It is difficult to say what part of me loves this game. It could be the gamer side, looking for intense fighting action, or it could be that of a longtime fan of the Dragon Ball game franchise, just praying for a new title that is able to match past greatness. After playing through it quite extensively, what I can say is that Dragon Ball: XenoVerse is a game that fits both categories, depending on how you play it.
Similar to past Dragon Ball games, XenoVerse relies heavily on show material. However, instead of retreading the same storyline for the umpteenth time, this game’s plot centers around you creating your own character, travelling through time, and correcting distortions in the past. Although you can choose to play as your favorite Dragon Ball character in Versus or Parallel Quest Mode once you unlock them, almost the entirety of the story mode will be spent playing as your own custom creation, with the exception of a level or two.
Character creation is a large component of the game. Through story missions, challenges, and shops, players are awarded numerous ways to customize their character, all from appearances to move lists. While some of these can be purchased, the majority are only available as item drops in specific levels. The latter, in particular, gives the game an added level of replayability, as it is impossible to obtain every item or skill on the first playthrough. In fact, I’ve replayed a couple of challenges over a dozen times and have yet to obtain every item possible.
Outside of story mode, there are the aforementioned Versus and Parallel Quest modes. Versus Mode is your garden variety matchup between either the computer or another local player, while Parallel Quest is essentially a challenge mode. As you play through the campaign, you unlock more and more challenges, each of which can be replayed for different rewards and rankings. Here is actually where a bulk of gameplay can be found, as there are more Parallel Quests than story missions, and online multiplayer takes advantage of it as well. However, I should note that while playing this portion of the game, online multiplayer was repeatedly an issue. Every time I attempted to play online, I found my game disconnected while in the hub world. Even a week after launch, this remained a problem.
As with most fighting games, combat is always an issue, and Xenoverse is both a hit and a miss. In Story Mode and Parallel Quests, you find yourself squaring off against immensely difficult opponents. Difficulty, however, is not an issue, as the game possesses an item system that allows players to heal in the heat of battle with absolutely no consequence. In later stages, items actually become essential to survival due to the sheer number of opponents you face in quick succession. The game’s biggest crime is its repetitive combat. Though you can change your skill set at any given moment, combat never quite changes.
Lastly, I should touch on Xenoverse’s graphics and frame rate. Graphics were slightly better than previous 360 material, though nothing to write home about, and the camera and controls were normally quite precise, except in indoor environments. Words cannot describe how difficult it is to keep track of your character and the opponent when fighting inside a narrow corridor while the camera juts about. As for frame rate, Xenoverse ran smoothly after being disconnected from the Dragon Ball Server. Before that, though, it would lag constantly while connected to the HUB world.
Depending on how interested you are in building up your character, teaching them moves from your favorite Dragon Ball legends, and trying to collect every customizable item, this game could easily last 50 hours. However, if you just want to plow through the story mode and enjoy what you can along the way, you are looking at a solid 10 hours. With the extensive character customizations and the items to both use and find in battle, it’s all a question of what effort you want to put into this game when it comes to what you actually want out of it.