Cell has been toned down, Frieza's Golden Form buffed substantially and Bardock's Rebellion Spear now more unsafe — Let's break down the DBFZ patch

There's a lot to digest with so many characters receiving tweaks, but let's take a look at what the big takeaways from this week's adjustments are

Posted by Nicholas 'MajinTenshinhan' Taylor • August 9, 2018 at 8:02 p.m. PDT

With the release of Base Goku and Base Vegeta for Dragon Ball FighterZ earlier this week, we also got something people have been clamoring for for a while now, namely a balance patch.

Although we did get some balance changes to the game back in May, this patch seems to be a bit bigger in trying to change where characters are at.

Prior to the patch, we were told what characters would be receiving changes — more specifically, about two weeks ago.

It was stated by the developers that four characters would be exempt entirely from buffs or nerfs, because they believed these characters were the ideal that the rest of the roster should try to be matched to.

These four characters are Adult Gohan, Goku, Goku Black and Vegeta, and indeed, none of these characters have received any changes in this new patch.

With every other character in the roster being either buffed, nerfed or both, let's take a look at the overall takeaway from what this patch is going to do to the meta. But first, you can check the full list of balance changes here.

Cell notably nerfed, but still seems strong

As the most played character at EVO 2018, and at a few events before that, it was obvious that this perfect lifeform may just be a little bit too perfect, seemingly working amazingly well on just about any team you could put him on.

As such, the big thing people were looking at going into this patch was what nerfs Cell would be receiving. It was clear when he was on the list that he'd be receiving nerfs, especially after the statement that four characters definitely viewed as lower than him on the tier list, were the ideal character strength that other characters should be matched to.

If you bring Cell into training mode, it might seem like nothing is amiss at first glance. He should still have all of his old loops and such intact, however, they've been adjusted quite a bit in that his scaling has been worsened.

Starting a combo from a low kick, which is quite a common occurrence when playing Cell, will now cause the combo to scale heavier than before, resulting in less damage. Another move that was adjusted similarily is his jumping S, which is also used in his loops. This move also scales the combo harder than before now, resulting in less damage for Cell in the end.

That's not all on the bad news side, though, because another thing Cell players are going to have to get used to is that both his standing and crouching light attacks now have increased start up, meaning that Cell's pressure isn't going to be quite as strong, and that he overall will feel a bit slower.

That said, Cell still has many tools that make him good, and he even received some buffs to his Ground Rolling Crush, where you can now adjust the distance it moves while doing it, as well as the Heavy version of it now having faster startup, meaning there may be more reason to burn meter for this move. The aerial version which used to be able to hit opponents in the back will no longer do so, however.

All in all, Cell has definitely gotten weaker, but he should still be a big factor in the game. A opinion from a top player which echoes my own thoughts is that of TSM|Leffen, who points out that Cell could still be top tier, but will need a more specific team to work well instead of basically being the "one size fits all" he's been so far, where you can just fit him in to any team and have it work for you.

Other top tiers toned down as well

Besides Cell, two other characters have been toned down a bit, and they're the two everyone was expecting, namely Kid Buu and Bardock.

First up, Kid Buu's crouching medium, namely the kicks that come up from under the ground, now have longer startup and will scale damage more severely if a combo is started from them, meaning that his robbery factor, so to speak, will probably feel lessened for opponents who go up against him.

Another notable change is that his Mystic Ball Attack will no longer cross up opponents, hopefully leading to a bit less ambiguity from his setups. That said, he's still a strong character on any team, since most of his tools remain intact, and his assist is as scary as ever for building pressure with any team, due to it not receiving any changes.

As for Bardock, the big problem with him for most players was how oppressive his Rebellion Spear special move was, and this has been taken note of, since the changes to him are focused around this move.

The light version now has less block stun, meaning Bardock won't be able to pressure as heavily with it, since he'll be more negative after using it. Basically, Bardock players will have to be more careful throwing this tool out.

The medium version is now invulnerable to jumping attacks, making it more suited for anti-air purposes, while Bardock's recovery on landing has been increased, presumably to make it less effective as a mixup tool, making it more difficult for him to follow up after.

