Dragon Ball Fighter Z for Nintendo Switch: Everything you need to know

Folks on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have been enjoying Dragon Ball FighterZ for quite some time now. But it's finally coming to Switch, and boy will you want to pay attention if you're a Dragon Ball fan. Here's what you should know.

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What is Dragon Ball FighterZ?

The history of Dragon Ball games hasn't been great. The games — based on the popular anime and manga series — have almost all weighed in as fighting games.

Unfortunately, those fighting games haven't always been up to the standard set by incumbent dominators such as Street Fighter. Don't get us wrong, they're fun and all, but it's mostly been a bunch of fan service for those who yearn for Dragon Ball action in their lives.

Enter Dragon Ball FighterZ, the game tasked with taking the franchise from the amateurs to the big leagues. The fighting mechanics have been completely overhauled and revamped, with the team introducing advanced mechanics to add more depth and an actual skill ceiling.

These changes helped breathe new life into the Dragon Ball video game franchise. It not only got a spot at the EVO 2018 fighting game tournament, but was also one of the most entered tournaments by competitors attending the event. That means it's finally serious business.

All your favorite Dragon Ball characters are here

Dragon Ball FighterZ has a pretty sizable cast of characters. The game launched with 21 fighters, including popular guys like Goku, Piccolo, Vegeta, and Frieza.

There are also 3 characters which can be unlocked (which are mainly reworked versions of existing characters), and as many as 8 characters which have been or will be released as downloadable content (again, most of which seem to be reworks of guys we already have). Here's the full list:

  • Android 16
  • Android 18
  • Yamcha
  • Beerus
  • Kid Buu
  • Majin Buu
  • Captain Ginyu
  • Cell
  • Frieza
  • Adult Gohan
  • Teen Gohan
  • Goku
  • Goku Black
  • Gotenks
  • Hit
  • Krillin
  • Nappa
  • Piccolo
  • Tien
  • Trunks
  • Vegeta
  • SSGSS Goku
  • SSGSS Vegeta
  • Majin Android 21
  • Bardock
  • Broly
  • Zamasu
  • Vegito
  • Base Goku
  • Base Vegeta

It's not the most sizable roster when you consider many of these characters are repeats, but FighterZ presents them with completely unique fighting styles, move sets, and great detail.

A completely original Dragon Ball story

Dragon Ball Fighterz

Dragon Ball Fighterz (Image credit: Bandai Namco)

While most Dragon Ball games to date have based their story modes around actual Dragon Ball goings-on, FighterZ has its own unique story to sink your teeth into.

The story revolves around antagonist Android 21. She was created by the Red ribbon Army after spending much of her life as a human. She has a son who is known by the name Android 16. Android 21 wants to resurrect Frieza, Cell, Nappa, and the Ginyu Force, all the while suppressing the powers and strength of any of earth's warriors who dares challenges them.

It's bold for Bandai Namco and Arc System Works to try an original story in a universe with such a long-standing history. Dragon Ball FighterZ opened itself up to great scrutiny in that regard. Despite that, they've put together a fantastic story mode that'll have you feeling like you're reading a surprise new chapter from Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama himself.

Use teamwork to take down your opponents

Core gameplay sees you putting together a team of three fighters to take on an equally stacked opponent. Once you're in the fight, you can switch to any of your team members at any time. Whether you run through all three of your fighters down a line or sub out your finishing character to preserve them for the home stretch, you can juggle them however you like.

Like other fighting games with this team-based concept, you can also have your reserve characters come in during select moves to perform assist combos. This allows your characters to team up and deliver a more punishing blow. Whoever defeats all three characters first wins.

Dragon Ball FighterZ has borrowed a bit from pretty much any fighting game you can think of, such as the use of projectiles, substitution moves, guard breaks, and aerial attacks.

The game is a bit deeper than we're used to, compared to older Dragon Ball games, but you don't have to be a pro to compete. Players can enable a casual fighting mode if their muscle memory isn't quite as sharp as their opponents'.

What can you do in the shared online world?

One of the most interesting things about Dragon Ball FighterZ is the shared online hub. This is a gathering place where you can go to manage your characters, as well as a place for you and your friends to stage before you set up online fights.

Don't mistake it for an MMO game, though. Yes, you'll see a lot of people walking around as they do their daily bidding, but it's not like you'll be grouping up to take on raid bosses or anything.

Still, this is a cool component of Dragon Ball FighterZ that makes the game feel more alive. The idea is to get you interested and excited to try out the game's online features, so if you're getting the game then be sure to check it out just to see if it's your cup of tea.

Another thing: don't think that this persistent online world means you always need to be online to play. Dragon Ball FighterZ is completely playable offline, and even if you do decide to venture into multiplayer you don't have to enter the shared world hub if you don't want to.

One last thing of a thing: there's no cross-platform play, so you'll always be matched up with other Switch players if you're playing on a Switch.

What's changing for the Switch version?

The Nintendo Switch version of Dragon Ball FighterZ is getting a couple of extra fun goodies that folks on other platforms might be jealous. By far, the biggest is the ability to play local multiplayer.

You can do your typical two-versus-two matches if you'd like (playable on a single Joy-con if you don't mind using the casual controls), but it also supports as many as 6 players at the same time, so long as you have 6 Joy-cons and two Nintendo Switch consoles. The real serious players can hook up a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and go to town.

Performance on the Switch version is also said to be quite nice. Players can expect 60 frames-per-second gameplay both in TV and handheld mode, and the transition between said modes is pretty seamless if you aren't doing a multi-Switch setup.

When can you play Dragon Ball FighterZ?

Dragon Ball FighterZ for Nintendo Switch launches September 28, 2018. Who will your fighters be?

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Quentyn Kennemer