It’s been a hell of a long time since i’ve played a Dragonball game, probably the last one I remember was one of the Budokai’s or Tenkaichi on the PS2, with some 15 games and 10 years since my last foray into the series, I was intrigued and excited.
Dragonball Xenoverse is for new gen consoles and PC, and starts the game with a hype as fuck metal version of the anime’s original japanese song, Cha-La Head cha-la, which really gets you into the mood for punching dudes. From there on, it’s a collection of new story, ingame and anime cutscenes and a slew of campaign and free missions to play.
Xenoverse is a 3rd person fighter, and plays similarly to the zone of the enders series (lock on, and mash buttons dynasty warriors style, or use some of the many Ki attacks).
So what do you need to know about Xenoverse…
The story is an interesting ‘history is being rewritten’ one, and has you travelling back in time to all of the famous battles you watched as a child, only something plays out differently – the end result is almost always the same of course, kill the enemy, but the way in which these scenarios are presented (well animated cutscenes) is a nice touch and helps explain why you are fighting with X, and why you are fighting against Y.
The core of the game is set out almost like an MMO – after creating your character, you progress through the story which unlocks the free missions, you get exp for playing anything, and can use this to buff your core stats in whatever way you choose (I like.). Your cosmetic choices are generally governed by your money (also gained from missions) or can be random drops in free missions, similarly all of the skills in the game can be equipped, but are dropped randomly by their respective user in free missions, or they can be provided by ‘trainers’ which are basically the named characters which appear in the hub world.
It’s a pretty cool choice, and a nice change from ‘oh ok, i’m Krillin, i guess i have destructo disk, solar flare, etc’, as now you can dress vaguely how you want (tied down to lore based dresswear of course) and pick whatever skills you desire – You’re free to go for a heavy melee fighter with physical combo skills and breakout moves, or you can put 4 variations of the kamehameha as your spells (why.).
There is online multiplayer as well, with co-op free missions, as well as online 3v3 battles and a tournament mode, which I assume is either 8 player rumble or perhaps a structured 1v1 tourney, i’m honestly not sure. I get the feeling this game will be great fun to play with friends, and either really fun or really frustrating to play against people online depending on the level of your character and how good you are at comboing/evading.
The main part of the game then, if not already implied, is combat – everything else is kind of this facade for the actual game which is just a 3d fighting game. Is it any fun? Ehhh… It’s OK. And that’s where Dragonball Xenoverse sort of starts to come apart. I love almost everything else about the game, the characters, the skill selection, the grindy nature of it… but the main dish, the actual thing you’ll be doing 90% of the time, feels lacking. There are only so many combos available to your character, and then you can select 4 special moves, and 3 ultimate moves, everything after that just turns into rushing down your opponent, mashing 2 buttons and finishing with a skill – occasionally holding block or tapping A to evade out of an enemies combo. It’s pretty binary and doesn’t really lack the strategy that traditional fighting games has, and where everyone has such large health pools, you’ll find yourself having to do the same thing over and over before they go down. As a side criticism, there is this gigantic hub world, but it’s filled with pretty much nothing, theres no way to teleport or dash around, and so you end up wasting a lot of time running between counters for shops/missions.
As a final note, the artstyle is awesome – a nice cel shaded look which is clear to read and fitting for the series. The game also runs really well, at a straight 60 for me even with AA – it also supports 4k resolutions and 120/144 fps, so theres that too. Oh yeah, theres a shit load of characters (I was shocked when I found out the character select menu could scroll horizontally), there are around 40+ I believe – Personally, i’ve never wanted to play as any of the smaller members of the Ginyu Force, but y’know, that’s an option here.
If you can get over the somewhat mediocre combat, Dragonball Xenoverse has a ton of stuff to do, as well as online battles for you to show off your character and skills once you’ve geared up. The art style is spot on and the game is fun in short bursts – though you’ll often find those short bursts turning into hours of play due to the length of battles and grindy nature of the game.
If Xenoverse were a cheaper price (like £20, £25 max), i’d totally buy it, and I’m only the bare minimum of a Dragonball fan.
Approximate Game Length : Long
Actual Worth / Steam Price: £20 / £40 = 0.5
Should you play it : For series fans only