There have been many Dragon Ball games over the years, almost too many to count. There hasn't been a terrible entry in the series though, and the first Xenoverse game was good despite being marred by a few flaws. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 improves upon the first game in almost every way, but like the first instalment it does have a few problems. But first, a little about the game for the uninitiated. The Xenoverse series is a fighting RPG that includes some MMO elements. You'll take part in battles against and with well-known Dragon Ball characters in areas which are known to fans of the series.
Let's start off with the positives. The fighting is refined and more solid than the previous game, the animations are smooth, and seeing some of the iconic Dragon Ball moves like 'Kamehameha' or 'Galick Gun' in action is a blast (no pun intended). You have to manage your stamina and Ki, and if you don't you leave yourself wide open to the enemy. Stamina allows you to zip across the battle area towards your enemy and is also used to evade the enemy, whereas Ki powers your skills, but you can't constantly use them. Combos are easy to pull off, too: by pressing square or triangle a number of times you will execute a move. Mix and match these inputs and you'll be rewarded with combos that can dish out a moderate amount of damage, however, by upgrading your character's attributes these combos can deal significant damage. Relying on these simple-to-use combos isn't enough though, as enemies can block, counter, or evade your moves, so you'll have to use your skills as well.
The RPG features in Xenoverse 2 are as solid as the fighting mechanics. You can create your own character like you could in the first game, however, the customisation here has been improved. Like the first Xenoverse you can choose which race you want to be, and you can be an Earthling, a Saiyan, Majin, Namekian and Frieza Race. Each has their own positive and negative attributes so while you might have a favourite race, you might decide on another that better fits your playstyle. You can change their appearance, too, and can give them a name and a voice, so whoever you create will truly feel like your own, as well as feeling like they're part of the wider Dragon Ball world.
The RPG mechanics don't stop there. You can also change the equipment your character carries, and that will not only change your appearance but will also affect your attributes. Equipment can either enhance you, hinder you, or a little of both. Getting equipment is easier than it was in the first game, which will be a sigh of relief for returning players. Some you still have to work for, but the grind has been reduced and thus provides a much more enjoyable experience. There are now two currencies as well, Zeni and TP medals. You earn Zeni by completing quests and battles, and you earn TP medals by completing Parallel Quests.
In terms of upgrades, you can upgrade your stats by levelling up your character. How you build your character though is up to you. There are number of skills to choose from, some you can buy from the skill shop and some you earn from instructors which are located throughout the hub world. You can make several pre-sets of equipment and skills, and this allows you to quickly change them as and when you need to, which is very useful.
The hub world for Xenoverse 2 is called Conton City, and is several times larger than its predecessor, Toki Toki City. Conton City is not only larger but is also much more detailed and diverse, and there is no loading when going to each district, although there is when going into building interiors (but the load time is short). There are a number of shops you can visit, buildings to explore, and people to talk to, and once the hub world becomes populated you start to admire how big and detailed it is. Moving around the city is now better than it was in the first game, and you even have a vehicle that gets you around inside the city. Using it is fun and it speeds up traversal and exploration, however, it does become a bit redundant when you obtain the ability to fly, at which point the city opens up even more, with more areas to explore and more NPCs to talk to.
Life in Conton City is definitely more bustling than Toki Toki City, and a lot of the NPCs can be interacted with. Some will talk to you and some will request an item and then they will give you a reward (usually an item or some Zeni). Instructors return in Xenoverse 2 too, and they're located throughout Conton City, teaching you new skills. Iconic characters such as Krillin, Piccolo and Vegeta are just few examples. As you progress through the story of Xenoverse 2 you will be able to access locations outside the city such as Hercule's House, Capsule Corp and Guru's House, which all have their own NPCs and side quests which you can tackle. For example, quests will regularly pop up which have you fighting off invaders who are trying to steal the Dragon Balls, and these side quests give the whole thing much more depth.
Parallel Quests return, and as before they can be tackled on of offline. There's a huge number of these quests and they have a little bit more substance to them than they did in the last game. Online has improved as well, and six players can be on the same team for certain battles. It's also more stable than before. We did disconnect from the Xenoverse 2 server once when we were just making our way to one of the instructors, but that was the only time it happened.
Akira Toriyama's iconic art style shines through as always, and there's no denying that the game looks like traditional Dragon Ball. The character models are slightly improved from the first Xenoverse, too, and they definitely have more detail and the colours are more vibrant.
The story in Xenoverse 2 will please fans. That said, it isn't anything particularly special, though, and whilst playing through the story we had sense of déjà vu. The story is similar to that of the first Xenoverse, where history has been altered and you, as the new Time Patrol recruit, have to make things right. The story can last around 30 hours depending on how you play, which is still pretty substantial, however.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 does have some problems though, a major one being the camera. It can be very awkward and when we were fighting indoors, at times it was a nightmare. The problems with the camera can even detract from the overall experience. Loading times were another problem. Taking a moment to get into building interiors is fine, but the loading time when you have completed a Parallel Quest can sometimes be painfully long. One thing we also noticed was that in certain cutscenes some of the characters voices were out of sync (we reviewed the game on PS4 so we don't know if this problem occurs on the Xbox One and Steam versions). Another issue is that there is no way to track your side quests, thus you have to memorise the location and go back to the NPC quest giver to find out what to do. It's just extra hassle that isn't needed and the game could benefit from a tab that lists all of the side quests you are doing.
The amount of content that Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 offers is staggering and it will keep players entertained for hours. Despite its problems we enjoyed our time with it, and it's a decent entry that deserves to be up there with the best in the series. If you're looking for a game that will keep you entertained for a good while then this will do the trick, and Dragon Ball fans in particular will find plenty to enjoy.