‘Dragon Ball XenoVerse Preview’ – Breathing New Life Into A Beloved Series

Dragon Ball Z is one of my favourite cartoons/ anime ever. Particularly because of the many great fight scenes showing super powerful warriors flying around a huge open area while trading blows with each other. Video games have attempted to recreate the same spectacle to a fairly great extent. However, many fell short in that the action was mostly grounded or at a hovering level and the environments were not all that large.

Following on from 2014’s Dragon Ball Z Battle of ZDragon Ball XenoVerse seeks to right the wrongs of the previous entry in the series. XenoVerse still features the open battlefields from Battle of Z, which creates more verticality to fights and a faster paced combat system. However, where XenoVerse hopes to trump Battle of Z is with the inclusion of counters and a new take on the Dragon Ball Z story.

The player joins the fight to help Goku


In Dragon Ball XenoVerse, you do not simply take control of characters from the anime and play out all of the key battles. Rather, you get to create your own character and bring them into the universe. I bet you are wondering how this is possible. Well, as it turns out, someone is messing with the events of the Dragon Ball universe. Trunks, leading the Time Patrol, recruits the player to help him fix things. I played through the first couple of missions during a visit to Bandai Namco to see how it works.

The example I will use is from the fight between Raditz, Goku and Piccolo. In the anime, Goku holds Raditz in place, sacrificing himself as piccolo blows him and Raditz up. The altered version in the game has Raditz see Piccolo making the attack and breaking free of Goku’s grasp. The result is the death of Goku, but not Raditz. The player then travels through time to make things right.

Raditz survives the attack


What ensues is a three on one fight with the player, Goku and Piccolo taking on Raditz. When the player defeats Raditz, Goku is able to restrain him and piccolo uses his attack. It was really cool being the determining factor in writing the story of Dragon Ball Z. In theory, the player is responsible for turning the tide of key battles.

Of course, this would all be nothing without a solid combat system behind it. The open battlefield definitely makes the game feel more authentic to the Dragon Ball Z anime. A dash button allows players to quickly traverse the arena, be that to hunt down the enemy, or flee. Weak and strong attacks are mapped to the face buttons, as is an energy blast. In a change to the series since the last Dragon Ball game I played (Burst Limit, 2008), special moves are used by holding down the trigger and selecting one of four moves using the face buttons. And if that is not enough, when your Ki (energy) meter is full enough, holding the left and right trigger pulls up another menu with four ultimate moves – like Goku’s instant transmission Kamehameha. All of this happens in real time, it is fast paced and there is plenty of move variety.

In our review of Battle of Z in 2014, we complained about the lack of a counter button to break up an enemy’s barrage of punches. XenoVerse has a counter button. It makes the battles look really awesome from a viewer’s perspective as two fighters take turns trading blows while interrupting each other’s combos.

History is corrected

XenoVerse, like Battle of Z, will also feature battles with multiple enemies. The lock-on system still appears to be a little finicky. The Saibamen battle early in the game features about five enemies on the battlefield at once. While it makes the battles more like the anime – Saibamen are actually a challenge for once – it did make it frustrating when getting attacked from behind because most of the time I could not see the attack coming. I would like to wait until I’ve spent more time with the game to see how well it works; locking on in a one on one match works fine.

There will also be custom battles available, ranging from one on one to three on three. I do not know how big the character roster will be – Saiyan Island suggests there could be at least 64 playable characters – but it appears you unlock characters by playing through the story missions.

Dragon Ball XenoVerse will offer plenty of customisation. From buying clothes for your character, to choosing which special attacks you want to take into combat, there are plenty of ways to personalise your hero. The created character can also be levelled up, getting strong as the game progresses – much like the characters in the anime.

I came away from my time with Dragon Ball XenoVerse excited for more. The battles do a great job of recreating the large scale fights from the anime and the animated visual style and sound effects almost make it look and sound like the anime too – although I do not remember Trunk’s voice being so deep. I look forward to seeing how developer Dimps will integrate the created player into the other big events in the Dragon Ball Z universe. Considering the list of titles Dimps has worked on previously, including the much loved Dragon Ball Z: Budokai series, I have high hopes for this game.

The visual style makes it look just like the anime


Dragon Ball XenoVerse will be available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC from February 24 in North America and February 27 in Europe.