8 things I wish I knew before playing Dragon Ball FighterZ

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Dragon Ball Z games have often struggled to capture the raw intensity of the show they're based on, usually feeling slow or underpowered when compared to the source material. After all, in the show, these are characters that could easily blow up a planet, who move faster than the eye can follow, and whose punches send shockwaves that shatter mountains - how do you put that into a fighting game and make it not only balanced, but comprehensible?

Developer Arc System Works' Dragon Ball FighterZ does an excellent job by focusing and speed and ferocity, while shifting players' views of the action to the 2D plane. It's undoubtedly one of the best DBZ adaptations in years, and fans are loving the sheer spectacle that comes from blasting an opponent into space dust. But it's also an entrance point for some who may not be familiar with fighting games, and even seasoned pros will need to adapt to FighterZ's unique systems. So to help you out, here are 8 things I found while playing that helped me raise my power level.

Use your teammates

FighterZ is set up with tag-team style bouts. Only two fighters square off at a time, 1v1, but two back-up characters are always waiting in the wings, ready to help out when you call on them. With a quick tap of the shoulder buttons you can summon one in for a quick assist attack, or with a longer press you can swap out and take control entirely. The assist attacks can chip away at an opponent's health or help set up longer combos, while swapping out will give an injured fighter some time to recover health. Sticking with each fighter until they're dead is a bad idea, so make sure to cycle through your roster often.

Press the attack hard and often

FighterZ tends to favor aggression over defense, so don't be afraid to get in and really bully your opponent. Super dashes and Vanish attacks are great for closing long gaps, and Dragon Rush will let you break an opponent's guard and continue the fight in the air. If you come up against someone who's trying to keep distance, use these tools to keep the pressure on.

Manage your Ki

Ki is the energy you use in Dragon Ball FighterZ to execute your character's most powerful moves. A level 1 Super uses up one bar of Ki, while a level 3 Super uses up, you guessed it, three. Vanish attacks also use one bar of Ki. Ki builds as you successfully land attacks, or when you press the light attack and special attack buttons simultaneously to manually power up, and you can hold up to 7 bars of Ki at once. Just be careful not to exhaust all of it, or you might be caught in a situation where you can't pull off a much-needed Super or Vanish.

Go all-out with a Z-Change

As you build up your Ki in FighterZ, you'll be able to perform Super attacks. These vary from character to character, but they're always potent attacks that are fun to watch because of their sheer spectacle. Seriously, I could listen to Piccolo scream "Special Beam Cannon!" all day. But if you have more than one level of Ki built up, you can actually chain these attacks together and really blast your foe to pieces. Start by performing a Super attack - as the animation begins, press down a shoulder button as if you were going to change out characters. The fighter you call in will fire off their Super as well, allowing you to combine attacks for all-out mayhem. You can even press the other assist button while the second character winds up to have three Supers going at once.

Go even further beyond by learning to Ultimate Z-Change

Let's say you want to use Goku's level 3 Super attack, but he's quite injured and currently on your sideline. You can still call him in by using an Ultimate Z-Change. As opposed to a Z-Change, which requires you to use your current character's Super first, an Ultimate Z-Change will call in your teammate and have them immediately fire off their Super without your current character needing to do theirs. Push the movement stick or d-pad left and then down and right across the bottom as if you were making a half-circle motion, followed by the assist button assigned to the character you want to call in and they'll enter the ring by performing their level 1 Super. Start by pushing to the right and moving in a clockwise motion instead and you'll call in a teammate who will immediately fire off their level 3 Super. This can be a great way to catch someone off-guard and deal some major damage.

Super Dashes are a great way to exploit the AI

FighterZ is fun, but it can also be frustrating when going up against a particularly tough opponent. On harder Arcade mode difficulties, an AI can easily take off 80 percent of a character's health with a powerful Super attack. If you find yourself struggling, dash backward and then use a Super Dash to initiate a combo, and squeeze in as much damage as you can (using a quick Z-Change near the end of your combo will be a major help in extending the number of hits you get in). Once you land, rinse and repeat. Humans will catch onto this pretty quickly, but the AI doesn't seem to block Super Dashes often unless they're used at close range.

But they CAN be countered

Super Dashes can seem a bit overpowered because of how quick and accurate they are and how few attacks can knock someone out of the animation, but they can be countered. Since it's technically an air attack, anti-air attacks will work against them. It's tough to time, but if you go against someone spamming Super Dash, teach them a lesson by pressing down + heavy attack to avoid taking damage and give them a mean kick, punch, or energy blast to the teeth.

Don't forget Sparking Blast

If you're on the ropes and nothing seems to be working, you still have one option: Sparking Blast. This power can be activated only once per fight, but it provides powerful benefits. Any health that can be recovered will do so at a faster rate, you'll deal increased damage, and a Vanish attack will no longer knock an opponent away from you, but will instead simply teleport you behind your foe so you can set up longer, more punishing combos. Sparking Blast becomes more potent the fewer remaining teammates you have, so use it when you're falling behind to help even the playing field.

There are a lot more tips and tricks for you to discover as you battle your way through FighterZ. Hopefully this gives you a good start and you'll be Kaio-kickin' butt in no time.