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Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2

Platform(s): Google Stadia, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Developer: DIMPS
Release Date: Oct. 25, 2016 (US), Oct. 28, 2016 (EU)


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PS4 Review - 'Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Nov. 7, 2016 @ 2:30 a.m. PST

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 builds upon the original title with enhanced graphics that will further immerse players into the largest and most detailed Dragon Ball world ever developed.

Buy Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2

Dragon Ball Z is perhaps one of the most popular animes of all time. It's one of the longest-running video game franchises in addition to being a big-name television show and manga. Dragon Ball Xenoverse was a huge hit that allowed players to make their own characters and hop into the Dragon Ball world, so it's no surprise that Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 was released quick on the heels of the original. As you'd expect, Xenoverse 2 is a straight sequel. It has a lot of things for fans to be excited about, but it risks feeling a bit too familiar for its own good.

In Xenoverse 2, your character from the first game is still engaging in time-traveling heroics, but the actions of the evil Towa and Mira have gotten so extreme that even they can't keep up. This leads the Supreme Kai of Time to recruit a new Time Patroller to help with the ever-increasing demands. They're not on the job for long before the devilish duo of Towa and Mira launch a dastardly plan. The pair are traveling through time and collecting energy in a bid to control all of space time. They're aided by some of the strongest villains from Dragon Ball history, and it's up to the Time Patrol to stop them.

Unfortunately, Xenoverse 2's weak plot is a step backward from the first game. Instead of coming up with creative and interesting reasons for time to be distorted, it boils down to the same event, but with one of the villains from the movies. Sometimes this is fun, like when Cooler shows up to help his brother Frieza. Most of the time, it's something that amounts to one of the villains glowing purple and people talking about how he's more powerful. The mainline villains are weak, and most of the twists are poorly utilized. Even for DBZ fans looking for a fun crossover, the plot is lackluster. It's saved by some genuinely amusing dialogue and a few cool references, but the development team was clearly a bit too restricted. Perhaps the worst is the inclusion of a masked Saiyan (who is plainly and clearly Bardock) who is underutilized and barely relevant.

A good chunk of Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2's gameplay is identical to the first. The hub world has been changed from the confined Toki Toki City to the larger Conton City. You even unlock vehicles like hovercrafts and the ability to fly, which allows for more direct traversal of the city. The hub is mostly there for you to visit between missions to buy and sell items, find new quests, and occasionally see some of the plot. All of the mainstays from the original game are there, including cooperative and competitive online play and Parallel Quest side-quests, where you can attempt to unlock special gear.

Likewise, the combat system is largely very similar to the first game. There have been minor tweaks to the basic mechanics, but there isn't anything you're going to instantly notice. Long-distance Ki blasts have been adjusted, so they track enemies better and there's more flexibility in which Ki blast you use. (The exact type is now tied to the Super Soul you have equipped.) Characters still have the same set of moves and abilities and execute them in the same way. There are a few new options for movement, such as a special dash that instantly closes the distance between enemies at the cost of stamina. Anyone who played the first title will find it easy to jump right into the second, as most of the new features are mechanical and under the hood, rather than big shifts in gameplay.

The biggest addition to the combat mechanics is Awakenings, which are transformations for your character that give them new bonuses. They were in the first game but in a limited capacity. It turns out that Awakenings are a mixed bag. The Super Saiyan and giant Namekian forms are really cool, but the Majins get a distinctive unsatisfying recolor, and it seemed like they didn't have a better idea for the Earthlings. You can access other generic Awakenings, such as Unlocked Potential, but it isn't as exciting for a create-a-character as a dramatic transformation.

Overall, the combat has seen some significant re-balancing. Super Saiyans no longer have infinite Ki and can't spam a single beam attack. A lot of moves and combos that worked in the original game have been reduced in effectiveness — sometimes excessively so, as a few builds I used in the first game are almost entirely worthless now. Similarly, the infinite-stunlock combo I had set up for my character can't be used now. This will certainly be a relief to people who were hoping for fewer instances of one-touch death that plagued the original Xenoverse. Super armor and invincibility have also been toned down, especially on bosses who are all more vulnerable to just being punched. However, I did ran into some balance problems. I found a few combos that effectively wrecked the AI's ability to fight back, and human opponents didn't fare much better. With time, I'm certain more will be discovered. I'd prefer enemies who are too vulnerable over foes who are practically immune to attacks in the first Xenoverse.

Outside of fighting, Xenoverse 2 tries to offer a lot more to do. Each of the main races has their own time rift, where they can receive special quests from major characters. Majin Buu wants you to feed him, so he can form a family. Elder Guru wants you to protect his home from attacks, The Great Saiyaman is eager to enlist you as a defender of Earth, and so on. Any character can access all of the racial hubs, but the one matching your specific race gets you extra bonuses. You can also take on minigames, such as carrying milk to earn bonus items, or engaging in expert quests with other players so you can team up to take on multiple major foes.

One area where Xenoverse 2 is a huge improvement is in the matter of user friendliness. There are a lot of minor changes that do a lot to improve the player experience. Your masters are now static and always remain on the map. Rather than having to grind up their experience individually, you have a shared meter that fills up, and you can take tests to unlock more masters. This means that getting a variety of special moves for your time patroller is a snap. It somewhat devalues the idea of sticking with a single master, but user friendliness tops that any day of the week. Parallel quests have reduced (but not removed) randomness when it comes to drops. The Conton City hub no longer has loading times. Costume pieces still have stats, but you can craft QQ Bangs, which override a costume's stats, so you can choose any look for your character without impacting your stats.

There are still numerous nagging flaws, though. Not only are the loading times excessive, but the game also does a bad job of minimizing them. If you fail some quests, you're forced to sit through the entire loading screen to return to Conton City, followed by talking to the quest-giver again, and sitting through the entire loading screen back to the quest. There are also a lot of quests where enemies are vulnerable until they give you all their dialogue, which feels cheap and unfun, since you're stuck punching enemies who don't go down.

The biggest problem with Xenoverse 2 is that it feels more like a glorified expansion pack rather than a sequel. Xenoverse 2 seems content to rehash, and even the quests feel similar but less interesting. Some quests are almost identical to those in the first game, only with different character names. Even the inclusion of the movie villains feels halfhearted, most of them showing up to growl angrily and glow purple for a while. The game feels a lot less creative than the first.

That is also the thing that's going to make Xenoverse difficult to recommend to die-hard fans. If they had already shelled out for the first Xenoverse's DLC, they'd essentially be paying $60 for a handful of new characters and lots of user interface updates. Xenoverse 2 feels like a mere stopgap between the first game and the inevitable sequel, which will likely be the first game to fully feature Dragon Ball Super material.

Visually, not much is different between Xenoverse 2 and its predecessor. Much of the material in the game is recycled from the original title, right down to a few cut scenes, so you know almost exactly what to expect. Considering the original Xenoverse was a pretty good-looking game, this isn't really a flaw. The soundtrack is solid and features a variety of different songs that do a good job of setting the mood, and the voice acting is quite good in both languages. Players who finished Xenoverse on the PS4 should know exactly what to expect.

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is a solid improvement over the original in most areas, but at the same time, it doesn't add much to the equation. Rather than adding a ton of new content, it focuses on fixing the flaws and annoyances of the original game. The result is a title that is at once mechanically superior to the original and less interesting. Fans of the original Xenoverse will find this to be a fun expansion, and newcomers would be better off starting with Xenoverse 2 rather than its predecessor. Some excessive loading times and a weak story drag down the experience, but it's still one of the best Dragon Ball games out there.

Score: 7.5/10

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