Any time I’m planning on writing a review, I have to charge up my Ki first. You can’t just sit down with a keyboard and expect to get something decent; much like anime’s perception of martial arts, you need to unleash mighty blasts of energy, causing a giant explosion that makes the computer fade into white and slowly disintegrate. That explains why I’ve been paying Geek Squad so much for repairs lately, I suppose. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there; let’s talk about the Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, the latest anime martial arts video game extravaganza.
Much as in the original game, Xenoverse 2 has you playing as a member of the Time Patrol, a team of time-traveling guardians of reality that scour history to ensure nobody’s up to no good. That really refers to preventing anyone from changing the past, rather than going back to ensure that the heroes always win. Sometimes you’ll even team up with classic DBZ bad guys to make sure that everything stays nice and canon.
It’s got a lot in common with the first game, serving essentially as a “dream match” where you participate in iconic battles from the series. Original characters are present as well, but it’s the heroes and villains you know and love like Goku, Vegeta, Frieza and all the rest that steal the show. One cool story-related touch that’s worth mentioning is the ability to import save data from Xenoverse 1; doing so incorporates your original hero as a central character in the plot along with allowing you to access their costume and moves.
If that sounds a lot like the original game, well, that’s because it is. This is undeniably an iterative sequel, probably closer to an expansion pack with a little more content and a little higher price than anything else. Xenoverse 2’s gameplay will ring true with fans of the original games, for instance, and the overall gameplay flow of “do Time Patroller missions then follow up by grinding Parallel Quests for new moves and gear” hasn’t changed much either. I’ve always said, though, that iteration for its own sake is pointless at best and harmful at worst, so don’t consider this a complaint.
Rather, think of Xenoverse 2 as a chance to get more Xenoverse with some solid quality-of-life improvements here and there. Just as in the first game, you’ll create a character, customize their looks and clothing to your liking, go on missions, learn new moves and level up. Much of what’s new simply adds to features that were already present There are more moves and special transformation modes available for all races, for instance, meaning that you might want to try being something other than a Saiyan for once! …okay, we both know that you’re probably going to be a Saiyan, but at least the options are there.
As with the original Xenoverse, the big reason you’ll want to play this game is for its online multiplayer. You’ve got both cooperative and competitive options available; I spent most of my time enjoying the former, which is at times reminiscent of classic co-op grinding games like Phantasy Star Online and Monster Hunter. Repeatedly clearing a quest while trying to get that one elusive special move might be pretty dull on your own, but it’s actually a pretty good time when you add some good friends to chat with. Taking on those same friends is a great way to learn the best uses for the moves you worked so hard to get, of course, and fans should be thrilled at the ability to normalize stats between characters to avoid unfair advantages. The best part is that all of the rewards you get for these modes carry over to single-player as well.
it’s also notable that like the first game, Xenoverse 2 really shines on PC. It runs at a nice, buttery-smooth framerate and boasts an impressive cel-shaded style that does justice to the source material. The console versions still look decent, but they suffer a bit from long load times and erratic framerates, so you’ll want to play on a nice, polygon-crunching gaming rig if you can.
Either way, it really can’t be overstated that Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is one of the best co-op games out there and it’s absolutely worth a look. Even if you’re only a tepid fan of the Dragon Ball series, the goofy fighting action is easy enough to grasp and there are so many customization options to play with that you’ll have a good time regardless. Grab some pals, make sure yu’re on the same platform, charge up for a few episodes and join the Time Patrol. You won’t regret it.