I’ve had my eye on Dragon Ball FighterZ for a while now, always keen to look at whatever little footage crossed my path. When Bandai-Namco offered a code for this weekend’s beta, I jumped at the chance and joined many others in testing the network and online components of this Dragon Ball fighting game.

What did I think? Well, before I tell you that, let me first state this. I’ve played many Dragon Ball fighting games over the years, in 2D and 3D, standalone or part of long series, and the best among them, for me, is Dragon Ball Budokai Tenkaichi 2, the Wii version in particular. I sunk hours on end into that game and had some of the most intense and amazing matches I’ve ever played in fighting games, especially with one of my closest friends, where our matches went on as we learned to counter each other’s moves. 

With that said, I can confidently tell you that Dragon Ball FighterZ blew Budokai Tenkaichi 2 out of the water for me within a few minutes of playing. First, it’s fast, incredibly so, with matches ending in just a few minutes. It has a high skill cap but it’s not impossible to just get better by playing a few matches, the controls are simple enough to pick up quickly, the mechanics and fighters just have tremendous depth in terms of strategies and the freedom of chaining different move sets into wild combos. Even at the start, I managed to put together some really nice beatdowns, and was on the receiving end of even better ones.

It took me about five matches to get my first win, the game matching me against opponents of the same skill, which is not exactly correct. The game will match you against opponents of the same rank, which it calculates by looking at the number of fights you’ve had versus your wins, which meant that during the beta, you were likely to fight everyone, from hardcore experts to complete newbies like me.

The network during the beta certainly was an issue, with many of my matches dropping out as the game attempted to launch them. I even had one match lose connection midway through, which annoyed me terribly as I was, for once, in the lead. In fact, Bandai Namco have extended the beta time for another day (today), so if you have your beta access, which you can get by preordering the game on the PS-store, you can have your chance at getting your own little can of whoopass delivered to you!

As for the fights themselves, I picked the Goku, Vegeta and Cell composition, with the first two being common picks among players, though I seemed to be the only one playing Cell. I say playing, but flailing uncontrollably might be more apt. I had so much trouble controlling this character and just about managed to get a clue near the end of my experience. While Goku and Vegeta are both fairly balanced fighters with great speed, Cell is more of a heavy hitter, with slower moves but a lot more damage. I learned a few combos and pulled them off, but could never capitalise with his special moves, the combinations for them not available in the menu, at least not in versus mode or in the lobby, which is a shame. I would’ve liked to check out his most powerful moves and so stop doing the blast wave I kept pulling off when the opponent was miles away from me.

Despite there being more characters available–not all mind you–I didn’t see or fight any combination which had characters other than Goku, Gohan, Vegeta, Buu and Frieza. Well, I did see one Android 18, but the other characters dominated my experience. I was the only one who’d given Cell a chance, which surprised me considerably. But perhaps most people just committed to a single choice to not waste precious beta time.

Overall, I didn’t play Dragon Ball FighterZ as much as I should’ve this weekend, having fewer than ten matches, but that’s more because I had some real life responsibilities get in the way of my game time. But the short number of fights I had and the fun I got from them were enough that as soon as I stopped playing my last bout, I went straight to the PS Store and purchased the game. I can’t wait for next week for the game to fully release so I can learn even better moves while playing all modes, including story, which of course was not available during this weekend.

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