Dragon Ball Xenoverse Review (Network Test Version)

Posted on October 8, 2014

The 27-hour Dragon Ball Xenoverse network test has come to a conclusion! Players from around the world gathered in the hub of Toki Toki City to test their might in bouts of Dragon Ball action while helping the development team over at Dimps work out the kinks in the system. Anime Games Online had the opportunity to participate in a few hours of the network test and after reflecting back at our experience from this past Saturday, we’ve finally written our review! This was a Dragon Ball adventure like none other that had many positives, which makes the final version something to look forward to, but also a few negatives that bring up some concerns. Take a look at our Dragon Ball Xenoverse review for the network test below in a list format of what we loved, disliked, and were neutral about.

What We Loved:

  • Create and customize a character
    Players could create and customize a male Saiyan, female Saiyan, and Namekian with a handful of clothes and accessories such as a scouter, sunglasses, Saiyan armor, and Goku’s iconic orange gi, and a large variety of colors to differentiate their character’s hair and the standard Saiyan/Namekian uniform color from others. For a test version lasting just a little over a day, there was a generous amount of super attacks players could equip including the legendary Kamehameha! There were a few ultimate attacks (such as the Special Beam Canon), evasive moves, and other skills available as well. Players could level up their characters, allowing them to gain more health, ki energy, defensive, and offensive power attributes. Leveling up was actually quite vital in battle against other players, as higher attributes made it easier to win.
  • Playable Saiyan Saga Characters
    This is expected of every Dragon Ball Z game, however, for a network test it was nice to try out nine different playable characters in battle with their own unique skills sets in addition to the created character. We would have been happy just with the created character for this test, so it was worth highlighting.
  • Emotes and Chat Feature
    The PlayStation Network has its own function to chat and send messages to players, but sometimes it’s a real pain to hit the PS button and wait for the menus to load in order to say or ask something like simple like “want to play”. Developer Dimps had made available over 30 pre-formulated in-game chat phrases that allowed for very quick and easy communication. Just through the press of the L1 button one could allow one to ask and respond to battle requests and exchange niceties. The emotes added extra pizazz by complementing chat with visual expressions. Many just used the emotes for fun though, as they had many memorable poses from the Dragon Ball Z series!
  • Multiplayer
    Creating 1-vs-1, 2-vs-2, and 3-vs-3 fights were very easy! All players would have to do is go to an area marked as the online Battle Reception desk, create or search for a room with players and voila the battle would begin! Friends could be on the same team, if they chose to, and battle against rivals or complete strangers as part of a unit. They could also go to the Quest Reception desk and complete quest missions together against the CPU. As an added bonus, if a player ran into somebody they knew, they could send them an invite to a 1-vs-1 challenge on the spot, even if they were nowhere near the online Battle Reception desk. In addition to fighting against friends
  • Two Lobby Types
    The heart and soul of the Dragon Ball Xenoverse network test was the multi lobby! Interacting with others and roaming around Toki Toki City to see countless Dragon Ball fans gather from around the world in one place was a sight to see and made the experience a memorable one. There was everything from characters with unique names and costumes to those replicated to match familiar characters such as Ultimate Gohan! You could stop and challenge others to fights, learn about how strong they were, and the skills they had attained. Some may have been more focused on playing the game and less on the interaction so Dimps implemented a single lobby, where all of the characters in the city were non-playable characters. One didn’t have to worry about being stopped for battle, they could just focus doing what needed to be done. The nice extra about Single Lobby was that going to the Battle Reception desk would allow a player to fight against other people, if they wanted to. There was no pressure to accept or decline an invitation.

  • Snap Vanishing in Battle
    Snap vanishing is a technique that allows a player to teleport behind an opponent. It’s like Naruto Storm Revolution’s substitution system, but the experience feels so much more satisfying because this is literally what happens in DBZ on a constant basis to make the fights more intense. As an opponent is about to hit you, press the X button and you teleport behind them, avoiding damage! As you are about to throw a strong or weak attack, trick the opponent by pressing X to teleport behind them and launch and even more powerful attack! Pulling it off was so easy and just like the anime series, made the battle more intense!
  • Strong Attack Clashes
    When two players strong attacks met one another, they clashed in epic DBZ fashion! This lead to an automatic exchange of punches and kicks at rapid speeds! No damage is dealt in these clashes, but the ki energy gauge is quickly filled and just watching the scene every time made us here at Anime Games Online feel pure joy!

What We Disliked:

  • Maintenance
    There was a lot of maintenance during the network test, lasting a hour at a time, which in theory actually shortened the play time for players to less than 27 hours. This was the whole point of the network test, for developer Dimps to find bugs and work on them, but from a player perspective it wasn’t thrilling at all to get kicked out of the game, have the PS3 frozen, or to see a maintenance message at the start screen.
  • Leveling Up Through Parallel Quests
    A player could participate in a thousand fights, but if those fights weren’t Parallel Quests, they wouldn’t see a single point towards leveling up. In order to gain experience so they could boost their created character attributes, they had to play the same two Parallel Quests over and over. After about two or three times, it was a huge chore to prepare for the attack on Saiyans or fight for Saiyan blood. Even if it was with fellow players, doing the same mission over several times over is never fun! Sure, zeni was earned for all the fights we got in, but what point is there to purchase an ultimate attack if it’s just going to be weak? A player should be rewarded with experience for all of the fights they have been in. After all, in the anime/manga, it’s in a Saiyan’s nature to get stronger after every battle!
  • Game Freezing, Slow Loading, and Invisible Players in Toki Toki City
    We think the game freezing goes without saying, most players probably had to restart their game at least once. As for the loading times, the Dragon Ball Xenoverse network test had long ones before entering Toki Toki City. The first was before getting to the created character select screen and lobby select screen and the second was after. That doesn’t even count the intro when the game is fired up where all of the names for the company show (this is standard for all PS3 games, but game freezes and has to be restarted, it feels quite troublesome). Once in Toki Toki City, some players were invisible for 10-15 seconds at a time, even when standing in one spot. A red/yellow icon could be seen to indicate somebody was there, but it would take time for their created character models to show up. We understand when we’re running Toki Toki City it might take a little time for large groups of people’s character models to appear, but when we’re standing in one spot next to one or two other characters, it feels inexcusable for their to be a loading time of more then 2 seconds. A related issue we noted was for our own character. When we swapped outfits, they would not show until after we came from a battle or went through the blue portal that switched from the battle and shopping districts.
  • What We’re Neutral About:

