Saturday, December 10, 2016

Dragon Ball: Xenoverse 2 Review - The hero is you... once again!

    October 25, 2016 (North America)
    October 28, 2016 (Europe)
    November 2, 2016 (Japan)
Platform(s): Playstation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Genre(s): Fighting
Developer(s): Dimps
Publisher(s): Bandai Namco Entertainment
Player(s): 1-2


The past several years have not been kind to Dragon Ball Z games. Developers all just took one interesting concept and ran with it hoping it'd land but as a result the games did poorly... then came Dragon Ball: Xenoverse which does borrow the created character RPG concept from Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi and the super authentic co-op fighting from Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z but it brings them back to their roots from the fan favorite Budokai and Budokai Tenkaichi (Sparking! in Japan) series'. A lot was riding on the game as not only did the combat have 360° movement as fans have gotten used to and there was an RPG action-adventure element that would serve as a crux for the game but the developer behind was Dimps, who not only have pedigree among the Dragon Ball franchise for creating the Budokai series they also developed various other popular games such as The Rumble Fish, Sonic Advanced, and even worked on the Street Fighter series since Street Fighter IV in collaboration with Capcom. For the most parts, Xenoverse lived up to the hype and became easily the most successful DBZ game since Budokai Tenkaichi 3.

Now a sequel has been announced on short notice and a lot of new things noticed along the way, good things were to be expected... but does it keep up with the momentum that Xenoverse had already established?


This game returns the fast-paced, 360° movement fighting mechanics from the first game along with the same simplified control scheme where all the basic moves are mapped to the face buttons (you have a light physical attack button, a heavy physical attack button which can be charged, a button for ki blasts which also now can be charged, and a jump/ascending button) while guarding and more advanced moves either involve multi-button inputs or the shoulder buttons. Xenoverse 2 also introduces a bunch of techniques to give a visceral experience closer to the show such as the Homing Dash which allows you to automatically dash towards your targeted opponent by pressing the light attack + jump/ascension buttons at the same time while doing an Aura Dash at the cost of one stamina bar and press the light attack + jump/ascension buttons again to circle around the opponent. Charge attacks can also be used to break your opponent's stamina while they are in a guarding state and there are even physical attacks that are specifically used to break an opponent's stamina by pressing the light or smash attack button in junction of a tilt movement. Stuff like Step Vanish have been fully implemented into the game (even being encouraged in the tutorials) and they can used either in the middle of a light attack (at the cost of one stamina bar) or a Dash Step by tapping the jump/ascend button at the right time like you would a Snap Vanish.

Other mechanics have been refined from the first game. Aside from the stamina breaking technique I mentioned earlier, the way Super Saiyan for example works in this game is revamped to where you can no longer spam super/ultimate attacks as you have ki but it does increase stats (depending on what level you transform into) and it allows you to warp towards a locked opponent if performing a light attack or charged attack. Not only that but all races of created characters now have their own transformations that have their own unique attributes. 

It's still far from being a balanced gameplay experience (nor is it terribly deep), whatnot with characters still being blatantly better than others or certain characters being completely useless to others, but it's at least much less frustrating to play than the first game (you can even see the computer's full HUD). It's pretty solid overall.


Xenoverse 2 follows the same concept as the first game where you created a character who acts a time patroller who's mission is to restoring time to it's natural order from the wicked witch Towa but it's a new patroller this time taking place of the old one... of which you can choose between a pre-made character or if you still have a saved data from the first game you can have a created character from that save data as the legend. Other characters may help out but for the larger parts it's a one-man mission and while most events are linearly available, some require you to explore the rest of the game doing side quests in the hub world (which also serves as the game's main menu) called Conton City. It's several times larger than Toki Toki City from the first game but here you can learn of hover board, flight (which functions just how it does in combat), and the Flying Nimbus that serve as quicker means of transportation making exploring  the hub world far less tedious than better.

