Released over a year ago for competing consoles, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 has arrived on the Nintendo Switch with some additional content and a slight decrease in performance. Jumping into a long-running series with no experience with the anime or the prior games is a daunting task. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I asked for a review code, but was happy to write this review from the viewpoint of a newcomer to the series and indeed the entire brand.
As you can imagine, watching the opening scenes for the game left me dazed and confused. I had no idea who these characters were or what kind of history they had between one another. Despite this disconnect, I could immediately tell that Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 was total fan service for those that follow the cartoon. I absolutely love the idea that your character will have to travel through time and fix alternate realities back to the way they really happened in the original storyline. Although I didn’t benefit from this nostalgia factor, I could sense that it was hitting all the right notes and still felt compelled to see what would happen next.
Perhaps my biggest surprise jumping into the game is that Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 isn’t your typical one-on-one fighting game like Tekken or Street Fighter II. I was totally not expecting a huge hub city where I could roam around freely and talk to NPCs to take on missions. I also wasn’t prepared for the battles, which seemed more like something out of Dynasty Warriors, where you take on groups of enemies at a time in a somewhat open area where you can run and fly around. The game utilizes a lock-on camera so you can easily mark your target and execute your attacks on one foe at a time. The game has several training sessions that walk you through the basic maneuvers, and let me tell you this game uses pretty much every button and combo imaginable. By the end of the training I could pull off some devastating and flashy moves, but it definitely takes some practice to get the button presses down. I imagine veteran players of the games will recognize many of the special moves and whatnot, but for me it was completely new and I’ll admit, a bit overwhelming. If you’re also new to the series, just go with the flow and don’t stress out over learning everything at once. You’ll have plenty of time to deliver a beat-down!
At the beginning of the game you’ll create your own fighter. I had heard rumblings online when the first game released for other systems that there was some disappointment with not controlling the actual characters from the show. This is an understandable complaint, but I do like how they let your avatar become the hero and the fact that you’ll be fighting alongside many of the iconic figures from the series and the prior games. By traveling through time you’ll come across some epic battles and will be earning experience to level up and learn new techniques. The progression system works well and gives you a feeling of accomplishment the more you play.
Probably the biggest problem with the game is that it can be so hectic in battles that I often felt overwhelmed and underpowered, especially at the beginning of the adventure. Trying to target specific enemies while avoiding others and getting the timing down for the combos and the dodges can be tricky. The fact that one second you’re running on the ground and the next you could be soaring over a mountain, all in 3D and at a fast clip, can be very disorienting thanks to a slow and cumbersome camera that doesn’t seem to want to keep up with the action. The more I played the less bothersome the battles became, but it definitely has a learning curve and I can see some having troubles sticking with it.
Although the majority of the game can be played solo, there are some online multiplayer elements cooked in. You can play Parallel Quests, which take place in an alternate dimension. You can actually join up with some friends in a party and battle against the bad guys together. There are also player versus player modes to test your mettle against real-life foes, if that’s your thing.
Although not as good looking as its older cousins, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 looks mighty fine on the Nintendo Switch, especially in docked mode on the TV where it gets a resolution bump up to 900p. The game looks extremely colorful and seems to match the show’s aesthetic very well. The animations are all great and you can tell the developers devoted a lot of time to the environments too. From what I understand the game does have a 30 fps versus a 60 fps on other consoles, so there has been a concession made to get it to run on the Nintendo Switch. Assuming you haven’t played the game on another console this might not be an issue (I had no problems whatsoever), but this can vary from person to person. The game performs well in handheld mode too, but I noticed sometimes the camera hitched a few times, but again nothing major. Audio-wise the game seems to function great. I have no idea if they’re using the voices from the cartoon or not, but everything seemed to flow well and the music was decent, but nothing spectacular.
I found myself enjoying my time with Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 despite knowing nothing about the universe it takes place in. It didn’t jump up to become a favorite of mine, but it does offer up some entertaining fights and for those who have a vested interest in the franchise this will probably be a must-buy. If you’re looking for a fun non-traditional fighting game, this one could do the trick. It didn’t really light my world on fire, but there’s definitely a good game here that will be appreciated more by fans of the franchise.