The original Dragon Ball XenoVerse game, and the first to hit the newest generation of consoles, tried something completely different. The stories and sagas that fans of the anime knew and loved were altered, causing real problems in time. It threw you, as the main character, into the mix as the hero being tasked with fixing the changes made by the villainous Mira and Towa. Despite being impressed at the freshness the story tweaks brought to the table, I didn’t find it to be faultless; there were just too many minor issues and the combat grew boring rather quickly.
That was then, and now it’s time to see how the fast-paced fighting role-playing game, Dragon Ball XenoVerse 2, fares. Can experienced developers Dimps deliver everything that was good about the original, and make the much needed improvements to ensure it’s a great game?
I’m shaking my head in slight disappointment; because for everything they’ve successfully built upon here, there are still a few lingering problems that really shouldn’t be rocket science to solve.
The year is Age 852 – someone’s been meddling with time once more, getting involved in classic battles over the years, using dark magic and forcing potential new outcomes to come to fruition. Elder Kai is having none of it and recruits your custom character to lend a hand in fixing history as a Time Patroller. Mira and Towa have recruited a few new allies to help with their mischief – whom I won’t reveal – and so you’ll be occasionally working alongside Trunks as well as another familiar face. If you played the first game, then your original hero can be transported in as one of Trunks’ partners, which adds a nice little touch to proceedings to see the legend you’ve become.
Character customisation appears very similar to last time, where you can be any of the main races – Earthling, Saiyan, Majin, Namekian and the Frieza race. It doesn’t seem like there were a wealth of visual choices to make, however once you get going in the game, you’ll be able to mix and match clothing/accessories to standout from the many other players. Aside from appearance, each race has its own attribute differences, as does your chosen gender, so pick wisely. Don’t worry though, if you want to be like all your Dragon Ball idols, XenoVerse 2 allows for multiple characters to be created.
Abilities can be changed at any time in the main hub, so as you unlock new ones you can switch them in and out at will to see what works best. There are four Super moves and four Ultimate attacks (broken down into two offensive moves, one defensive and an awoken skill). As for your attributes, you can distribute those earned by levelling up however you wish to – plough it all into health and Ki attacks if you want, that’s your call.
The story itself is an interesting one. Whilst early on it reminds me hugely of the completely mixed up story from the last game, with nostalgic events getting a few twists, the more you delve in, it all unfolds to be wildly different. Fresh is the best way to describe it, even though you’ll still encounter memorable foes such as Cell, Frieza, and Cooler to name just a few, it doesn’t feel like I’ve done it all before, which is a major positive.
You won’t get far just focusing on the story, due to recommended character level often preventing progression. That’s a good thing though, as there’s a whole range of other ways to appreciate everything XenoVerse 2 has to offer. Conton City, the successor to Toki Toki City, is where everything occurs as it is the main hub. There’s no doubting its size, Conton City is massive in comparison to what has gone before it. It’s made up of areas like places to shop, train, initiate battles and Parallel Quests, and venture to miniature time rifts. Getting around is really easy thanks to a well-designed pop-up map that shows at the press of a button; Conton City will eventually become second nature to navigate.
Learning the ropes, after the initial forced tutorials, comes in the form of working under the tutelage of Elder Kai at your own pace, whenever you feel the need to get a better grasp on performing the Just Guard or Z-Vanish. Alternatively, other well-known characters are dotted around Conton City, ready to provide lessons in using the moves they’re famous for e.g. Yamcha’s ‘Spirit Ball’ and Krillin’s ‘Destructo Disc’, and subsequently upon completion they’ll be acquired by your character to use elsewhere.
Combat is pretty simple to pick up, with just the two main attack buttons to strike your opponents and a list of Super and Ultimate attacks found with the triggers. Everyone can perform the best moves as long as the required amount of Ki is available in reserve. Missing enemies when using a special attack is still too regular an occurrence for my liking, they move so fast in this frenetically paced fighter that once the move animation commences, the enemy is gone. I tend to get a tad bored of the standard strike-based combos too. Both are problems I picked up on for the last game, but it’s missing the target that has the most irritation attached to it.
Parallel Quests are by far the best way to have fun outside of the story, either with A.I. by your side, or real, way more useful, humans. There are 100 to unlock and the missions generally consist of taking down a series of enemies within a time limit, with the odd exception of gathering Dragon Balls. You don’t even have to use your created character, which allows for some experimentation with one of the other major (or minor) characters such as Goku, Android 16, or Lord Slug. I couldn’t imagine doing all these with the painfully useless A.I. as allies, and so the majority of my PQ exploits have been with likeminded folk. It’s quite exciting taking down the baddies with others, reviving and having each other’s back; I could do it for hours on end, earning rewards and trying to obtain an Ultimate Finish. There’s a catch though – or two if I’m being critical.
At the moment, only the host of said missions seems to be given credit for completion, which makes for a lot of waiting around whilst generous players randomly join to lend a hand without being able to tick the mission off themselves. Also, one of my bugbears from the original game rears its annoying head; the inability to change the mission in a lobby. Every single time you’ve finished a mission, you either replay the same one, or leave the match lobby entirely before recreating with the new mission. What a pain in the arse that is.
Battles don’t interest me as much as PQs, mainly because I suck at battling some of the incredibly skilful warriors lurking online. Should you wish to though, there are variations including 1vs1, 2vs2, 3vs3 and ranked 1vs1, all with different or no limitations depending on your preference. Endless battles are new to the table, with these being similar to a classic ‘winner stays on’ type mode. Taking on a friend locally is also possible, so you can beat them to a pulp and end thing by throwing a Kamehameha their way whilst shouting it in their face… oh, just me?
Anyway, onto the newest features to the series and the miniature time rifts which offer other lines of quest partaking. You may want to go to Buu’s house where you are required to provide food to fill him up enough until a child is born (you’ve heard it here first kids, that’s how babies are made). Other rifts allow you to help out the Frieza Force, be put to task by Vegeta, prove yourself to Nail and to be a bodyguard for Hercule. I do love the vast amount of activities to do outside of the story, but my god Nail’s constant want for you to recover Dragon Balls becomes monotonous; it’s the least exciting thing to do, aside from standing still in Conton City.
Massive rifts provide the other major new mode – the big six-person Expert missions. The idea is to take on one major boss that can trap you within your own mind, or send you flying through a portal. Working as a team is absolutely vital, which like PQs, are in my opinion better done alongside real people. I’m still undecided as to whether it’s a great addition, or merely a gimmicky set-up that’ll grow old quickly. The same hosting issue applies here too sadly, something that the developers should hopefully fix in a future patch.
Visually I’m impressed at the vibrancy and design of Conton City and all the inhabitants within which show off the great variety in characters able to be created. Some cutscenes are superb, even better than those I used to watch on Cartoon Network back in the day. What was missing again though arere lines of dialogue for the character you’ve created; all he does is grunt and nod like a Neanderthal.
Dragon Ball XenoVerse 2 has undertaken a huge expansion on everything the original brought to the table. The story, whilst still following a similar theme, manages to feel fresher and more interesting than ever. Lack of content is a criticism that can never be thrown at XenoVerse 2; in fact, it’s a little overwhelming with all the side quests. Where it falters is in how repetitive the gameplay can feel, the disruptions to the flow of combat and how inaccurate many attacks can be due to length animations. The issues involving non-hosting players and having to quit lobbies all the time is one that surely Dimps can find a solution for.
There’s no doubt Dragon Ball XenoVerse 2 has a few niggles, but overall I still reckon it’s a very good experience for both fans and newcomers to the series. If XenoVerse was Super Saiyan, then this transformation is akin to Super Saiyan 3!