A Powered Up Successor
By Edwin Velez
Reviewed on Xbox One
Released on October 25th, 2016 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC
Developer: Dimps Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
The Dragon Ball series has long been one of the most popular and recognizable anime properties. When I was younger, I was all about Dragon Ball Z. From watching it on Toonami, collecting the toys, and of course playing the games, whatever bit of the franchise I could get my hands on was always welcome. With that said, my fandom had all but disappeared until last years Dragon Ball Xenoverse hit the market. Before that, seeing DBZ in pop culture markets only gave me hints of nostalgia, but something about Xenoverse drew me in, and after putting hour after hour into it I was a full blown reignited fan. The characters and stories had been lost on me for some time, and for the first time I had got to experience them as my own created character. Xenoverse was a great entry in the franchise, and the new, current gen only sequel is back to improve on the original. It does this in several strides, but comes out feeling more like a 1.5 version instead of a full blown sequel. Regardless, the continuation of the first’s story as well the ever addicting formula makes it a worthy title in the series.
From the very beginning, the first change you will notice is the town. Previously known as Toki Toki City, the new and improved hub is 7x the size of the first, and is now named Conton City. As opposed to being sectioned off like in the first, the new city is one huge open map. It features different districts like business, shopping, and of course others that resemble recognizable places from the series like planet Namek. This city is easy to navigate with a pop up map that comes on screen during movement, as opposed to a solitary screen. In addition to flying, which is not available right away, you can now use a vehicle of sorts to move and zip through the map quicker. The city is much livelier than the predecessor, supporting up to 300 online players to potentially match up with for multiplayer modes. The NPCs are also much more engaging, with fetch quests and random objectives being available often through them. One of the main map portions is of course, the Time Nest, where you will be often if you have an interest in continuing Xenoverse’s story.
In DBX2, players will create a new character. The actions of the first’s games created character are still recognized and they actually appear in the story from time to time. You are a Time Patroller who has been summoned by Elder Kai for a special task. History is once again being manipulated by Towa and Mira, the antagonists from the first game. They are back, but this time around they have brought some frenemies. The duo is enlisting the help of some of Dragon Ball’s most vicious foes, from Turles and Lord Slug, to Cooler, and several others. These villains do not belong in these timelines, but Towa and Mira have no regard for the rules. You will see some familiar, staple stories that you have seen time and time again, from the Saiyan saga, the Frieza saga, and others. As is the norm, it is both a blessing and a curse, since these stories are both nostalgic and repetitive all at once. The irregular appearance of these villains help in varying the stories, as do their subsequent dialogue. The story does a great job at continuing and somewhat finishing the narrative started in the original. Note that it is long, as was the case in the first. I clocked over 30 hours before finishing the storyline, which almost requires you to level up in order to complete it. But thankfully there is plenty to do in order to level up and continue growing your character.
The original game introduced players to Parallel Quests, which took classic Dragon Ball events and made them side quests, each fit with different histories, multiple areas to explore, and collectible items. These quests are back by the boatload, and can all be done cooperatively online with up to three players fighting side by side. They are an absolute blast to play, and with multiple objectives, they really add to the replayability. A new way to earn experience is the addition of these hubs of time distortions. There are five smaller hubs within the city, each featuring a different but easily recognizable setting. The hubs are Friezas Spaceship, Namekian Village, Hercules Home, Capsule Corp, and Majin Buu’s Home. Each are home to some important characters that are fitting, like Majin Buu in his home and Vegeta at Capsule Corp. They all have different quests to give you that mix things up and offer more diversity than just doing Parallel Quests and Story Missions. While Frieza and Vegeta’s quests are usually just fighting based, Majin Buu’s is a bit different. He wants a family, and to create one you will have to feed him. You can find food in the shops available for purchase, but if you would rather search for it you can find some in various spots around the map as well as from some generous NPCs. Another new feature is the Expert Missions. These are six player quests that have high difficulty but high rewards, working like a pseudo raid mode. They are tough and intense, fit for dedicated fighters.
The last multiplayer mode available are the traditional battles. These are more in the vein of the Budokai games, where you go toe to toe with others in smaller arenas. I did not explore these as much as the other modes, but for those looking to test their skills against others, this is the best bet. The fighting, across all modes is relatively the same as the previous titles. You may notice performance tweaks, but overall it should be wholly familiar. The fights are action packed, and landing ultimates is as satisfying as ever. It would have been nice to see some new features fleshed out this time around, but other than newer moves, it will appear almost identical. The customization and statistics are pretty similar as well, though they have expanded the offerings in the customization department. One of the newer options are the “QQ Bangs” which will help give players an edge while designing the look of the character the way they want. Typically, your clothing options determine your statistical boosts. With a QQ Bang equipped, you can negate the effects of your clothing options in exchange for taking whatever boosts the QQ Bang gives. The benefit here is that if you want to equip a particular clothing item, but it has stats that do not quite fit your needs, the QQ Bang will alleviate that.
The audio and visuals are as authentic as ever. Dropping last generation consoles gave Bandai Namco the breathing room to really get the aesthetic across. It feels like you are watching a true anime in certain scenes, and the vibrant colors shine big time. The voice over work is the standard affair you will have heard before, while the music is a bit more varied. Some songs are awfully annoying, while others are genuinely catchy. There is a mix of elevator music, pop tunes, and rock. The rock songs really play to the action well, especially during intense fights. My one gripe in this general department are the cut scenes. Most are played out with in game graphics, while some are done like the anime. Two are done in a high quality CGI, which begs the question: Why the inconsistency? The CGI showings most likely take a lot more effort, but look damn fantastic. The anime scenes look pretty good too, but I wish they did not switch it up so much through the story as it really affects the dynamic of the narrative in my opinion.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is fun but flawed successor to a fantastic game. It too is a fantastic game, but it does not innovate much this time around and comes off feeling like “Dragon Ball Xenoverse 1.5” rather than 2. The first was so innovative that they really set the bar high, so with less than two years of apparent development, Xenoverse 2 did not take the sophomore outing in the series to new heights. It is just as good as the original thankfully, and that is mostly due to the incredibly addictive formula. The ranking system, variety of quests, and more lively map make it a solid entry in the promising franchise. I only hope that an eventual third title takes the original stories to new heights, adding more new storylines and characters into the mix. Until that time comes though, I am happy to continue righting wrongs all throughout the Dragon Ball series long spanning history, one quest at a time.
Final Score: 8/10
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