[Review] Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
Posted on September 27, 2017 by Dennis(@LyonHart_) in Reviews, Switch
Release date: September 22, 2017
Publisher: Bandai Namco
The illustrious Dragon Ball franchise by the brilliant mind of Akira Toriyama still goes strong today over 30 years later thanks to its unforgettable characters, world, and expansions into realms of other media such as films, video games, and more, including its brand new anime follow-up Dragon Ball Super. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 takes the core concept and canon of the series and adds a twist to it, giving players a “what if” scenario by having them right the wrongs of altered history as a Time Patroller – a character which you’ll create before starting the game to serve as your primary avatar on your journey through time. Unlike other titles that have you reliving the show, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 feels like a fresh take on the series.
When you begin the game, Xenoverse 2 has you creating a character from a variety of races such as Namekians, Earthlings, Majin, Saiyan and so forth. A lot of these are built upon what was available from Xenoverse 1, but with a few new additions. Xenoverse 2 is essentially a definitive version of Xenoverse 1 with a similar Time Patrolling story and mechanics, but with a worthwhile and much larger hub, Conton City, compared to the claustrophobia-inducing Toki Toki City in the first title. For those who haven’t played Xenoverse 1, you can jump into Xenoverse 2 without much issue, and the nice thing about the Switch version is that you can download DLC that takes you through important story sections of the original so you don’t have to do all the not-so-fun bits in between.
Despite being nearly a year old by the launch of the Switch version, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 still has plenty of life left in it and is still a game worth picking up and playing, especially if you haven’t had the opportunity to experience it on other platforms. Having put an exorbitant amount of hours into the PC release, I pretty much knew what to expect when going into the Switch edition, but there are some massive technical problems that took me by surprise.
The technical issues that do arise in Xenoverse 2 don’t plague the game by any means, but they are very apparent and rather frequent. However, the problems only occur while in the game’s main hub world Conton City. Quests, whether online or offline or simply going through story, are very stable and see little to no hiccups. Seeing as this is the most important part of the game as this is where the main gameplay and meat of Xenoverse 2 is, this is a good thing that it runs smoothly, even if you’re only looking at 30 frames per second versus the 60 FPS on other platforms (though 60 FPS is available on 1v1 battles, this is a rare occurrence quest-wise unless you’re voluntarily looking for a singles battle online).
Conton City, however, has seen better days. I already knew something was wrong when I first booted up the game because while creating a character I could barely see what anything looked like thanks to the horrendous resolution and lack of anti-aliasing (again). Thankfully, you can zoom in on your character to get a better look at the details during your creation and customization, and textures look fine for the most part here, but most of the time the camera is going to be pretty drawn back, so this is going to be the state of affairs from here onward. Once you’ve created your character, the game drops you in Conton City where the moment you turn the camera in any direction you’re already experiencing some slow down. Not exactly a great first impression. However, because it’d been a while since I played the game on PC, I decided to boot it up and make a few comparisons since I played so long ago, my eyes could have very well just been messing with me, because graphics and jaggedness galore aside, dropping down to as low as 15 FPS seems absurd. So were my eyes just playing tricks?
They’re not. Obviously, there’s no real reason to be comparing PC to consoles since PC will always be ahead of the curve in terms of technical enhancements, but given that this is a cel-shaded title with not a lot going on in battle and out, I’m not sure what’s running the Switch dry and why so much had to be compromised other than it being a poor port. After playing a bit of the PC version with my Switch on tabletop mode, I decided to stop and give a more fair comparison. This is, after all, a hybrid console and an extremely powerful handheld – so let’s compare it to some handhelds. I grabbed my PlayStation Vita and decided to start Battle of Z, a title from the beginning of 2014 that also had console counterparts on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Somehow, Battle of Z performs and looks better on Vita – a handheld from 2011 – than Xenoverse 2 does on Switch.
