I Suck At Fighting Games: Dragonball FighterZ

Dragonball FighterZ is easy start playing because it has simple controls and mechanics that apply no matter what character you use. However, its lacking tutorials will lead you to a lot of studying outside of the game to truly understand it.

Also, it’s pronounced “fighters”, not “fighter zee” or “fighter zed”.

Compared to other Arc System Works games, DBFZ is a lot closer to Persona 4 Arena than Guilty Gear Xrd. Every character has an autocombo that you can activate by hitting an attack button, which will transition into a level 1 super if you have enough meter. There are also unique attacks in that autocombo string that can transition into medium/heavy normals or special attacks.

What I really liked were the amount of universal mechanics and the simple special commands. It makes swapping between characters easy and makes the game amazing for casual play.

Every special attack in the game is either a quarter-circle or down, down motion. Every super is a quarter-circle and two buttons. There’s a universal overhead (6M), universal sweep that most characters can combo from (2M), universal anti-air launcher (2H), and a universal hard knockdown ender for air combos (j.H).

The tutorial doesn’t fully explain these universal mechanics. I had to experiment in training mode and ask other players to find out what exactly the “smash” attack was. Same with learning that the universal 2M sweep can start combos.

In general, the tutorial and combo challenges are underwhelming compared to Guilty Gear. The tutorial teaches you how to execute certain system mechanics but not why they are useful. Even though there is a “more info” tab, it rarely has more than a sentence or two of explanation.

Z Reflect is a technique with many applications and properties, but they are not explained here.
Z Reflect is a technique with many applications and properties, but they are not explained here.

Each section of the Battle Tutorial has multiple steps, and if you want to repeat one of the earlier steps or experiment with it more…you can’t. You have to go back to the lobby and select the tutorial again, sitting through a few load screens in the process.

(Not to mention the extremely high chance that you’ll be disconnected from the server during this process, but I’ll stick with tutorial critique for now.)

Some mechanics in the tutorial are not explained with the amount of depth that they should be. The game tells you that the Z-Reflect can knock away opponent’s physical attacks, but doesn’t tell you that you can reflect projectiles, or that a successful reflect grants you brief invulnerability.

There are also several technical oversights within the tutorial. If you change your button settings, the tutorial displays won’t change with it.

An early tutorial tells me to Super Dash with R2 or O+X, but I’ve set my R2 button to something else. It doesn’t mention that Super Dash is HEAVY ATTACK + SPECIAL ATTACK, it just says “R2 or O+X”.

It would be much easier to understand if they just used the latter notation, like how Guilty Gear Xrd trials say “Punch/Kick/Slash/Heavy Slash/Dust” instead of “X/Square/Triangle/Circle/R1”.

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The Combo Challenge has the same problem, but worse. It tells you to activate special moves with default button layouts, like doing a super with QCF + R1. But what if I don’t have R1 bound?

Well, I have to guess what R1 corresponds to with the default layout, because you can’t change buttons at all while in the Combo Challenge menu. It’s a bizarre oversight.

Most of the Combo Challenges are pointless, as they teach you 3 or 4 real combos and the rest are “perform your special attack” or “perform your super attack”. They don’t even properly explain what the specials or supers do, which makes the challenges even more pointless when you play a complex character like Hit or Android 21.

Guilty Gear included multiple, practical combos for every character in the game from beginner to advanced difficulty. It had missions that taught you fighting game basics as well as matchup specific tips for every character in the cast. The tutorial of Dragonball FighterZ is very underdeveloped in comparison.

While the game has pretty easy and lenient inputs, and a basic, good combo shouldn’t take too long to learn. But the game will not give you those basic, good combos so you’ll have to look online for them.

Some fighting games are naturally easier to pick up because you can mash buttons and make cool things happen. Dragonball FighterZ is one of those games, as it has very simple controls and lots of universal mechanics. In that sense, it’s a good game for beginners to jump into.

On the other hand, simpler games like this are easier for experienced players to maximize. They’ll be able to pick up on game systems and combo theory faster than new players, making the gap between them grow very quickly. Unfortunately, Dragonball FighterZ lacks a mission mode, good combo tutorials, and a good game tutorial that would help new players catch up.

I feel like this will be a game that will be very alienating to new fighting game players if they try to play online or enter a local tournament. It’s fun to mash, but it definitely lacks the expansive tutorial content of other Arc System Works games, especially compared to the latest Guilty Gear title.

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