Dragon Ball FighterZ is the most faithful Dragon Ball fighting game ever.
The game is being co-developed by Namco Bandai and the developers of BlazBlue and Guilty Gear, Arc System Work, and Toei Animation are providing feedback to ensure it closely replicates the anime’s style. In the game, you select three characters and engage in fast-paced 3v3 action. Attacks are flashy, based on the abilities in the series and can damage the area around you, too.
“[Arc System] are bringing the high speed battle and animated expressions,” Bandai Namco Producer Tomoko Hiroki tells SBS PopAsia at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June. “Without that team, we wouldn’t ever be able to create what we have now.”
Arc System Works are bringing their unique character design to Dragon Ball FighterZ with a roster made up of different play styles, much like BlazBlue and Guilty Gear.
“We had a hard time bringing that difference into each of the characters because a lot of the characters that appear in Dragon Ball have similar attacks,” she says.
“[Not a lot of them wield] weapons that much, except for Trunks, he has a sword. They’re shooting beams [of energy] all the time, so it’s quite difficult to bring something new to each of the characters, but what we decided to do was look even further into the Dragon Ball settings.”
Hiroki says she believes they'll be able to deliver something quite different to Dragon Ball games and the fighting scene also.
“In the original anime, [Freiza] throws [his death saucer] at Goku and it flies around and comes back and splits him in two. If you play the [E3] build, when you throw his death saucer, it flies towards your opponent and after it goes off screen, it comes back," she says.
“I’m sure if you’re a big fan of Dragon Ball, you’re going to be looking at one screenshot thinking, ‘this probably came from this scene from the anime or manga panel...that’s probably why players will feel that it’s really faithful to the original.”
The playable roster is made up of popular characters and those that Namco Bandai and Arc System feel would serve a more unique role in game. The demo I played at E3 only included the basics from Dragon Ball Z: Goku, Vegeta, Kid Gohan, Majin Buu, Freiza and Perfect Cell. The team plan to include characters from all Dragon Ball franchises, recently unveiling Future Trunks as a playable character. When asked about the likelihood of seeing anything from Dragon Ball Super, they merely laughed and replied, “well you know our answer, right?”
What separates FighterZ from the rest of the DBZ fighters is its appeal towards satisfying both die hard fans and the core fighting game audience. Casual fans will enjoy the colourfully explosive visuals and attention to detail while there’s a deep layer of strategy and meta gameplay in 3v3 combat that the competitive scene will appreciate.
Pulling off a Z Assist move - whereby one of your characters flies on-screen towards your opponent, either as a defensive or offensive move - is animated by characters crashing into each other mid-match with familiar sound effects and accented lines. Deflecting incoming ki blasts to the side will destroy houses in the background, too.
“That’s why we’re working with Arc System,” says Hiroki. “We want those Dragon Ball fans to eventually become core fighting gamers using this. You’ll see features that weren’t in previous Dragon Ball games that you can probably tell are there for that.”
Dragon Ball FighterZ is coming to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One family of consoles, as well as PC. You can register for the game’s closed beta on PS4 and Xbox One from July 26.
The Dragon Ball franchise has a long history of video game adaptations, beginning in 1986 with Dragon Ball: Dragon’s Great Exploration and recently with Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, which had players create their own Saiyan.
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