Stuff like Parallel Quests, where you and a party of either AI-controlled characters or online players go to fight a select set of enemies and some cases, collecting Dragon Balls while each quest will reward you in the end, have returned. One thing that's change is the drops isn't nearly as reliant on RNG and is based more on you fulfilling the requirements. New types of side-quests have been added to the game such as protecting Guru's House along with Nail by collecting dragon balls all the while fending off Freeza's men who may want it, completing various challenges given by Mr. Satan, exchanging items between other characters, race-specific training (like training under Vegeta to learn Super Saiyan), and the most challenging of them... generically named Expert Missions. In these missions you and a party of 5 (online players or AI-controlled) will fight against a possessed, more powerful version of enemies from the main story who have the ability to brainwash you or any of your partners into fighting against the rest of crew. If you get captured then you would have to fight yourself and win to escape but if you lose then mission failed. You can also train under most characters in the game to learn their super moves (with a few exceptions) like in the first game only now you don't have to accept any of them as an instructor (though it's still an option) in order to do so. No characters from the fairly new anime TV show Dragon Ball Super, sadly (unless you pay for DLC).

Unfortunately, there's still no difficulty setting so what ever challenge this game gives you is what you get but Dimps have at least addressed the No Training Mode issue in the first game by adding a Training section within the Offline Battle Mode. The Training section in Xenoverse 2 allows you to use the computer as a training dummy who either acts as a punching bag, guards constantly, guards when being attacked, performs Just Guards, performs super moves or ultimate moves on patternly, an opponent of varying difficulty levels, or even controlled by another player... but if that's not enough you can set you or the computer's gauges to either be normal, dangerously low, or infinite and you can set the damage ratio and/or commands to be displayed. It's not as great as the training modes in other fighting games (maybe not even as great as Budokai's) but it still does the job well enough. The Multiplayer section of Offline Battle Mode now allows for other stages outside the World Tournament arena to fight at and the tutorial is not only available at all times (unlike the first game's which only was available at the start) but it's greatly extended even teaching players of more advanced moves.


The graphics engine is the same for Xenoverse 2 compared to the first game including animations only things have been tweaked. Lighting has been subdued giving character models less of a glossy thus easier to look at, though it makes things appear somewhat dark. Environments and particle effects are significantly more detailed... but that's not the best part of all. It's now the home consoles versions are capped 60 fps instead of 30 fps like the first game though PC users can set it to even higher than 60 fps (even as far as 120 fps). Still not the best-looking game out there but it's very pretty and flashy fanservice for fans.


Xenoverse 2 uses much of the same voice clips from the last but new ones recording for new moves, cutscenes, and of course... new characters which I don't mind because FUNimation do a great job like they always do. The problem I can't get past is the lip-syncing especially during cutscenes.... it's sloppy at best and horrendous at worst. Fortunately there's still the option of the Japanese voices if the issue really bothers you. SFX can also be on the annoying side as well, namely when heavier attacks and super moves are involved.

The music on the other I have no serious complains with (aside from a new annoying tracks during the Conton City hub world). It's fairly good stuff and is fitting to each situation even though a lot of tracks are recycled from the first game. It's not particularly memorable though.


Like I said earlier, the story behind Xenoverse 2 follows the same concept as the first game where you take control of a Time Patroller who's mission is to restore time to it's natural order from the wicked witch Towa but this game takes more advantage of the concept and as result we get much greater character development, a more fleshed-out story, and some actually interesting plot points. Aside from story there's pieces of humorous lines and various nods to the actual series.

Tons of moves from the actual series have also been recreated even more obscure ones like the spinning escape Goku during his fight with Tien in the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament and they all presented extremely well, even though they're all real-time and not one is cinematic like with the PS2 games. The destructive ability on environments is still lacking you can only cause real damage to smaller objects while the damage in others are mysteriously undone.


While it's not a massive overhaul over it's predecessor it does what it should as a sequel and more. The story and universe are more fleshed out, it looks better, and it plays better too. It's a slow, but certain step in the right direction for the Dragon Ball video game franchise under years of failed games due to badly realized concepts.

Overall this game gets a 7.8 out of 10.