Dragon Ball Xenoverse Review
Extra Features: Online Co-op (2-4), Online multiplayer (2 players)
Dragon Ball Z used to be one of the highlights of my TV viewing after school and I've seen much of Dragon Ball Z and the first half of Dragon Ball, but I have no experience with Dragon Ball GT. I immediately purchased the original Dragon Ball Z Budokai game when it was first released on PS2 but wasn't pleased with the overall feel of the game, so I got rid of it and haven't played a Dragon Ball game since then. Dragon Ball Xenoverse is my first Dragon Ball game to play since then and I must say that I am pleasantly surprised this time with the overall setup of the game.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse relies on a different type of story rather than just following another rehash of one of the many sagas from the anime. The entire setup of the story is so much better than many other anime games that I have played. The game starts out with a disturbance in the time stream that is messing up the events in the Dragon Ball universe and causing them to play out differently. Time Patrol Trunks uses the seven Dragon Balls to wish for a warrior to help out with the time disturbance. You play as the warrior that is called upon by Shenron to be the savior of time. From the start, you get to make up your own character by choosing between several different races (saiyan, human, majin, namekian, or frieza race). After choosing a race, you are free to customize your character as you see fit. You can choose different styles for the character's head, build, and voice as well as many other aspects. The starting outfits are basic, but Xenoverse has tons of different outfits you can buy to change the look of your character. You can also make multiple characters on the same save file if you want to try out another character type.
Xenoverse has a heavy RPG feel to it since you constantly gain new items and equipment that can help to boost your stats and your character gains levels that give you attribute points that you can use to boost your stats such as health and basic attacks. Battles take place in 3D destructible environments that you are free to walk and fly around (in the air, on the ground, or in the water). Each character race has three different attacks - light attack, heavy attack and energy blast - that can be stringed together for different combos. You can string together attacks that end in a heavy attack that knocks the opponent across the screen and then you can teleport behind the opponent to continue the combo. The attacks of your character will differ depending on the race you choose - for instance, namekian characters stretch their limbs a bit while attacking.
Along with basic attacks, your character has skills and super skills that can be equipped. The skills are truly the most fun part of battle since you're constantly getting new skills. The familiar kamehameha is one of the starting skills and I also got access to a few of Piccolo's attacks such as evil explosion and a type of special beam cannon. You can get different skills through defeating enemies and there is also an option to train under a character and learn different skills from that character. All skills can be equipped and unequipped after battles. Your character has a stamina gauge and an energy gauge under the health bar that you must keep constant attention on while fighting. The stamina gauge is used for moving quickly (flying) and dodging attacks with teleports. The energy gauge is used for skills and super skills. Both gauges replenish while attacking and there is also a charge skill for recharging your energy gauge. One of the best parts about the fighting in Xenoverse is that characters are constantly interacting with each other during fights, making the battles feel a lot like the show. The characters change their facial expressions as they hit enemies as well.
Battles in Xenoverse can get quite chaotic since both sides can have multiple characters on their team. The main battles that you'll engage in are story mode battles and online parallel quest battles. Story mode takes you to different periods of the Dragon Ball timeline where you get to help out the main characters in one of their historical battles. The story mode gets right to the point for the most part and doesn't have much of the soap box speeches and staring contests that the Dragon Ball show is well known for. Events sometimes play out differently from the way that we know them and you are put in charge of helping out the main characters fight baddies so that the timeline plays out the way it was destined to.
You'll gain different partners throughout the story mode and you'll be faced with many different types of enemies and sometimes groups of enemies. There are a few fetch and retrieve missions, such as collecting all the Dragon Balls during a fight. The fights in Xenoverse are fast and action-packed. The CPU can actually put up a good fight at times, but I do find that simply mashing the X button seems to work just about all the time no matter the difficulty, but there are some areas where that doesn't work so well. I constantly had to stock my character with healing items because some of the battles were really hard without them. The story mode seems to go through all the most important Dragon Ball Z sagas (Raditz, Vegeta + Nappa, Frieza, Cell, Majin Buu, etc).
Along with story mode quests are the Online Parallel Quests. These are optional quests where you are given certain targets and have to go to that timeline and defeat them along with your team of whoever you want. The quests always start out by giving you a choice of a team of three characters based on your picks from the character select screen. Characters unlock on this screen as you progress through the main story. You can choose to control your customized character or you can choose to play one of the many other characters and also pick a few more characters as your partners. You'll likely spend more time with the parallel quests than you do with the story mode since the parallel quests are where you gain most of your items after the battles - basically, this is the mode that you grind for rare items. Sometimes you'll get rare items such as one of the seven Dragon Balls once a quest is complete. During the quests, you are free to explore the area and find extra items on the various maps as well - these are indicated with markers while looking around.
In between battles, you'll have a chance to explore Toki-Toki City. This is the area where all players meet to buy extra items or equipment or engage in one of the many side quests. Some characters offer extra side quests and you can choose to accept some characters as your master to train under them, as already mentioned. The town is composed of characters that were created online so you'll constantly be seeing different characters while moving around town. The game allows you to join up with other players to engage in parallel quests (co-op) or player versus player battles (multiplayer).
The overall look of the game is much like the TV show or a Naruto game - it uses cel-shaded graphics and basically looks just like the Dragon Ball show. The character movement doesn't feel or look as smooth as a Naruto game however. The character movement is shaky and it isn't fluid at times - mainly while running. There were some battles that took place indoors where the camera got really annoying with going behind walls during fights. Some of the battles in story mode require you to protect your AI partners and these fights can be a bit annoying early on in the game since you don't have access to items that will heal them. Basically, you spend those battles trying to stick near your partners so your enemies will not damage them as much. I do feel that some arena's invisible walls are not expanded out enough. It's understandable to have invisible walls so players can't run constantly during battles, but there were some arenas that felt too small because the invisible walls were too close to the middle portion of the area.
The controls for the game took a bit of getting used to but they work well once I got adjusted to them. The A button is used to jump and fly into the air and you push in on the left thumbstick to descend. The other face buttons are used for attacking, the triggers are for holding to do special skills and the RB button is used for lock-on. The overall sound effects for the fighters sound much like the TV show. Teleports have the same sound effects as they did in the show and so do energy blasts. The overall sound makes me feel like I'm playing an episode of the show.If you're a Dragon Ball fan, I recommend giving Dragon Ball Xenoverse a try since it is easily the best Dragon Ball game that I have played so far and it can get mighty addicting if you enjoy grinding battles for items - such as the seven Dragon Balls to make a wish for extra content. Both the PS4 version and Xbox One version of Dragon Ball Xenoverse seem to play exactly the same with no differences from what I could tell - I played them both for this review. Just a little head's up for newcomers to Dragon Ball - the game's story mode plays out as if it expects that you have already watched the show. For instance, when Captain Ginyu first appears, he is already in one of the hero's bodies when it first shows him. I already knew that he could switch bodies, so just the voice let me know it was him, but for a newcomer, it would take a while to catch on. Also, the story mode jumps around a lot, so a newcomer will be lost with what is happening most likely. If you're new to the series, Dragon Ball Xenoverse might still be fun, but it isn't a good place to start. Overall, Dragon Ball Xenoverse is a very impressive game if you're a Dragon Ball fan.
+ Graphics are colorful
+ Very cool story setup
+ Tons of quests to complete
+ Tons of items to collect
+ Many skills to collect and try out
- Overall character movement isn't fluid
- The battles can get repetitive
- This game is not a good place to start if you're new to Dragon Ball
Final Rating: 78%. A unique take on the Dragon Ball story makes for a fun RPG-like fighter.