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Fun, but Lacking: Dragonball Xenoverse Review

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It’s about damned time we got something marginally original in a Dragonball game. Dragonball Xenoverse has a fun and simple concept that works for it: Take an original character and throw him into famous moments in Dragonball history with an original time travel plot. It works. It’s a fun game.

And yet, as great as it is, Dragonball Xenoverse can’t help but leave a bittersweet taste in your mouth as you look at it and wonder, what if? What if this had been tuned a little better? What if more characters were put in the game? What if drop rate on things wasn’t so INSANELY FUCKING RANDOM that after SO MANY TRIES YOU STILL-

Ahem. The point is that Dragonball Xenoverse is really fun. But after so many Dragonball games that have ranged from really great to absolutely terrible, developers should already know what works and what doesn’t work in these games. So let’s just jump right in and see what did work with a Dragonball Xenoverse review!


STORY

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You’re the future guy. Well, “Future Warrior” is your title, and you’ve been summoned by Trunks through the Dragonballs to Toki Toki City. A mysterious, mute warrior, you’ve been called to answer Trunks’ wish for a strong warrior to help him as a member of the Time Patrol; warriors serving the Supreme Kai of Time that correct changes to the course of history. Naturally, these changes are to significant moments from Dragonball Z’s Saiyan Saga and up, so you’ll be heading out to challenge Raditz at the beginning of the game and moving from there.

The story is actually decent, if a little light. Occasionally, history diverges in strange ways; some fights will have you on the forefront at Goku’s side, while others have the iconic anime battle occurring in the background while you’re fighting an enemy that shouldn’t be present. Tying the new antagonists back to a previous character from the show gives a sense of continuity, and it doesn’t feel like a terrible “written in two days” plot.

Unfortunately, a lot of the cooler hypothetical moments take place in the Parallel Quests, like Vegeta going Super Saiyan on Namek or battling all of the three original saiyans at once. If I have a real complaint about the story, it’s that it doesn’t diverge far enough to let you take on more radical roles like a fight on a villain’s side for the sake of history, or something. It’s a fun Dragonball Z game, though, so I don’t need it to win awards for story.

4 out of 5: Xenoverse gives a plausable reason for inserting you into the Dragonball universe, and it works well in the game. If only it had been a bit more ambitious.

GAMEPLAY

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Ah, this is what both makes and breaks the game. Let’s start with the good: Dragonball Xenoverse lets you do a lot of fun stuff in the gameplay. Customizing your character is a solid experience; you can choose from five races (human, saiyan, namekian, majin, Frieza clan) that have different stats, and your sex also plays a role in your character’s build. The different outfits that you get range from things worn by the anime characters to your own outfits that have customizable colors; these also affect your stats. You’ve a wide variety of skills to learn though the Parallel Quests (your sidequest hypothetical battle scenarios), training with other characters, and even wishing from the Dragonballs.

The combat  however, isn’t perfect. While the controls are solid once you get them down, like most fighting games, balance issues have arisen. Certain combinations of gear and skills have broken results, like an accessory that gives you unlimited Ki and the Super Saiyan form. Certain combos will juggle the computer almost endlessly, while other computer fights seem ridiculous as your attacks do nothing until you’ve landed an arbitrary amount. Your character does have a attribute system, so you can go level up and increase your stats to steamroll some missions, but AI partners seem to exist only to knock enemies out of your attacks or make suicide runs. A 3v3 battle can easily end up with both your computer allies running away to poorly battle one opponent while you’re juggled between the other two opponents. Thankfully, the game does have online play for the Parallel Missions, so instead of two AI partners you can team up with a another player to handle it, but…

Well, the servers aren’t very faithful. If you’ve played, you know this. Hell, if you’ve heard anything in the time that the game has been out, you’ve heard this. Unfortunately, half of my time spent in the game results in being unable to connect to the servers. This is the favorable outcome, because the other half results in you being disconnected midgame, which takes you back to the loading screen to login to the servers again. The lack of a dedicated “play game offline” button is a major flaw. At least that functionality is there, however. Of course, I’m on PC, so I can only speak for my experiences; console players may have a stable and fun time at this point.

