Dragon Ball at its best
The Dragon Ball franchise has had a rocky road when it comes to video game adaptations. It seems that many agree the series reached its peak in 2007 with Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3, and since then every game has been constantly attempting to recreate the magic felt in the PS2 classic.
While many titles, such as 2014’s Battle of Z came close, it never managed to scratch that itch that many fans seem to have. In 2015, Bandai Namco created the Xenoverse franchise, and while the game was certainly rough around the edges, it laid the foundations for a sequel that would have the potential to be the biggest Dragon Ball game yet.
Thankfully, Xenoverse 2 is that game.
Xenoverse 2 takes place in the far future, where time patrolling has grown exponentially to the point that it has it’s own academy that trains rookie patrollers. The player takes control of a custom character as they are recently rewarded for doing well at school, and are now given the opportunity to venture into the Dragon Ball timeline and protect it from being changed. Along the way the player befriends recognizable faces such as Goku and Vegeta, and stands by them as they face off against the coming tide of powerful enemies.
While the overall plot to Xenoverse 2 is nearly identical to the first one (even having the same game exclusive main antagonists) the way it’s delivered is by far one of the most risk taking things the Dragon Ball franchise has done. Because Xenoverse 2 isn’t just a normal fighting game, it’s also a high school anime.
The game opens with what could be described as a “slice of life” anime intro, having Trunks and the Supreme Kai go on wacky adventures. Then after some more hijinx, the player is informed that they are the new kid in school and have to prove themselves if they want to be a hero. Quickly everyone realises that the player has the potential to be something great, and soon an unbelievable adventure is thrust upon them.
The game’s hub world is a large open area featuring a school, a city, a forest, and different planes from all the famous locations in the series. Sometimes other characters (AKA students) will challenge the player character to a battle, in which case they have to fight in the air to see who is worthy to be called a time patroller. Upon defeat they often spew some cheesy lines about how it was meant to be their destiny to be the best. It’s like every stereotypical high school battle anime ever, and it’s amazing!
It sounds silly when described in words, but when you’re playing as your own custom character and seeing it yourself, it’s hard not to fall in love with the quirky style that Xenoverse 2 is going for.
Moving on from the fantastic presentation, the gameplay has also had some major enhancements.
While the game’s character creation remains largely unchanged, it now boasts a wider range of outfits and moves for the player to unlock and equip. Due to the game featuring the ability to transfer data from the first Xenoverse, equipment and power stats remain the same, so those who got annoyed about having to wear silly outfits to get the best stats in the last game will still have to put up with looking ridiculous.
Or do they?! Because now there are equips known as QQ Bangs! Looking past the laughably stupid name, QQ Bangs allow you to fuse cosmetics to create an item that will override all stat bonuses. So let’s say you have a really cool outfit, but it doesn’t cater to your play style, now you can equip a QQ Bang and the stats will no longer reflect those of the outfit.
While it’s by no means the best solution to the problem, it makes wearing cool outfits less of an issue than it was previously, which is always appreciated.
Battle mechanics have also had a massive overhaul. While there were a wide range of characters in the first Xenoverse, a lot of them felt like carbon copies, with the only differences being their super moves. In Xenoverse 2 however, each character has their own combos and animations, making them all far more interesting to play as.
For example, while the player character performs a knock back & follow on a normal combo, Hit (from Dragon Ball Super) will only knock back, and will move himself slightly backward in order to allow for a follow up beam attack.
These changes spice up the characters, and in part make learning their skills far more rewarding.
While it seems Xenoverse 2 is practically perfect, there are a few issues lying within that hold it back from reaching peak performance.
For some unexplainable reason, the game decides to extend it’s already length game time by hiding the true ending away from players. The only way to get the games actual ending is to complete every side mission in the game given in the side areas. There are five side mission storylines in total, with each varying in length. Some of them can be finished in 20 minutes, while others take 3 to 4 hours.
While this doesn’t seem all that bad, the game never tells you this and constantly reassures you that the side missions are purely optional. Except in reality they aren’t.
What also doesn’t help is that you can’t just do these missions back to back, but instead they may randomly appear after you finish a mission. This means you might have to repeat missions until the side missions you want to do decide to pop up.
If you do them alongside the story, then this should be nothing to worry about. But if you decide to do them after the main story, then there’s going to be a lot of repeating missions over and over again.
However, there’s a catch to doing the side missions alongside the main story. Managing to balance both will soon make the player character wildly overpowered, to the point where strategy and skill can be thrown aside in exchange for button mashing. It takes away from a lot of the challenge in the game, and makes clearing the game feel less like a triumph and more of a walk in the park.
But with that said the game is still highly addictive, and even when enemies become nothing more than punching bags, there’s something so satisfying about teleporting behind someone and absolutely obliterating them with combo that sends them flying.
Xenoverse is a huge improvement from the last game, and with all the new shiny bells and whistles it’s brought to the table, it has the potential to become this console generation’s Budokai Tenkaichi 3 (that is to say it could be the fan favourite). While there are still some balancing issues that need to be fixed, the game is an utter pleasure to play through from start to finish. Anyone with even a passing interest in Dragon Ball will have a great time fighting their way through the story one more time.
Thanks to Bandai Namco for supplying a review copy