Jump Force full review

Microsoft’s E3 2018 conference boasted a few great surprises, but one of the biggest reactions of the night went to the reveal of Jump Force, a new fighting game from Bandai Namco that pits characters from some of the most popular manga and anime series of all time up against each other.

We got the chance to test Jump Force out at E3 2018, along with an updated build with new characters at Gamescom 2018, and found out for ourselves who would win in fight between Goku, Naruto, and Monkey D. Luffy.

Jump Force release date and platforms

First up, you can look forward to the game coming out some time in 2019 - though we don’t know exactly when yet. Whenever it finally arrives, it will come out on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

If you know you're definitely going to buy the game, you can already pre-order if from Amazon in the UK or the US.

Jump Force preview

Jump Force is a 3v3 arena fighting game that’s essentially designed to settle every single anime-inspired playground ‘what if…’ argument you’ve ever had. Could Goku beat Luffy? Would Naruto thrash Frieza?

You build a team out of characters from assorted manga series including Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, One Piece, Bleach, and Hunter x Hunter. The Gamescom demo included twelve characters drawn from across these series: Goku, Vegeta, Frieza, Luffy, Zoro, Blackbeard, Naruto, Sasuke, Ichigo, Rukia, Gon, and Hisoka.

Beyond those, a few other characters have been confirmed that we didn't get to try, including Bleach villain Aizen and One Piece's Sanji and Sabo. The reveal trailer also teased Death Note's Light and Ryuk, but they've since been confirmed to be story characters only, and not playable, which raises the possibility of an even wider range of character cameos.The uniting factor is that they’re all manga that were published in Shonen Jump, an ongoing Japanese magazine, so look to there to think what other franchises might be added.

Combat follows the simple, newbie-friendly style of Dragon Ball FighterZ, with simple combos and quick access to some powerful moves: just hold the right trigger and hit a face button to pull off a move like Goku’s Kamehameha, blasting your opponent from across the stage.

Fill up your power bar and you can activate a super form - again, for Goku, think Super Saiyan - which gives you quick access to your ultimate super move. It’s all very easy to get to grips with, though between the combos, throws, parries, and rapid movement options, there are hints at the sort of depth required to make this a competitive staple like FighterZ.

Combat in the E3 build felt strangely weightless, but fast forward a few months and it's transformed. The game is just as fast and fluid, but now when hits connect there's a real sense of impact, especially in the heavy smashes and giant energy blasts, and we're now much more confident that the game's mechanics will do justice to the scale and power of these over-the-top anime attacks.

Movement is totally free in the 3D arena, which keeps fights feeling dynamic, but the game seems to lock you on slightly when you fire off a special attack - or maybe just corrects your aim as long as you’re in roughly the right direction - which means big attacks are forgiving rather than fiddly, with no need to worry about precise aiming in the 3D space.

As for those stages, they’re oddly based on a mix of real world locations and settings from the series themselves. The E3 demo only showed off Times Square and the Matterhorn, but Gamescom brought with it Hong Kong and the first fictional setting: the planet Namek from Dragon Ball Z, complete with Goku's Capsule Corp ship.

We're hoping to see a few more of these anime and manga-inspired locales in the full game, but also for a bit more life in them. Each of the stages features vivid backdrops, but the arenas themselves are sparse and empty, meaning it's easy to forget which one you're fighting on - a shame in such a larger-than-life setting.