I know what you’re thinking. I thought it too. “This won’t be any better than Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 for the PlayStation 2.” I’m here to tell you we were wrong. For the last 12+ years Bandai Namco has been making garbage Dragon Ball fighting games, trying to do something different each time until something stuck to the wall. So much so that they decided to just remaster Budokai 3 for the PlayStation 3 in 2012.
Last year, you may remember a little release called Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z….With Extra Z’s! It was very different from past games, with a whole new engine and a few interesting concepts, but all in all it fell flat as it inevitably became just another DBZ fighting game that couldn’t reach up and grab that brass ring of nostalgia from Budokai 3. But that’s hard to do when you’re telling the same story over and over again and just tossing in a few new elements, even if those new elements are good, which some of them were.
Enter a new challenger! Dragon Ball Xenoverse. It’s not a fighting game. I’ll say that again, it’s NOT a fighting game. You can’t even start a 1 on 1 fight from the main menu. Yes, there’s fighting in it, but it’s more like a mix between Battle of Z(using the same battle engine and similar style), which was a fighting game, and Monster Hunter, which is kind of like a MMORPG but kind of not. It’s a hard genre to pin down, but if you’ve ever played Monster Hunter, White Knight Chronicles, Ragnarok Odyssey, or Phantasy Star Universe Online, then you’ll get it. Basically, you form small teams to go out on missions and kill stuff. You also have to create your own character. That’s right, you don’t start the game off as Goku! Don’t worry….you can still play as Goku later.
The game opens with Future Trunks noticing a disturbance in time and making a wish with the dragon balls for a great warrior to help him….that’s you! You can choose from 5 races to create your hero; Human, Saiyan, Majin, Namekian, and Frieza Race(what the hell, Namco?! They’re called Changelings! Not “Frieza Race”). Of course I chose to make my very own Frieza, who wouldn’t? Without getting into spoilers, you are tasked with figuring out what’s changing past events and correcting them. You’re then thrown into Tokitoki City, your hub for the entire game.
The Plaza of Time is where you can continue the story mode of correcting the timeline, or make a wish if you happen to collect all 7 dragon balls, or enter The World Tournament (currently not accessible). The Industrial Sector is where you can buy items, new clothing, accessories, and get access to the mix shop – this game’s version of crafting. The Time Machine Station is where you’ll spend the majority of your time. You can do online battles against other players or offline against a friend or CPU, but you’re probably going to spend the majority of your time doing Parallel Quests, or PQ for short. The reason being is this is where you can pick teams and go on missions for sweet drops which unlock new clothes, special items, and moves, a lot of which you can only obtain from doing PQ missions. PQ missions are also a great way to level up in between progressing the story, because trust me, you will not be able to just beat the story mode real quick and then go do online stuff, oh no, you’ve got to level up quite a bit between each story saga. You’ll be glad you were forced to though because the stuff you unlock makes the game way better. I’ll be honest: when I first started the game I thought it had a shallow battle system until I unlocked a few new moves from a Master. Oh that’s another thing you’ll find in Tokitoki City: Masters, who are famous characters from the Dragon Ball Xenoverse like Piccolo, Vegeta, or even Frieza who teach you new awesome moves that really change how you fight – some of them completely changing your previous strategies to beat tough opponents. Each Master will teach you 4 unique moves. Here’s a hint the game doesn’t tell you though: take that Master on PQ missions with you, and it will raise their fondness for you, getting to that next move from your Master just a little bit faster.
This brings me to my only negative aspect of the game. Customization really needs to be more fleshed out. You can have a female Majin character but if you want to be male you have to be the ridiculous obese version of Majin Buu. Saiyans can’t have tails (unless you get armor that has it, which ANYONE can wear, including my Frieza character who already has a tail), and the choices for clothing, at least until you near beating the game, is downright awful. I didn’t want to dress like Goku, I swear! But his clothing was the only clothing that gave my character the stat buffs I wanted until after I beat the game! I swear! I totally didn’t wear that outfit with a Goku wig….
Ahem! Anyway, back to the game. It’s a very fun RPG with a great battle system, once you get more than an hour into it. And with this being a Monster Hunter type RPG, comes the Evil Lords of RNG. RNG means Random Number Generator, which means it could take you 1 battle to get that special drop from a PQ Mission that will help you complete your ultimate equipment, or 100 battles. Also known as a dice roll, this evil system turns what might have been a 40 hour game into a 100 hour game, which isn’t all bad, because then you’ll level up some more and maybe find something even better.
Final Word: I give this game 6 out of 7 Dragon Balls.