Dragon Ball Z fans familiar with the Budokai series of games will have a jump on the competition when Dragon Ball Xenoverse releases next year. While the new game isn't exactly like the Budokai fighting games, it's closer to that series than any others. You'll duke it out against human and computer-controlled opponents through story missions, in one-on-one battles and in World Tournaments. Combat takes up a bulk of the game, and it's important to get a grasp on the fighting mechanics as quickly as possible.

The controls are fairly straightforward. You've got buttons for Normal Attack, Heavy Attack, Jump, Ki Blast, block, fly down, lock-on to a target and dash. If you hold down R2 (on the PS3 and PS4), it brings up  secondary menu that changes the main face buttons into your four Special Moves, while holding down L2 and L2 changes that menu to your four Ultimate Attacks. You can also use the directional pad to bring up your scouter to read an opponent's power level, but doesn't directly relate to the fighting mechanics.

There are two gauges near the portrait of your character. The top gauge is your Ki Gauge, which governs your use of Ultimate Attacks. The bottom gauge is the Guard Gauge, which controls how often you can teleport (i.e. move so fast they appear to be teleporting) away to avoid attacks, or block powerful Ultimate Attacks. You start each match with no Ki Gauge, and a full Guard Gauge. As you attack an opponent, your Ki Gauge builds, and as you block attacks or teleport, your Guard Gauge is depleted.

The Guard Gauge is most important because it determines how often you can teleport. Anytime you get attacked, as long as you have at least two bars of your Guard Gauge (which starts out at five bars), you can perform a teleport to avoid the attack and get behind your opponent. This is a very powerful defensive tool, but if you abuse it too much you'll be stuck taking the full damage of an opponent's combo.

The speed at which your Guard Gauge builds varies depending on the race and gender of your character, but in most cases if you use two teleports in rapid succession, you won't be able to use a third for at least five or six seconds. That's more than enough time for an opponent to land a full combo. If the opponent has enough Ki Gauge to use an Ultimate Attack in their combo, that could mean losing 50 percent of your health bar.

Blocking is also governed by the Guard Gauge, but it takes a great deal of time to deplete the Guard Gauge by simply blocking Normal Attacks. You can break an opponent's guard by charging up a Heavy Attack, but that takes time and won't be something you can pull off in the midst of a one-on-one battle. If the opponent blocks an Ultimate Attack, it generally drains over half of their Guard Gauge. If you follow this with a quick combo, they won't be able to teleport away.

It's fairly easy to tack on Ultimate Attacks or Special Attacks to the end of combos. You can also knock an opponent away, teleport after them and hit them again, just like in the anime. Your basic combo is a series of Normal Attacks. At the end of this attack series, use a Heavy Attack to send the opponent flying, then immediately follow that with the Jump button to chase after them with a teleport to continue the combo.

If you end your combo with a Special or Ultimate Attack, as long as the opponent doesn't teleport away, the attack is guaranteed to connect. Make sure you don't use it unless you're confident the opponent's Guard Gauge is fairly low. You have no way of knowing the status of the opponent's Guard Gauge, but if the opponent just teleported away twice, it's a safe bet you can land a Special or Ultimate Attack. In addition, you can cut your combo short to improve your chances. As long as you connect one or two Normal Attacks, you can go right into a Heavy Attack, Special Attack or Ultimate Attack. You'll lose a bit of damage, but that's better than having the opponent teleport away to dodge the attack.

Dragon Ball Xenoverse releases sometime in 2015. While Namco Bandai has yet to announce a second beta for the upcoming title, you can check out our hands-on impressions of the first beta, and we'll keep you posted on Xenoverse as the game draws closer to release.