To several people, I'm sure, Dragon Ball was their introduction to anime. I'm among those who broached new territory and had a hard time grasping that a show could be in both English and Japanese. While the concept of voice-overs eluded me, the quiet intrigue of the original series and the intense, action-oriented nature of Dragon Ball Z didn't.
That being said, Dragon Ball sort of fell off my radar (my Dragon Radar, if you will) over the last decade or so. In fact, I haven't been excited by a Dragon Ball game since I played Dragon Ball Z: Budakai 2 when I stayed up literally all night grinding Zeni. Since then, nothing has quite grabbed my attention. Unfortunately, though, I'm not sure Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is the solution.
A Time Loop
Once again, we're following the Time Patrol, a gang of do-good-ers who are out to fix unexpected shifts in time. In Xenoverse, you got to imagine what would happen if Raditz dodged the special beam cannon, for example. This time, the Time Patrol is much bigger and you get to imagine ... what would happen if Raditz dodge the special beam cannon.
It's only been about 2 years since Xenoverse, but I had to double check that I did, in fact, receive a review copy of Xenoverse 2 and that Bandai Namco didn't accidentally send over a copy of the first game.
At the same time, how different can I expect it to be? The game is structured as an effort to keep everything the same. We're supposed to make it so Piccolo's special beam cannon connects with Raditz. We're supposed to make sure Nappa and Vegeta are defeated by Goku and the gang, with Vegeta shouting "You'll pay for this!!!" only to be thwarted by a Ka-Me-Ha-Me-Ha (times four!!!). But I couldn't help but feel like we already did that in the first game ... because we did. And wouldn't it be better if there was, say an entirely new storyline, or a storyline we could influence that wasn't already covered by the first game?
While much is being made out of the Great Ape battles, like when Nappa and Raditz go into the Saiyan Oozaru form, the mechanic for beating them has remained exactly the same since Xenoverse. You get their guard down by doing enough surface-level damage. Then you can grab them by the tail, lift them up and drop them, all the while your cooperatives are wailing on them. It's exactly the same.
I wouldn't be completely fair if I didn't mention that Xenoverse 2 did tastefully update its hub world. Conton City is much more streamlined than Toki-Toki city in the original Xenoverse. There is a lot more centrally located making it very easy to get around without those pesky loading screens (which are long enough to rival openings of HBO shows).
You can zip around on your hover craft, bouncing from a training academy to shops to various quest givers, including the parallel quest hub.
It's a marked improvement on the original, but the rest of the game will begin to feel a lot like a remaster.
More of the Same
But let's forget that this may be just the exact same game with the number "2" tacked on, and let's look at the merits of what is here. After all, there is always an audience for "more of the same."
For starters, the robust combat system is still here. You'll be given the basics in the tutorial, and the more you play the academy missions, you might learn some advanced moves also. While you can get by with a basic understanding of the combat, I'm not sure if this is good or bad. On one hand, learning one or two good combos to use in tandem with your specials makes for a user-friendly experience, so you're not daunted by an insurmountable learning curve. On the other hand, you have to wonder why a game would have so much depth in their combat system if you really only need to spam two or three buttons to get by.
Sure, you can do launch attacks, teleport behind them and unleash a 30-hit combo, or you could just land a few basic attacks to charge up you Ki and then give them a Ki attack, rinse repeat. But again, you also have dozens of different special moves from which to choose, making the combat only as repetitive as you want it to be.
Xenoverse 2 again supports five races - Saiyan, Namekian, Majin, Earthling and Freiza. And you have race-specific quests that all at once make the game interesting and strip away its interest. It's great that I, as the Freiza race, can infiltrate Freiza's spaceship with greater ease. But I am denied bonuses from the other race-specific quests, making me less likely to invest in those areas. Sure this increase replayability, but for a game that's basically asking me to replay its predecessor, I'm getting a little burnt out.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is the perfect game for someone who has never played Dragon Ball Xenoverse. It's little more than a remaster with an updated hub city, and, while that may be enough for some faithfuls, this game is much better experienced as a first-time DBX player. Untainted by the realization that you've done this all before, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 will be a good buy. Beyond that, Bandai Namco has essentially hit the rewind button.