Dragonball Xenoverse 2 Review
As a mainstay of the anime world, Dragonball definitely has a strong community of hardcore fans. Through the years, several games have been made letting you live out the history, but Dragonball Xenoverse was the first to really let you feel like a part of the universe. Xenoverse 2 expands on the original's model, and while at times it feels like a retread, it adds enough new experiences, modes, and modifiers to draw you even further into the lore and mythos.
As a sequel to the original Xenoverse, your original character (if you played XV1) has saved the day, is a top-tier warrior in the Time Patrol, and has a statue celebrating their victory in town square. Your new character gets to fight alongside them from time to time, again going back in time to stop the strange anomalies that are plaguing history. This allows you to relive the greatest moments in Dragonball Z's history, helping your favorite characters fight the most iconic battles. As you go on, you will train with some of the most famous heroes of the series, slowly pushing your stats over 9000. Much like the constant training of the characters within the show, you often come up against something seemingly impossible, such as a battle with two Saiyans that have turned into Great Apes simultaneously, but if you lose, just take on one of the mentor's challenges or some of the online or offline battle modes to further level your character, then lay the smack down on your now inferior opponents. You can choose to be a human, Saiyan, or a member of the Frieza, Majin, or Namekian clan. Each race gives you a few special quests, ramping up replay value, and the game allows you to save up to eight separate characters, so you're able to save one for each race and gender option to try out.
The hub world has greatly expanded from Xenoverse 1, and really feels like it has a purpose. There are NPCs who may give you items or challenge you to a battle. The aforementioned mentors are in the community as well, and there are shops to spend your hard-earned Zenni at, on moves, items, or clothing to further craft your unique characters. The meat of the game is the battles, where you can team up with other online players or select from many unlockable classic fighters through history. I appreciated the options. With the game being brand new (as well as some frustrating disconnects I personally faced), it was nice to see the game have an offline presence as well, so that if nobody else was playing you could still feel like the world was alive.
Early in the game, a quick tutorial brings you up to speed on how to maneuver. Left trigger dashes, right trigger brings up special moves, and ultimate moves are accessed by pulling both. Combinations of Ki and stamina are key to pulling off your greatest combinations and truly decimating your opponent. The game does a great job of making you feel part of the action: battles are fast and frantic. Pulling off the right set of moves will make you dash in quickly, teleporting back and forth while you knock your opponent back and forth like your own personal tennis ball.
My biggest concerns with the game are small, but still enough to provide a bit of nagging frustration. Yes, the battles are fast and frantic, but sometimes I find myself annoyed with some of the simpler controls. For example, flying down or landing requires clicking in the left analog stick, which is finicky and can get frustrating when you just want to drop down a bit in the heat of battle. This raised it's ugly head in the earlier mentioned battle with Vegeta and Nappa, as they simultaneously took Great Ape form. I was able to lock-on to two separate areas on their torso, and would close in for physical attack. If I just pounded on the attack buttons, I found myself gravitating toward their upper torso, where their biggest swings and punches would instantly hit me, whereas if I were to stay a bit lower I could avoid them. When they started blasting giant laser beams that could seek upwards, it was hard to drop down. At these times, the camera seemed to be against me as well, rotating around to where I couldn't see what I was trying to hit. Sometimes, it felt like the dramatic camera angles on particular attacks made part of them miss as well. My last unrelated annoyance was the tutorial: every time you start a new character, you go through it like you've never played the game before. It's not much, but it's just a little nagging thing. I know how to play now, just let me throw down!
Dragonball Xenoverse 2 comes with the option of buying a $30 Season Pass that promises more battles, masters, and stages. I have been fortunate enough to receive a review copy of the game and any upcoming DLC from the developers, so I'll be sure to keep you informed of the new material as it is released. True fans will want it, no doubt, but it is a hefty price tag for casual fans looking to get into the universe.
While I enjoy anime, Dragonball Z has never been on my radar due to the intimidating amount of lore I would have to get through. Xenoverse 2 does a great job of introducing it to me in a fun, lighthearted way. The jumpy fun music and jokes in the main hub world combine with the serious, gritty, sweat-and-swear-filled battles and the full anime cutscenes to really make you feel like you've created a new character within the Dragon Ball world.
Special thanks to the developers for providing a copy of the game for review.
Final Review Score: 4.75/5