Monkeys as big as warehouses, aliens, enormous amounts of grunting and yelling, hairstyles that require six kilos of hair gel a day to sustain, fights that almost exclusively take place in mid-air because why not... why yes, it is a Dragon Ball game.
Not the beat ‘em up those unfamiliar with Xenoverse are probably expecting, this is instead something vaguely similar to an RPG. There’s a hub area with NPCs milling about, a detailed and fully voiced story, items to buy and equip, lots of optional activities, customisable loadouts, and so on and so forth. You don’t get to wander around outside of the relatively small hub though, and all the ‘quests’ are, well... the sort of fights you’d find in a traditional beat ‘em up.
Dragon Ball fans are certainly in for a treat. The time-travelling story means that the game is absolutely rammed full of familiar characters both major and minor, including their varying ages and forms; and you get to fight alongside and/or against most of them. You can even play as some of the more recognisable faces, unlocked as you progress and available for non-story fights. The cherry on the spiky haired cake is that, while DBX2 isn’t as relentlessly, jaw-droppingly gorgeous as Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, it still looks very good indeed. The music is ear-meltingly awful but hey, you can’t have everything.
Customisation is important to the experience. This is only partly down to your character which, of course, you create yourself. Not only can you fiddle with things like eyes, nose and height, and name him/her as rudely as you can get away with, but you choose from one of five canon races. In addition to the significant cosmetic differences, each race offers minor advantages and disadvantages in terms of things such as health and damage dealt.
Where choice and customisation really makes a difference, though, is in your set of moves. Whereas most FPS games nowadays allow you to customise your loadout to your liking, with strict limits set on the number and types of guns and explosives you can carry at any one time, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 gives you a limited set of special move slots and leaves it up to you how you go about filling them. Initially, when your character is looking sorry for themselves at level 1, your fighting capabilities are almost zero in several ways. Toddle around the hub, however, and you’ll find “Instructors” – famous Dragon Ball goodies and baddies who will teach you the noble ways of giving people internal haemorrhaging in many dozens of interesting ways.
For each quest/fight/whatever you complete from an instructor – and each instructor has several – you’ll be rewarded with some sort of offensive or defensive special move. Which ones you choose to take into battle is entirely up to you, and you can change the setup between each fight should you so wish. The more side fights you complete, the more moves you’ll have to choose from. Some are designed to give you breathing space, some are only good at point-blank range, some are best used at a distance, some need precious seconds to charge, some support combos... you’ll quickly learn to combine moves to get a good balance, or simply concentrate on those which best complement your fighting style. The chances of two experienced players having identical move sets is incredibly low.
In addition to all of this, the skill points you assign each time you level up (you can save them if you wish) also support the idea of crafting your own warrior. Rather than slowly but surely automatically making your guy or gal tougher, you choose when and by how much to improve your health, attack power, maximum Ki (which powers special moves), maximum Stamina (vital to counters and evasions), and effectiveness of different types of attacks.
There’s an online element allowing you to fight alongside or against other people, though playing the entire game offline is a perfectly valid option. However you play it, it’s a great journey for Dragon Ball fans – and it might just snare a few people who have yet to see their Dragon Balls drop, too.
If you Piccolo this up, you won’t regret it. 4/5
Dragonball Xenoverse 2 at CeX
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