Following a press release on the first day of E3 2014, we got to have a chat with some of the Namco Bandai producers – one from Japan and one from the US – regarding the newest upcoming Dragon Ball title, Dragon Ball Xenoverse. For this latest title, the developer of the Budokai games – Dimps – is back in charge of the game, following the lengthy stint the franchise had with developer Spike (which was followed by a one-off game with Artdink).
As much as they are excited with working on the first Dragon Ball title for the next-gen consoles, they also concede that they have a lot of responsibility to ensure the quality of the titles and utilise the enhanced technology as best they can. It is also mentioned that while many Dragon Ball Z fans will have been experiencing a similar game for a few years now, the challenge for the development team this time around is to provide a new experience. What exactly this will be? Well, this was not elaborated upon.
They were not able to give away too many details on the game world. However, we were told that there will be recognisable elements as well as a few new ones. While older games have retold the story as seen in the anime, for the game in this case, there is the desire to add new elements in between the ‘canon’. There was some implication for an open-world structure, where you could pick and choose how you played through, though this was not elaborated upon. It was emphasised that all the favourite characters and scenes will be there, along with the attempt to create new elements and a new experience.
However, with regards to whether the game will be played from the Budokai perspective that accompanies traditional fighters, or whether it would keep the over-the-shoulder perspective of the Budokai Tenkaichi and Raging Blast games, Dimps would be trying their hand at the latter. That is, taking a full 3D perspective on battles. The reason for moving to this, as explained, was to ensure that the boundaries were not as easily visible as they are in 2D fighters, which is something key to the Dragon Ball fighting experience. Furthermore, it makes the game more challenging, allows for further depth in the system and allows for more environmental destruction.
They weren’t too keen on giving anything away on the roster, either with regards to the size or whether it will include characters from Dragon Ball and/or Dragon Ball GT (given the lack of a Z in the title) but the game will now include real-time transformations, meaning the roster will not be full of the game character but with different versions (a chuckle was received when I remarked that no one would be offended by the absence of GT characters). Also, while it was not elaborated upon, the goal of the team is to not only have players going from battle to battle, but to create an expansive and seamless game world where all these battles will be set.
Interestingly, when asked about the benefits on working with the next-gen consoles, it was referenced that even back on the PS2, players were surprised with how close the games looked to the show. While the new console powers will allow for even more details and effects, they are looking to surprise the players with even more graphical fidelity. When asked about one of the serial bugbears for these games – excessive load times – they said they were aware of this and minimising and “streamlining” these had been one of the major design aims for the game.
Along with the reveal of this game came the shrouding of a mysterious red-haired character with some familiar features. When I posited that the uniformed reminded me of Trunks, but the hair reminded me of Gohan, the producers proclaimed that I had been quite smart and perceptive. Naturally, they weren’t willing to budge and say more but they said that there would be many other mysteries in the game as well. The chat was finished off with me being told that we should all keep our ears to the ground and listen for more reveals on Dragon Ball Xenoverse leading up to its release in the future.
Thank you to Namco-Bandai for helping organise the interview.