay benefits, but they're a fun way to rub your victory in your opponent's face.
Unlock new characters
You can expand FighterZ's 21-character roster with three unlockable fighters: SSGSS Goku, SSGSS Vegeta and Android 21.
To get the more powerful, blue-haired Goku, you'll need to score an A-Rank on the Extreme Gravity Spaceship course in Arcade mode on Hard difficulty. To get SSGSS Vegeta, you'll need to do the same on the Hard version of the Hyperbolic Time Chamber Course. Note that you'll have to beat both of these courses on Normal to get their Hard variations. You can also get these characters by spending 300,000 Zeni for Vegeta and 500,000 Zeni for Goku, but grinding for that much in-game currency could take you weeks.
To get the main baddie Android 21, you simply need to beat all three arcs of the game's story mode.
Watch the pros
Watching high-level Dragon Ball FighterZ play is a great way to learn how to apply the game's various mechanics in a competitive match. There are a ton of DBFZ streams happening at any given moment on Twitch, and there are already some great tutorial and breakdown videos on YouTube from creators such as Maximilian and Nakkiel. Watch, learn, and, most important, don't forget to have fun.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.