Dragon Ball XenoVerse Review

By Peter Stojanov,
Skepticism came for Dragon Ball XenoVerse, the latest game in the series, as it was only announced a short time after the release of its latest game. Dimps, the creator behind the Budokai series, was developing the new addition to the DBZ franchise and it would be arriving sometime early in 2015. After waiting patiently due to delays, not unlike waiting for Goku to charge his Spirit Bomb, the title finally arrives on PlayStation 4 for fans to get their hands on. Will this game live up to the reputation it's been setting itself or will it flop as bad as Yamcha does?

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In XenoVerse, alternative realities are consistently flooding the timestream and the Time Patrollers, headed by the Supreme Kai of Time and Trunks, are looking for your assistance. You must help them by finding new and evil characters from the Dragon Ball world who are travelling through time and providing more power to villains and others to change history.

Before your character can be summoned, the player begins by creating them, which is one of the greatest things they could have brought back from another game in the series, Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi. This time, however, you will be given the choice in selecting from five different races, including Human, Saiyan, Namekian, Arcosian (Frieza's race), and Majin. While there aren't any female choices for Namekians and Arcosians (they must reproduce through some other means), the most interesting and fan-favourite choice seems to be the addition of the never-before-seen Female Majin. The facial features, body build, and colour of body parts can be changed from the beginning but, while this is sufficient for customizing, it's not that expansive.

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XenoVerse's gameplay is very similar to Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z but has a greater fluidity to it. Battling enemies and flying through the air feels exhilarating as if you were really in the show, but this does show that the games are taking a direction away from their traditional fighting-game style. This iteration takes on an almost RPG-style of combat, scrapping the rock-paper-scissors mini-games from past games in favour of uninterrupted combat while powering towards opponents. Frustrating moments do occur frequently throughout the playthrough, as many times your Z-Warrior could be facing the wrong direction whilst stringing together a medley of moves. You won't be able to break away from this string very easily, and it leaves an opening for the enemy to come in and take advantage.

Something that was present in past Dragon Ball games but is only unlockable later in XenoVerse is the ability to charge ki. This is a strange concept to grasp as every past iteration contained some semblance of charging ki right from the beginning, but in this title ki is charged through damage to your opponents (it is only unlocked later through acquiring a skill). Players attack opponents using light attacks, heavy attacks, ki blasts, super moves, and ultimate super moves; there is also the ability to block incoming attacks and to perform throws. All of these moves come together to provide a smooth and flowing gameplay unlike some of the clobbered together controls of past games in the franchise.

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The button placement for all of the moves and how you charge through the air, ascending and descending, feels simple and well spread out yet has its complexity about it. By charging at your opponent, you use up a stamina bar, which is also used towards performing escaping maneuvers from imminent dangers, such as teleporting away from a blast or pushing swarming enemies back with a wave. It is also important to keep track of the ki meter as without anything in this a player won't be able to perform many of their super or ultimate super moves that provide lots of damage to your opponent.

Attribute points, skills, and equipment also heavily factor into the gameplay as they are needed to take on higher difficulty foes. There is no difficulty to turn down in XenoVerse, which is what makes it so good. You are only as good as how well you upgrade your character. Attribute points are given by leveling your character through Story Mode or Parallel Quests; these points are used to upgrade your health, strength, and ki. This provides that RPG-style feel mentioned earlier, leveling and providing perks in an almost Elder Scrolls-like fashion. By completing missions you are provided with prizes that include equipment and skills. These skills can be used to change the super and ultimate moves that you utilize in battle and equipment to change how your character looks and to boost certain attribute portions of your stats. This is a great direction in which Dragon Ball is heading in order to stay alive as it adds excitement and incentive in order to complete more of these missions and become stronger than the rest.

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In Story Mode, you take on historical scenes in the timeline from new perspectives, but you do this alone. To remedy this, the game introduces the player to Parallel Quests (PQ). PQ are essentially the same enemies and venues that you fight during story mode, but this allows you to take them on with other players via the PlayStation Network. There are also PQ in which you can partake in the battle from different perspectives (i.e. joining Frieza in taking down the Z Fighters) and this adds great "What If?" experiences into the mix. This is a great way to level up and doesn't feel too repetitive as each PQ has different mission objectives and/or team-ups. It's really interesting to have a Master that also helps to beef up your character with classic moves and you receive advice during gameplay from some of the traditional Dragon Ball characters such as Vegeta and Frieza.

The multiplayer doesn't end there, however, as you are able to take on players online and duke it out with the traditional characters or your custom characters. The special moves during online play are plagued with balancing issues as certain attacks lock you in place without any way to escape or avoid them, allowing unfair advantages for players to easily rack up wins and raise their rank. An update should be rendered for these balance issues, and also for certain glitches that seem to occur while participating in multiplayer matches; for example, sometimes during matches certain textures will pop during ki blasting sequences. There are also connectivity issues.

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The Trophies for XenoVerse are all quite grindey and the list requires a lot of collection (i.e. skills, equipment, dragon balls). Gamers who have experienced past Dragon Ball games have already experienced the very difficult list of tasks to undertake, which included beating missions on hardest difficulty settings and achieving great scores. It is safe to say no such trophies exist for this title and that all trophies seem manageable albeit time-consuming. They can still be quite challenging but not impossibly difficult.

The soundtrack for XenoVerse contains many new performances on past songs used in the games as well as a new score to thrill the fans while playing. The very thrilling Head-Cha-La song by Flow makes its classy appearance in the title, while the rest of the soundtrack tries and mostly succeeds at keeping players pumped during action sequences. The game does also suffer from a major fault that involves the in-game cinematics not lip-synching with the new, English dub. This causes a disjointed feeling as you watch the heroes and villains moving their mouth to their traditional Japanese voices. The featured voice work in the game can be upsetting at times, but the main cast is predominantly featured throughout each sequence so that this can be overlooked (though Cell sounding like Plankton from SpongeBob is rather disconcerting).

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In conclusion, Dragon Ball XenoVerse is a must have for DBZ fans everywhere and a good game that other players could pick up and enjoy, too. While frustrating at times, this title is one of the best in the franchise that has been released in years. The game contains simple but complex controls, a solid twist on a classic story, and great multiplayer activity that will keep avid players fighting for hours on end. This take on Dragon Ball's history is refreshing and different from the past few games, which have been too repetitive in replaying the storyline over and over again. For a true fan of the franchise, this game hits the nostalgic factor while also bringing a new, fresh take.

The reviewer spent 12 hours fighting and screaming through the Dragon Ball timeline and gained 21 out of the 50 trophies. The reviewer feels it will take many episodes of charging up in order to get to the coveted Platinum trophy. This copy was personally purchased by the reviewer.