The one point that really needs to be brought up though, as it is easily the most PAINFULLY FRUSTRATING THING in the game is the drop chance on skills and equipment. I am by no means advocating a 100% chance, but either the numbers need to be raised or the RNG for this game needs to be reevaluated. A majority of your skills and equipment come as drops in Parallel Quests. However, each Parallel Quest has a bonus objective that adds to the quest, with some of your skills only dropping from this part. The chance for these bonus objectives to occur is random as well, so sometimes you’re dealing with two RNGs just to get a single piece of gear that never seems to drop. For example: If Vegeta is your mentor, he asks you to bring him an item from the fifth Parallel Quest before you can continue training with him. This requires the bonus objective to go active and a random drop during that quest. I’m currently 0-200+ attempts. I got my Ashes of A’lar mount in World of Warcraft easier than some of these fucking drops. Thankfully, players can trade…when the servers are fine. But after each mission, you’re placed back in the city a good 20 seconds from the Parallel  Quest NPC, so it’s incredibly inefficient.

3 out of 5: A fun game that plays well, but has balancing issues and can halt progression based on poor RNG. MMO level grinding isn’t fun, and neither is overpowered broken combos that can be taken online against other players.

GRAPHICS, SOUND, CONTROLS

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The game is pretty. The environments from the Dragonball Z anime are really brought to life in Dragonball Xenoverse, and your favorite characters are well rendered in full glory. Toki Toki city is a beautiful mix of clockwork future city, Capsule Corp powered metropolis, and pensive shrine, working really well together. The attacks from the series, which everyone knows is the most important part, are also wonderfully done. Overall, the game is a great visual representation of the Dragonball universe. While some things are missing from prior games, like very destructable environments, I can’t hold that against the graphics. Really, my only complaint is that one of Trunk’s saiyan armor costumes has him with sword and his really short hair…but that’s just me as a Dragonball geek who always has to complain about something. Ahem, moving on…

The sound quality is a bit lacking. Aside from the incredibly enthusiastic opening theme, there’s little variety to the music, which gets repetitive. I would have loved to hear some of the iconic themes from the anime. I gotta knock it a little for that. Part of what made Dragonball Z so great was the music with it, so I can’t help but want more from this. Also, why can’t I talk? C’mon guys.

Controls, as I mentioned earlier, are simple once you get used to them. Special attacks are performed very easily by holding two buttons.  Combos are basic with a light and heavy melee attack, ki blasts, and a throw. They’re very light and simple, making this an easy game for even non-fighting game pros to get into.

4 out of 5: While needing better sound options, the game is damned pretty and easy to learn – a definite point in its favor.

REPLAYABILITY

The game is definitely replayable. By unlocking the ability to make more characters after you’ve completed the story on the first Future Warrior, you can try an entirely different moveset or playstyle and run through everything again. The Parallel Quests provide ample grinding opportunity, but being able to do them online while leveling your new characters means they’re invaluable for cooperative fun. Of course, the game has an online and offline vs. mode, which means you’ll always be able to find an excuse to run through the game another time to try something else out against an opponent. There’s some definite time-sink potential here. I’m only going to knock a point because a lot of that time may end up just trying to get one skill over and over.

4 out of 5: With all the potential for more characters and online play, you’ll get a lot of time out of this. Especially if you’re after 100%.


It has its minor problems (LIKE THE GRINDING), but Dragonball Xenoverse is a really fun game. It’s just lacking in some areas like characters and balance. It’s awesome to look at all those famous moments from a slightly different perspective and see an original tale in the Dragonball Universe wrapped around all the moments and characters we demand to have. While a more niche title, as you’ll probably have to have been a fan of the show to want to play the game, it stands as one of the best Dragonball games. They’re working on it all the time if my Steam updates are any indication, so grab it and have a good time. Just be prepared to work if you want to learn Final Flash.

David’s overall rating: 4 out of 5 – Got 50 bucks? Why not Xenoverse? But if you don’t get it now, make sure to get it later.

About David A. Reeves

David is a 25 year old graduate with a BA in English, and he's wondering how all of this adult stuff crept up on him. He has a large love of Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy, a lack of budget sense during Steam sales, and is involved in an abusive relationship with the MMO genre. Outside of gaming, David can be found reading books with swords and magic, suffering from writer's block on that story he said he'd write, enjoying a hookah or a beer with friends, and trying not to say anything inappropriate despite the overwhelming urge. He's an odd fellow.

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