Monday, January 29, 2018

Dragon Ball FighterZ: Impressions for Newbs

So I’m not the best at fighting games. Soul Calibur? Love it; bad at it. Injustice? Enjoy it; bad at it. And now I can successfully add Dragon Ball FighterZ to that category of games I’m flat out bad at, but continue picking up the controller to keep playing. The thing that’s different about FighterZ, though, is that it actively wants to help me get better, something I’ve never really picked up in a fighting game. Thus, I’m here to tell you, yes you, that you will not regret picking this game up even if you’re bad at it.

It’s not that difficult a game to pick up and play offline, if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s the first Dragon Ball game in a long time to emphasize traditional fighting elements while sort of shying away from some of the staples of the series, making it a bit more streamlined and less confusing to learn how to execute certain moves, since there aren’t too many conditions that need to be met for super moves.

Offline play, for the most part, feels like a ton of practice options before getting into the meat of the game, the Online and Arcade modes. Online mode is where the money’s at, as there are tons of players online already constantly putting their hours in to learn how to play with their favorite characters or teams. Arcade mode is the basic Arcade mode of going through rounds of opponents to reach the end and the ultimate goal of getting coins or characters. I’ve played the Arcade mode a few times and it’s pretty enjoyable.

Arcade mode bases their teams off of various traits of the characters or off of teams that exist in the show. Two teams are based on characters that have appeared in the “Tournament of Power” arc. Another is the based on the original three Super Saiyans, and another is for the baldies of the crew (Nappa, Tien, Krillin). It’s an enticing method of getting players into fighting these characters and is just a good way to have fun with the concept. It’s reminiscent of the old battle scenarios from the Raging Blast games.

There are a few modes that I haven’t been able to try just yet, like Arena Matches. I’m not entirely sure what those are, but, I’m sure they’re fun.

There are few facets of this game that aren’t fun. Like loading screens…but I’ll attribute that to the massive player base that this game has already.

Learning characters is certainly a challenge, but fun. The in-battle menu (accessible only in offline mode) shows both mapping of the basic buttons, like the various types of punching or Assist buttons) as well as how to pull off the Special Moves. And let me tell you, that Special Move menu is a godsend. I find myself going to it every time I don’t pull off a successful Special Move, because they can be a bit difficult to pull off at times when you’re stringing together a combo. The game requires a focus to it that isn’t so intense, but is definitely more than mashing buttons.

Although at the speed that the game operates, it’s easy to think that you’re just mashing away to pull off various combos, and the game does punish for it. The game teaches you quickly that while patience is a virtue, planning a few steps ahead is as well.

For example, the game wants new players, like myself, to learn that maybe using the dashing mechanic over and over isn’t such a good idea. You’ll quickly find, in either playing against the AI or other players, that while the Super Dash is effective for breaking guard, it’s really only an important tool once a combo has begun, not necessarily to start it.

The one character I’d highly suggest Super Dashing against is Frieza, who has an attack that blasts the ground in front of him, immediately knocking you prone and allowing him to leap into a combo of his own; and, fun fact, Frieza has a wealth of great Super Move finishers. Vegeta’s another character that’s dangerous to get combo-locked by.

But I don’t think the game is punishing, it’s more like it’s disciplinary. You will learn from the game, even if you don’t want. After a few times of getting pounded by a heavy attack from a Super Dash, you’ll probably figure out that it’s a bad idea. And, again, this is possible to learn against even just the AI, as they’ll pull these tricks on you and it’ll be your turn to experiment.
There are also various modes by which you can totally just go in and practice, like the Tutorial or Practice Modes. Local battle is often the place I go to learn characters, since it’s a good way to fight decent AI opponents and learn character’s moves, strengths, and weaknesses.

One of the bigger elements of the game that I haven’t really touched on, but is absolutely critical to the development of play style, is the team aspect of the fighting. While battles are one-on-one, you do go in with a team. For example, the team I’ve enjoyed playing in the early-goings is Goku Black, Future Trunks, and (Adult) Gohan. While I begin the game as Goku Black, I can switch out once a character into Future Trunks; or, I can summon Trunks for a single moment so he can launch an attack against my opponent.

Part of the fun of the game, if you really want to get into it, is learning who has the best assists. Gotenks has an assist that locks an enemy in place, for example, and Frieza demolishes part of the fighting stage. Having a partner with a good assist is almost as important as having a good partner in general. But there’s also a level of timing that comes with assists that can be difficult to learn, since you have to gauge how your character is doing against the opponent, or you can switch to interrupt their flow and try to swing the momentum your way.

Maybe all of this sounds a bit overwhelming, but, I don’t think it is. The game really opens its arms to having you learn it. The first few chapters of the Story Mode consist mostly of Tutorial Battles against simple AI opponents for you to pick up on some of the more intermediate facets of the game, beyond just punch, assist, and move.

This might be one of the better games to get into if you’re not all that experienced with fighting games, but want to get into them. It’s always important to remember that none of this is going to come straight away; it’s called Practice mode for a reason, you know. You can’t just jump straight in to a Casual Online Match and expect to win because you think Goku, Vegeta, and Freiza are the strongest team; maybe you’ll do some practice and find that, actually, your playstyle works best with Android 16, Nappa, and Cell (I don’t know if that’s a good team, but you get my point).

Dragon Ball FighterZ is a very fun game. For Dragon Ball fans, it’s a must-buy, and for fans of the fighting game genre, you’re probably already playing and kicking my butt up and down the online lobbies. If you’re hesitant about fighting games, give it a shot. I think you’ll be blown away by the visuals alone, and then get absorbed by the combat. I always tip my toe cautiously into the great lake of fighters, but after the beta, I jumped in headfirst, I fell in love and have sunk many hours into learning the characters and trying to master their movements and perform the Super Moves at the right time. Even if I only pull off the tiniest bits at a time, it does feel good to see my practice shining through.

This game is made for everyone, fighting game fans especially. You just need to practice if you want to get into the online fighting part; if you don’t, there are plenty of unique characters to constantly toy around with, and a pretty fun and goofy story mode to sink your teeth into. It will help you develop along the way, and doesn’t just throw you into fast-paced combat without some semblance of preparedness.

Not to mention there are tons of videos online explaining how to get into the game. Don’t go in trying to pull off insane combos or become the best, go in to have a fun time, and I’m pretty that’s what you’ll find first and foremost. 

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