Sometimes, no matter how hard you wish, the past cannot be changed. Always actually, on account of the real world not possessing means of time travel…yet. But what would you do if you could travel the other way down a one way street? If you could freely traverse the realm of tics and tocs and alter that which has already happened? Would you mix things up in your own life and set mistakes right? Or would you work on a grander scale and try to fix the world? Though perhaps the better question is; could you live with the consequences of your alterations? Unless, of course, you just went back and fixed your fix…because time travel.
Welcome to Canton City, a wonderful, magical place that makes Toki Toki City look like a smaller, less populated hub world by comparison. Standing as the brand new headquarters of the Time Patrol because why the HFIL not, Canton contains a few memorable locales that you DBZ aficionados may just recognise. Of course, if you’re more interested in fictional geography, you may find yourself wanting a little. Also, simply put, when one of the locations is Orange High, site of everyone’s favourite “Gohan Education Arc”, the excitement tends to dwindle all its own. Still, it’s nice to see the architecture of DBZ present, although you’ll admittedly only care about such when it is being destroyed by Masenkos and the like mid-battle, because of how fun that is. Take that, weird futuristic dome houses that are somehow standing smack bang in the middle of an urban metropolis, complete with yard. I will, however, state my happiness regarding this new hub world’s existence as a more cohesive unit, as opposed to the three piece deal we were given in Xenoverse the First. Sure, it wasn’t a huge deal, but boy was it annoying running through multiple portals to buy a t-shirt. Oh, Time Patrollers also have hover scooters now, which is one heck of an anti-frustration feature…at least until you can fly, then hovering doesn’t seem like a big deal.
Speaking of such; combat. As the overall heart of the franchise, one would hope that Xenoverse is robust in its combat mechanics and intuitive in the controls of such. Well, to put your fears to rest, it kinda is. Bearing a rather simplistic input, as those that have come before it, battle can be one by a combination of luck, square and triangle. For those who aren’t me however, the game also provides a neat amount of variable strikes that allow combos to be extended rather far. Said combos also seem much more established and possess a sense of flow that was not entirely polished in the previous Xenoverse. Thus, we melee fighters are treated to a more pleasant experience, though a touch longer one, given how many punches some villains take. Of course the DBZ staple of energy beams are still ready and willing at all times, with a simple mix of shoulder and face buttons launching anything from a tried and true Kamehameha to a risky, and underappreciated, Tri Beam. Naturally these moves are varied in how long they take to fire, how much damage they deal and over which range said damage is dealt, but figuring all of that out is kind of the point. Although, given the ease with which these can be traded out, you can essentially continue testing for as long as you play. Get karmic with it and best villains with their own moves, really drive that justice home. Speaking from a more statistical point however, the viability of this option is solely based upon which category these moves find themselves in; Strike Super or Ki Super. As one might expect, Strike deals with all of those special moves that involve punching and kicking things very hard in the face and other vital areas, whereas Ki includes beams, blasts and things that go boom. Unfortunately, for those who love a little of everything, it is not entirely viable to level up skills in both, as you will find yourself with a bevy of average moves that don’t hit as hard as you would like. So pick a preference, run with it and enjoy the carnage.
