Review: Dragon Ball Xenoverse – Bringing Dragon Ball Back to its Former Glory
If you’re an anime fan or used to watch the Toonami block every Saturday night back in the day, you already know what Dragon Ball Z is. Nowadays, while I may hold many other anime and manga series above it in my favorite lists, I have so many great memories involving DBZ.
Being such a longtime franchise fan, I’ve played numerous titles including Super Butouden, The Legend of series, Ultimate Battle 22, and Final Bout to more modern games like the Budokai series, Sparking, and Raging Blast series.
Sadly, after Raging Blast 2 (although the title has mixed opinions among the fanbase) most can agree that Battle of Z and Ultimate Tenkaichi are the weakest recent Dragon Ball games.
XenoVerse, however, brings back hope to Dragon Ball. Although it left many skeptical when it was initially revealed last year, the title turned out to be more than worth the wait.
The game’s story revolves around Future Trunks and your created character who must stop villains Towa and Mira from interfering with time by going back to the past to reset historical events back to normal.
You’ll battle through the classic sagas including the Saiyan Saga, the Frieza Saga, the Cell Saga, the Buu Saga, the Battle of Gods saga, and finally face off against Demigra, the main antagonist of the game.
While the game features the essential battles from the original series, being able to play the story from a different setting and perspective was certainly refreshing, despite it actually being the same story the video games have been featuring for the past 20 years — of course the exceptions being the Battle of Gods and the final saga.
When launching the game, prior to creating your character, you’ll play through the prologue consisting of the three main series battles: Goku vs. Full Power Frieza, Goku vs. Perfect Cell and SSJ3 Goku vs. Kid Buu.
After completing the prologue, the game’s opening cinematic will play, followed by Trunks wishing to Shenron to bring a warrior that can defeat the game’s antagonist, and leads to the character creation menu.
You will be able to create a character from five races: Majin, Saiyan, Humans, Namekian, and Frieza’s Clan. Naturally, you will only be able to create a female counterpart from the Majin, Saiyan and Human races.
Once you select a race, you will be given the option to change your character’s appearance as well as its name and voice. The game does offer a variety of options to choose from — enough to leave you undecided and taking your sweet time making a character the suits your taste.
For those who didn’t know, the game comes with a great surprise. If you play in English, you will notice that Voice 8 is no other than Nappa from Dragon Ball Z Abridged voiced by Curtis “Takahata101” Arnott from TeamFourStar. While Amott being part of the project was a great addition, ironically it made me realize that the customization could have a lot more options.
With his voice being in the game, naturally, I wanted to create Nappa but with a comical expression to fit his Dragon Ball Z Abridged counterpart.
Sadly, I was unable to add some essentials such as his mustache because the game lacks such an option — it offers one chin option with a goatee, but that’s not enough. Additionally, the created character is relatively small next to big characters like original Nappa, Recoome, Burter and of course Broly.
As for general facial hair options, the lack of them is understandable since almost all characters don’t have facial hair (Mr. Satan and Nappa being the exceptions) but having the option would nice.
While the game isn’t exactly meant for you to create characters from the original series, I’m sure some fans wanted more freedom in being able to create a character closely resembling their series favorite.
This is the series’ first entry so I can be more forgiving here, but if a sequel gets announced (if you played the game, you already know), more options should be added in.
Naturally, your character will start from level 1 with the goal to make them stronger by completing story mode and various other quests. Fortunately, the game gives you the freedom to control your own progress.
Every time you level up, you will receive three points that can be distributed for Health, Max Ki, Max Stamina, Basic Attacks, Strike Supers and Ki Blast Supers. You should try to distribute your points to something that suits your gameplay style.
Similar to an RPG, the outfit that you equip will boost your skills as well. Naturally the clothing that belongs to strong characters will give you the biggest boost, such as Goku’s outfit from Dragon Ball GT.
Being force to use ridiculous outfits for the sake of a boost to complete a difficult level comes with the territory as well, or you can simply choose to ignore the boosts altogether and wear whichever outfit you’d like.
