Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Gamescom Preview – Kamehame-Yay?
Earlier this year, at E3, Francesco was able to preview Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. In his preview, he got the chance to play through the bits of open-world before Goku (Kakarot) and Piccolo fought Raditz. During my hands-on at Gamescom, I got to try this mode out as well as the new battle introduced for the Gamescom Demo.
This new battle was against Perfect Cell, where you take control of Gohan. One of the more engaging battles in the series to me, it's also a perfect way to show the combat of the game. Cell was a monster, an unfathomable force before the series went too far after the Majin Buu saga (that was the last I watched and enjoyed). Fighting Cell is something I was more than happy to do.
Let's talk combat. No matter the demo I was playing, combat was interesting. When facing against Cell, where Gohan has truly reached a higher level of strength, the combat is fast-paced and powerful. Cell has something like nine health bars, so you're going to find yourself in a challenge of a fight, to say the least. It was fast, very smooth and altogether engaging. This is the way I remember the best Dragonball Z games playing.
Then again, even in the other demo - the one that Francesco also got to try out - I found myself engaged by the combat. Not so much against the little robots that kept cropping up, essentially the random encounters found in any RPG. In fact, that's something that Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot really makes me think of, an RPG, not the pure fighting games it has almost exclusively been in the past. Being developed by a studio I really like, CyberConnect2 (.Hack series of games), I actually trust this to be the sort of game I think it can be. Particularly if CyberConnect2 bring in some of the RPG sensibilities they had in the .Hack games.
It does seem they have brought this in, to an extent, because the open-world section in one of the demo's seemed very interesting to say the least. Being able to explore as a pre-Raditz Goku, flying around on Nimbus, landing and chatting to the randomers that knew Goku before he essentially became god was an interesting element of the game. Even more interesting is actually developing the characters yourself, through the aforementioned random encounters, but by also doing simple quest chains that let you explore the open area of the world.
Not only are there these little quests to do, but also other aspects to keep you entertained and helping you progress, such as hunting dinosaurs, fishing, cooking and more. They're all nice, little, additions that will help to flesh out the world and the game as a whole. Everything is aided by the fact that the game looks and sounds like the Animé. I doubt they have the same Japanese voice actors, but the fact that it has Japanese voice-overs only sells it further for me. As for the aesthetics, it looks great, particularly in battle when you're scouring the planet with a stray Kamehameha.
Just, back to the fighting. I need to reiterate how engaging it was. The fact is, it's actually pretty simple, with light and heavy attacks, or a Ki blast, being at your disposal. You can chain these together, of course, building up your Ki bar, letting you use special attacks like a Galick Gun, Kamehameha or - hopefully - a Destructo Disk or Spirit Bomb by simply holding the trigger and pressing a button.
Despite the simplicity in the combat system, it's the speed of these characters, particularly later, that makes it feel so fun. Timing for dodges is everything, using your boost to close in space when you see the opportunity and of course using items to heal yourself up or get a boost when the opportunity arises. I had a grin on my face while playing, that's more than can be said for a number of other titles.
Dragon Ball games have been a mixed bag for me in the past. I've absolutely loved some of the Budokai Tenkaichi titles, Burst Limit and even Attack of the Saiyans. I'm not so sure about the recent Xenoverse titles, with the combat being good but there just being something missing for me. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot looks to be making a game that is so very suited for me, a person who was a massive fan of the Animé and loves me a bit of Goku, Gohan and the rest of the fighters.
My expectations here were "another Xenoverse", which is to say something fun enough, serviceable, but nothing to keep me gripped. I'm genuinely looking forward to this now, so all I can say is roll on early 2020, when Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot comes out for the PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.