Dragon Ball Xenoverse is the latest video game spawned from one of the most popular anime series of all time, especially if your formative years took place in the late 90s. Spoiler alert: It's alright.
DBXV offers a new take on the Dragon Ball Z sagas. Someone's messing with the DBZ timeline, and it's up to you and your created character to help the Time Patrol set things right! The story is pretty ridiculous, but who cares? Kamehame-HA!
The main campaign plays out in single player quests. The Supreme Kai of Time and Time Patrol Trunks will give you missions, usually (always) asking you to defeat a number of classic and new villains. Raditz, Vegeta, Ginyu, Beerus, etc. You know the drill. The bad guys are sporting a menacing purple aura, suddenly becoming more powerful due to a demon manipulating the...
I kind of zoned out right there because I need me some Special Beam Cannon. Let me sum up: Time travel. Stronger bad guys. Your created character is important and powerful. Help Goku-- or Gohan, or whoever. If you're in it for the plot then telling you more will only spoil it. If you don't care about the story then you know it's all a nonsense, anyway. DBZ plot is just something that fills space between super beings grunt-screaming while powering up before they unleash energy-blast-hell on each other. Remember the episode where Goku and Piccolo learned to drive? I do.
The real meat of the game comes from the three player online cooperative Parallel Quests, not the story mode. Weird, I know. These can be played offline with worthless friendly AI or online with two real life, over-powered, Death Ball spammers. Here you’ll be able to play as one of the many unlockable characters from the Dragon Ball universe or your own created character.
There are over fifty Parallel Quests, and each one offers different gear, items, transformations, buffs, power poses, and sweet signature super/ultimate moves for your created character. If you want your custom avatar to learn how to become a Super Saiyan, or how to use the Galick Gun technique, this is where you’ll learn those abilities, and so much more.
The catch? You must fulfill super-secret requirements to trigger an additional fight at the end of each match to get the best rewards. The Super Saiyan catch!? The rewards are RNG’d from a prize pool specific to each quest!! The Super Saiyan Level 2 catch!?! You might get squat!!! Yup. May as well call yourself Eric Nies because you’re about to GRIND, baby. Go sit in a corner if you got that reference. Seriously. Go.
Check out our Dragon Ball Xenoverse Co-Op FAQ for the tips on how to get the most out of your Parallel Quests.
Unfortunately, the majority of the co-op missions (which are the best part of the game) can only be unlocked by completing the single player story, which is rather lame. Several missions have difficulty spikes, and some require you to keep your CPU partners safe. Keeping AI partners alive sucks. I’m looking at you, Krillin (of course it’s Krillin). While there aren’t a ton of escort-style missions, the ones that do exist can bring progress to a halt. If you get stuck on a mission you must grind earlier battles to level up your stats and hope you get better moves to drop for your created character. Also, you’re stuck with your original created character for your first playthrough of the single player portion of the game. Upon completion of the story mode you’ll unlock seven more character slots, but you’ll want to choose wisely when you first start out.
Let me tell you about my cool Z-fighter I made with the character creation tool!
There he is. Just look at him. In a game where I could have made an alien super freak who can turn his hair an unmanly shade of blondness at a whim, a pink blob of animated mirth, or a green man with antennas and stretchy arms, I made a bald human with a goatee. I didn't even spec for energy beams. I made a strike-focused fighter. That's like specializing in LARP combat while going up against, well, a super alien who can fire planet-shearing death beams from his fingers. I regret everything. I eventually started dumping points into Ki supers by around level 30 because I couldn't compete with the sneaky AI.
The create a character portion of the game is actually very cool. While it’s not super deep you can still make a character that feels like your own and your creation will fit into Akira Toriyama’s universe nicely. You can choose between several races: human, Saiyan, Majin, Namekian, or whatever the hell Frieza is. They actually call it the “Frieza” race, so I guess that granny-voiced weirdo is his whole species now. That’s fine. You can also pick a female version of the human, Saiyan, and Majin races, if you're into that sort of thing.
Each race has certain advantages in battle, such as stronger strikes, more health, or better Ki attacks. You can build any race any way you want to, but here’s a tip: Just like in real life, if someone gives you a chance to have stronger punches or a more powerful Ki Blast, go for the Ki Blast. Just do it.
Once you’ve made all the right decisions (unlike me) you’re dropped into Toki Toki city. The hub world is a little sparse. It’s basically just a three dimensional space used to dress up shop and quest menus. Checking out other players passing through the hub is kind of cool, assuming you’re not kicked to single player mode because of the server issues. I got kicked from the hub world several times last night and the game has been out for almost a week. I should note that I have yet to be dropped from a match.
The fights themselves are poor to decent. I was talking to a friend online and I pointed out that if “Dragon Ball” wasn’t in the title the game would be pretty unacceptable. The character visuals are sharp on the PlayStation 4 version of the game, but we’ve all seen these cell-shaded characters a million times.
The environments are barely destructible and the in-fight camera is just plain bad. Enemies and players alike can quickly dodge, leaving Kamehameha Waves and Meteor Strikes burning through thin air. That wouldn’t be a problem, but all the dodging and flying around confused the camera more than me. I knew where my enemies were, but the camera had no clue. Makes for a tough fight when my already handicapped striker won’t face his opponents.
Co-op-specific attacks are not really present in the fights themselves. Sure, you and your buddies can lock onto the same opponent and pummel them with supers and ultimates, but the synchronized co-op beat downs and teleport chases from Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z are gone. I know that game had issues but at least the co-op specific moves were fun to pull off.
When you reach higher levels the baddie bots get spammy as hell. Get ready to hear their special move call out over and over again. Trunks’ “Disappear or Die!” (or whatever the hell he’s screaming) is stuck in my head like a crap pop song. Battles can get very frustrating, forcing you to once again grind previous fights for more XP in order to boost your stats.
Since I’m a fan, I still kind of like Dragon Ball Xenoverse, but there’s no way I would recommend this game to anyone unless they were at the very least a casual watcher of the series. There’s not enough story to entertain someone new, and the gameplay is average at best. Real fans of Dragon Ball Z will enjoy landing super moves on their opponents, gathering Dragon Balls, and leveling their created character into a Z-Warrior powerhouse.
I played the PlayStation 4 version of Dragon Ball Xenoverse for this review. It was provided by the publisher.