Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC
Released: Feb 2015
Dragonball has finally solved the age-old question of how you add original characters and plot and then weave them into the path of a well-trodden storyline. The answer: time-changing shenanigans! Unoriginal? Maybe, but it breathes new life into the series, and poses a number of fascinating “What If?” questions. What if you swapped bodies with Captain Ginyu instead of Goku? What if Hercule wasn’t totally useless…?
Summoned by Trunks through the power of Shenron and the Dragonballs to Toki Toki City, you play a silent warrior from one of five races: Human, Saiyan, Namekian, or from the unnamed species that Frieza and Buu belong to (Frieza Race and Buu Race are the names given here). Me, I decided to create some kind of “DudeBro” Saiyan, complete with sunglasses, blue spiky hair and a goatee, but there are a range of options at your disposal, including male and female. Ever wanted to know what a female Buu looks like? Here’s your chance.
Tasked with stopping the timeline from being altered by fresh new villains, you jump to different points in the popular anime/manga’s timeline (even including the Battle of Gods film, Resurrection of F is featured through free DLC costumes only), and make sure things happen the way that they’re supposed to… By punching, kicking and Kamehameha’ing your way through everyone who opposes you.
As I mentioned before, the plot gives the series of games a renewed lease on life, instead of just following the same story, retold 20 times over in previous games. The new villains help to make things seem fresh, and as you play through the game, they begin to affect the storyline in comical and interesting ways, two of which I have already alluded to. On top of that, there’s a sense of satisfaction to be had from watching your abomination absolutely destroy the most popular and powerful characters.
However, despite these changes, the gameplay remains mostly the same, which is to say simple and accessible. You don’t have to learn any complex button inputs here, but there is some scope for combos if you choose to seek it, especially when fighting as part of a team. Mostly though, you’ll be marvelling at how many colours of the spectrum can appear on screen at any one time, as you fly around doling beatdowns on whoever looks at you funny. It becomes just as frantic as some of the best fights in the anime and I love it for that.
Outside of missions, you’ll be wandering Toki Toki City, an online hub world similar to The Tower in Destiny, where you can buy gear, interact with other players and accept Parallel Quests. These side missions are where the game really experiments with the lore. You could go from helping Guldo complete a Ginyu Force Entrance Exam, to joining the Androids in exterminating the Z Warriors. Speaking of which, why is there no Android Race? Maybe in the DLC…
The hub world is a fantastic addition, when the servers actually work, as the sheer amount of players who populate the city help to create a genuine sense of community, even if most of that community is standing around trying to complete a fusion pose. Also within Toki Toki City are Masters, series mainstays who will train you and give you their moves, meaning you could also wield skills like Final Flash and Big Bang Kamehameha, among others.
There’s a lot to this game, possibly more than most other DB games in recent memory. The amount of gear, characters, and missions on offer here is incredible, but it helps to highlight a potential downfall: the entire game is governed by RNG (random number generator). Loot rewards from missions, including Dragonballs? RNG. Master’s appearing in Toki Toki City? RNG. The appearance of bonus stages? RNG, even if you fulfilled the required objectives. Everything you unlock in this game is determined by how lucky you are, which can be as attractive to some as it is disgusting to others. (Ed: Did the Cryptarch have anything to do with this game?)
Sure, it helps to create replayability, and when the gameplay is this fun and you’ve got a friend to join you, it becomes less of a problem, but when you’ve Z-Ranked a tough mission and the loot you need still doesn’t appear, it’s hard not to feel cheated. (ED: The Cryptarch must have had something to do with this then!) What’s worse is that some Masters (I’m looking at you Vegeta) require you to obtain mission specific loot in order to continue with their training. Good advice? Loot hunt in groups, and share the rewards.
All in all, there’s a lot to like about Xenoverse. The adventures of you, Saviour of Time and Space, are both equal parts fan-service and accessible to the casual gamer, and the gameplay can attract anyone to pick up and play. The grind for specific loot might get too much for those who aren’t dedicated fans, but that shouldn’t put people off giving this a try.