Xenoverse 2 may be the best Dragon Ball game to date but it’s not without its problems. Still it can be said that in the grand fun of Battlefield 1, DBX2 actually pulled me away willingly to play it. What’s more is the MMO-like structures the game offers will keep me coming back for more thanks to the easy to pickup, hard to master mechanics. Don’t worry though, above all the gameplay is fun. In fact, if you are or were a Dragon Ball Z fan of any kind you need to buy this game. For nothing else if to unleash a x100 Big Bang Kamehameha in Great Ape Nappa’s face with your own character. Sweet sweet power.
Like the first title, the entire world of Xenoverse 2 is all wrapped up in one and takes place in a conglomerate hub known as Conton City. This decently sized hunk of land mass hosts a variety of structures, shops, characters, fighting opportunities, and other wayward markers. You are free to explore the area at your leisure and go about whatever it is you want to do. Except you won’t be able to freely fly right away in here. You’ll need to reach the Frieza saga before you get your “license” to do that. In the meantime you’ll have a nifty hovering vehicle that will get you from place to place faster. It’s through this area that you’ll access every part of the game including side missions, training opportunities, loose collectibles, shops, other players if online, and of course the story. There’s also a online martial arts tournament game mode that is coming soon.
Let’s start with the story as its arguably the biggest aspect of the title. After Demigra’s shenanigans and failings at the end of Xenoverse 1, the secondary antagonists Towa and Mira take center stage. They are once again trying to corrupt the history of the Dragon Ball universe except this time they are doing more than just giving out transdimensional power-ups. They actively seek out the most powerful villains in the entire mythos and send them to to different timelines. So expect to see the likes of Lord Slug, Turles, Broly, Janemba, and Cooler in places they don’t belong. There’s still the occasional evil energy power-up given to the more canon antagonists but it plays a smaller role than in the first game.
This is where you and your created character come in (unless you ported your original one over). The amount of content to mold your person is pretty decent, but the real variety comes from the different clothing and abilities you can mix and match later in the game. Once you’re done you are automatically the one chosen to help the Supreme Kai of Time maintain time and protect history. Like before it’s done by entering the Time Vault and utilizing scrolls to travel between histories. Most of the time the scenarios you’ll find yourself in are very entertaining. I won’t spoil anything but seeing certain enemies in a certain place gave me an amusing rush.
However, the story has some minor plot structure problems. On one hand it can be unbearably cheesy with the campy dialogue and questionable animation choices. Yes, some of them were cringe worthy. On the other hand it can be a little lazy. Things and plot elements will just happen for an unexplained reason or are over way to quickly to have any sort of emotional impact. Not to say Xenoverse 2 doesn’t have those moments, it’s just that the pacing between them suffers. It was also apparent that there wasn’t even an attempt on lip syncing. Overall, the story may not be incredibly strong but it will provide plenty of adrenaline pumping entertainment and unique scenarios.
When you’re done with the story, which will probably take about ten hours, there is plenty of side missions and other objective content. One type of undertaking is coming across different Dragon Ball Z characters that are willing to train you in Conton City. As I’m typing this it’s hard to think of a character who didn’t offer training by the story’s end. Each one will have four lessons to teach and every one you succeed will net you money, experience, and a new ability. There will also be events that appear on the map as a blue exclamation mark. This will signify there is a computer controlled character who wants to battle or a side mission given to you by a series regular. A few more icons will appear like this regarding training and improving your character.
New to the central hub are five new areas that will specifically give you missions, side quests, and a ton of rewards. Frieza’s spaceship has you rising through the ranks of the Frieza Force, Guru’s House tasks you with missions of gathering Dragon Balls on Namek, Hercule’s House is the home of the Great Saiyaman and all his justice infused missions, Majin Buu’s House requires you to feed the pink blob so he can give birth to family members (don’t ask how that works), and finally Capsule Corporation is where Vegeta spends his time. Additionally, depending on your race these places will give you powerful transformations and upgrades.
The heaviest touted new game mode however, is the Expert Missions. You and up to five other players can take out powerful enemies in a raid like fashion. So you’ll go up against Great Apes, Metal Cooler, Lord Slug, and more. The conditions in which you beat them will mostly be the same but some of them have more health than others or less time to beat them. For the most part this addition is fun. Simply beating up historic villains that you can only do with others provides a nice sentimental touch.
