Dragon Ball XenoVerse Preview

Frieza-frame. *click*

Behind closed doors, Bandai Namco was showing first-looks at the future of Goku, Frieza, Vegeta, and Cell in the newly-announced Dragon Ball Xenoverse. It's the first new title from the franchise to show on the current generation of consoles, and damn does it look pretty; the animation level has been raised another cel-shaded level. On the surface, it looks slightly better than the previous PS3 incarnations, but in practice the characters pop from the screen in all their cartoony glory.

Since the information we were shown was for a very early version of the game, there wasn't a truckload of new features and salivation to be had, but there were a few nuggets worth mentioning. First, continuing the idea of the visuals, character faces can now show more vivid emotion while slugging everything out. In the short amount of footage a shot of Goku and Frieza's faces—​Goku in mid-punch and Frieza in ​mid-getting-punched—the expressions were akin to a split-second cutscene. And a clearer cutscene than the PS3 did with previous incarnations.

The biggest adjustment (or return if you go back far enough) to fighting in Xenoverse is the ability to transform within battle. There was nothing beyond that simple statement, but it can lead to a more open, yet smaller, overall number of "unique" characters. At the end of the demo was a behind-the-shoulder shot of an unknown figure, so who knows just how big or small the possible roster will be by the time release comes? Or, if by some possibility, a "make your own character" option will show up, as all of the mystery man's accessories looked awfully familiar, like Piccolo's cape and Future Trunks' jacket. Along with the mystery figure was a futuristic city, so that guy may be a specific character after all. We'll just have to wait and see.

So far there isn't a release date—it's far too early for such things—but if the tiny tech demo is a sign of things to come, then I might find myself pulled back into the fights of those ki-throwing crazies. Here's to hoping the best parts of the speculation come to fruition! No release date has been revealed but Dragon Ball: Xenoverse will arrive for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.