It's been just under two years since the release of the first Dragon Ball Xenoverse game. In early 2016, a promotional website appeared titled "Fly Through Time" with a countdown timer that would announce a new Dragon Ball game. Unsurprisingly but not unwelcome, the website was counting down to the announcement of Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2!
The Xenoverse games are action RPGs that let you make your own character in the Dragon Ball world. Players can choose from five different races (Saiyans, Humans, Namekians, Majins and the Freiza race), each has their own unique benefits and abilities. After making your character, you join up with the Time Patrol, an organization lead by Trunks with the goal of defending history from those who would change it. Xenoverse 2 does have a character transfer system, but not in the conventional sense. You can transfer your character from Dragon Ball Xenoverse, only you don't play as them. Instead, they are a part of the story and appear throughout the game.
The story takes place after the events of Xenoverse 1, the city has been rebuilt but all is not well. The initial villains from Dragon Ball Xenoverse, Towa and Mira have returned and are mucking up time again. Towa and Mira only had a minor role in the grand scheme of the first Xenoverse game but they are the primary focus now. These two time travelers have begun recruiting villains from Dragon Ball Z films to aid them in their plans, villains such as Turles from Tree of Might and Lord Slug from...Lord Slug.
While there are many enjoyable moments to be enjoyed from the campaign, some of which had me audibly laughing, the story does suffer from pacing issues. The first half of the campaign alone is covering the story of Dragon Ball Z from Radditz to Beerus, telling an abridged version of the story from the first game with the addition of the Android Saga. After all of that, the story shifts to focus entirely on Towa and Mira, and while it's great to see them get more detail than they did in the first game, none of the stories featured really feel complete. Many of the fights throughout the story lack challenge and are simply time or health based, triggering a cutscene before the fight even ends. The campaign as a whole is underwhelming to say the least since you're essentially subjected to a rushed version of the story from the first game with slight additions. One of the subtle aspects of the marketing for Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 was the hint that you could change the past and create a different future. There are two very small choices that you can make after you complete the campaign, but as of right now, they don't appear to do anything.
The first Dragon Ball Xenoverse was criticized for numerous design issues, too many to be called excusable. Obtaining the items and skills that you wanted was a complete gamble, the combat system was far too simple, and the hub world was a tediously slow experience. I am extremely happy to say that the developers have listened and nearly every issue plaguing the first game has been corrected for Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2.
One of the biggest faults of Xenoverse 1 was the side quests. They were intended to offer you more scenarios and offer you the chance to earn additional skills and items, except they were designed in such a way that every mission offered a chance for a chance at the skills you wanted. Imagine flipping a coin twice and you wouldn't get the rewards for the mission unless you got 'heads', twice. That in its essence was the Xenoverse drop system. Now in Xenoverse 2, getting items and skills from side quests is no longer a chance for a chance. If you complete the conditions for a side quest, it will give you a
The hub world is no longer three instanced areas. Instead, we now have a vast city that is all one instance. Throughout the hub world, you can find NPCs who will give you items, quests and emotes. You can even find Expert Missions where you fight powered up enemies. You're also given mounts and vehicles to traverse the world more quickly, but they're quickly abandoned once you learn to fly. Honestly, you should have been able to fly from the start, there's no advantage to the vehicles over flying.
Learning from teachers is no longer a slog. Every teacher is always in the same place, and you no longer have to commit to a single teacher until you have all their moves. Instead, as you progress through the story new mentors will appear on the map, you can learn new moves from them right away, though some moves will be locked until you take advancement exams.
One of the most important parts that has gotten improved is the difficulty scaling. The combat is much more complex, focusing more on combos and chaining attacks together than just mindlessly mashing buttons. However, despite their efforts, the combat system still feels Inadequate. For whatever reason, the game seems to favor Ki Blast techniques over Strike ones. Ultimate attacks are separated into two categories, physical Strike moves and energy Ki Blasts. There are 60 Ki Blast Ultimates, and less than 15 Strike Ultimates. For a game that lets you make your own character and allows you to put all your experience points into a physical build, that ratio of skills is completely unreasonable.
