Dragon Ball XenoVerse, might just be one of the best installments of the long-standing franchise… but it might not be for everyone.
I love Dragon Ball. I remember the first time I picked up one of the books and got totally sucked in… and I didn’t even know what they were saying. The book was in Japanese but all I needed to do was flip the pages and you could more or less get the gist of it… Big Bad kicks Goku’s ass, Goku dies/trains/has an epiphany/ (delete where appropriate), goes into Super Saiyan mode and kicks Big Bad’s ass. When the dust settles and planets have been destroyed… Goku wins!
But hold on now… someone’s trying to fiddle with time, and my precious childhood memories, to change Dragon Ball history? Well that’s basically the premise of Dragon Ball XenoVerse – A 360(ish) fighting game wrapped in a RPG (Role Playing Game) with a strong focus on online play. It’s all of this and does pretty decently on most fronts.
Available on the Xbox and Playstation, I put in more than 30 hours on the Steam (PC) version instead. The first thing I realized when going through the button controls is that there’s no way this would work on a keyboard. It’s way too cumbersome. I felt like I was a Saiyan Gorilla trying to play a piano–try as I might, I’d be more likely press the wrong buttons (sometimes both of them) or be too busy figuring out the right buttons to press that I’d be getting punched in the face on screen.
Luckily there was a quick fix. Out came the PS4 controller and it got picked up easily by the game (an Xbox controller works fine as well). Combat was a whole lot easier and maneuverable with the controller and I finally felt competent, if not good.
Now, while I might love Goku and friends, I can never quite get invested in someone else’s character because well… it’s not me. The big feature of Dragon Ball Xenoverse is Character Creation. I think it’s awesome that we can now finally create our own characters and take our own place in Dragon Ball lore.
From the get go you choose from one of five races, Saiyan, Namekian, Freiza, Majin and Earthling–each with its own pros and cons. Then you choose fighting styles–up close and personal, long range or a balance of both techniques. Once ready, you’re off to save time by backing up Goku and gang in pivotal moments in history.
I like how instead of playing as Goku, you now play by his side to make sure that he (or whoever else is supposed to in that particular scenario) wins. Fans of the series will no doubt recognize the iconic scenes and it’s refreshing seeing it from another point of view.
However, the difficulty spikes quite quickly and you’ll find yourself grinding parallel missions just to get strong enough to continue the story line. This makes battle quite repetitive and you might find yourself stuck in an endless grind for new gear, accessories and supplies.
My biggest gripe though is that it’s not very clear what you need to do–especially early in the game. The instructions aren’t the best and you’ll find yourself hitting the forums just to learn how to make things work… like the gates (portals) which you have to ‘lock-on’ before activating–something I found out on the forums after 15 minutes of moving up, down, in and out.
Multiplayer battles work well (when you can get a match) and it seems that servers have been experiencing load issues (which they seem to be unprepared got). Bandai has addressed the issue on it’s Facebook writing that “currently, Dragon Ball XenoVerse servers for PS4, PS3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 have been updated with several optimizations… consequently, the success rate of logging in for multi-lobbies have greatly increased”.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse is a game that tried to do it all and succeeds to a point. It does need to be more beginner friendly and simply forget about playing it without a controller.