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Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 review: Over 9000?!

The Good

  • Surprising level of depth
  • Slick graphics
  • Rewarding fight system

The Bad

  • Terrible loading times
  • Few rough edges
4

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 features explosive, fast-paced battles you can take online and the ability to create your own character. But is it worth buying if you never watched the cartoon? We loaded up the Xbox One version to find out.

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2: What is it all about?

It is a beat-’em-up at heart, with almost all of your time spent battling baddies in a destructible 3D arena. Characters from the Dragon Ball Z cartoon fight until their health bars are depleted, with up to three combatants on your side. Button mashing omni-directional fun, ahoy.

Except Xenoverse 2 goes beyond the usual crop of fighting games by having the ability to make your own character and customise it with new equipment, moves and other items. And then you can take the battle online to prove you are the best, or keep it offline and let AI characters back you up.

Start out and your character (we went with the Frieza race) is feeble, but every battle gives you experience, which in turn levels you up and that gives you stat points to spend in classic role-playing game fashion.

Eventually you can boost aspects to suit your playstyle. Like to outlast your enemy? Pump those points into health. Want to blast enemies from afar with brightly coloured beams of death? Ki Blast is the area for you.

That and a bucketload of aesthetic items, the ability to buy moves or earn them through mentors (more on that later) and assign them to various button combinations as you see fit ensure there is a good chance your Xenoverse 2 character will be unique in terms of ability and aesthetics.

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2: Is it fun to play?

Initially, no. I had no idea what I was doing, who all the chacters were and why there were so many typos in the dialogue. The lip-syncing was also an annoyance, as is the ridiculously long loading times. Want to quickly change items before the next quest? No chance – we suggest you put the kettle on.

The simple fact is, Xenoverse 2 does a pretty bad job of explaining to newbies what is going on, but stick at it and in a few hours you will be addicted.

There is an overly excitable professor that lets you practice combat moves (including a final hellish combo challenge that – pro tip – requires the final two moves to be performed extremely close together). Spend a bit of time here and you will soon be linking combos together like a pro, as opposed to button bashing.

Meanwhile mentors throughout the world teach you new moves if you can complete the relevant challenge, before recapping what they do, adding to your battle repertoire. You rarely need to press more than two buttons to perform a move – the challenge is learning when to use them.

It is at this point Xenoverse 2 becomes much less frustrating. Each battle, although always virtually the same in its aim (you live, they die), becomes a frantic, fast-paced dexterity-testing showdown with the cartoon visuals making every blast, every explosion and every punch look fantastic.

As the star rating of each challenge increases, so does the health bar of your opponents and their ability to lay down hurt becomes greater. Yet those of reasonable gaming ability will need only a small amount of time elsewhere improving their character stats before having another go at the tougher challenges.

As you put five hours or more in, the rift challenges open up and these add even more more depth. One features a martial arts master who wants you to complete increasingly difficult challenges, including racking up a 45-hit combo.

Meanwhile Majin Buu wants to be fed and food is often given out by randoms or found throughout Contin City so you are encouraged to have a walkaround. And when you do there is a chance you will come across non-playable characters who challenge you to a fight. Win and a reward is yours.

Then there is the Frieza spaceship, which lets you side with one of his subordinates as you work your way up to being his top dog. Though you invariably end up fighting someone along the way, the character evolution keeps things fresh and the unlocks provide ample incentive.

Plus there is one challenge to deliver milk, which is just bizarre, and you get to fight two giant gorillas that are tens of times larger than you are. Never a dull day in Conton City, basically.

What starts out as seemingly shallow and overly complex becomes layered and rewarding as you embrace the frantic mechanics of fighting and consume everything the game has to offer.

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2: The best bits?

There is a surprising amount of longevity in Xenoverse 2 if you want to learn every skill, finish every mission, max-out your level and complete every mentor challenge. I was hooked after about six hours – it may be sooner for die-hard Dragon Ball Z fans – and it has been getting better ever since.

But the standout feature is watching your character and your ability evolve, turning from puny to punishingly effective (“over-9000” you could say) as you blast around the arena, raining down anime death to anyone who challenges you.

Then you start accessing even more powerful versions of your character that make you more deadly. One race (Namekian) can turn into an arena-filling giant, intimidating and making your opponent look tiny in equal measure.

Meanwhile the Frieza race turns gold and becomes more lethal up close. And so your combat tactics evolve, helping keep things fresh as you stive to becoming even more powerful in the arena.

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2: The worst bits?

The loading times, as previously mentioned, although a patch is coming in November to rectify the problem. It would also be nice to see what progress you are making in the Time Patrol department, which is where the main story takes place.

Speaking of which, the story is similar to the old game but has new enemies so it may seem a bit too similar for Xenoverse 1 fans. Basically someone is changing events in time and, as a Time Patroller, it is your job to go back and ensure history plays out as it is meant to (and how it plays out in the cartoon).

We would also complain the level of hand-holding could be better for newbies. I was very close to packing my bags and leaving Conton City (the replacement for the smaller Toki Toki City from Xenoverse 1) for good, such is the steep but short-lived learning curve.

Then there is the camera, which can become an issue if you end up fighting in between skyscrapers and other physical objects as it can make it impossible to see what you are doing, but at least you can back track fairly easily and let your enemy come to you.

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2: Should I buy it, then?

If you like fighting games and gung-ho action then I would certainly give it a blast. The annoying quirks are far outweighed by the fighting system and character development elements. My character is level 30 (the limit is 80) yet there is still plenty to see and do – and the novelty is far from waning.

Perhaps Xenoverse 1 veterans will complain Xenoverse 2 is too similar, but there have been enough positive changes to how the game works that make it a much slicker, more rewarding proposition.

You could also argue it should have a more DLC-esque price, but I certainly don’t feel short-changed. Games are becoming very short these days but the single-player, offline stuff should provide tens of hours of things to do and the online fight side of things could go on for much longer.

All in all, Xenoverse 2 is a reminder that beating the hell out of a virtual opponent is as fun as ever, especially when you can do it with utterly ridiculous moves that fill the screen with colour and death. Jump in, cause hell and embrace the closest you will get to having super powers.

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC. It is available now from Game.co.uk for £44.99.

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