It’s been a funny old-time for January 2018, It’s typically a dry period for video game releases where we regret eating too much, catch up on Christmas presents and dig into the New Year sales that GOG and Humble Store provide. This year we seem to have numerous Beta Tests and big titles getting their releases within a short period of time. I’ve already covered the fantastic Monster Hunter World Beta that has continued to run on and off this month (click here for those first impressions). This weekend was another busy one but a little different not 1 but 2 Open Betas testing at the same time. Both beta’s are fighting games, both are 3 vs 3, both are games that you should be excited for from long-standing franchises and both games are coming out soon. So I’ve stacked them side by side, ready taking it all to the arena, what better way to settle which is worth your attention more?
ROUND 1 – The Premise
DBZ FighterZ – The idea of an Arc System 2d fighter using the Guilty Gear Xrd engine to make a fast paced but well-balanced Dragonball game looks good even on paper. When you throw in the recent material from the Super series and a clear attention to detail that even Bandai Namco weren’t expecting and you’ve a recipe for success there.
Dissidia FFNT – Dissidia was a stone cold classic on PSP and you’ll hard pushed to find anyone who didn’t enjoy it even begrudgingly. When you take that formula and run it through the arcade system it’s almost guaranteed to be ported to home console at some point and NT was no different. The 3 VS 3 style is a little different but then again it doesn’t hurt to mix things up sometimes.
Winner – Tie – On paper both of these games deserve your time and money. The premise for both is going to be nonsense in the full game just as any spin-off where numerous franchises are thrown into a brawler, your just here to see the action like a prizefight.
ROUND 2 – Connection problems
Dissidia FFNT – We all know what an Open Beta is for, it’s so that the developers can have hands on with a large number of users at the same time all over the world. The fact they can try a new game early is the motivation. Dissidia successfully pulled the same trick as Monster Hunter World. Provide offline content as well so that you can have your test players practice offline and stick around long enough to open the servers to the flood. It also seemed to cope surprisingly well for a 3 VS 3 occasional slow down and then carried on, very little waiting for games.
DBZ FighterZ – Bandai Namco made the same mistake as Street Fighter 5’s beta. Having a sign in gate at the start of the experience doesn’t add anything to the players first impressions; It creates a meme. When the servers dropped for maintenance there was a lovely ‘trials battle’ where you fought a relatively weak AI with random 3 VS 3 setups. This was all well and good but should you get online into the lobby and no matches your left without those, simply a really simple training tutorial and…well…not a lot else. Granted this an open beta and expectations should measure to that but still it seemed pretty poor. The game runs well for a bit then hung and slammed to a halt the only saving grace was a frame drop counter at the top of the screen.
Winner – Dissidia FFNT – There was just a lot more to do with this Beta and I understand that Arc Systems need to keep things close to the chest with this but it was a shame we couldn’t mess around with a trial battle option while waiting for a game which Dissidia gave in gusto.
ROUND 3 – Visuals
Dissidia FFNT – Lets not beat around the bush. This game is visually amazing and when you see some of the models up close with all the summoning particles and spinning designs it looks fantastic. There are however some moments where the games doesn’t look too great either with terrain or an unfortunate comparison to the original arcade visuals. That’s not to say it’s not a good looking game and plenty of nice artwork. It just feels that even the design in the CGI is showing a slight lack of polish.
DBZ FighterZ – Ok so we knew this wasn’t going to be a fair comparison. GGXrd has been visually amazing for years and there was little chance this wasn’t going to be. The time and effort going into the graphics, the animation and like for like with the manga is staggering. It’s the perfect blend of simple well used refined cell shading with overtly ridiculous particles and effects. Stunning and perfect.
Winner – DBZ FighterZ – I’ve seen screenshots people have taken of the super moves in this game and pasted side by side to the manga. The fidelity and smoothness of the animation mixed with the colour and work are just a joy. It’s even a good looker when you watch someone else play it, Yes it’s that good-looking.
ROUND 4 – Music/Sound
DBZ FighterZ – Guilty Gear rocking music mixed with DragonballZ should be amazing and it is, Once, Sadly the tracks tend to loop and they get annoying faster than they should. There is however some serious talent on show with great voice acting on both the American dubbing and the original Japanese cast. I did find myself switching back to the Japanese but that could because of watching Dragonball Super so much and enjoying the KAMEEEEHAAAAMEEEEHAAAA that little bit more.
Dissidia FFNT- Here’s an odd bug I found with the Beta; Select Japanese voice acting and you will need to pop into the options and select subtitles. Strange but not a deal breaker especially given how good the voices were and how I’m stalling… Lets just say this; Dissidia had a rocking soundtrack, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy was great to listen to, we all know Final Fantasy music is almost always worth a listen and lets just say Dissidia FFNT has the best music yet. Spine tinglingly great music that takes classics and just does that same magic that Advent Children worked for the One Winged Angel that just blends old and new into a smorgasbord board of deliciousness. I found myself leaving the Beta running just to listen to it and yes it was that good. Even if I don’t get this title I will be getting the soundtrack.
Winner – Dissidia FFNT – Dragonball was going to struggle with this one, as soon as I heard the music play Jenova mixed into more upbeat tracks that I couldn’t quite place I felt that same joy that only the Nier soundtrack evokes.
