Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 Hands-on Preview – Time Patrollers, Unite!
I can't help but associate the Dragon Ball series with Cartoon Network, particularly at 4pm right after school finished for the day. While it may seem a bit silly to me now, back then it used to be the equivalent to 'The Wire', for primary school children. Kids these days don't even have to wait until after school, they can just chain the whole show on Crunchy Roll or some other service. Not only that, they've also got so many Dragon Ball games to play, including the most recent game: Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2. Back in my day, we had 2D Dragon Ball Z games that let you play against one other person in a versus battle. Xenoverse 2 not only has a local versus mode for two players, it also lets you play with up to six of your friends from all across the world as you take on one huge boss. I suppose that's a bit better than doing Goku mirror matches in Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3...
The preview event I attended allowed me to explore the brand new hub world of Conton City, try out three different quests and take on Great Ape Vegeta with five AI companions. While playing the Story Mode, I was forced to play as a Frieza Clan custom character. Although there are a number of main quests that alter history, there are also various side quests in the city. From what I experienced, the side quests give the player the opportunity to engage in less serious battles and situations that you wouldn't expect to see in the anime. The main quests felt much deeper and appear to shed some light on characters that have been glossed over in the past, for example, the Ginyu Force.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 1 allowed you to create your own character and have them take part in several iconic fights throughout Dragon Ball Z's history. Xenoverse 2 takes place two years after the first game, featuring largely the same story as before. Your custom character is recruited to join the Time Patrollers, a group dedicated to fixing problems that could alter the course of history. The changes that have been made in this sequel seem to be primarily gameplay tweaks, and of course the 1080p/60FPS upgrade that comes from leaving the older generation of consoles behind. Returning players can look forward to more items to customize their characters with, a tweaked combat system with balance changes, and Conton City: a new hub city that is around seven times the size of the one in the first game. The developers have also allowed console players to import their characters from the first game, though they won't be accessible until after you've completed the game.
When it comes to fighting opponents in Xenoverse 2, you are placed in a typical Dragon Ball Z themed battleground (Planet Namek and Cell Games Arena, to name a few) with up to three fighters on each side. The large environments allow you to retreat at any time, giving you plenty of room to recharge your Ki and Stamina bars. As a Time Patroller, practically any fight can take place within the game's nonsense timeline. Want your customized character to team up with Vegeta to fight against Goku, Gohan and Krillin? That is definitely an option. You can always take the boring route and fight against evil, but who wants to do that?
Each character has basic combos and plenty of special abilities at their disposable, but you could easily get through the game by simply button mashing. This will almost certainly change once you play online, so don't expect your single player tactics to work against actual people. Speaking of the combat, as someone who didn't play the first Xenoverse game, I have to say I'm not a fan of the combat system. I didn't go in expecting the combat to be on the same level as a game like Street Fighter V, but I was hoping it would at least be equal to the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm series. The developers have done everything they can to make the combat look just like a fight in the anime; it's a pity the fighting in Xenoverse 2 doesn't feel as good as the game looks.
Despite the lackluster combat system, Xenoverse 2 still manages to be enjoyable despite its clear flaws. The amount of nostalgia the game manages to recapture is amazing, both in terms of presentation and the overall look of the game. It's almost like you get to play an episode of the original anime, even down to some of the voice actors being the same as their anime counterparts (in both English and Japanese). For fans who used to watch the Dragon Ball series when they were younger, or for those looking to get back into the show with the release of Dragon Ball Super, right now is the perfect time to check out Xenoverse 2.
With Xenoverse 2's open beta launching on October 14th, there's no reason for any Dragon Ball fan to avoid trying it out. If you've managed to watch the latest series of Dragon Ball Super, you'll be happy to know Future Trunks and Goku Black will be available as pre-order bonuses. Whether or not there will be more content from Dragon Ball Super remains to be seen (development of Xenoverse 2 started long before Dragon Ball Super launched).
A Collector's Edition of Xenoverse 2 has been confirmed, featuring a 34cm statue of Son Goku and a Time Patroller Guide. There's also a cheaper Deluxe Edition available which contains the game as well as the Season Pass. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is set to release on October 28th on PS4, Xbox One and PC; check back near that time to read our full review.