The good guys have won. Evil is vanquished and the citizens of the globe can return to an era of peace and tranquility. Unless of course a villain were to, oh I don’t know, travel throughout time and systematically erase our heroes’ victories from existence. That, my friends, would be a very bad day for justice. One we couldn’t stop…
But what’s this? A mysterious warrior, born from a wish and empowered by a desire to see the new wrongs of the past rewritten, back to the story they love. That’s right, it’s us. The customisable, multi-existence that is the Dragon Ball Z fanbase, one that now has an avatar into the series. Summoned forth by Trunks himself, we are the newest recruit in the Time Patrol, a group of inter-chrono do-gooders who make sure history happens the way it should. Thus, we set forth to quash a divergent timeline in which Raditz survived, rid history of a Ginyu Force led by Vegeta of all people and even take on an angrier version of Buu…because the universes needed THAT to happen.
As I so elegantly mentioned mere sentences ago, character customisation is the starting point of our story, and arguably a continuing thread throughout. From Human and Saiyan, to Namekian, to the lesser seen Frieza Race (which should honestly have and official name by this point) and the even lesser seen Majin Race, XenoVerse provides quite the character pallet to play with. I myself opted for a female Majin because it’s honestly the first time I’ve seen that choice and also they look awesome. Regardless, as you sort your way through history, you unlock even more visual variations which, provided you have the cash, can boost your stats in various ways. It’s not too foreign a concept if you’ve ever played an RPG before, ramp up defence, attack, speed or whatever else you feel like to best suit your playstyle and help make the game easier. Seriously, don’t skimp on upgrades, otherwise you may find yourself getting your butt handed to you over and over again by someone like Nappa. Not that that ever happened to me or anything…
In the more active side of battle, you are also able to tailor your character’s moveset to your liking. Be it close up combos, or devastating ki attacks, the options are there, providing you continue to play the game to unlock stuff, which I feel is pretty obvious. However, we’re all DBZ fans here aren’t we? We want the classics. We want to launch Kamehameha, we want to sling Destructo Disks, heck we want lob out a Masenko or two. Thus enter the Masters. These familiar DBZ denizens appear in the overworld hub throughout the game and offer to take you on as an apprentice, teaching you their signature moves. Though you may only have one Master at a time, you are free to switch whenever you like, so don’t worry about locking yourself in as a study of Krillin. That being said, these folk do not immediately grant you their full knowledge, providing you access to lesser attacks that, when utilised in combat, will eventually allow you to use the moves you want. When maxed out, the Master/Student relationship also grants a nifty spirit buddy who will aid you in executing epic attacks. Think the Father/Son Kamehameha from the series, but less familial.
Speaking of combat…let’s speak about combat. Taking from the more recent DBZ fighting games, basic attacks are broken down into light melee, heavy melee and ki. Mixing and matching these three options leads to combos of varied strength and length which, given the right situation, can lead into teleporting beatdowns that deal a little extra damage. Special attacks on the other hand, such as rush combos and beams, are accessed by first holding down the shoulder buttons to bring up a sub menu, then executed by a normal attack button. Pretty simple stuff really. So you can focus more on the fact you have to take on 20 Saibamen, rather than remembering the combo for Explosive Wave (which is always nice, especially if you remember how the mechanics worked back in the first Budokai game). Essentially, XenoVerse gives you all the tools you need to act out your DBZ fantasies, completely in line with the aim of the game. But this is still a fighting game, so don’t forget that AI can sometimes be tremendously annoying and sometimes downright unfair, I’m looking at you Vegeta.
In between the numerous battles for the sake of all existence, we are able to kick back and relax in a nifty little realm that exists outside of time. It is also in this particular area that the Time Patrol gathers (providing they have an internet collection) allowing all created characters to mingle. Presented as a number of quaint little shops, this hub world allows you to purchase new clothing, access side missions (both solo or in co-op) or even check in with your current Master. As you may have already inferred, this area is the most visible representation of XenoVerse’s online capabilities. Though not a game changing feature, this MMO staple helps provide scope for the spread of players and the variation of their character creations. One aspect I do have to note however, is the speed at which you move through this area. Being that there is no sprint button, I always feel like I’m moving just a touch too slow for my liking. Although this is far from a major complaint, it becomes quite irritating after a while when you know that you’re going to have to run from one end of the map to the other, just to buy new pants.
On the visual side of the spectrum, XenoVerse is a good looking game. The overall colour pallet could be, and is momentarily going to be, called bright, full of the classic orange gi, yellow hair and multicoloured skin that we all know and love from the series. As with most interpretations of the series, XenoVerse opts out of showing graphic detail when it comes to attacks, shying away from the blood which would obviously spill from such horrendous wounds and instead presenting us with neat black holes where piece of a character’s body once were. It’s nostalgic in a way.
In the long run of Dragon Ball video games, XenoVerse is definitely a fine instalment. Building from those that have come before it, it removes some of the issues that have sought to irritate players, whilst at the same time adding functions that provide a nice extra level to gameplay. Of course, the ability to create your own playable character is the largest alteration and its necessity within the story prevent it from becoming a baseless gimmick. That is to say it is unmistakably cool being able to insert your own creation into the world of Dragon Ball in a story that possesses an innate sense of canon. So remember whenever you watch DBZ that it was you who made it all possible. I mean the Z Fighters helped sure, but we all know where the credit belongs.