Dragon Ball Z games have often struggled to capture the raw intensity of the show they’re based on, usually feeling slow or underpowered when compared to the source material. After all, in the show, these are characters that could easily blow up a planet, who move faster than the eye can follow, and whose punches send shockwaves that shatter mountains – how do you put that into a fighting game and make it not only balanced, but comprehensible?
Developer Arc System Works’ Dragon Ball FighterZ does an excellent job by focusing and speed and ferocity, while shifting players’ views of the action to the 2D plane. It’s undoubtedly one of the best DBZ adaptations in years, and fans are loving the sheer spectacle that comes from blasting an opponent into space dust. But it’s also an entrance point for some who may not be familiar with fighting games, and even seasoned pros will need to adapt to FighterZ’s unique systems. So to help you out, here are 8 things I found while playing that helped me raise my power level.
FighterZ is set up with tag-team style bouts. Only two fighters square off at a time, 1v1, but two back-up characters are always waiting in the wings, ready to help out when you call on them. With a quick tap of the shoulder buttons you can summon one in for a quick assist attack, or with a longer press you can swap out and take control entirely. The assist attacks can chip away at an opponent’s health or help set up longer combos, while swapping out will give an injured fighter some time to recover health. Sticking with each fighter until they’re dead is a bad idea, so make sure to cycle through your roster often.
FighterZ tends to favor aggression over defense, so don’t be afraid to get in and really bully your opponent. Super dashes and Vanish attacks are great for closing long gaps, and Dragon Rush will let you break an opponent’s guard and continue the fight in the air. If you come up against someone who’s trying to keep distance, use these tools to keep the pressure on.
Ki is the energy you use in Dragon Ball FighterZ to execute your character’s most powerful moves. A level 1 Super uses up one bar of Ki, while a level 3 Super uses up, you guessed it, three. Vanish attacks also use one bar of Ki. Ki builds as you successfully land attacks, or when you press the light attack and special attack buttons simultaneously to manually power up, and you can hold up to 7 bars of Ki at once. Just be careful not to exhaust all of it, or you might be caught in a situation where you can’t pull off a much-needed Super or Vanish.
As you build up your Ki in FighterZ, you’ll be able to perform Super attacks. These vary from character to character, but they’re always potent attacks that are fun to watch because of their sheer spectacle. Seriously, I could listen to Piccolo scream “Special Beam Cannon!” all day. But if you have more than one level of Ki built up, you can actually chain these attacks together and really blast your foe to pieces. Start by performing a Super attack – as the animation begins, press down a shoulder button as if you were going to change out characters. The fighter you call in will fire off their Super as well, allowing you to combine attacks for all-out mayhem. You can even press the other assist button while the second character winds up to have three Supers going at once.
FighterZ is fun, but it can also be frustrating when going up against a particularly tough opponent. On harder Arcade mode difficulties, an AI can easily take off 80 percent of a character’s health with a powerful Super attack. If you find yourself struggling, dash backward and then use a Super Dash to initiate a combo, and squeeze in as much damage as you can (using a quick Z-Change near the end of your combo will be a major help in extending the number of hits you get in). Once you land, rinse and repeat. Humans will catch onto this pretty quickly, but the AI doesn’t seem to block Super Dashes often unless they’re used at close range.