Dragon Ball FighterZ has been on my radar since it was announced at the Microsoft E3 conference in 2017. I truly didn’t expect it to launch a mere 7 months later, yet here we are, with one week until release. Over the last few days I spent some time with the beta, which was extended by an extra day due to network difficulties.

The thing that surprised me the most about the Dragon Ball FighterZ beta was just how Dragon Ball it truly felt. I grew up watching the anime, and I usually watch through it once a year. To this day I still sit anxiously by throughout the week waiting for the new episode of Dragon Ball Super to air so I can watch it and continue following Goku and the other Z fighters on their journeys to take on stronger and stronger enemies. The flashy animation, the over the top fight scenes, the small mannerisms of each character. That’s what I love about Dragon Ball, and that’s what I love so much about Dragon Ball FighterZ.

I know I haven’t gotten to play the full game yet, but other than the incredibly frustrating network issues the beta had, I had a ton of fun during the few days I was able to play. It’s clear Arc System Works has a lot of respect for the source material. Whether it’s from character intros to the end fight easter egg sequences, Dragon Ball FighterZ has a ton of throwback references to the show.

Each match has players in a 3v3 fight of constructed teams. My go to ended up being Goku, Vegeta, and Beerus, but I had a lot of fun using some of the other characters. The best part about each character is that everyone feels unique, and everyone feels competitive. Sure, having Krillin defeat Beerus in a fight doesn’t make sense, but that is part of the gameplay balancing act. In terms of characters, it wouldn’t work on the show, but here it flows beautifully.

Learning when is the best time to swap out to another character ended up being very important because it doesn’t just prevent one of the fighters from being knocked out, Arc System Works has managed to make it work to interrupt an opponent’s flow if timed well. The best part about having multiple characters to tag team with is that if certain character combinations are used when picking fighters, special animations can occur that are specific to that duo. Again, it all comes back to the clear love that Arc System Works has for Dragon Ball.

In the main lobbies, players control a cute Dragon Ball character that can traverse the world into different zones of play. One area is the overworld was a training area, while another was one for finding opponents. There are more than a few lobby avatars to choose from, so that kind of customization was fun while waiting for a match. When trying to join a match, after queuing up for a fight a screen pops up and allows you to accept or reject a competitor. This irked me a little bit because most of the time it just threw me back into the lobby. I’m honestly not sure if it was because players were rejecting my battles or network issues, but it often took me a while to actually get to play.

There was no way to play directly with friends, so queuing up and hoping that the beta matched you together was the only way to battle against your friends. This might have been another reason that I had a hard time getting into fights, so I really wish that had been an option here, as it still would have tested the stability of the servers.

My biggest concerns are related to the network issues. I’m pretty sure that this beta was the same content that was used for the alpha test a few months ago, and I’m sure it will be or is already fixed for launch. However, the networking issues I had during the beta were some of the worst I’ve experienced in a long time. Half of the time I went to play, I couldn’t even get to the main lobby. After getting a failed to connect error I generally went to play something else for a while, and then when I came back it was better, but having that many errors so often was very frustrating.

Other than some very frustrating network issues, I had a blast playing the Dragon Ball FighterZ beta. I’m sure the server issues will be fixed by launch, and I really hope they are because the matches are incredibly tense, flashy, and fun. Everything I love about Dragon Ball is on display in Dragon Ball FighterZ, and the incredibly attention to detail is something Arc System Works should be proud of. I’m looking forward to jumping into the fray when Dragon Ball FighterZ launches on January 26th. Check back shortly after launch for a full review from Electric Bento.

Dragon Ball FighterZ will be available January 26th for Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC.