Dragon Ball FighterZ had a rough launch, but in the time since has become a truly unique fighting game, capturing the interest of players from many different backgrounds. It's rare to find a game that plays so well competitively and still nails a good kamehameha.
Here's a rundown of the last month (or so) for Dragon Ball FighterZ.
- First off, FighterZ is apparently pronounced "Fighters" and not "Fighter-Zee", "Fighter-Zed", or "Fighter-zz". Frankly, we could have avoided this mess if the Z wasn't capitalised.
- Launch was not rosy. A clunky lobby system carried over from other Arc System Works games caused frustration, mixed with some sporadic glitches and network issues. The developer team has already stated that fixes are coming, with one patch already implemented and another due later this month.
- There was a loot box panic, but no worries: FighterZ loot has remained totally cosmetic, no cash involved, and it's really fun to watch those Z-Capsules pop open.
- FighterZ's look helped it capture players' attention and has helped keep the game popular. Arc System Works' approach to anime in three dimensions is, as it turns out, the perfect visual medium for Dragon Ball. From re-enacting some of the series' most climactic moments to adapting the alien worlds and arenas of the series, FighterZ looks like the rose-tinted version of Dragon Ball you see in your mind's eye.
"If we simply re-created the scenery based on the [Dragon Ball] Z series, there's not much going on," Hiroki explained, "and it wouldn't really represent the feeling that a Dragon Ball fighting game should have."
- Players in love with the game's aesthetic started modding in characters from other games. Other than MUGEN, where will you see Squidward fight Vegeta? Kotaku's own Mike Fahey cranked the settings down to low, and it looked like a high-end GameBoy Advance game that would still totally blow my young anime-nerd self's mind.
- FighterZ saw a sharp player drop-off soon after launch, at least on the PC platform, with its concurrent player count dropping rapidly over the first few weekends. Whether esports tournaments or fixed lobbies will bring that number back remains to be seen — SteamCharts has the PC hitting 15,753 peak concurrent players in February, as opposed to the 44,234 concurrent peak in January.
Competitive players have been flocking to the game, however. It's even in this year's Evo! High-level competitors from many different backgrounds have been discovering new strategies, formed from their own disciplines.
Where a Smash pro might have one way of playing the game, a Marvel Vs. Capcom or Guilty Gear player might see things differently. Like the anime series' many tournaments, Dragon Ball FighterZ has become common ground for pros to test one another's mettle and push each other further. As one player told me, it's like an entirely new fighting game altogether.
- Tier lists are still shaking out, but one thing is pretty set in stone: Android 16 is a powerhouse. He absolutely, unequivocally dunks on fighters without hesitation or mercy. For a guy who didn't get much time to shine in series, 16 is more than getting his fair share of the limelight in FighterZ. Other notable fighters on the roster that are seeing widespread play are Vegeta, Goku Black, Cell, and Android 18.
- The first tournaments are being held, and narratives are already emerging. SonicFox, the multi-game master, is on a quest to be the undisputed king. Go1 is next on his list; the long-time fighting game pro should be a tough opponent, and Final Round 2018 looks to be the next meeting of the greats in FighterZ. Also, Yipes is on commentary for this game, so every moment is already hype.
- Speaking of hype, FighterZ being both a competitive game and a Dragon Ball game has already led to weird, charming crossovers. One Twitch streamer is playing up the Android 16 character (especially the Team Four Star version), tallying up Gokus for the Red Ribbon Army. And crowds at Winter Brawl didn't just join in on the Cell Yell, but cried out "CHIAOTZUUUUU" when a player used the self-destruct sacrifice move in-game. If someone summons Shenron at Evo, I might actually lose my mind.
- The first DLC characters have been announced and they are.... Bardock and Broly. The latter was kind of expected, but getting Double Goku in lieu of... well... characters that aren't Saiyans (or even Saiyans that aren't carbon copies of Goku, Vegeta, or Gohan) is a bummer.
Are you still playing Dragon Ball FighterZ? Got a killer line-up figured out yet? Let us know!