For all the arrangements that Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 brought to the DBZ tree, it’s still rooted in some pretty familiar soil. Even the first Xenoverse, despite the shine and style, felt like Bodakai but larger. That takes this lineage back to 2002, when Z was still airing as “new” to American audiences.
An explosive anime with some of the most beloved characters of all time isn’t enough to carry that same formula for so damn long. Spring chickens are welcome here and Xenoverse 2 doesn’t bring enough of them to the table to keep the fight spry.
The handful of decent additions is starred by the expansions that came to Conton City from Toki Toki. Your hero from the first game has helped this area prosper and grow, expanding to include alternate, isolated zones and a massive array of characters. There’s a real sense of size and layers to this main area that makes exploring by flight or scooter pleasingly simple. Exploration appears to be set as a pacing mechanic with the leveling system, therefore you’ll want to explore every few story missions.
Missions that you’ll find around said city are almost entirely of the alternate-timeline kind. There’s something backwards about the design of all these missions and the story conceit itself. Just about everyone knows that Goku is going to eventually beat Frieza on Namek, so when you’re tasked with making sure that happens, you have a simple objective. To me, it would be far more interesting if the usual joints had failed and your character had to hold the line until an intersection point came around. Doesn’t that sound better on paper?
Trunks and his time police are pretty bereft of this kind of originality in Xenoverse 2. You will rail against every enemy the series has had including a new pair to correct time. If it sounds familiar, it’ll feel familiar until all the familiarity will even feel familiar. There is no real curveball, or adjustment to the pace or tone. By time the end comes around, you’re snapped out of your daze questioning if this is really how you should spend your time and energy.
Look, it’s not like I’m expecting Naughty Dog to drop by for the story, but even Nintendo takes care to not tread the exact same ground with its recurring formulas. You’ve likely played and seen these battles more times than you’ve hit refresh on Facebook after sending a friend request (my record is 120 refreshes). New faces Towa and Mira are fine but never do anything you don’t expect. Everything is safe and sound after a single battle in some instances, again something that could’ve been mitigated with creativity.
The only area where there are changes to this mobius strip is in the Parallel Quests. These don’t exactly flip the script as most of them revolve around an overly-simplified theme like “Beat the Saiyans on Earth” but they’re enough of a twist to offer a fresh scent. Then those familiar ladies and gents spread around Conton City hand out missions or training opportunities to gain special attacks. Piccolo’s Hellfire Grenade has always been a favorite of mine to gather quickly because of the visual flair and taking him as a master afforded that opportunity. The missions given break down into endurance gut-checks where the deck is substantially stacked against you for greater gains.
Xenoverse 2 does sport the largest roster of DBZ characters I can recall. Movie villains and Super characters make appearances for the first time, including a certain silver Goku. This creates an undeniable pull towards trying everyone out, despite how their skill chart splits up. Luckily most missions allow you to bring in up to 3 CPU partners that hold their own well enough, and can be healed back to life even when they don’t. Beerus, Whis, and Goku Black were the strongest crew I ran behind and one that sported the highest power levels available.
Combat is an unfortunate baseline experience in Xenoverse 2 since, you know, this is a fighting game. There are plenty of colors and flashes of movement to satisfy anyone just looking for a Big Bang attack to fly. For me, I’m beyond that and into spoiled-rotten territory thanks to FighterZ. The blast still zooms out, still knocks an enemy back, but you just never feel as though the world is ever shaking from your powerful abilities. It doesn’t help that the exact same combo can net you win after win, especially if you set up quick-fire specials and ultimates.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 flies, screams, blasts, and punches well enough to pass the gate. Conton City is large and inviting with a population the size of the largest anime roster around. What these opportunities bring up is the distinct lack of kinetic energy inside of a concept literally built to feel kinetic. With all the weights latched to this large package’s wrist, there’s just not enough power to keep me pushing through.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 Score: