Dragon Ball XenoVerse on PlayStation 3 & 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC
Dragon Ball XenoVerse is the latest in a long line of Dragon Ball fighting games. For as long as anyone can remember, humans, saiyans, namekians and other alien races have been pit against each other in a battle for supremacy. You’ve fought through every single saga to have occurred in the Dragon Ball universe and you have probably mastered every single character on each of those massive character select screens. So what could Dragon Ball XenoVerse possibly bring to the table that can separate it from the rest of the bunch?
The folks over at Bandai Namco figured out a way to bring you to all of those memorable battles yet still manage to make them feel new somehow. That method comes by way of time travel. Dragon Ball is no stranger to being rather liberal when it comes to time so using the twist of time travel in order to put some new wrapping on fan-favorite scenarios is kind of a stroke of genius. What this results in is an entirely new saga that could’ve easily existed in the series, yet also allows the developers to build a story around you, the player.
Dragon Ball XenoVerse opens with many defining moments in Dragon Ball Z playing out a lot differently from how fans probably remember. Kid Buu survives a deadly attack from Super Saiyan 3 Goku, Perfect Cell stands triumphant at the end of the Cell Games, and many other enemies live when they should be no more. Someone has been meddling with the past and it needs to be put to a stop. Time traveling Trunks is on the case, but he just can’t do it all on his own. This is where the Dragon Balls and you come in. Trunks summons Shenron and wishes for a powerful warrior to aid him in his upcoming battles. That wish brings you to the character creation screen where your adventure truly begins.
Dragon Ball XenoVerse allows you to create a character in one of the five major races (Majin, Earthling, Saiyan, Namekian, and Frieza clan) in either gender. Each race has a slight difference in stats but none will leave you at a major disadvantage, allowing you to create a character to your liking. There is a surprising number of customization options exclusive to each race, plus you have full control over your starting color scheme so the prospect of adding a completely unique character to the DBZ universe is entirely within reach. Once you have your look down all you have to do is choose your fighting style and the real fun begins.
Before getting into gameplay, it must be said that the game looks and sounds as amazing as one would hope. Every character looks true to the anime just as you’d expect after playing previous Dragon Ball games. They sound just as you remembered them sounding, and they even made sure to include banter that fits each character instead of just grunts and the yelling out of special moves. Energy flashes as you power up and explosions keep everything exciting. Flying around at high speeds within the large fighting areas that fans will undoubtedly remember from the classic series makes you feel like you’re truly fighting on par with the saiyans we fell in love with all those years ago.
Combat in Dragon Ball XenoVerse starts off extremely simple. You have your strong and weak attacks, a couple of special attacks, and an ultimate attack. At first it seems a bit disappointing, after all Dragon Ball games aren’t known for being overly simplistic. Instead they are known for being huge, fast paced, combo heavy, explosive affairs that keep the bottom of your jaw firmly glued to the ground. When you begin XenoVerse that just isn’t the case. But, you can rest assured that the disappointment soon fades.
What starts off slow gradually reaches breakneck speed as you progress through the game. This is largely due to the heavy inclusion of RPG elements. The primary protagonist, your character, is truly you. As you fight you earn experience, as you earn experience you gain levels, and with those levels comes the ability to increase whatever stats you see fit. After gaining a few levels you will be able to duke it out with the best of them in large battles. And some of those large battles are truly mesmerizing.
As mentioned before, Dragon Ball XenoVerse‘s plot revolves around someone messing with history and altering majoring battles. Since your job is to fix them you get to participate in all of the greatest battles, only this time things are a bit different. Enemies are more powerful, alliances that didn’t exist before are now present and ready to destroy you, and other people are drawn into dire situations. Being able to hold back Frieza while Goku prepares his Spirit Bomb is simply amazing. Or perhaps you want to ensure that the Ginyu Squad gets taken down before they can use the Dragon Balls? Well Dragon Ball XenoVerse will allow you to do that as well. All the while, many fan-favorite characters cheer you on as you lay the smack down on anyone who steps out of line which is its own special kind of awesome.
