The Dragon Ball Z series has been suffering for quite some time on our consoles and PCs. Not since the days of Dragonball Z: Budokai 3 and Dragonball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 on the PS2 have I really been engaged with this series. Namco Bandai have been trying in vain for quite sometime now to breath some additional life back into these games, with Artdink's Battle of Z being the penultimate disaster for the series in 2014.
With this dreadful game in our minds, we look to the future, and our NextGen consoles, in hopes that Dragon Ball Xenoverse will shine on the Xbox One and PS4. But how has the series' move to NextGen been? Is it marked with success, or will it leave us in the same state of disarray as Battle of Z did? In reality, it's a bit of both.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse Review on Xbox One & PS4
Being an avid fan of RPGs, the idea that this rich and dynamic universe that is Dragon Ball Z, could return to this landscape was an inciting one from the beginning. However, our review will highlight just how rewarding and jarring this experience can really be.
Character & Plot
The game launches with the delightful option to create your very own Dragon Ball character. The options are some of the most extensive you've seen in any game, with remarkable detail placed even into how your character sounds, allowing you to alter the pitch of their voice. Finally! Dimps have done a wonderful job at giving every option the inherent feel and look of Akira Toriyama's wonderful Manga design. My character, with her ridiculous hair and remarkably broad shoulders, looked and felt like an intrinsic part of the Dragon Ball world, aiding my immersion into its wacky story and universe feel all the more fluid and engaging.
The plot is predictably insane, with some intense battles and twists along the way. While it is certainly an engaging story, with a great time-travelling plot seeing you correct the very flow of time, when it came to the game's side quests, Dragon Ball XV failed to raise these missions to anything higher than bland filler content.
The game features over 50 side missions, and while one or two saw me having a bit of fun, DBXV is generally disengaging when it comes to what lies beyond the plot for your character. The cities that these side quests are scattered around in are also lacking in life. The areas can be rather small, or filled with long corridors and streets that serve no purpose other than to give you a sense of "scale". In my opinion, every time that Dragon Ball Xenoverse attempts to be an RPG, it fails.
But that being said, I never had high hopes for this aspect of the title, and my expectations were certainly low and remained so throughout my engagement with Dragon Ball Xenoverse. The combat in the Dragon Ball games is famously fast and intense, that when you're suddenly expected to run around a bland city and grind your way into entering the next mission, the dichotomy can be really jarring.
The fast pace is nowhere to be seen in Xenoverse's RPG elements, and it's a shame that the speed of combat couldn't transfer to the rest of the title. But that's not to say that Dragon Ball Xenoverse will disappoint Dragon Ball Z fans!
The main draw to this game is naturally its combat, and what beautiful combat it is. On the Xbox One and PS4, the game may not exactly look like a NextGen title, but its visuals support the gameplay well and combat looks fluid and impressive especially during the most insane fights.
It's intensely satisfying to navigate the maps that Dimps have designed for Dragon Ball: Xenoverse. Flying through the air is fast and easy to come to grips with, and diving under the water to continue a fight never offsets the pacing and lends a whole new degree of versatility to the Dragon Ball series.
In terms of voice acting during combat, characters can quite often repeat the same statements over and over which can get pretty annoying and their facial reactions to punches and attacks aren't as impressive as we'd have hoped. They certainly leave room for improvement, but their inclusion in such a limited form isn't exactly a bad thing, but it makes you want for what could have been a great feature.
In terms of the campaign, it’s all pretty high octane stuff and the more long-winded back-end RPG structure seems at odds with that, and really jarring. Therefore, I feel like the campaign is going to leave several Dragon Ball fans wanting and certainly will irritate RPG fans. But the game will never let you down as a fighter.
In Dragon ball Xenoverse players can also become apprentices of the original Dragon Ball anime characters to equip over 200 special moves and 450 costume items. There are also 47 playable characters in the game from the Dragon Ball series, all lovingly rendered on NextGen consoles. In terms of content, just to give you a sense of scale, there are 12 Master Quests, 55 Parallel Quests, 200 skills and 400 pieces of equipment to choose from.
While quantity doesn't exactly equal quality, it's evident how much work Dimps have put into Dragon Ball Xenoverse to fill the desires of fans and meet the expectations that they've been accustomed to with regards to the series. I had a tremendous amount of fun replaying classic Dragon Ball fights and flying through the main campaign. The controls are easy to get a grips with, but with the ability to customise your fighting style in such elaborate ways, Dragon Ball Xenoverse leaves a lot of room for those that are looking to master the art of combat.
But Dragon Ball: Xenoverse's attempts at integrating RPG elements into the series are lacklustre at best and fail to draw the player into this world. That being said, Dragon Ball XV is a wonderfully enjoyable fighter, one that will have you playing fight after fight for hours on end in an attempt to master and customise your characters to your heart's content.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse will be released on 24th February, on Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3 and February 27th for the PC.