During Microsoft’s E3 conference, Dragon Ball Fighter Z (DBFZ) was revealed. The game is a 3v3 fighter inspired by the likes of Marvel vs Capcom, and is scheduled to release in 2018 for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Publisher Bandai Namco also shared that the game is being developed by Arc System Works.
After watching the trailer, fighting game fans got clamoring. Then came the question — is this the tag team fighting game we’ve been waiting for?
If you’re not embedded in the fighter scene, you may be wondering what is fueling that question and getting the fighting game community talking.
The TL;DR is that Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite (MvC:I) seems to be more of a departure of what the series has been, and not everyone is happy about it. So it could be falling from grace as the crossover fighter — meanwhile, Dragon Ball Fighter Z looks like it could be picking up the slack as the next great 3v3.
Why? Let me count the ways…
It looks significantly better.
The first game, Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes, was bright, animated, and featured quite the cast of fighters. It was a visual treat for players as they visited stages from Mega Man, Street Fighter, and so forth. As the series continued with and Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes, that stylish aesthetic continued as well. And the same flair was all over Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, where heroes and villains alike stood out in both their looks and action.
In terms of looks, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite seems to have given up on their series aesthetics. Casual observers and series fans alike have noted that it looks bland, and doesn’t seem as expressive or carefully crafted as previous titles in the series. This is clear as day if you look at a gameplay comparison of UMvC3 and the newest title — there’s a total lack of color and comic book visuals that these games have been known for.
No one knows why the developers decided to go in this direction. Perhaps they wanted it to be slightly more realistic? Regardless, this is an unfortunate design choice. Simply put, it doesn’t look as impressive or exciting as the MvC games that came prior.
Meanwhile, DBFZ boasts a highly stylized aesthetic that’s vibrant and eye-catching. The art style is acutely reminiscent of the anime, and the UI pops with lots of colorful animations. The attention to the series’ details are admirable.
The stylized looks of DBFZ should be no surprise given its developer, Arc System Works (ASW). After all, the studio created Guilty Gear Xrd — which is still one of the most visually impressive fighters available to this day. The developer is also no stranger to anime fighters, as it created Persona 4: Arena and its sequel.
Just based on looks alone, DBFZ is doing what MvC:I isn’t. The visual aesthetic for the game aligns with what MvC has been over the years — the character sprites are exaggerated, the environments pop, it oozes bright colors, etc.
Just look at the footage of Goku preparing for battle, or Gohan transforming to Super Saiyan 2 — those are some beautiful character animations.
It Has That Chaotic Gameplay
Since the first Marvel fighter title, the games have become known for the frantic gameplay because of their 3v3 system. Players can summon up other members as assists during combos. Oftentimes the screen will feature a lot of chaos to the uninitiated. This three-man tag system has been a part of the Marvel vs series since the beginning.
However, Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite will not being using this trademark system. The developer has chosen to abandon it for a freeform two-man team system. This decision was made in hopes that the game will be more newcomer friendly.
Understandably, longtime fans were not happy with this decision. Capcom has expressed time and again that it hopes to bridge the gap between causal and hardcore fans. What this means, of course, is leaving behind what makes the game uniquely challenging. We still don’t know what level of prowess one will need to be effective with the latest Marvel game. But the sentiment seems to be…not as much are previous titles.
On the other end of the spectrum, DBFZ keeps the three-man team gameplay intact. Hands-on reviewers from E3 have confirmed that the game isn’t a walk in the park, either — which is to be expected, since developer ASW isn’t known to be causal friendly. In fact, their school of thought is that players should have to challenge themselves in order to win. So rather than making things easier, the developer has opted to create more robust tutorials within its games that will help players learn.
Time Will Tell Which Comes Out on Top
Many factors will influence the argument of which title is better. The main thought to consider is how the fighting game community at large will react to both games. It’ll be interesting to see the attention they’ll receive on the eSports scene.
At this point, it may be a little too early to compare Dragon Ball Fighter Z and Marvel vs Capcom Infinite. We’ll have to wait until we see more gameplay footage — or until we can get our hands on these titles ourselves as MvCI releases this September and DBFZ releases in early 2018.