One of the most advertised new features was the ability to give your character a transformation. Saiyans can go Super Saiyan, Frieza Race can turn golden, Namekians can grow giant, Humans can ride the flying Nimbus with the Power Pole, and Majin's can...turn into Kid Buu...
As a whole, I love that every race has their own transformation, it gives every race their own unique play style and the power to turn a fight around. Super Saiyans have a variety of different forms of Super Saiyan to choose from, the Giant Namek form can be terrifying to fight against, and both the Golden Frieza form and the Flying Nimbus are incredibly fast and threatening forms. I can't help but question the Majin transformation, however. It's not a bad form, it literally turns you into Kid Buu, move set and all. From a gameplay perspective, I can see the advantages of turning from a tanky Majin into a fast one, and I understand the lore explanation, but it feels lacking in the creativity department from a design perspective.
There is a brand new mode called Expert Missions, these are raid bosses where you team up with 5 other players to take down a powerful enemy. These enemies can range from Great Apes to super powered villains, both of which have been granted powerful abilities, such as sending you to other dimensions and mind controlling your teammates. At first glance, these raid missions emphasize the MMO aspects of Xenoverse 2. It feels great to actively play with all these other original characters. That being said, the cooperation aspect is the only good part about Expert Missions. The missions themselves are not that difficult, usually just becoming a ki blast spam-fest. Furthermore, these missions are not designed with offline gameplay in mind whatsoever. If you're playing offline, it becomes unfairly difficult, the AI won't free themselves from mind control or other dimensions, it's all on you. It's an interesting idea that just didn't come together very well.
Although Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 has vast improvements, it still suffers from a few odd design choices. You have access to all the 'Create a Character' slots at the beginning of the game (unlike the last one where you had to beat the game to make more characters) but each character you make starts the story from the beginning. Previously, if you made a character in Xenoverse, it would put them at the same point of progression as your main character, with all the quests and story unlocked and replayable, it was great for training up a new character. But now, every new character has to start from the beginning, going through the tutorial, unlocking quests from start to finish. You have access to all your unlocked items and skills, so it's easier, but it's still very tiresome.
After completing the game, finding the secret post-game story, I have to say that Xenoverse 2 does not feel like a sequel. It feels like Dragon Ball Xenoverse 1.5 or Xenoverse Final Cut, it definitely feels like new content, but it's a noticeably bland experience when compared to the feeling of playing Dragon Ball Xenoverse for the first time. The 'Parallel Quests' are what really drive this home. There are about 100 or so right now, and there are new ones, but I would say that at least half, if not the majority are rehashed from the first game, with minor tweaks to make them feel slightly different. Players of the first game will also notice an astonishing amount of reused assets and entirely reused cutscenes.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is a vast improvement over Xenoverse, but if you asked me which I would recommend to someone who hasn't played either, it would not be an easy choice. Xenoverse 2 improves upon nearly every aspect that suffered in the first game, but overall feels less finished, it feels rushed but from a different spectrum than the first game. Xenoverse felt rushed because later quests and missions were only made difficult by granting enemies super armor, raising the number of enemies and lowering the time allotted for a quest. Xenoverse 2 feels rushed because it lacks refinement. Text boxes don't match what characters are actually saying and the story mode doesn't show the love that the first game had. There are some excellent moments throughout this game, I would say that the high points of the story are much better than anything Xenoverse had. But those moments are few and far between, the rest of the game just doesn't live up to the hype.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 was reviewed on PlayStation 4 with a copy provided by the publisher. It is also available on Xbox One and PC via Steam.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 makes masssive improvements over it's predecessor but suffers from a lack of originality in the long run. It feels more like an extension of Xenoverse rather than a sequel.(Review Policy)
- Unique Transformation Skills
- Stellar Animations
- Increased Difficulty
- Fair Item Grind
- Story Lacks Polish
- Majin Transformation Is Unoriginal