I'm really feeling it!

The Dragon Ball FighterZ open beta went live for everyone yesterday, but instead of fighting Saiyans and androids, many players (including me) were forced to fight severe network issues. Only around 11:30 pm Eastern could I finally join lobbies. What I found out next was wholly infuriating.

Before getting right to the meat of that, however, perhaps we should go over the prologue of feelings and happenings leading up to this point.


I have been excited as hell for Arc System Works’ Dragon Ball fighting game ever since the first reports of its existence half a year ago. That was despite me not being a DBZ fan, even while growing up in Toonami’s golden age. I hadn’t even played a single Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, or other ArcSys game at the time, either! But the Dragon Ball series always seemed like an absolutely PERFECT backdrop for an epic fighting game, and word on the street was that ArcSys were masterful fighting game developers, so the prospects of this project were bonkers.

The gameplay preview footage that came out shortly thereafter added onto the anticipation even more; it looked incredible. I was already sold.


In fact, I wasn’t sold on just Dragon Ball FighterZ. It stoked my interest in Arc System Works at large to a degree that seeing and hearing all of the goods about their Guilty Gear and BlazBlue games never did. When I came across a bunch of ArcSys games in a Dallas arcade last September, I bit the bullet and gave them a whirl. That was a good choice! I liked Guilty Gear a lot, I liked BlazBlue even more to the point were I got BlazBlue: Centralfiction as a birthday gift shortly afterwards, Noel Vermilion immediately staked her claim as The Bae of Fighters—sorry Karin, sorry Hibiki—things have been nice ever since.


This all, of course, fed back into anticipation for DBFZ. The sentiment that it was in good hands with Arc System Works was no longer based on mere hearsay; now it was informed by bearing witness to their craftsmanship firsthand. This damn game could not come fast enough!

So now it’s Sunday, January 14, the day when the beta fully opens up for everyone. For the entire day, I cannot do a damn thing except observe this error message.


I am just one of many, which also includes fellow TAY writer Cleon, who’s coming across this issue. This effectively locks me out of doing any actual playing of the game. It’s a frustrating state of affairs.


My most prevalent thought, while being locked out for all of this time: They could have at least put in a training mode—not even a full suite of features, just a dummy character to beat up would have sufficed—so that those of us with the misfortune of connection mishaps might still have something to do until we’re able to get in and partake in the full experience.


The fact that such a wasn’t there meant that I effectively had zero playtime on Sunday. Some beta that sure was, right? Before hopping into bed for the night, however, I decided to give one last half-hearted attempt at getting onto the servers. This time, unlike the tens of other attempts from earlier in the day, I got in. Voilà!!! We are in business!!

Well, afterwards I realized that it was not the end of the network issues—far from it, actually—and on a maybe-related or maybe-separate issue, matchmaking also appeared to be totally borked. I did not get in a single match, ranked or casual, while waiting in the Club Penguin-ass lobby area. Instead, putting in the match request and waiting for it to come to fruition, the lobby connection would eventually die, kicking me out.


So great! I finally get past the always-online hurdle, and there’s STILL no way for me to actually play the game? Faaaaan-tastic.

The only thing I could really do at that point was dawdle around the lobby. While exploring—on a sidenote, this lobby is a treasure trove of head-scratching UI decisions that could probably take up a whole ‘nother post—I came across this area in the southwest corner.

I’m the red chrome-domed Frieza

Getting into it brought up this screen.


OH PRAISE THE SWEET LORD it’s a tutorial mode! A chance to get my feet wet with the basics of Dragon Ball FighterZ! I get to play the game!! Finally!!!

My prior complaints about the beta were premature. DBFZ actually did have the foresight to put in some sort of training mode, as it turns out. And then the most painful of thoughts hit me. This reeks of something EVEN WORSE than not having a training mode in the beta at all!!!


They had a training mode on offer in the beta. A single player versus AI training mode that did not require the participation of a second player. A training mode that could have been implemented without the need for online resources. And they made it only accessible once you established a successful connection to an online lobby.


I could have been delving into this all day! During the hours upon hours when the network failed to initialize, I could have still been getting a taste of this game via its extensive set of tutorials. I could have had something to do within the beta despite all the network-related issues. But because of some programming implementation where online access became a requirement for getting into the tutorials, that was not an option.


That is a bullshit state of affairs.

Update 1/16/2018 10:25 am EST—Credit to Cleon for this, but apparently there was a short timeframe where some offline-capable features were actually enabled, but they were quickly taken out. In Cleon’s words:

But it’s clear that FighterZ wasn’t that. This was actually a beta - a test of the online capabilities. It wasnt a demo, as there wasn’t even an offline mode to play.

Apaaart from when Bandai Namco did some server maintenance about 2 hours into the beta. At that stage, you didn’t need to get online to play the game. They set up a ‘trial’ match mode, where you got dropped into a random selection of characters to fight the computer.

It was only like this for an hour or so - it then reverted back to those error screens. But it was this that confirmed to me that it was most definitely a beta-test as opposed to a beta-demo. Hopefully as a test it worked, because as a demo it didn’t knock it out of the park for me.


Once all was said and done, I put about half an hour (if even that) into the tutorials before heading to bed for the night before work on Monday. That was half of the time that I would have put into the beta at the absolute minimum had that tutorial mode worked offline. The extent to which I played was only enough to start scratching the surface of the team assist mechanics! There was still so much more to learn after that!


The good news in all of this, however, is that I’m already quite liking what little I experienced of the game thus far. My prior ArcSys game experiences even helped with making heads and tails of Dragon Ball FighterZ’s mechanics and controls! The usual double jump and air dashing shenanigans come on strongly here. The control scheme in particular shares a lot with BlazBlue, with the square/X, triangle/Y, and circle/Z, buttons corresponding to light, medium, and heavy attacks respectively, though the X/A button here pulls off projectile/Ki-based attacks as opposed to BlazBlue’s fighter-specific moves.

And once in action, it’s easy to tell what a baller fighting game this could be. DBFZ already looks and sounds gorgeous when solely witnessing it as a viewer, but it’s even better when you’re in the driver’s seat. KO-ing an enemy fighter with a kick that sends them flying out of the arena into a bunch of buildings is sublime, yo, even when just in a tutorial. I still need to really get used to having all that Marvel vs. Capcom in my ArcSys, but I’m sure time will ultimately be kind to all the team-based maneuvers.


Despite all the crap, I’m still looking forward to the full game. It’s set to come out on January 26. That means we can expect the online stuff to be fully functional by like November 17. Or, maybe earlier? I had to go back into the beta today to get a screenshot, and it looked like the network was far more stable than it had been yesterday. Fingers crossed that this bodes well for DBFZ’s online future.

Either way, however, hopefully we’re not gonna need to depend on such things for the full game’s training and tutorial modes.

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