Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 PC Review
AHHHHHHGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Ka…me…ha…me…HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Are two words (noises?) every Dragon Ball Z fan will have heard time and time again, be it in the anime or the many video games that have been released over the years. Even after the games have covered the main story arc (before the new Dragon Ball Super show began), Bandai Namco somehow managed to find a way to recreate the same story, but with fancier graphics or new mechanics to have fans clambering for more. This was the case with Dragon Ball Xenoverse, but unlike previous games, Xenoverse was an fighter/RPG hybrid about being your own customised character and taking them into the Dragon Ball stories, but with a twist – defending time against two villains who were changing history for their own joy, but as the player, you had to stop this and reset the history back. It wasn’t without faults, but it had a good idea, especially with the hub world to allow people to form groups for cooperative missions. So the question is, does Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 improve what was started by the developers, Dimps, in the original game?
Things certainly begin similar in Xenoverse 2, as you are asked to create your time patroller before moving onward. It features the main races of the Dragon Ball universe – Saiyan, Humans, Majin, Freiza and Namekians – with each race coming with their signature traits, such as turning Super Saiyan or, for my female Majin, going kid form to become a stronger, faster versions of the standard design. Being that these races are the forefront of the Dragon Ball world, there are no new races added. In fact, there isn’t much difference between them and their incarnation in the previous game apart from the new forms added ( e.g. Super Saiyan 3). However, there are more customisation options when styling your character, as each area gains more choice to change things like hair style, eyes, body, equipment, clothes and voices. Once set, your hero is ready to tackle the new threat to the timeline.
For existing players who jumped on the first Xenoverse game, you cannot sadly keep that character intact. The story has a new role for your existing time patroller, who now is a sort of hero in the story, gaining a statue in the centre of the new Conton City, and is working along side yourself and a few of the other Dragon Ball heroes to fight evil as a supporting character. While it’s a shame for all the people who put in a lot time into the existing game cannot reuse their hero, it’s kind of cool to see them become part of the story and be celebrated for their previous hard work.
It is probably for the best that a new character has to be created, as the setup is similar to the first game with the return of Towa and Mira causing more trouble yet again with time travel. This time, the big change is that they have help from villains that did not appear in the series, but instead, are from the movies. The likes of Lord Slug, Janemba and Broly come to throw a spanner into the works that does spice up the retelling of the Dragon Ball Z saga, but there is still the issue of seeing the core plot told once again, something that introducing movie bosses doesn’t alleviate from being an uninspiring rendition of this 20 year old tale. It’s about time the developers were allowed more freedom to have these characters have game exclusive adventures rather than constantly making you play through the story that has been in all the other games with this slight twist. At least there are moments of joy with the game’s dialogue to remove some of that deja-vu.
Outside of its story is where things are improved. Gone is Toki Toki City, now replaced with the much bigger (and better designed) play area of Conton City that can hold up to 300 people on its server, that’s 100 more than the first Xenoverse. This is the central hub for the game, which gives access to story missions, side quests, cooperative quests, expert missions, shops and training missions. It also allows you to interact with other players to find new friends to take on some of the raid and cooperative content. The larger size makes exploring it in the beginning a bit of a chore, as walking or using the capsule corp hoverboard are the only ways to get around. Once flying is available, moving around the hub world is made much faster, but until that happens, your fun is limited to seeing everyone’s creativity with their heroes while exploring on the ground. If you’re not all that bothered about exploring, then using the fast travelling robots makes getting to places straightforward once they are discovered.