However, the heavy version of the move has received a damage increase, but since this is the one you need to spend bar to use, it seems pretty fair to have it become better, to give it an area of use, since these types of moves haven't seen too much use for most characters as of yet.

Much like Cell, both Kid Buu and Bardock feel like they'll still be strong factors in the metagame, but their more annoying tools have been lessened in efficiency a bit.

The stated purpose of bringing characters to the level of high tier characters Adult Gohan, Goku, Goku Black and Vegeta seems intact with these smaller adjustments to these powerful fighters.

Frieza's Golden Form massively improved

One of the characters who's been struggling heavily, seeing very little tournament play and being at the lower end (if not outright bottom) of most published tier lists is Frieza, perhaps the most iconic villain of the entire Dragon Ball franchise.

At first glance, his changes did not look all that impressive — his assist now has more hitstun, faster startup on a few of his key moves and some recovery buffs, but nothing all too remarkable.

However, where Frieza truly shines (yes, that was intentional) in the new changes is in his Golden Frieza super, which costs 3 bars.

Previously, this mode wasn't all that hot, since despite costing so much meter it didn't really grant you enough of a buff for it to be worth the cost, but that might just have changed now.

There's a tweet from Cafwin which clearly demonstrates the value in the buffs to Golden Frieza, showing clearly how much combo potential has been opened up for the character.

Although it'll take a while before we can see if Frieza becomes a top contender or not, it's obvious that his potential as an anchor has been heightened — with both Golden Frieza and Sparking Blast at his disposal, this tyrant might become a true force to be reckoned with in the future.

Careful balancing rather than massive overhauls

Much like the last patch, the general trend we're seeing here from the balancing staff over at developers Arc System Works, overseen by publisher Bandai Namco, is to make small ripples rather than big waves.

Contrary to how some other fighting games, or games in general, tend to handle balance, what we're seeing here is small tweaks and adjustments to each character, carefully trying not to make anyone too strong or too weak in one fell swoop.

It seems to have worked well with the adjustments made to Vegeta and Adult Gohan in the previous patch we received, after all, since those two are being held up as part of the gold standard they want all characters in the game to be at.

Looking at the list of changes, some of the low tiers feel like they've received a questionably low amount of changes. While Frieza might be able to become a contender, another low-tier mainstay, Beerus, doesn't seem quite as fortunate.

It's hard to tell this early — the buffs to his lights and his assist may turn out to be gamechangers for the character, but the fact that the orbs his gameplan is built around can still be super dashed through seems like an oversight, at least to me who doesn't play the character, but clearly the developers feel like this is an area of Beerus they're not interested in changing.

It's also notable that some characters have been getting both buffs and nerfs, such as Android 21, whose assist and some specials got better, though her long-ranged crouching medium has become weaker, both in the size of its hitbox and its damage scaling as a combo starter.

Clearly, characters are being judged not only from their tier placing, but from what makes them fun or frustrating to play against, and attempts are made to balance this out for an overall more pleasant player experience.

Whatever the case, it'll be interesting to see how these various changes to each character mingles together with one another, and how the meta will be shaped from here on out.

With the Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour in full swing, there's bound to be a bunch of team switches and hype matches from top players coming our way, so it'll be exciting to see what these tweaks end up meaning for the game as a whole.

Personally, I'm a fan of the cautious approach to balance, rather than throwing everything out the window with a patch. While it can be frustrating, especially if you play relatively weak characters, to see them remain weak for a long time, this slow adjustment tends to be healthier for a game in the long run, and hopefully it'll lead to a bright future for Dragon Ball FighterZ as well.

Multiform added to Tenshinhan's Volleyball Fist technique

This doesn't really change anything besides a cool visual, but he's my namesake so I have to show love for it. Thanks, Bandai Namco and ArcSys!

Have you found any cool new things since the patch hit? Are you exploring new teams, or are you happy with what you were running pre-patch? Are there any characters you feel got too many nerfs or too many buffs, if so, which ones and why? Let us know in the comments.

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