ROUND 5 – Accessibility
Dissidia FFNT – You’ll notice (as I did now when typing this up) that there aren’t any screenshots of the game in action for Dissidia. There is a simple reason for this, it takes all my concentration just to figure out what is going on. What the hell is up with this HUD. Numerous tutorials do little to help make sense of it all. For what used to be quite complex but accessible brawler on the PSP it has evolved into a sprawler of metres to keep track of while trying to dish out some pain. Add in the 3vs3, numerous systems, extra controls for chat and a hud that needs to die and you get a big old nope. Difficult to pick up and difficult to master this one.
DBZ FighterZ – I know there’s a bit of a stigma in the fighting game community at the moment with regards to easy combos. Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite had them and this does to. Personally I found they made this fighter surprisingly really accessible. I know the mash square to combo is annoying but it resulted in so much more experimentation. I even found other people who rarely play fighting games were able to play and pull off super moves, the control scheme lending itself to learning from the simple combos to start making up your own. Still it mainly plays like a Skullgirls MarvelVS mashup in a DragonballZ anime blender so there is a huge amount of depth to it to.
Winner – DBZ FighterZ – People look at Dissidia when it’s playing and go, “that looks like a flight sim” and it takes a while to explain how the bravery system, targeting, summoning and magic systems all work. DBZ FighterZ they look at it and go, “that looks cool” Pick it up and play it only to find it gets deeper the more you dive in. Perfect.
ROUND 6 – Biggest hair
DBZ FighterZ – Obviously they bring the big hair to this game. Super Saiyan 3 has hair down the back and out the back and not entirely sure what is going on there. All you have to technically to win a fight in Dragonball is spike your hair up tall, scream and die. You’ll come back stronger and win in a few quick rounds of smashing planet destroying action packed seconds. Then complain your hungry and that you want to train more.
Dissidia FFNT – Final Fantasy is no slacker to big hair. A lot of the mainstays could be Saiyan with the amount of spiky long hair on show (especially Noctis). This title is more about the bling than the hair game though, when you throw weapons in armour has to come to (as well as stockings?) so the hair game is strong here but lets just say the focus was more on shiny swords than shiny locks.
Winner – DBZ FighterZ – Come on. This was like the Brits turning up to a cup of tea and complaining while standing in line competition. Dragonball has a few instantly recognisable tropes, one of which is big yellow spiky hair.
ROUND 7 – Most Over the Top
DBZ FighterZ- Kamahameha through the planet, smash them through mountains after a 20hit team combo and still the 2nd fighter comes rushing out to slam into you and start it all over again! Tag into a super and have them ramp it up even more! All the while the spectators wonder how they even survive a day on this planet.
Dissidia FFNT – Mid-Battle Summon Bahamut while fight on a celestial planet to fight for beings that seem to be in a CGI pick’N’mix of cliches all the while trying to make sense of which of the fighters is doing what. Lets not forget to equip the right arts, equipment, summons and skins just to make sure everything is on point.
Winner – Dissidia FFNT – Just the sheer amount in this is bonkers. Each and every fight you are highly likely to see at least one thing that will be new, amazing and just bonkers. It’s so fantastically overkill in its muchness.
ROUND 8 – The Elephant in the room
DBZ FighterZ – A Season pass and 3 tiers of a release isn’t a great start. It’s likely to follow most fighters from Bandai Namco but it’s a shame to see it from the get go. I’m even getting used to the tier system for new games now but a season pass for a fighter just feels a little ‘eh’. It’s a shame the previous case of saving them up for a next interim release cycle got so ridiculous it can’t be used anymore.
Dissidia FFNT – They had to add them eventually; Lootcrates are now in Dissidia and given how the game is huge this isn’t a good thing. 15+ characters should be a great thing not a slog with numerous colours/outfits/voices all locked behind random loot boxes. It’s just something that doesn’t benefit anyone other than share holders. The fact it doesn’t appear at the moment that you can unlock any of this for the characters in a traditional sense isn’t a vote of confidence.
Winner – Tie – Both Lose – But it should be noted that Dissidia loses a fair amount of good faith due to Lootcrates and wait, Dissidia has a Season Pass to? I miss the old days.
ROUND 9 – Lasting Impressions
DBZ FighterZ – When it works it really works, it’s a fast punchy brilliant 2D fighter that is essentially what Arc Systems have been working to for years. Those ‘good’ SF5 fights refined into a moments. I find myself still watching youtube shows and twitter clips of combos I missed interested to see how they’ll play out. It’s a game that’s given that itch that I’m trying to scratch with other DragonballZ related games but I can’t wait to get back to.
Dissidia FFNT – Brilliant moments of “I did it”, lots of great moments of memories of past RPGs and the music is just that good. The problem is that I find myself remembering how much there is to it and rather than looking forward to unlocking it all; I just see a grind to a shinier outfit. The soundtrack has stayed with me though and I will be keeping an eye out for that regardless.
Winner – DBZ FighterZ – I should add in a note to that win. It’s only just by a hair’s breath. They were both fun in their own unique ways but I find myself wanting to play more of Dragonball and listen to more of Dissidia.
So our overall winner is DBZ FighterZ but only just by 1. FFNT is unique and a beautifully crafted game it’s just I’m not sure I’ll be able to invest the time and money into it’s loot systems and complex mess of a hud. DBZ FighterZ however is instantly accessible to anyone with the easy combo system helping the game be easy to pick up but difficult to master in perfection and I look forward to play this one locally a lot!
Let me know what your thoughts were on the games you got a chance to play!