Just like clothing, the amount of attacks that you can set to your character is huge, including moves from many different characters of the three series.
You can acquire many different skills by buying them through the shop, playing Parallel Quests or training under a master, which includes classic characters like Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, Gohan and more.
One thing that I didn’t like was that Ki charging is considered a skill, but luckily you can increase your Ki gauge by just fighting.
After you’re done customization your character, you will be sent to the Toki Toki City, the hub world of the game where other characters such as your Masters and pre-made Time Patrollers reside, as well as shops for clothing, accessories, items, and skills.
The true excellence revolves around the skill sets and the galore of clothing options the game gives you, which range from the original Dragon Ball all the way to Dragon Ball GT. You’ll acquire outfits and accessories by playing Parallel Quests or buying them through the shop.
During and after the main story, Parallel Quests can be completed, which unlock more key items and specials in the game. These quests are non-canon side missions, which range from siding with villains and defeating former allies to fighting waves of enemies such as Saibamen and Cell Jr.
While generally fun, they sometimes can be even more tedious then the main story mode. As you proceed through the game’s story, you will unlock more difficulty tiers.
In the hub, you will also be able to play regular VS Matches and Tournament Mode. The game offers two hub lobbies, Single and Multi, which the former is offline and Multi is with other players online.
Sadly, I didn’t have much of an opportunity play online as thoroughly as I wanted due to the server’s being overloaded (the game was more popular than anticipated). From the experience I had, however, the game reminded me a lot of Destiny, especially with being able to wander around Toki Toki City with my friends and their created Time Patrollers.
The lack of proper local VS was quite disappointing. You would expect that heading to VS Mode would allow you to do so, however it is only limited to the AI. You will be able to play matches of 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2, and even 3 vs. 3. Additionally, you can choose from over 40 fighters and many different stages shown in the game.
The only way to play local multiplayer with a friend is through offline World Tournament, which is really limiting, especially since you can only play in the World Tournament stage and it’s not actually a tourney.
As for the regular World Tournament, it’s exclusive to online and to add insult to injury, only available at specific times. Previous Dragon Ball Z games usually have a World Tournament mode offline, so the mode being online only is a bit disappointing.
As for online gameplay itself, the game’s netcode is quite good; based on all the battles and Parallel Quests I played with others, I haven’t experienced any lag.
There is a downside to online gameplay, though, as you will encounter a lot of cheapness, especially created characters and in particular those of the Saiyan class.
Super Saiyans (counting created Saiyans as well) can spam their Supers and Ultimates while retaining their transformation, which can make playing the game rather tedious and frustrating at times.
If this is combined with a really strong attack like Vegito’s Spirit Sword, it can almost ruin the game. I believe some of attacks and as well as the Saiyan transformation need to be nerfed for the next installment.
Despite XenoVerse being another anime fighter, the gameplay is actually quite satisfying — not surprising coming from Dimps. However, unlike the Budokai series and Burst Limit which feature 2D gameplay in a 3D fighter plane, (similar to Street Fighter IV and Tekken), this title is a true 3D fighter, kind of like the Sparking series.
The good thing about the game is that it isn’t a button smasher, and while spamming the basic attack button or the heavy attacks button gives you a combo, you won’t get far without strategic movement, blocking and a smart use of skills.
XenoVerse is still is an anime fighter, so expecting the game to have layers of depth or be competitive is a little too demanding in my opinion. There is a decent combo system and a variety of finishing blows to be had, so I can see myself and other fans playing this title for a while, even with a few inconsistencies.
The game certainly looks beautiful, with character models that look similar to those of Burst Limit but improved to fit this gen’s standards. The game’s CGI and animated cutscenes are certainly pleasant to look at as well.
Overall, this is easily one of my favorite recent Dragon Ball titles. From the awesome gameplay (including 60 FPS if you get it on PC), crisp visuals, great character creation, and the amount of content it includes from the original series, nearly any Dragon Ball fan should be content.
Fans of the Dragon Ball franchise and its video games would be remiss not to pick up Dragon Ball XenoVerse.