In August of 2021, Bandai Namco dropped a bombshell patch that shook up Dragon Ball FighterZ in a big way. The patch introduced new mechanics to the game, like aerial Guard Cancel and the ability to raw tag during special move animations, alongside significant character balancing. Long-time low tiers Zamasu and Goku Black were finally made viable, and players had a new sandbox to explore. As is the case with any patch, these changes shook up the way the game is played. However, in an interesting twist, there doesn’t appear to be a clear meta forming at the moment.
In a game that traditionally features a significantly dominant character or two, this patch’s major threat doesn’t appear to be clear-cut. The base game had Cell, later season one was dominated by Bardock, GT Goku was a mandatory team member in season two, and last year had the brutal UI Goku, but this patch’s main antagonist hasn’t quite revealed themself yet. After the USA vs. France 5v5, some would argue that SSJ4 Gogeta or Vegito could be contenders, but these characters appear to be primarily valued in France. The USA’s best players continue to champion characters like Android 21, Z Broly, Piccolo, and Base Vegeta, but when you look at this meta from a macro level it is truly all over the place.
Who Is Powerful Right Now in DBFZ?
“Which character is the best?” is always the million-dollar question, but this season has more factors to consider than ever.
On an individual level, many characters have a higher power level now than they’ve had in the past. Zamasu has shot up from undisputed bottom tier to the master of mobility and high/low mixup, and we’ve seen Spanish player Gropis use him to incredible effect. SSJ4 Gogeta is the current king of oppression, and Vegito has gone from the memeable “no mix” status to one of the scariest characters to fight on the roster. Z Broly, Base Goku, and Android 21, who were already incredible, received further buffs. Even more characters are just now being explored, like the new build of Android 16, which SonicFox has been vocal about on Twitter.
Niiiice. Found a easy 0 Bar TOD with Android 16 in the corner from 2H. pic.twitter.com/68FsQg3yud
— SonicFox (@SonicFox) September 9, 2021
Of course, Dragon Ball FighterZ is a versus game, so while individual strength is certainly important, synergy is the true path to victory. This also happens to be what is making the current meta so hard to nail down: the paths to synergy are incredibly variable. This aspect of FighterZ was blown wide open in season three when multiple assist options were introduced, and it has been broken again with the introduction of the special tag mechanic. A mind-blowing amount of combo routes and synergetic tags have been discovered over the last month with no signs of slowing. One great example is the synergy between Z Broly and Base Vegeta. Z Broly’s signature combo finisher, his air grab, allows him to tag into Vegeta, who can use his off-the-ground grab to set up his brutal level three okizeme. Plays in this vein seem poised to define the meta in the same way that powerful assists have in the past.
Damn that's crazy pic.twitter.com/b1clpJHjnm
— DZ | Jonathan Tene (@jonathan_tene) September 2, 2021
What Comes Next for the DBFZ Meta?
With the World Tour Opening Event behind us, it will be interesting to see how the season plays out. There are no new DLC characters on the horizon to unexpectedly shake things up, meaning players will be free to focus on optimizing their team composition and mastering those characters. After France’s incredibly impressive showing at the 5v5 exhibition, it seems as though they are going to play a major role in defining season four’s meta. That said, France tends to favor an “anyone is viable” approach, with major threats like Wawa and Kyden regularly changing out their teams mid-match and having what seems like a pocket everybody.
With the USA newly focused on revenge against France, and Japan openly vocal about getting back into the mix, it is highly likely that we’re on the verge of one of the wildest and most exciting seasons of Dragon Ball FighterZ ever.