Unfortunately, when the experience is truly looked at it can be a bit bare. The only things these battles do to change up the pace is brainwash teammates that need to be beaten back to their senses, require you to beat up a doppelganger to be free of brainwashing, sling players into other areas they must find their way back from, and unleash a giant ball of ki to destroy everything around. Granted the latter one is pretty cool as you have to use your own ki attacks to send the enormous energy ball back where it came from. It’s just that none of these things make the Expert Missions any harder and are only there to provide some semblance of variety.
Also, they won’t be available right away and require completion of half the story for them to appear. Once they are available, you can only unlock one at a time by “completing” each one. However, there is a current problem with this ability to progress. At the moment it is only possible to get credited for finishing the mission if you host an online match. No joining in on another Time Patroller’s lobby or doing it offline for it to count. Which causes problems if no one is joining your created server. Beyond these modes, the Parallel Quests and normal online matches make a return. When it’s all said and done there is easily 30-50 hours worth of content here.
Xenoverse 2’s best aspect is easily the gameplay. If nothing more then to just feel like a badass unleashing Dragon Ball moves. All missions and objectives take place in a 3D setting as before. You can fly around and move in any direction you want while battling. Plus, the areas are quite large whether on Namek, Earth, or anywhere in between. The user interface is pretty simple as you only have three different controllable menus with attacks and items and your health and stamina bar at the top of the screen. The more you upgrade your attributes the larger your bars will be and the more moves and items you collect will appear in your chosen slots.
As I mentioned there are a ton of moves to collect and choose based on your playstyle. There will be physical attacks that differ on how they’re triggered, basic attacks, and even more ki technique variations. You’ll have the quick releasing but not very powerful blasts, the minimal charging attacks that will deal a decent amount of damage, and ultimate attacks that can take a few seconds to perform but by god if they land expect an entire health bar to be lost. Don’t worry about your stats effecting these moves. The game is very generous in handing out attribute points that you may have around twenty by the time you get to that menu. It’s just up to you to allocate them into health, stamina, max ki, basic attacks, strike supers, and ki blast supers. Point being there will be a perfect customized set of abilities for everyone.
The gameplay also has a surprising amount of depth behind all the abilities and choices. It’s true that you can just rush into battle, keep on the attack, and win but when it comes to harder fights you’ll have to actually play. You’ll have to manage your stamina, which allows you to teleport, and decide when to take a beating and when to get out of a combo. Doing so too early will leave you at a disadvantage if the opponent has more stamina and doing so too late will see you be the victim of unearthly attacks. In addition, there’s also counters and back hits to master that may or may not come easy to people. These abilities are very useful but when you’re in an action packed fight, the proper way to implement these may not always come out as they should. In the end the game isn’t just a whoever can punch harder. You have to think too which is very rewarding.
Regrettably, it’s come time to critique the absolute negatives of this Dragon Ball title. First and foremost, the loading screen times are unacceptable. Especially when returning to Conton City after a mission. Expect to be waiting at least a minute, if not more, and have a handy dandy smartphone in hand to pass the time. Another technical issue were a handful of server issues I encountered. There were times where I was booted out of a mission, Conton City, and sometimes straight out of the game itself. I was truly puzzled at why these things happened the way they did because there was seemingly no reason for it. Lastly and more embarrassing, a handful of text boxes had spelling errors. Not too big a deal but it was amusing to see Frieza mess up simple and basic English words. Although it wasn’t quite clear how he spoke any Earth language so I’ll just use that excuse for now.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 PlayStation 4 Review
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is better than its predecessor in every way even if it brings along more of the same problems. Still it stands strong as the best in the series for the gameplay alone. The scenarios you'll find yourself in will be greatly entertaining and the amount of content here will last you for a very long time. Just understand that loading screens may play a small part in that. I can say with confidence if you're a DBZ fan, you should buy this game. Consequently, I'd even recommend it for those who just like action/fighting games in general. Let's just hope the post-launch support breathes additional life into this grand world.
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