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Friday, August 10, 2018

Dragon Ball FighterZ Open Beta on Nintendo Switch... could use some work.

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - ...It's a beta, not a demo. If you consider it a demo, it's terrible.

We have been lobbying Bandai Namco for Dragon Ball FighterZ to come to the Nintendo Switch ever since it was announced, and continued to lobby for it after it was released on other platforms. Then it was announced at Nintendo's E3 2018, amidst a flurry of many other things. We haven't said anything since, but now is a good time to — between Friday morning and the end of Saturday, Dragon Ball FighterZ has an Open Beta that you can download and experience from the Nintendo eShop!

If you don't know how to play the game already, then you're going to struggle with it since the game doesn't make an effort to teach you how. They don't display the controls in a prominent place before the game starts, like Pokkén Tournament DX. However, there are Battle Tutorials in the game. I recommend you play through all of them before playing other people. They are... really hidden away, but here's a video teaching you how to access them:

Because this is an Open Beta and not a demo, you cannot access any of this offline. You must be online at all times, even for the single-player tutorials. Also, because this is an Open Beta (at least, that's the excuse), prepare to be disconnected and given weird error messages. A lot. Even while you're just going through the single-player tutorials with computer players. The tutorials also aren't exactly clear some of the time on what to do/how to do it, even if you can pause the tutorial to get context-sensitive information on it. (But you can't get that information anywhere else unless you are playing that specific part of that specific tutorial.)

Alright, so the controls aren't all available in one place, and if you want to play as anyone but Goku, the Open Beta doesn't give you a read-out on all of the moves of all the other characters. Since Dragon Ball FighterZ operates in teams of three, you'll be going blind for at least two-thirds of your roster.

Dragon Ball FighterZ Simple Controls open beta Nintendo Switch prompt pop-up
And when you're trying to figure out the normal set of controls, the game has this Simple Controls pop up.
Since they don't explain the normal controls, they also don't explain how Simple Controls simplifies the controls.

Let's suppose you figure out how to play. You need to figure out how to actually get into a match. There are Ring matches and Arena matches. The latter seems complicated and it is poorly explained what the hell it is, so I went into Ring matches, which are mini-lobbies of 8 people within a room's 64-person lobby. Then you need to non-intuitively figure out how to go from the mini-lobby to a match. Once you figure that out and go through the vague status messages as you wait for a battle, it's time to play!

Here's a taste of what the gameplay is like, though this lacks the Bayonetta-esque auto-combos:

You can win entire matches by just spamming Ki Blasts with the special (B) button, since they stun-lock your opponent from across the stage. You're supposed to block, I guess, or do that Vanish attack once you build up enough of the Ki metre. (The aggressor gains more than the defender.) You're supposed to somehow jump in-between Ki Blasts and then air-dash towards your opponent, but the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller isn't good at pressing a direction twice very quickly on either the Control Stick or the Directional Pad. Eventually, a Goku will go down, and then you don't know how to play.

For example, I play as Nappa, but I don't know how to summon the Saibaman that the CPU Nappa was using in the tutorial, which is... rather critical for him to be viable. There isn't any way in the Open Beta to look this up. You gotta look at some online tutorials.

Dragon Ball FighterZ Captain Ginyu Force victory win pose five members
I also have Captain Ginyu to finish off the team of three, because his force seems very... familiar to me.

The full version of the game, and a hypothetical demo (reminder that this is not a demo), would probably have Practice available and you could do it offline. But, again, it's an Open Beta. They're testing servers. The servers are overwhelmed.

At least this should prove that people are interested in the game and Bandai Namco should've listened to us a year ago in terms of putting Dragon Ball FighterZ on the Nintendo Switch at all!

Ludwig doesn't have much fighting game experience outside of the Super Smash Bros. series, where he has accumulated thousands of hours but basically none of it transfers to this game. Ludwig doesn't know if he wants to actually buy the game based on this Open Beta. Probably not, since this doesn't leave a great experience. He thinks it's smarter to educate the market with a real (offline) demo first, and then do a stress-test online beta after.


  1. I think it's safe to say this one's not going on the monthly top 5. And frankly, I'd be surprised by a new game's servers NOT being overwhelmed. It just seems to me like nobody bothers to get properly ready for that kind of thing in that industry, in the same vein of how expensive it would be to upgrade the levies in New Orleans.

    1. Dragon Ball FighterZ releases next month in September, though at the very end of the month.

      Not sure what competition it'll have to be in the top 5. Obviously, the... Oh, you mean the KoopaTV newsletter's top five articles. We'll see.

      Anyway, the point of the beta is to test the servers, so this beta is how they're getting ready for the release. That's fine. Not my complaint in the article. My complaint is that, for player enjoyment, they should've released a demo first.


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