Technical issues aside, the game caters to Dragon Ball fans and those that love all the great fighting titles the series has given us while incorporating tons of RPG elements, but admittedly trying to disguise itself as an MMO. I’m not too much of a fan of the whole faux MMO concept that has become somewhat prominent these days, but Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 doesn’t necessarily force multiplayer down your throat like a lot of these other games do, trying to hide a lot of the content behind there to cover up for a banal and desolate single-player experience.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 has an insane amount to love about it, from going through altered Dragon Ball canon to an immense amount of side quests that you’ll find sporadically throughout Conton City or as Parallel Quests you can take on to gain more experience, moves, and items. The best part about these Parallel Quests, whether online or offline, and other modes that essentially have nothing to do with story-related content, is that you’re not just limited to your avatar – a huge part of the Dragon Ball roster is available at your disposal to play as and enjoy, from Cooler to Super 17, Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta to Broly, Android 18 to Pan, and so much more. The combat is high-paced, action-packed, and easy to control while having that flashy but coherent feel that pinpoints the shows exactly. It feels really good to play, regardless of your proficiency in fighting titles or history with Dragon Ball’s 2D fighters before it, and is great for both short bursts as well as long play-sessions, so having a title like Xenoverse 2 on Switch granting that portability as a factor is a massive plus. You also have the opportunity to use each Joy-Con as a separate controller for multiplayer at home or on-the-go.
Speaking of the Joy-Con, there is motion control support in the Switch version of Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2. Have you ever played Dragon Ball Z for Kinect? That was trash, right? Same thing here. Xenoverse 2 feels great whether you’re on your TV or in handheld mode thanks to those glorious physical buttons that give the accuracy and feeling of engagement that’s taken for granted in the age of smartphones, but with the motion controls involved, it takes all that away and wants you, an Earthling, to channel your inner Super Saiyan by powering up with rage from it never working and being a waste of time.
At the start of Xenoverse 2 before embarking on all your quests on your own, the Supreme Kai of Time will walk you through the basics of controls, and then once that’s done offers it again but with motion. Given she’s the Supreme Kai of Time, I couldn’t wait for her to fast-forward through this nonsense and get on with the normal part of the game. Thankfully, that portion can also be done by using normal physical buttons, though she’ll implore you to try out the motion controls in case that is the route you want to take while playing Xenoverse 2, because of course while you’re out and about with your Switch, nothing is cooler than doing a Kamehameha in the middle of the street with your motion controls. Don’t worry, people won’t think you’re crazy at all. It’s just a normal Tuesday around these parts. It’s also worth noting that the music in the game is incredibly loud, so I would advise everyone who plans on picking it up to go to their options and turn down the music volume to about half way, or else you won’t hear any dialogue in the cut-scenes at all, especially the opening sequence.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is welcome addition to the ever-growing Switch library that brings the illustrious and seminal series to new heights. The game melds its signature high-action, flashy fighting style with RPG elements inspired by MMOs and more. There are undoubtedly heavy performance hits when walking around Conton City, the game’s main hub, but the most important sections like actual fights and gameplay segments are always running at a smooth and stable frame rate. While it’s not the prettiest looking game, having Xenoverse 2 on a console that allows you to take it anywhere with you is a treat, especially for Dragon Ball fans. If you’re like me and have grown up with Dragon Ball and have played just about everything under the sun in regards to it – including this exact title on any other platform in the last year – Xenoverse 2 does well to appease both fans of the show and RPG enthusiasts, but fails to be enticing enough to grab at essentially full price when the game has seen multiple sales on every other platform. The frame rate, resolution, and lack of DLC are also something to keep in mind.
Other than what feels like a cash grab, it’s easy to recommend Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2. However, if you’re like me and own another platform to play it on (in my case PC where Xenoverse 1 and 2 have an absurd amount of hours from me clocked in), you’re better off just getting the title on one of those platforms instead. If Switch is currently your only system or you’re not home that often to sit and binge on it, then it’s worth a purchase, especially if you’re a fan. Having more Dragon Ball RPGs is great, and as good and enjoyable as Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is, I’m still patiently waiting for a Legacy of Goku III. A remaster of the original two will do, too. I’m not picky.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 review copy provided by Bandai Namco for the purposes of this review.