After much anticipation and a one month delay, the closed beta for Dragon Ball FighterZ finally took place this past weekend. With a limited number of players only allowed to play during an even stricter time frame, players looked to make this weekend count and get as many matches as they could. And for the most part, things went as planned. Lobbies were always full or near full and people were finding games on a regularly consistent basis… on Playstation 4. On Xbox One however, things were a lot more up and down. But mostly down.
Now the only play session I was unable to participate in was the very first as it occurred during an ungodly hour that I was not waking up for. I did play a bit during the second before other obligations took me away but this time consisted of only doing Trial Mode against an AI while the servers were under maintenance. Normally I’d call that a shame but this was my very first time playing so I took the chance to get a handle on the control scheme and how the different characters played. Later that night was the 3rd play session and this was where things began to turn ugly.
The 3rd session was met with some truly awful wait times between matches. In the roughly 2 and a half hours I spent playing, I only managed to play 4 fights against other people. Now let me tell you, these 4 fights were incredibly fun. Dragon Ball FighterZ is an easily approachable fighting game for people with no experience in the genre. Probably more so then any game before it. The controls are very simple without any complex motions. Combos are very straightforward and the game itself rewards offensive play. But the matchmaking times were just unacceptable. I hear this was due in part to Xbox LIVE having some issues that night but Bandai Namco worked hard to get things to run smoothly that night to no avail. Eventually the game moved again to Trial Mode before going offline.
Android 18 <3
The final session took place just earlier today at the time of this writing and was simultaneously the worst and best part of the beta. The first chunk was met with this amazing bit of gameplay:
In an attempt to figure out what went wrong the night before, Bandai Namco limited the number of players per region on Xbox One. This meant for a short time that only around 50 players were playing at a time. And over time more lobbies were added. This went on for about 2 hours as I spent that time simply trying to join a lobby so I could even attempt to look for a match. I did get lucky twice and managed to get a game and afterwards I would lose connection to the lobby and I would have to start over and find another one to join. But then something magical happened after 20 minutes of server maintenance. A light at the end of the dark tunnel.
After this maintenance wrapped, we were blessed with matches. Not just one or two. But several matches. Enough matches to finally form some kind of solid opinion on the game. Enough matches to make it feel like I didn’t completely waste my weekend playing this beta. It was pure bliss and I savored every single second. The only downside being this happened in the literal final hour of the beta so it was all over before I knew it. I no longer cared about winning or losing, I just wanted to play more Dragon Ball FighterZ because it was so much fun.
With the beta woes over, let’s look at what Dragon Ball does right. As you can see, this game is still gorgeous. Like stop what you’re doing to look at gorgeous. It’s a flurry of energy beams, over the top attacks and yellow hair that make watching Dragon Ball FighterZ as much of a spectacle as playing it. Music was generally good during fights with special mention going to the main menu theme. If you liked the menu theme from Guilty Gear, then this is up your alley.
As I mentioned prior, gameplay is very accessible to fighting game newcomers. It feels neither like Marvel vs. Capcom nor Guilty Gear but more like a hybrid of the two. Things are chaotic like MvC but with the top of the line presentation of Guilty Gear. With mechanics from both, Dragon Ball looks to carve its own niche in the tag fighter genre. Although it was a smaller sample than I hoped for, my overall impression is rather good. Dragon Ball FighterZ seems to handle less than ideal connections very well. At least in my experience. If the matchmaking time works out during the open beta and eventual final release, then I believe DBFZ will be in a very good place in terms of online gameplay.
I still have high hopes for Dragon Ball FighterZ after this beta, despite all that went wrong. I can’t wait for a full fledged tutorial going over all the mechanics (Arc System made a great one for Guilty Gear) and to spend time in training mode actually learning these characters. The story mode sounds like an interesting new story to the DBZ universe. And we’re only going to get more characters to fill out the roster. We still have plenty of time till the prospected launch of the game so I believe things can only go up. That final hour saved this beta experience from being an absolute disaster and it made me completely forget the previous few sessions. All my problems went away as I enjoyed playing one of my most anticipated games of 2018.