Last year’s Dragon Ball Xenoverse was met with mixed response. On one hand the game was praised for letting players create their own Z-fighter and customise nearly every aspect of them including their appearance, fighting style and special attack moves. On the other, there was heavy criticism regarding the repetitive missions, uninteresting gameplay design and technical issues with the online multiplayer. While the sequel improves on a few areas, it’s sadly more of the same.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 has a very similar premise to its predecessor. In the game players become a member of the Time Patrol unit who are tasked with protecting the Dragon Ball Z timeline. This unit is led by Trunks, Supreme Kai of Time and Elder Kai, who are growing alarmed by disruptions to the time stream. Throughout the story you will replay past events from Dragon Ball Z, including the Saiyans attack on Earth and Frieza’s invasion of Namek. These however, have been altered with new challenges. During Nappa and Vegeta’s attack on Earth, for example, Goku is delayed by Turles and you must assist him. It provides an interesting take on what has otherwise already been accomplished dozens of times in other Dragonball Z titles. Like most anime-themed fighters the game is aimed towards fans, so if you’re unfamiliar with the source material then the fight scenarios will likely go over your head.
The main selling point of the Xenoverse series is you have the ability to design and play as your own custom fighters. This includes choosing their race (Human, Saiyan, Freeza Clan, Namekian or Buu), gender, their fighting style, colour, clothing and various other aesthetic options. Additionally there are minor RPG elements, allowing you to customise their special attack moves and choose which attributes of your fighter you level up, such as their attack power, defense and health. There are literally hundreds of different combinations to make, which encourages players to experiment and see what suits their play style the best.
Owners of the original Xenoverse will be pleased to know they can import their characters to the sequel via the online servers. Xenoverse 2 offers even more customisation options than its predecessor, so there’s a lot on offer if you haven’t quite perfected your older characters.
The main hub world is Conton City, which is approximately seven times bigger than Toki Toki City from the first game. The city is full of activities and areas to explore, including NPCs to interact with, stores where you can purchase customisation items and stations that access side missions and various multiplayer options. One minor hinderance is you are initially limited to traveling by foot or via a transportation vehicle. Only after obtaining a license will you be allowed to fly, which seems a bit silly given you have no trouble taking to the air while in the heat of battle. Also, Conton City seems to attract long load times between battles which can get incredibly frustrating.
Aside from the main story the game also has side quests to complete. Most of these involve fighting certain characters, using particular moves on opponents or collecting items. The idea here is that it gives you the opportunity to level up your character and also act as a training ground. Unfortunately quests get repetitive as there is a lack of motivation and relevance to the story. Worse still, occasionally the game forces you to complete side quests before being able to continue the story, making it feel like unnecessary filler.
The fighting mechanics are accessible to all ages. Characters have weak and strong attacks, and by stringing together the simplest of combos you can unleash dazzling acrobatic moves. Characters can also unleash special attacks, ki blasts and have the ability to fly. The arenas are typically large, open-spaced areas, and while this suits the flying ability of fighters it also has some drawbacks. In group fights, enemies and allies will dash around all areas of the arena, making it difficult to follow and keep track of everyone’s location. There is a lock-on system which focuses your attention on one opponent at a time, but in the case of group fights there are occasions where it won’t snap onto the next target if they are out of range. This means you have to spend several seconds trying to locate your next target and reestablish your bearings, which hurts the flow of combat and doesn’t feel intuitive.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 does feature a new Expert mode which lets you to team up with friends or online randoms to fight bosses. The bosses can disrupt teams and cause havoc, such as taking control of a teammate and forcing them to fight their allies, so there’s a bit of uniqueness and it’s genuinely fun to play. There does appear to be some issues with online lag, and at one point I even encountered an issue where enemies would not spawn in an online co-op match. My team waited a few minutes until finally being kicked from the session.
Like its predecessor, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 features cel-shaded graphics which help recapture the look and feel of the anime. There are minor improvements, with models and environments looking slightly smoother and more vibrant. During some of the more intense fights there are some minor framerate drops, though they’re only just noticeable and don’t detract from the experience too much. Overall the graphics are clean and crisp, and look almost like an episode of the anime.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 doesn’t deviate too much from its predecessor. It still features repetitive filler missions, unintuitive combat and only minor improvements and new features. It’s still a good game that will appease Dragon Ball fans, but it doesn’t ascend to become a stand out amongst the crowd.
- Robust character customisation options - Massive hub world - Great visuals that capture the look and feel of the anime
- Clunky camera and lock-on system - Filler content - Online lag - Not a lot different from its predecessor