Do you know your Kakarot from your Vegeta? Radditz from Piccolo? Well Dragonball Xenoverse wants to teach you all about the grandiose Dragonball saga, as you fight your way from the very beginning through to the end, joining Goku and friends to battle the forces of evil.
There have been a lot of Dragonball games over the years and they all cover the same material, in ever such slightly different ways, over and over again. DragonBall Xenoverse attempts to capture the same story but frame it in a completely different light and challenge you, as a created character, to ensure the correct outcome from the TV show. Creating your own character adds a lot of investment into the story. You’re deciding your race, shades of your clothes and even the glow of your energy around you – my pink haired Saiyan dominated in all competitions he faced. Trunks will be your guide through the story as you join the Time Patrol, an organization built to right the mistakes that are occurring through history and join the fight to provide an edge to defeat the evil faced through all of Dragonball Z’s history.
The fighting is where the game excelled for me and also where I think most of its troubles lie. I’m by no means a fighting game expert, I dabble each year in some new release and get wiped the floor with until I quit. That wasn’t the case with Dragonball Xenoverse however, as the simple combos and special moves came easy to master and felt extremely powerful at my control. I was soon knocking down foes throughout the world with ease and enjoying my own performance. The combat feels a little stunted and dumbed down to appeal to a larger audience and really make the game hold relevance in the future, and while this is an excellent selling point for beginners or kids picking up their first Dragonball game. The fighting game enthusiasts aren’t going to find the depth here that keeps them hammering away to learn everything. In a single, fighter versus fighter battle the combat is empowering and easy to comprehend, but unfortunately this isn’t as common as a skirmish against multiple enemies and this is where the combat really starts to show its weakness. Too often you’re in a 2v2 (or 3v3) battle and are left fending for yourself as your ally bumps helplessly against one of the opponents. The necessary fast pace of the combat can often lead you to pulling off your best combo in mid-air and not quite being close enough to catch your opponent, or you’ll suddenly get attacked from behind because your ally has retreated to let you take on the three tough enemies.
Parallel Quests are little side quests that change things around and let you have some fun. My favourite being searching Namek for the Dragonballs, but you could also go toe to toe with Gohan and Piccolo or a whole host of different scenarios for you to enjoy. These quests are fun and offer some excellent rewards for your character while breaking up the momentum of the story nicely. Dozens of these smaller quests appear throughout the story and offer some things completely different to the story that you know and love.
Levelling up your character adds a driving force behind everything and makes the Parallel Quests something you want to do to boost your power levels. The addition of armour and special abilities as you go make the systems extremely interesting. Although levelling does add to your base statistics it’s not as effective or as fun as messing with the different armour choices you can attach to your character to give them the edge against the Frieza’s or Cell’s of the world.
The multiplayer component to Dragonball Xenoverse can be fun to pit your character against friends but unfortunately the combat just doesn’t have the same level of efficiency as other fighters that are currently on the market. While I found this entertaining to play with friends but against strangers it just didn’t feel like it held up as well and the stress over missing combos or special moves overwhelmed any fun that could be had.
Overall this is a fantastic platform for people to experience the Dragonball saga either for the first time or as an aged veteran of the series. You’re going to meet and train with your favourite characters on the hub world, while seeing all the highlights of the Dragonball series by interacting and having the ability to feel like you’re changing things. While the fighting doesn’t hold up through the length of the game, it does hold a lot of fun and makes it very easy for newcomers to pick up and play and actually feel like they’re achieving something. This was most useful for having friends around and wanting to beat them and not spending too much time teaching them the basics.
If you’re looking to experience the highs and lows of Dragonball in stunning HD then this is the product for you. I doubt it’s got the staying power or the true competitive nature of other fighters but overall this presents a great package to keep you challenged and coming back time and again to see everything they have to offer.