Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
Bandai Namco have launched an all new Dragon Ball related game, a sequel to last year’s Xenoverse, giving players another chance to fight through iconic battles and create their own hero. Is the second outing worth your time, or more of the same? Come inside to check out my full review!
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 picks up pretty much where the first game left off. The whole premise behind the game(s) is that a group of Time Patrollers help keep the universe’s timeline in check, preventing catastrophic time lapses, while ensuring certain important events (based off the long running series) happen.
You’re a brand new, never before seen character in the Dragon Ball universe, and your first task within the game is to design your warrior. You can choose between five races (Human, Saiyan, Namekian, Frieza’s race, or even a Majin one), and from there, customize to your heart’s content. You can adjust the hair color, armor color, shape of the face, and even the sound of your hero’s voice. There’s a lot of options available, giving players a surprising amount of depth for creating, while still keeping everything consistent with the typical DBZ aesthetic.
It’s exactly the same concept that drove the first game, but this time around, the world is a little bit different. What it means, however, is you’re playing almost the exact same battles from the first game, with a few additions thrown in from the films (that weren’t present before) and the new ongoing series in Japan.
If you played the original game and have save data on your system, the original hero character you created will make an appearance and be mentioned throughout the new HUB, Conton City. Conton City is by far the biggest change to the game this time around, offering up a sprawling open city to explore (and even fly through once you earn your license) filled with characters and things to do.
The first game’s Toki Toki City wanted to be a central HUB where characters could converge between missions...but that’s about all it did. Aside from some iconic characters standing around, and then looking for online friends to play with, Toki Toki had virtually nothing else to do. It was largely boring and functional. Conton City, however, feels like exactly what you wanted from the first game.
It’s a significantly bigger HUB world to explore, with secrets to find, and characters that actually feel like they’re doing more than standing around. Some of the random characters offer quests to tackle or sparring matches to improve your skills. As before, you can track down and find iconic characters from the series to train with and learn their special moves. There’s even a school you can visit to train and develop your fighting skills beyond the basics.
In all, there’s a lot more action going on around the HUB this time around, making it far more interesting to explore this time around. I found myself actually spending time around Conton City and trying to unlock new areas/interact with things between missions, where as in the first game I merely went where I had to for the next mission in.
Aside from the main story, there are some decent side quests to check out as well. The historical changes aren’t limited to the primary story, and there are “rifts” spread throughout Conton City as well. Travelling to these tiny rifts allow you to check out new locations like Hercule’s house (where you can find Great Saiyaman), Frieza’s Spaceship, or even Majin Buu’s house. These areas have their own characters and quests to discover, giving you chances to earn more experience and money, all while feeling like you’re exploring and truly fleshing out the Dragon Ball universe. In this way, it really doesn’t feel like grinding, making it feel significantly less tedious to get through the primary missions.
Conton City is a great new addition to the game and makes for a more engaging adventure, encouraging exploration and giving you new stuff enjoy. It’s even better because many of the combat missions are exactly the same as the last time.
Seriously, the battles are played out almost exactly the same, in the same order as the first Xenoverse game. You hit all the major battles from the Dragon Ball Z series, the movies, and what not, with a few twists here and there. The timeline is being altered once more by the nefarious forces of Towa and Mira (the same villains from the first game, pissed about his defeat). They’ve recruited some new bad guys to help their mission, which long-time fans will recognize from the movies (Turles and Lord Slug).
The combat mechanics themselves have largely remained the same as before, without any real noticeable changes. This could be good or bad depending on where you fall on the fighting game spectrum. It’s a hybrid system that tries to strike a balance between general action gaming and the fighting genre.
The result is that the mechanics lack depth and comes across as more of a button masher. There are still combos you can master, and training at the Academy in Conton City will snag you some advanced techniques to take with you into battle (especially helpful in online battles). On the whole, however, it lacks the same combat depth which previous Dragon Ball games (Budokai) focused on.
Personally, speaking, I didn’t mind it so much. Fighting games aren’t typically something I’m very good at and I end up button mashing my way through campaigns more often than not. As such, Xenoverse 2’s mechanics didn’t really bother me. It’s designed to be easy to pick up, while still looking cool, so even novice fighting gamers (like myself) can feel powerful. It’s very fitting within the Dragon Ball universe, but I suspect more experience fighting gamers will see it as a weaker point.
Collecting and RPG
As I mentioned before, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 features a healthy amount of collectibles and things to find throughout the game (both in Conton City and the various missions). Collecting material will help you craft new items and outfits to deck out your character in a variety of costumes. Some are goofy, while others are taken straight from the Manga/TV shows and deliver a slew of bonus features to assist throughout the game.
Tracking items down via your “scouter” during missions can feel like a pain at times (first you have to shake off any enemy trying to attack you), especially as you can’t fly at super speed or anything while using the scouter. Taking the time, however, will yield better results and sparring matches with other time patrollers can also nab special items.
These RPG elements really help Xenoverse 2 move the story forward, giving you a sense of accomplishment, even though you find yourself playing through the same exact battles as before. I do wish they would have gone a little deeper with the RPG stuff, however. Even as a leveled up, I felt like most of the battles still came down to mashing the buttons, hitting enemies with a solid super attack, and making sure I had some extra health items in my back. I never felt like the leveling system significantly added to my chances of winning a mission.
Upgrading my gear was fun, customizing my character beyond the initial outing was neat, and definitely helped boost some stats throughout the game. Even so, I still felt like I wanted just a little bit more out of that aspect of the game. Despite being so centered on fighting, I’ve always felt like the RPG genre was really well suited for the Dragon Ball franchise. The Legacy of Goku games really showcased this for me, and I’m still waiting for a full console game to hit the same mark.
An Excellent Sequel, Despite Familiar Territory
I found Xenoverse 2 to be a far more enjoyable experience than the first game. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate the first game, but something about it felt unfinished; like it was lacking some key mechanics to make it feel fully fleshed out. DBX2 feels like the game Xenoverse wanted to be all along.
The large Conton City adds a surprising amount of depth to the overall game, giving you much more engaging side-quests and exploration options beyond the primary storyline. The addition of Time Rifts gives some fun bonus stories to explore with even more TV characters to interact with. In all, Xenoverse 2 is a much bigger, more ambitious game than the first, doing everything you want (and hope) a sequel does.
The biggest problem it has, however, is feeling like so much of the same. It manages to outdo the first game in virtually every way, but treading the same story will make you feel like you’ve played it before. If you never picked up the first game, Xenoverse 2 is definitely a lot of fun to pick up for Dragon Ball fans.