It’s with these online players where you can gain help to take part in none story quests, and from my experience with the game, you will probably have to, as just playing the story doesn’t seem to give you enough experience to power up your levels, powers and health to keep up with the increased difficulty. Tasks come in form of Parallel Quests – challenge events that are more than just a simple fight, they throw in rules, such as beating a battle within five minutes, reduce a fighter’s health to 50 percent or try to take down multiple fighters without losing too much health. Sadly, a few of these are similar to the first game’s Parallel Quests, and so the grind for levels and gear can become monotonous, especially more so for existing players of the first game. The design of quests aren’t done with the same philosophy as RPGs, this is a fighting game, and so everything is built around twisting the standard format of fights, making the overall quest design simplistic and occasionally dull. With so much loot to gain through items, clothes and skills, I was thankful that, and like a lot of other games, playing with other people or friends does remove that stale repetition from repeating quests to finally get your desired loot drop.
With every fight comes experience. Eventually you will have enough to hit the next level, in turn receiving attribute points that can be used to freely increase basic attack, health, strikes and KI blasts, giving players ways to shape their character as they see fit. The game gives you options to play as a “in your face” fighter or a “keep away” KI user, but to me, using KI blasts seemed to have a weak effect on health, with battles favouring people getting up close and personal, to the point that I ended up putting a lot of points into basic attacks and power for special attacks.
And as for the fighting? It’s a similar experience to Xenoverse. Your custom fighter will learn moves from all the famous faces of Dragon Ball. Fancy using special beam cannon? Then do a bit of training with Piccolo. Want to show your spirit bomb power? Then a fight with Goku is on the cards for you. There are so many moves that you can create your warrior to have a list of all of your favourite attacks. As for the fighting itself. It remains using 3D space, where combatants are allowed full movement, be it on the ground, in the sea or dashing around in the sky with the signature Dragon Ball dashing blasts. Fighters can mix up combos between light and heavy attacks, block, throw, shoot out energy balls and use exaggerating super attacks for big damage. It’s flashy, as a Dragon Ball game should be, but the depth is limited compared to some of the more focused fighting games, although, you will still need to put some time in if you want to stand up to the good players when fighting them 1v1 or 3v3 through the online versus mode.
There are slight issues around the combat, and it’s more for the single player content. The first one is that friendly AI is dumb, and will constantly succumb to death if you do not finish the fight fast enough. A KO on the AI does not end the quests, but AI is just a useless avatar compared to the power of the fighter they are representing. The other issue is that the camera really hates having to track big opponents or tiny objects, so events like fighting the Great Apes can cause painful attempts to lock a good camera angle.
When it comes to presentation, ignoring the slight camera problems, it has come to the point where anime games like Dragon Ball are becoming exceptional at capturing the show they are based on through its visuals. Xenoverse 2 is no exception here, as everything in the game looks straight out of the anime with a shiny coat of high definition. Mid range graphics cards from four years ago will have no issue running this game maxed out at 1080p 60fps, but I do warn that having everything on the highest setting actually causes the game, in my eyes, to look worse, as there is a poor use of depth of field and motion blur that coats everything in a visual mess that makes the game unattractive, as if it was running below native resolution. Turning motion blur off and depth of field to at least low will up the sharpness to bring back the clarity of your native resolution. It might not look “next-gen” in terms of pushing the envelope for visual effects, but in terms of capturing the show’s distinct look, it gets an A grade. On the audio front, you have the voice actors putting in performances they have come to be known for, or you can turn on Japanese for the original feel. It’s just a shame that the music is rather forgettable.
Coming to the end with my final thoughts on Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2. Dimps has created a sequel to Xenoverse that doesn’t quite feel like a massive advancement in the series, but there is no doubt that this is a larger and more improved experience. Dimps has decided to keep things similar and use the first game as the foundation to build this sequel on. What this means is that there is so much to do, even when one has finished up the 15 hour single player story quests. This will be a joyous time for fans of Dragon Ball that wanted more Xenoverse, and especially more so for those that skipped the first title. Overall, there is a sense of “didn’t I do this before last year?” that makes Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 loose some of the shine that a sequel should come with. That said, the Xenoverse series is on the right track to becoming something great, albeit, just moving its advancements at a slow pace, kind of like Goku charging up in an episode of Dragon Ball Z.