Review: DRAGON BALL XENOVERSE 2 FOR NINTENDO SWITCH

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I love Dragon Ball Z, but not the same way I imagine most fans do.  Growing up, I couldn’t stand the anime and it still wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I finally sat down to finish watching the whole series start to finish.  Sacrilege I know, but with the amount of filler in the series I always found it more fun to just play the games and get the storyline that way.  Playing the numerous fighting games the franchise has produced has given numerous plot synopses of the many battles in the series, and RPG’s like the Legacy of Goku series have expanded upon them.  Now with Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, I get to experience the timeline in a whole new way.

Story

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 casts you as a member of the Time Patrol, a group of fighters tasked with keeping history safe.  The evil Towa and Mira have gathered allies throughout the Dragon Ball timeline to help them in destroying history as we know it.  Selected by the Great Kai of Time, it is up to you to journey through multiple eras of the timeline to correct history.

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Gameplay

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is a hybrid fighting/role playing game.  As you start the game you create your character from a selection of five races; Saiyan, Human, Namekian, Frieza Race or Majin.  Rather than this just being a cosmetic only choice, your race will determine if you get certain bonuses from certain missions later.  After choosing a race, you can customize various things about your avatar, including height, weight, voice, hair, clothes and skin color.  After your character is complete, get ready to explore the newly expanded Toki Toki town, now called Conton City.  Conton City serves as the hub world for the entire game.  Everything from starting story missions, purchasing items, and starting online activities is done here.  There are a few additional worlds to explore in Xenoverse 2 where time rifts have occurred, but most of your time will be spent in Conton City.

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Xenoverse 2 plays through many familiar story arcs from Dragon Ball Z, beginning with the battle with Raditz.  Instead of Goku sacrificing himself to defeat Raditz, he is instead killed by Piccolo as Raditz escapes his grasp.  Going back in time, your character steps in to help Goku defeat Raditz and right the wrongs of the tampered timeline.  Combat plays out in a 3D field and the combat system is easy to get used to.  Attacks are mapped to Y(light), X(heavy) and A(Ki).  Holding down ZR will bring up your super attacks menu and holding down ZL + ZR brings up your ultimate attacks.  Since characters can move extremely fast, a lock-on system is used to allow you to keep sight on your targets.  Lock-ons are activated by pressing R and can be changed by moving the right thumb stick. To aide in your defense L is used to guard against attacks and B can be used for a teleport move.  Motion controls are also included for those who want to simulate famous DBZ moves.

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As you first start taking on time missions, your character isn’t that strong, and this has been my favorite part about Xenoverse 2, its sense of character growth.  Much like Goku, your character must grow in strength to meet the challenges thrown upon them.  To aide your fledgling fighting skills, various heroes and villains are available to train you.  That is, if you can prove to them you are worthy.  Training with a teacher allows you to learn many basic combat maneuvers as well as some of that teacher’s own super moves.  Another benefit is that it also helps you build experience points early on to help you raise your stats.  Each level up grants three points that can be placed into either Health, Stamina, Ki, Attack, Strike Supers or Ki Supers.  Players can also choose one teacher to become their master to further develop skills and unlock clothing options that resemble that character.  Not all teachers are available from the start of the game and as players train they build an experience meter that lets them take advancement test to unlock more teachers.  Advancing also unlocks more lessons from available teachers so keep an eye on your map.

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User Interface

During battles, all your relevant data is shown on screen nicely.  Player and enemy health are displayed in the top left and right of the screen respectively.  Below health, current Ki and stamina are displayed and these are important to keep track of to evade enemy attacks and perform supers.  When holding ZR a window will pop up in the bottom right displaying your super attacks.  If a mission has any ally characters their health will be displayed on the left of the screen below your own.  In town the only things that will appear on screen are character names and interactable objects.

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Visuals

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 on the Switch looks better than I expected it to.  While looking less crisp than the other versions of the game, it does look more colorful.  Animations also look fluid despite the cut to framerate.  Conton City also looks impressive with long draw distances.  Switching to hand held mode, I was not able to notice any difference in performance.

Replayability

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 boasts an impressive amount of content for players to enjoy even after the main story has been completed.  Every mission in the game is replayable to try and achieve higher ranks.  Online modes offer both co-op quests and vs modes for players to participate in.  What is the biggest surprise, is the fact that the entirety of the story content from Dragon Ball Xenoverse has been added to the game as a free DLC.  Four paid DLC packs are also available that will unlock quests in the Dragon Ball Super timeline.

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What Could It Have Done Better?

Travel around Conton City at the beginning of the game is unfortunately very cumbersome.  Relying on a weird floating scooter and fast travel points are the only ways to get to different areas of the city quickly until you can finally unlock flying later in the game.  Conton City also produces numerous frame drops when looking toward denser sections of the city.  The story of Xenoverse 2 is also very similar to that found in the first game.  I am also disappointed that the four DLC packs weren’t included with the base game, considering this version is coming out almost a year after the others.

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Verdict

While there are a few technical hiccups, the port to the weaker hardware was pulled off wonderfully.  Between the approachable combat system, numerous quests, and tons of online options, I’d be hard pressed not to recommend this game to any Switch owners or DBZ fans.  The base game can last for dozens of hours and the inclusion of Xenoverse’s story content only expands that number.  Being able to take the game anywhere has increased its appeal to me over its original versions.  While the $50 price tag may be extreme for a double purchase to all but the most extreme fans, if you’ve never played the game before, it is totally worth it.  Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is an awesome addition to the Nintendo Switch library! 

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