When Dragon Ball Xenoverse was first unveiled at E3 2014, very little was known about the title. There was a mysterious new character and time travel was somehow involved. Now we know that the new character is you, and you’re traveling through most of the DBZ storyline. You’ll face off in classic battles from the series as your custom character or as any one of the classic Z-Fighters and their enemies.
This past weekend, Namco Bandai held a closed beta on the PlayStation 3 to test the network functionality of the upcoming game. While very little of the 2015 release was playable during the beta, there was enough to get a good idea of where the game is heading and what the developers are aiming for with the final product.
When you first enter the game, you must select your character’s race. The choices in the beta were Saiyan (male or female) or Namekian. The stats of the Saiyans varied depending on the gender selected, while the Namekian offered a male option because there are no female Namekians. There were plenty of slots to create multiple characters, so if you decide you don’t like the stats on your initial pick, you can always go back and create more characters to play as.
Saiyans in general have a smaller health bar, but higher attack power, with their attack power becoming even higher when their health is low or they’ve recovered from a KO state. Male Saiyans have stronger regular attacks, and any buffs applied to them last longer compared to female Saiyans. However, their special skills are weaker to compensate. Female Saiyans have a higher recovery rate for their Ki Gauge and Guard Gauge, but less health overall.
Namekian warriors have low attack power compared to the Saiyans, but higher health and faster Guard Gauge recovery. If you’re looking to play as a defensive character, the Namekian should be your choice, as healing items are more potent and they auto-regenerate health when it’s low. Between the two races, Saiyans are definitely more offensive, while Namekians focus on defensive abilities.
After creating your character, you can choose to play on a solo server or a multiplayer server. The main difference is whether or not there are real people in the main hub city, or AI-controlled players. In both instances you can talk to NPCs to purchase new gear and abilities to upgrade your custom character, or launch into a mission by yourself (with AI-controlled partners) or with a human helpers. This is done using a lobby system similar to other online fighting games. You can create a room or join an existing room. Once the room is full, you launch into the mission.
In the multiplayer hub, you had the option of starting a party. Doing this made it a bit easier to start missions. You also had the ability to challenge any player in the hub city to a one-on-one match. When a match or mission begins, you can select your custom character or any of the available Z-Fighter or enemy characters. The beta allowed you to select from Goku, Gohan, Vegeta, Krillin, Yamcha, Tien, Raditz, Nappa or Vegeta. All of the characters had the appearance and abilities comparable to their counterparts from Vegeta Saga (Saiyan Saga) in the anime.
When selecting your character, you can see a graph of their stats on the screen so you can make easy comparisons. In addition, if you select your custom character, you can choose from eight different configurations. Don’t make the mistake of selecting a slot that hasn’t been configured yet, as you’ll head into combat with no abilities at all, and only basic attacks available.
You can customize your characters with a wide variety of equipment and abilities. Each character has four Special Attacks, plus four Ultimate Attacks. Special Attacks are your basic Ki Blasts, the ability to recharge your Ki Gauge and various other offensive and defensive skills. Ultimate Attacks are signature moves from the series. In the beta, you could only use attacks from the Vegata Saga of the series. These include attacks such as Special Beam Cannon and Exploding Wave.
Everything must be purchased from one of the stores in the main city hub. You earn zeni (credits) by defeating opponents and completing missions. These zeni are then used to buy equipment, Special Attacks, Ultimate Attacks and a variety of other items. You started the beta with 3,000 zeni, with most basic abilities running anywhere from 100 zeni to 700 zeni, and Ultimate Attacks starting at around 3,500 zeni. Completing a mission or one-on-one battle generally earned you 100 to 300 zeni.
So far, Dragon Ball Xenoverse is shaping up to be an MMO-esque variant on the Bukodai fighting game series. The MMO aspects feel more like Destiny than a traditional MMO, and the fighting seems to be more refined than the early Budokai games. We’ll have more on Dragon Ball Xenoverse later this week as we examine the fighting engine in the new game.