Next-gen-focused fighter promises to shake up the aging DBZ franchise.
Time to battle.
Goku's battle against Frieza seems fixed in a lot of Dragon Ball Z fans' minds as the series' most iconic duel – so even though Dragon Ball Xenoverse's trailer promises it'll "break tradition," maybe it's appropriate that my first glimpse of Dragon Ball Xenoverse started there. The fight between the powered-up Super Saiyan and the whip-tailed alien emperor unfolded high over a vast lava field, quickly devolving into the rapid-fire punches, kicks, teleports, and energy blasts that characterize seemingly every high-level struggle in the DBZ canon – but wow, was it pretty.
The first Dragon Ball game for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (as well as PS3 and 360), Xenoverse's battles are some of the most visually striking the series has produced yet; the sense of scale offered by the molten valley below the combatants was impressive, and fireballs that missed their mark shattered chunks of landscape as they collided with the scenery. A successful punch by Goku made Frieza's face puff and deform, and waves of energy rippled beautifully around a long-distance Kamehameha blast. The action may look familiar, but it's also looking its best.
"Maybe we can talk this out like adults instead of just fight..."
Aside from showcasing two more brief fights between Goku, Cell, and Buu, the hands-off demo revealed only a few key tidbits about how Xenoverse will actually play compared to other DBZ games, like how it promises to offer a huge roster of complicated moves while making them relatively simple to pull off. It'll also feature real-time transformations, for example; instead of having to select Super Saiyan Goku or the various levels of Frieza as separate characters, you'll now be able to make them assume their powered-up forms during fights. Exactly how that'll affect gameplay, however, hasn't been revealed just yet.
Actually, there's a lot that's being kept secret about Xenoverse at this point, not least of which is the identity of a new character – a mysterious redheaded man wearing a cape, a Scouter, and a Capsule Corp. logo on his arm – who's original to Xenoverse, a key part of its new story, and possibly has something to do with the "enigmatic, futuristic city" that was also teased during the demo. Otherwise, multiplayer details are unknown, the number of fighters hasn't been fixed, and Namco Bandai won't even say whether or not DBZ creator Akira Toriyama is involved.
One thing should give fans hope in the face of all these vague promises, however: it's being built by Dimps, co-developer of Street Fighter IV and the studio behind the beloved Budokai series (as well as the more recent, relatively well-received Burst Limit). DBZ games have been languishing in recent years, but if it ends up playing as good as it looks, Xenoverse could be the game that brings Goku and Co. roaring back to fighting-game relevance.
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