Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Yep, Dragon Ball FighterZ is still a freakin’ blast

Illustration for article titled Yep, Dragon Ball FighterZ is still a freakin’ blast
Screenshot: Dragon Ball FighterZ (Bandai Namco Entertainment)

Every Friday, A.V. Club staffers kick off our weekly open thread for the discussion of gaming plans and recent gaming glories, but of course, the real action is down in the comments, where we invite you to answer our eternal question: What Are You Playing This Weekend?


Dragon Ball FighterZ

The reality of writing about video games means you hardly ever get to just hunker down and concentrate on one for a long period of time. You get your fill, and it’s onto the next thing, barreling ever forward at the beck and call of a medium that demands so much goddamned time. If there were one game this year I wish I could just keeping basking in it’s actually Dragon Ball FighterZ, Arc System Works’ brilliant, over-the-top tag-team fighting game. Since reviewing it back in January, I’ve been able to spend some time digging in and refining my chops. I haven’t felt the drive to really learn and excel at a competitive game like this since I got into an insanely heated Soulcalibur II rivalry with one of my high school friends back in 2003.

Sadly, I haven’t had the time to realize those dreams, but the game has remained at the forefront of my mind all year, partly because of how damn fun it is and partly because of how much competitive play I’ve been watching. And my goodness, when played at high levels, it’s just a thing of beauty, an explosive spectacle with all the balletic action and devious counter-attacks of an actual anime. It’s been a jolt of life for the competitive fighting game community, racking up huge registration numbers at tournaments (with a few months to go before the event, it’s currently the most entered game for this year’s EVO) and bringing together players from all of its many scenes. It’s even been the catalyst for a tremendously dramatic feud between the best player from America, Dominique “SonicFox” McLean, and the best player from Japan, Goichi “GO1” Kishida. The two traded jabs for weeks over social media until they finally went head to head in Atlanta, first in a first-to-10-wins exhibition and later in the grand finals of the weekend’s tournament. The drama provided some extra stakes to their sets, but the whole tournament was a fantastic watch:

But I’m definitely getting back in the saddle this weekend. The game just added its first two post-release characters—the gargantuan Broly and the nimble, aggressive Bardock—both of whom I’ve had fun fiddling with at the moment. Bardock is a very versatile character who fits in well with the rest of the cast, but Broly, with his unstaggerable attacks and strange combos, is an entirely different beast who’s going to take some work to understand. Here’s to hoping I can find that time. [Matt Gerardi]

Divinity: Original Sin

I had a kid last year, and you know how that goes: I am no longer quite so blissfully free to shovel free time into video games. I would love to play Ni No Kuni II; there is a 0 percent chance of me ever doing so. I am abstaining entirely from the PUBG and Fortnite phenomenons; we’ll see how my hand-eye coordination is holding up in 2025. Accordingly, I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to difficult games that take my time seriously—the recent Gorogoa, for example, as well as a long-delayed dive into Spelunky’s ever-shifting depths.


The one big exception to this has been games played socially. Board games are great for this. I’ve already written about the joys of Scythe and Pandemic Legacy, and I’ll add to that list Divinity: Original Sin, which isn’t a board game at all, a fact that hasn’t stopped me from playing it like one. The 2014 RPG received a lot of praise from genre fans for the way it updated deep-cut PC RPGs of yore, and I’m particularly fond of its cooperative system, which lets you and a friend run through the whole damn game, solving crimes and fighting enemies simultaneously—an incredibly rare feature for a game of this type. I’ve been picking away at it over weekend nights with a friend since the dead of winter, and we take it almost exclusively like a board game, barreling past its voluminous and occasionally insufferable writing and getting in fight after fight. We raze the pastel countryside, picking up flecks of narrative as we go. This has led to some surprising moments that the game, to its credit, totally accommodates. Once we picked a fight with two trolls, one big and one small; we did not realize until the small one was weeping over the larger one’s corpse that they were father and son. But I mean, what are you going to do at that point? Leave a witness?

The game’s got a whole host of issues, but its core combat is gloriously realized, a sandbox of systems and interactions that plays out with all sorts of spatial and elemental intrigue. We chased a glowing behemoth across a wintry landscape, leaving trails of earth scorched in our wake, and we foolishly wandered into areas way beyond our means, scraping by in ruthlessly difficult battles. Because we are not paying an iota of attention to the plot, we were stunned to realize this weekend that we are pretty much done with the game, which means we’re already sizing up our computers to see how well they’ll run its 2017 sequel. Even if you’re not huge on RPGs of this sort, the game’s worth a stab—it’s one of the best co-op experiences I’ve ever had. [Clayton Purdom]