It’s safe to say that Dragon Ball is amongst the most iconic manga and anime properties of all time. The adventures of Goku and his compatriots have in turn always proven ripe for video game adaptations, though the frenetic combat of the anime series has often seemed difficult for developers to accurately capture. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 aims to right a number of the first title’s issues, with a raft of improvements that have been focussed on making this the finest adaptation of Dragon Ball yet.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 once again sees you become a member of the Time Patrol, a team whose sole purpose is to prevent history from being changed, while protecting people’s memories in the process. It’s a nice and simple narrative device that allows you to drop into various iconic moments throughout the Dragon Ball Z timeline and ensure that events pan out the way they should do. Your task is set by the likeable Supreme Kai of Time, while the somewhat grumpy Elder Kai will assist you along your way. All of the time anomalies are the work of the evil Towa though, and it’s up to you to stop her.
Xenoverse 2 is styled as a faux-MMORPG, with your created avatar running around in the Conton City hub-world – which if you’re online is actually populated with other players – while accepting quests from a robotic quest-giver. Your character will level up through combat and via completing quests, while there’s also a central narrative to work your way through, not to mention the online battles.
You have multiple character slots and you can choose from five races – Majin, Saiyan, Earthling, Namekian and the Frieza – before then choosing from a fairly decent set of appearance options that’ll leave you with a character that fits right into the world of Dragon Ball. There’s also some nice connectivity between Xenoverse 2 and the original, so you can transfer your character over as the Conton City Hero, with just a few skills being excluded.
If you’ve played Warner Bros’ DC Universe MMO, Xenoverse 2 evokes a similar feeling. Combat is combo heavy with plenty of aerial action, and you’ll need some heavy use of the lock-on in order to stay on top of your adversaries. There’s a good deal of diversity added via the interchangeable skills, but combat still sits somewhere on the flashy button-mashing end of the scale.
Flashy is what you want when you’re trying to emulate the over-the-top action of the Dragonball Z anime and one of the best things about Xenoverse 2 is just how close it can be in capturing the TV version’s hyperactive tone, though sometimes it feels as though you’re only loosely in control of what has just happening on the screen.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 sure looks the part anyway, with chunky anime visuals that do a good job of capturing the spirit of the anime. The character animation comes up a bit short though, and as the majority of the cut-scenes are done in-engine it cheapens the storytelling at times. There’s also an odd filter on the visuals that you have to head into the options to do away with by turning the brightness up. Apparently this is due to lively and vivid colours being able to make you feel unwell, which I couldn’t quite believe it. I’ve certainly never experienced such a thing before.
On top of the standard quest structure, you also have the Patroller Academy where you can take on challenge quests from Elder Kai and advancement tests to raise your class. While there you’ll also come across various other fighters who will be willing to teach you extra techniques, making it an invaluable resource for progressing while customising your character depending on your own fighting style.
I experienced problems connecting to the Xenoverse server on a number of occasions, which greatly limited access to a number of the game’s main features. Without an internet connection you can’t take part in the MMO-esque side of the game, with your central hub fairly devoid of life and no chance of any spontaneous multiplayer battles. It all feels a great deal more insular. Loading times are also a bit of an issue, with some making you wait an excruciatingly long period of time.
The other feature that you may find excruciating is the relentlessly perky music. The short looped sections of many of the key pieces mean that boredom quickly sets in, and it sits firmly in the catchy but dull camp. Of course, the frenetic electric guitar appears from time to time to offset things, but you’ll spend far more time listening to chirpy drivel than is warranted.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 does a decent job of capturing the spirit of the anime series, even if its component parts don’t quite gel all of the time. There’s a huge amount of content available to players, and you can spend hours battling and levelling up in the attractive world of the Super Saiyans, even if repetition does eventually begin to set in. Fans will be well served by the alternative take on scenes they know and love, though players of the original Xenoverse may well have a strong sense of déjà vu about the whole venture.
Version Tested: PS4