Characters react to you, comment on your ability, and even taunt you. These are small things, but they lend to the bigger picture and show that you are actually making a mark on the world of Dragon Ball XenoVerse. The fully animated cutscenes also lend to this feeling that you are truly in this world. While your character doesn’t appear in these scenes, the Dragon Ball characters that do appear make an effort to talk directly to you, putting you right in the middle of the anime.
Even with the amazing twist it’s completely understandable to want more than the same battles you’ve watched and participated in for years. Even for the largest fans of the series there are but so many times an individual is willing to fight the same battle. Luckily Bandai Namco had a solution for that problem in the form of Parallel Quests. These quests place you in different scenarios ranging from training to even more alternate timelines that pit you against varying groups of enemies. They serve as extra content and as a means to train, and gain valuable skills and equipment.
Speaking of skills and equipment, you’d probably be happy to know that Dragon Ball XenoVerse contains tons of the stuff. There are hundreds of combat skills and even more costume pieces. Using these you can build the perfect warrior with a set of moves that suits your play style. The costume pieces have stat buffs as well so you can mix and match to give yourself an edge. As you level up and collect more and more supplies you will come to see how much of an RPG this fighter actually is.
There is a very deep grind to the game that you will need to participate in if you are to have any hopes of finding victory during later story battles. While the moves you start out with are adequate for the beginning, amassing a collection of powerful abilities will be imperative later on. Luckily the game has many things in place to assist you including training from some of the Dragon Ball universe’s most powerful fighters. This is a pretty nice touch in that it adds more than just random drops to your skill collecting activities.
After coming across certain characters in Dragon Ball XenoVerse you can approach them for training in order to learn some of their signature moves and acquire some sweet gear. See a special move used by a strong enemy? Does that enemy happen to be one of the boss characters? Well you can ask them to train you and add some powerful techniques to your repertoire. This helps to break up some of the monotony and also find more of a use for everyone’s favorite characters.
All of this is tied up in a very social package which happens to be both Dragon Ball XenoVerse‘s strongest and most troublesome feature. This title eschews title menus and instead places everything in Toki-Toki City, the city of time which the plot revolves around. Anything you want to do in the game is accessed by speaking to the right person (or robot) in one of the three sectors of this small city that serves as both a hub, and a social space.
Whether you’re playing online or off you will see many other player-created characters hanging out openly to be recruited for missions. All Parallel Quests can be done with friends (or strangers if that’s more your thing), and you can still face off for supremacy in matches ranging from 1 vs 1 to 3 vs 3. You also have a slew of interaction options ranging from waving to striking a fighting pose. Heck, they even have both sides of the fusion dance which rival any of the slick moves you can bust in Destiny. You can tell that they put a lot of effort into getting people to play with one another, but it comes at a cost.
Having to walk to every activity isn’t too much of a bother until you find yourself trying to bang out several activities in a row. Once you complete one activity, instead of bringing you back to that menu (i.e. Parallel Quest window) you are spawned at a pre-ordained location where you have to once again find your way back to the mission list you were in. There are also no options to just retry a mission in the hopes for a better score upon completion or failure, which means even to do the same mission you will have to walk. It’s one of those things that seems small at first but eventually grows to an annoyance that must be acknowledged.
Adding to the annoyance were the server issues that boot you all the way back to the title screen. Dragon Ball XenoVerse does indeed provide the option of playing offline, but that doesn’t stop you from getting the boot for some reason. It is definitely something that can be fixed, but it still ruins the fun to be abruptly kicked from your game.
All in all, Dragon Ball XenoVerse is a solid premise that fits right in with the universe it’s set in. It is fan service at its best and there is absolutely no harm in that. Unfortunately it is slightly bogged down by the weight of one of its largest features. The hub world of Toki-Toki city is a great idea that serves its purpose but adds a bit of clunkiness that makes getting to the fun bits a bit of a chore. And fun is something that should never feel like a chore.
For any information on Dragon Ball XenoVerse be sure to check out the game’s official site.