We’ve seen plenty of new Dragon Ball games release over the years, though the majority of them have typically played out as fighters that either see you re-enact battles from the Dragon Ball saga or make dream fights between the huge roster of characters on offer. Bandai Namco changed that formula with last year’s ‘Dragon Ball Xenoverse’ though, this time around offering an original story that saw you creating your own character and fixing a broken timeline in the Dragon Ball universe. It proved popular with fans – who wouldn’t want to send their own character through a fresh take on the Dragon Ball timeline?
Following on from the original’s success, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 has finally been released, bringing an all new time-patrolling adventure that focuses on refining what made the first game so popular. It’s a meatier game, but doesn’t bring any radical changes to the original formula – for better and worse…
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2’s plot follows on from the original game, with the Time Patrollers working through time and fixing events that have been jeopardised by the villainous Towa and Mira. Whilst I didn’t get around to finishing the original game myself, the plotline might feel a little familiar to those who played it – I mean, it’s the same villains that you’re taking down and you’re also pretty much doing the exact same thing you were doing in the prequel.
Whilst Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 does feature an original storyline set in the Dragon Ball universe, the time-fixing nature of the game means you’ll be playing through events that fans would’ve seen time and time again in the anime, manga, and previous video games. The opening mission of the game sees you ensuring that Goku and Piccolo manage to defeat the more powerful Raditz – a popular battle that fans of Dragon Ball Z will certainly appreciate, even if they’ve seen it plenty of times in other forms over the years. The underlying plot is original, but there are plenty of scenes and battles that you would’ve seen before. This isn’t really a problem though; especially given the context in which it all plays out and the fact that you see it all from a new perspective.
One of Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2’s main hooks is the character creation, allowing you to create your own Time Patroller that’s either a ‘Majin’, ‘Saiyan’, ‘Human’, ‘Namekian’ or ‘Frieza’. Each different race has their own pros and cons too, though I found myself drifting towards being a Saiyan because they’re the best, obviously. Actually creating your character’s appearance is incredibly flexible too, offering a wide range of design choices that’ll allow you to make your warrior look exactly how you please.
As you play through the game your character’s stats and abilities will improve, with XP gained from either completing main story quests or the countless side quests found throughout the game. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is absolutely packed with different missions too, so you’ll be kept busy for a long while. You’ll also earn TP Medals and Zeni from completing quests, each one effectively acting as a currency to purchase new items, clothing, accessories and skills. It really adds an incentive to exploring and completing each quest you come across – interacting with NPCs is a must. Thankfully the game has a great map that’ll clearly point everything out to you though, so finding new quests is never too difficult.
The main hub of the game is Conton City, a colourful place that provides a home to the time patrollers. It’s full of zany characters, shops to visit, and quests to complete. It’s a surprisingly expansive place too, spreading out across a plethora of different environments that embrace the world of Dragon Ball. Fellow Time Patrollers will be flying above you, different races will be interacting with each other, whilst there’s also a huge dragon looming over in the background. It really is quite impressive and I spent plenty of time simply taking in the sights – it’s certainly a hell of a lot bigger than the original game’s Toki Toki City.
The bulk of Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is spent battling and thankfully the combat is incredibly slick and fun – you’ll actually feel like you’re having these epic showdowns with the warriors of the Dragon Ball universe. Everything feels intricately designed so that you’re able to master each aspect of combat too, though it never over-complicates things either. The game really caters to all kinds of players, with the finesse of actions suiting a hardcore crowd and the ease of button mashing also making it accessible to more casual players.
Battles take place across land and air, though the nature of the game does see most showdowns taking place whilst airborne. You can mash buttons to pull off an assortment of combos made up of light and heavy attacks, unleash nifty grab moves, or alternatively use Ki attacks to attack from distance by unleashing a horde of projectiles at your opponent. You also have access to special attacks, so you’ll be able to unleash the series’ trademark power moves like the ‘Kamehameha’ and ‘Spirit Bomb’. The more powerful moves typically require stamina to use, but unleash huge damage and are easily performed through simple button combinations.
You also have defensive manoeuvres such as blocking, but in honesty I didn’t depend on them too much. It was often easier to simply dash away from an enemy or pile attacks on them yourself – the best defence is a good offence, after all. The teleporting ability was useful though, allowing you to automatically teleport behind your opponent with a well-timed button press following an opponent’s attack. It looks slick in-game, but also adds a sense of Dragon Ball authenticity to the combat.
Everything happens so quickly whilst in combat and you’ll often be dashing around the huge maps at an incredible pace, though fortunately you can lock on to enemies to keep track of them. The lock-on could be a little awkward at times during battles with multiple enemies due to the size of the environments, but it’s never painful to play. The game does a great job of replicating the series’ epic battles, but does it without sacrificing gameplay. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2’s combat keeps things looking incredible whilst maintaining the depth and fun that’ll keep fighting fans happy.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 has an extended focus on online play, allowing gamers to tackle missions with friends or other players around the world. It can be played co-operatively or competitively, the game offering a plethora of different ways to play. The most enjoyable mode has to be the three on three competitive combat, something that’s incredibly chaotic but so much fun. Sure, it can quickly turn into a teleporting match, but it doesn’t matter when you’re having so much fun. I haven’t run into any issues with online play either, with no connection drops or visibly noticeable lag in any of the matches I’ve played so far.
Visually the game has taken a bit of a downgrade from the previous release, though it does have the added bonus of running at a constant 60fps. It still looks great though and the improved frame rate makes everything look a lot more slick, so the sacrificed visual fidelity is worth it. The colourful style of Dragon Ball is still captured perfectly, with characters and the world around you looking like it has come straight out of the anime.
The only real issue to be found with Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is how little the game has changed from the prequel. There’s obviously a lot more to do and there have been tweaks to the gameplay, but everything still felt the same – even the villains and a lot of events that play out will feel familiar to returning players. Whilst most Dragon Ball fans won’t have an issue with this and will be glad to get back into the action, some might have expected a little bit more from a sequel.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 offers everything a Dragon Ball fan could want with its chaotic combat, original story that sees you fixing events in the series’ timeline, and bulky amount of content that’ll keep you busy for a long time. Players returning from the last game might be disappointed with the lack of differences between the two releases, but then why would you fix something that isn’t broken? It’s one of the most authentic Dragon Ball video games I’ve ever played and one I can see myself returning to time and time again.
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Release Date: 13/10/2016
Format(s): Xbox One (Reviewed), Playstation 4, PC