6 tips for getting started in Dragon Ball FighterZ

In its first day on PC, Dragon Ball Fighter Z had triple the number of players as Street Fighter V. That means a swathe of fresh-faced Saiyans are now jumping into the arena for the very first time, eager to fight. While DBFZ is much easier to get into compared to other fighting games from Arc System Works, relying on the game’s easy autocombos will only get you so far. To lessen some of those starting beatdowns you might soon be facing at the hands of skilled opponents, we’ve compiled some tips and tricks that should help you along the path to becoming a Super Saiyan God.

So put on your weighted clothing, jump in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber and get to training!

Do the Tutorial and Combo Challenges

As boring as it is to sit through tutorials, Dragon Ball FighterZ’s is perfect for running you through the basics of combat. Along with the essentials of blocking and attacking, this tutorial introduces more advanced concepts like airdashing, meter management and using assists. Once you’ve completed the Tutorial, your next stop should be the Combo Challenges. These trials will give you a flavour of each character in Dragon Ball FighterZ by giving you some sample combos to try out.

While the challenges unfortunately don’t cover team manoeuvres, you’ll get a feel for things like jump-cancelling and mid-combo Vanishes, which are crucial for constructing long combo strings. 

Wean yourself off autocombos

If you are coming to DBFZ as a rookie fighting game player, there will be the urge to stick to just using the light and medium autocombos. Try and resist the temptation, as autocombos generate less Super meter, and do less damage than manual combos. The Combo Challenges do teach you some basic starter strings, so don’t worry about being thrown into the deep end. Almost every character has this universal combo: Light -> Light -> Crouching Medium -> Medium -> Jump Cancel -> Light -> Medium -> Jump Cancel -> Light -> Medium -> Heavy. You can spice this up by sticking a Super on the end, but try doing that sequence a couple of times with Goku as practice. Before you start panicking, jump cancelling isn’t difficult, all you need to do is press up following an attack to make your character jump. Every air attack can be jump-cancelled, as well as the majority of grounded normal attacks. 

While you’re trying to kick the autocombo habit, avoid using Dragon Ball FighterZ’s Super Dash as your main movement tool. While it is a great tool for closing the gap between you and your opponent, a Super Dash can easily be intercepted with a Kamehameha or crouching Heavy. So just like with autocombos, sprinkle in some airdashes, ground dashes and double jumps when you’re attempting to pin down your opponent.

Don’t just pick your favorites, be a team player

When you're hovering on the character select screen, it’s natural to gravitate towards your favorites (Piccolo and Teen Gohan, obviously). While I wouldn’t dissuade you from picking your most loved character, be aware that Dragon Ball FighterZ is a tag team fighter at its heart. This means picking characters whose assists complement each other, considering how each character’s Super can flow into the next and so on.

As an example, Cell and Vegeta work very well together, as Vegeta’s assist can lock opponents in position following Cell’s light autocombo, allowing Cell to start up a combo from any direction he wants. Experiment in Training Mode to see which assists can cover certain character weakness and how you can use assists to start up or lengthen combos.

For your first team, I’d include a character that fires some sort of energy beam for their assist, as it is great for stopping players who love to Super Dash straight at you.

Spend some time in Training Mode

You’ll no doubt be itching to jump straight into a Ranked match once you’ve done the tutorial and found some characters you like, but some time in Training Mode will do you good. Not only does it give you a chance to get comfortable with how each of your characters move without interruption, it gives you an opportunity to tinker with the extensive options that will help improve your skills. Keep getting hit by a specific attack? You can record and playback actions as the training dummy, so you can find the optimal counter. Want to find the perfect setup after you knock an opponent down? You can set the training dummy’s exact get-up option, so you can learn what moves works where. Getting the most out of the Training Mode is integral to improving as a player, so don’t be afraid to spend time practicing. 

For basic combo practice, I’d start by setting your Super gauge to zero and seeing how much damage you can do in a single combo, without using a Super or a Heavy special move. Once you’ve got a basic sequence down, build up from there with Vanishes, Supers and so on.

Learn combo notation

Unlike Street Fighter, anime fighters like Dragon Ball FighterZ and Guilty Gear use a different form of notation for writing out combos. Rather than writing out “crM” to stand for “Crouching Medium”, anime players would write out “2M” instead. This is because rather than using English phrases for notation, the anime fighter community uses the directions on a computer’s numpad to stand in for words like standing or crouching. So instead of “standing medium” or “stM”, you would see 5M, seeing as 5 is the neutral position on a numpad. Forward medium would be 6M, back medium would be 4M and so on.

This procedure applies to complex motions as well. So a normal Kamehameha with Goku—down, down forward, forward + the Special Action button in Street Fighter notation—would become 236S in numpad notation.

It sounds complicated at first, but this form of notation has created a sort of universal combo language, meaning you don’t need to worry about a language barrier when looking up new combo strings. To give you a proper example, the combo from the previous tip would look like this in numpad notation: 5L>5L>2M>5M>JC>jL>jM>JC>jL>jM>jH. 

Watch replays, look up guides and ask for help

There will be characters you struggle against. There will be players who just beat you, every single time you play. Instead of jumping straight back into Ranked or letting the salt consume you, take time to decompress and analyse why you lost. Rewatch losses using Dragon Ball FighterZ’s in-game replay feature and see where your opponent took the lead. Search around for character guides and watch footage of top players who use your characters. And if you can’t find something out on your own, ask for help! Fighting game players love sharing technology, match replays and tips on how to beat problem characters, so join a Discord, search Twitter for combo clips and break down that roadblock. Having a break will also clear your mind, and hopefully stop any fight sticks from flying through windows.

And if all else fails, just mash those buttons.