In addition to the aforementioned Supers, the magical currency that is Skill Points may also be appointed to Health, Stamina, Ki and Basic Attacks. Leaving aside the obvious Health and Basic Attacks, Stamina controls how often one can dodge enemy attacks via Vanish Step (the cool teleport thing), how long a character can fly at top speed and how long transformations such as Kaioken maintain. Ki, the bar between Health and Stamina on the HUD, is where Supers are drawn from and thus increasing this stat allows for a higher turnaround on skill usage, as well as being connected to the variety of Super Saiyan forms (should that apply to your character). If you did not choose the most populated destroyed race in all of Universe 7, you’ll be happy to note that the other playable races now possess their own powered up forms. Earthlings Awakening Ability is dubbed “Power Pole Pro” and allows players to ride upon the Nimbus whilst wielding, to no surprise, the Power Pole. So enjoy the increased range, speed and similarities to old school Goku. Namekians follow in Lord Slug’s footsteps and “Become Giant” which…you all inherently understand, so I’ll move on. Frieza Race members ratchet up the gaudiness and “Turn Golden” a la Resurrection of F, enjoying what is essentially Super Saiyan for a race with no body hair. Majins however possess arguably the least visually appealing transformation, as their “Purification” renders them identical to Kid Buu in every regard barring colour, that you get to keep. Whilst not lacking in gameplay mechanics compared to the other forms, those who spent time designing their own custom characters (which is literally everybody) may not necessarily enjoy the fact that, for more power, that uniqueness falls by the wayside. Now I’m not entirely sure how a Majin transformation could have been handled, but I’m not a fan of the way it was.
As far as story goes, Xenoverse 2 is more of a pivot than a sequel. Sharing the same premise, and villains, as its predecessor, X2 throws the player created character through the temporal ringer in an attempt to make put things right which once went wrong. The caveat this go around however is that the dastardly foes who stand tentatively alongside one another are drawn from the non-canon DBZ film library. I’m talking Turles, I’m talking Lord Slug, I’m even talking gosh darn Meta Cooler in all his metallic glory (though not his actual body because that was kinda gross and weird and just an eyeball stuck in a supercomputer/star…it makes a little sense in context. But you know the rest, they’re mad at Goku because he beat them and, through the wonder of new plot developments, “non-canon” now translates to “another timeline” and all of this is now possible. Also, just in case that didn’t pique your interest, the game also houses a mysterious new villain, complete with sinister mask. Now, I won’t tell you who is behind that mask, but it is absolutely Bardock and you would probably have to be legally blind to not know that the first time he appears on screen. Seriously, it’s just a faceplate, they didn’t even change his outfit or get rid of his signature headband. Also, the game literally begins with a shot of Bardock as he fights Frieza. For the sake of my sanity I’m going to assume that the Masked villain was never supposed to be a shocking reveal, because if it was…well, I don’t want to think about that particular timeline.
Long story short, TLDR and all that other stuff that means you want to skip right to the juicy part; Xenoverse 2 is an improved Xenoverse. Not that that sound particularly glowing in the old recommendation department, it is certainly better than if it wound up being worse than its precursor. The combat is less jagged, the hub world netted some much needed improvements (like having Mentors ever present instead of randomly popping up whenever they darn well felt like it) and the adjustments to the playable races makes it feel more reasonable to play as anything other than a Super Saiyan. Certainly there are still flaws, such as the lag in missions spawning the new objective/opponent, cameras which become flustered at certain angles (usually in the heat of battle) and the AI’s overall propensity to move like a cheetah which is in the process of being electrocuted…not to mention those frustrating AI opponents who lock you into inescapable combos. Only I’m allowed to do that to you AI, not the other way around. If I wanted a challenge I’d go online and fight people who actually know how to play and are way better than me anyway and I’m actually not going to do that at all. Big fish, little pond. Finally, I want to take some time to simply say that Old Kai’s Training can take a flying leap off Snake Way because that is a bunch of bullhockey. Now I know why 13 is an infuriating number. Why don’t you perform the intricate combo if you’re so great huh, game who thinks it’s better than me and is probably right? Also, if I have to hear Krillin wonder if his lesson was that hard again, I am going to spend millions of dollars researching multiverse theory, spend my life creating a device that will allow beings to move between dimensions, find that particular bald f…riend of Goku and Orin Combo him into the Wasteland. I know how bad I am game, I don’t need you reminding me every ten seconds…Tien’s cool though. That bald friend of Goku taught me Dodon Ray.
Can you believe that there’s a universe where some guy called Bandai Namco made a game about the totally true events of this, Universe 7? Weird…