The Tone Of Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2’s Story Mode Aids In Player Immersion

By Jenni . November 1, 2016 . 12:00pm

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The Dragon Ball Xenoverse games are a means of wish fulfillment. We all have these series we love and wish we could be part of them. I’ll absolutely admit that when I was 12 and both Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon were airing, I’d created a custom Sailor Scout. Self insertion is common, and Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 does its best to not only make these excursions entertaining and informative, but plausible.

 

Dragon Ball’s history is long and extensive. The manga series originally ran from 1984 until 1995 and consisted of 42 volumes. The story is covered in the Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT, Dragon Ball Z Kai, and Dragon Ball Super anime series. Unless you’re dedicated, you could miss something. What’s wonderful about Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is that it doesn’t expect you to be a master. You aren’t going to be penalized if you’re a casual viewer who might’ve only kept up with one or two of the series. When each story mode episode is introduced, you get a general summary from Elder Kai. The general basics of what should have happened is offered, and there may be some hint as to how history is being altered. You may even have a chance to choose what happens. As for people who know exactly what’s happening and how things should go, you get to savor the way outside interference alters events and will be able to immediately pick out how things are and aren’t different, as well as better appreciate every bout.

 

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To avoid spoilers, let’s go over the first few missions as examples. The first story mode mission lets us either fix the moment in history when Saiyans attacked the Earth or make sure that the Earthlings’ visit to Planet Namek went the way it did originally. Picking the Saiyan storyline has the two Kais explain that this was when Vegeta and Nappa came to Earth. Players have to help Goku, Gohan, Piccolo, Tien, Krillin, and Yamcha fight back. After dealing with Vegeta and Nappa a bit, in a match that doesn’t seem too abnormal, Turles shows up to hint at the larger picture, before things get crazy. That’s when history diverges. Instead of only Vegeta turning into a Great Ape, both he and Nappa transform. In this way, we learn what did happen in the Vegeta Saga battle in Dragon Ball Z.

At the same time, this change makes the situation more plausible and, in a way, more entertaining. Instead of just telling people our custom characters are strong enough to stand alongside characters like Goku and Vegeta, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is constantly showing us. These characters absolutely need our assistance, because even if we don’t exactly remember how a battle went, it points out exactly how the situation is different, why it’s more dangerous, and makes us seem like freaking geniuses and powerhouses compared to our AI allies. Seriously, Goku died almost immediately during the “Power x10 x2? Great Ape Transformation.” Nappa and Vegeta were too bulky to get around the mountains, leaving my heroine to pick them off with ki blasts until I could pick them up by their tales and drop them on their heads. It was unintentionally hilarious, but really made me feel needed.

 

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It helps that even Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 tends to acknowledge exactly how silly it’s getting and offers story missions that play up that angle. It makes sure this happens early on too, to ensure that the game offers the same balance of action, comedy, and drama that the manga and anime series do. The third series of story missions is set during the Dragon Ball Z’s Captain Ginyu Saga. We begin by seeing Vegeta dancing around and doing an opening pose with Jeice before introducing himself as Captain Ginyu. The Kais and Trunks note that this happened to Goku in the original timeline, with Trunks seeming especially indignant about his father appearing in such a state. OK. Good. Great. We know what we’re getting into and head to up time.

 

Except, when the time comes to participate in that particular battle… Captain Ginyu hasn’t body swapped with Vegeta, as he had in this story mission’s preview. Instead, he’s stolen Trunks’ body. As in the Trunks that is supposed to be your Time Patroller superior. He comes by in Captain Ginyu’s body to help your avatar and Goku set things right. Again, we’re learning about an important encounter from Dragon Ball’s history. It’s set up in a way to showcase our own abilities and make us seem as powerful as the icons we’re fighting alongside and against. Especially since our coworker and mentor, Trunks, ends up succumbing when we do not. And again, there’s tons of silliness to entertain us, because of course swapping with some of the strongest Saiyans in the universe is entertaining.

 

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This isn’t to say there aren’t more dire encounters. After easing people in with few sets of story mode missions, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 ramps things up by bringing in Frieza. This is the first time things really feel serious, especially since your character is going to be around level 20 by this point in the game. This ensuing series of fights show how things really are in the Dragon Ball universe. You’re fighting for your life against Frieza, his Z Warriors, Lord Slug, and Turles. Lord Slug and Turles eat fruit from the Tree of Might. Frieza takes on his final form. It’s intimidating.

 

It’s also probably the first opportunity you’ll have to use your character’s transformation in a fight. Which is an amazing feeling. I went with a human for the Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 main game, after trying a Majin in the beta, and getting the Power Pole and Nimbus for her took quite a bit of time earning and completing Great Saiyaman and Great Saiyawoman quests at Hercule’s home. There was something special about finally having the opportunity to really put this transformation to good use in these Frieza Saga-inspired fights and earning the ability to fly. Especially since this was a part of the actual anime series where my interest originally waned due to other obligations.

 

When you’re playing Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, the game’s story missions manage to offer an experience that welcomes you into the adventure. It doesn’t matter how much you do or don’t know about the series. It has you covered. It handles these alterations in such a way that it maintains the tone of the series, offering moments that are dangerous, dramatic, funny, and serious in equal measures. In doing so, it helps you feel like your character does have a reason for taking part in every encounter.

 

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is immediately available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in North America and Europe. It will come to PlayStation 4s in Japan on November 2, 2016.


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