Dragon Ball FighterZ’s combat may be ridiculously polished, but its lobby system is just plain ridiculous, especially if you have no interest in online play.
All I wanted was a quick punch-up against the computer; instead, I ended up crammed into a crowded room, surrounded by people I didn’t like and didn’t care about. No, I’d not wandered into one of the UK’s few remaining arcades, I’d merely attempted to play anime-themed brawler Dragon Ball FighterZ offline.
Dragon Ball FighterZ’s online lobbies have already been the subject of some controversy. In case you’re unfamiliar with the game, it features a system whereby you and other players, represented by cutesy “super deformed” avatars, mill around a brightly-coloured plaza. When the game launched, the lobby system was rendered unusable by connection errors, and even now it’s not unusual to be rudely informed that a room is full. But that’s not the problem I have with it.
Instead, what stirs me to apoplectic rage is the fact that the game inflicts the lobby system upon you, even if you’ve not attempted to venture online. Start the game and it will immediately try to connect you to an online lobby, regardless of your intentions. Looking to play Dragon Ball FighterZ’s single-player arcade mode? Tough. You’re joining a lobby. Want a quick one-on-one match with the person sitting next to you? You’re joining a lobby.
It’s every bit as irritating as it sounds. The only way to access Dragon Ball FighterZ’s various modes is through, wait for it, a lobby. There is an option to teleport next to specific areas of each virtual plaza but it’s a ridiculously unwieldy system especially if, as I have, you’ve bought the game with no intention of playing online. If you hit one particular button as the lobby system is loading up you’re given the option to play offline, but you still have to roam the lobby as your cutesy avatar. Short of disabling network play across your whole console, there’s no means of making “offline play” Dragon Ball FighterZ’s default. Nor is there any way of selecting your game mode from a main menu, in the manner of Street Fighter V and nearly every fighting game since the beginning of time.
I have no doubt that Arc System Works, creator of Dragon Ball FighterZ, is proud of its lobby system and the way it lets players interact online. Yet I can scarcely comprehend the sheer arrogance, the utter folly that led to making it a compulsory feature, tarnishing what is otherwise an excellent fighting game. Was the lobby system even tested prior to release? Surely at least one play tester piped up, pointing out that forcing you to jump through hoops to play a single player game was bound to alienate a huge chunk of Dragon Ball FighterZ’s prospective audience?
Perhaps at some point it’ll release an update that adds a more conventional menu system to the game. But right now just launching Dragon Ball FighterZ and having to wade through a jam-packed lobby to tackle a single player match makes me want to Kamehameha myself in the face.