    • Gameplay
      The pace of the game was perfect, not too fast and not too slow. We absolutely loved firing off supers and ultimates, participating in clashes, and snap vanishing. Even dashing and flying around was very enjoyable. However, the game didn’t feel balanced. Combos weren’t encouraged, it was kind of hard to even land a strong attack because of the delay in launching it. It was faster and easier to fire off a super or ultimate! And if a more experienced player launched an ultimate attack, serious damage was done. We saw one instance where we did an ultimate and 75% of our opponents health was gone. Nice for us, but the opponent lost out without a fighting chance. We can see a huge positive in this – those who spent more time training have worked their way up, earning the power they posses! In regards to the lock-on feature, it felt weak. It worked sometimes, but other times when we would lock on and dash to an opponent, we couldn’t get to them. We would fly under them, above them, but not to them.
    • Music / Sound
      The music in Toki Toki City wasn’t anything you could dance or bob your head to, however, we think it was smooth enough to match the environment. The in-game music was a bit more up-beat, but nothing that was honestly liked or disliked. For Dragon Ball Z, we’re huge fans of the English cast here at Anime Games Online, although only the talents of the Japanese anime were present. This is a free network test, so we understand the purpose was to test the online servers. We should mention at times it felt the voices of the Japanese cast were kind of drowned out by the music.
    • Graphics
      The game looked like what one would expect from an anime PS3 game. When the game was announced, we heard a lot about expression changes, however, we didn’t really notice it. It might have been there, but again, we didn’t notice it.
    • Skills During Battle
      Players could equip up to 4 super attacks, 2 ultimate attacks, and an evasive skill for their created character. That’s certainly more than we’re use to, games generally allow for 2-3 supers and 1 ultimate, however, charging energy and transformations count as a special, so it lowers the number to what we’re use to. We can see this being used as a strategy tactic in game, but ideally, it would have been nice to a dedicated button (or a combination of pressing 2 together since buttons are limited) to transform and charge in addition to 4 super attacks, 2 ultimate attacks, and an evasive skill. This is especially since charging was extremely slow! In the network test R2+L2+Circle was unavailable to map, so we’re interested to see what Dimps uses that slot for.

    Conclusion

    Dragon Ball Z video games are back and the Xenoverse network test was be a Dragon Ball Z experience like none other! The online hub and create a character features are the main draws and gave it life, in the truest sense of the word. Just roaming around finding people you may know and making teams to play together was exciting! As for battle gameplay, while not perfect, it had great positives that made fighting gratifying at times. Sans the maintenance, freezing, and load times, leveling up through parallel quests was the biggest negative that took time away from exchanging blows with friends. All in all, however, we felt the network test was far superior to the final versions of Battle of Z and Ultimate Tenkaichi and our hype for Dragon Ball Xenoverse is well over 9,000!

    OVERALL SCORE


    8/10

    Additional Thoughts

    Our review was based solely on the limited time we had with the network test and not what we think the final retail version of the game could or will be. The final version of Dragon Ball Xenoverse will have a greater amount of standard characters, and created character races , skills, outfits, items, and other features. It seems as if there will be two styles of fighting as well – what was seen in the network test and what we’ve seen from event footage. In the network test, players could lock on and lock off opponents and engage in 1-vs-1 or team battles in a more open system similar, but better, than what Battle of Z offered. The events showed us a more traditional 1-vs-1 local gameplay like what most fans love and are use to, which to us, kind of looked like a hybrid of the two greats – Budokai 3 and Budokai Tenkiachi 3.

    The promise and expectations for Dragon Ball Xenoverse are great, which makes us feel a bit concerned for the final release. We’re confident Dimps will work out the technical bugs, but we worry about what will happen if the game falls short of our expectations for greatness. Also, we worry about the longevity of the game. The PlayStation 3 offers a free online experience, which is probably one of the many reasons the network test didn’t come to PS4, 360, or Xbox One. The network test was a novelty, a free novelty. Bandai Namco Games made this a limited event, which in itself made it cool and something everybody (including us) wanted to be a part of during its short time open. What happens when we have to pay $59.99 and all the time in the world to play? Would we want to take the time to level up our character to whatever the max will be? Will all our friends be online at the same time, like they were for the network test? We’re unsure of the answers to those questions and only until after the game is released will we know. We, of course, hope this will be the complete experience DBZ fans have been longing for and are excited to keep you up-to-date with the latest on Dragon Ball Xenoverse right here on Anime Games Online as it’s announced!