A close look on Dragonball Xenoverse’s Steam port may be overdue at this point considering that the game has been released for a couple of weeks now, but we wanted to keep mum until the dust has settled because PC releases (these days) seem to be plagued with launch day hitches that make games look worse than they really are. After several weeks of playtime and a couple of patches, it seems like Dimps has already had enough time to iron out launch day kinks, so it’s fair game.
First Things First: Gameplay and Content
There’s already a ton of in-depth and well-written reviews about the gameplay and content of Dragonball Xenoverse all over the Internet, particularly since the PC version isn’t different from the console versions (which has been around for months now.) but just to get things out of the way: Dragon Ball Xenoverse is basically another iteration of the 3rd person arena fighting game that started with the Budokai Tenkaichi games, with an MMORPG-lite story mode serving as the framework. People familiar with the short-lived Dragonball Online MMO will be familiar with the game, as it reuses content (story and art assets) from the MMO, including two of the 3 main villains, Towa and Mira.
It’s not like the story would be such an important aspect when it comes to a fighting game (especially one based on DBZ,) but the story goes that the two main villains have been traveling through key points in Dragonball’s timeline and changing things, such as boosting Frieza’s power levels so that he ends up killing Goku or preventing mirai Trunks from traveling back in time. So another version of Trunks from the future who is working with the Supreme Kai of Time gathers the dragon balls and wishes for a hero that will help them travel through time and correct the changes.
The hero (of time!) will be your custom-created character. You level him up by fighting through the story mode or side quests called Parallel Quests, gear him out with various clothes that affect visuals and stats, and mix and match skills that can be found as drops through the story, bought through the stores, or learned from various NPC “masters.” Basically, you can end up with a character decked out in Saiyan battle armor and able to shoot Kame Hame Waves and Special Beam Cannons.
People approaching this straight from a Budokai Tenkaichi game should be wary, though. It doesn’t use a menu system to access the various game modes. It instead uses an MMO-like hub filled with various NPCs that you talk to in order to launch the story mode, the versus, the online, and other kinds of game modes. It’s a little bit counter-intuitive especially since these NPCs will be unavailable until you finish the tutorial phase.
Content-wise, there’s around 47 standard characters, most of them with at least two variations (Goku has a dozen), bringing the total amount of playable characters to over a hundred. Just be prepared to spend some time grinding, because majority of these characters must be unlocked through the story mode and side quests before they can be used on the VS and sidequests.
Porting Issues/Technical Stuff
As mentioned above, there’s already a ton of content on the Internet if you just want in-depth looks at Dragon Ball Xenoverse’s gameplay (and those will probably be the best sources for information on game balance, which is borked at the moment.) What’s really important right now and what’s keeping people on the fence when it comes to buying the Steam version is just how good of a port it is. Is it going to be a buggy, unoptimized mess like some recent anime-based games? *cough*NarutoShippudenultimateninjastorm3fullburst*cough*
Thankfully, it looks like Dimps at least acknowledges the strengths of the PC platform and the unique needs of the PC master race. Dragon Ball Xenoverse gives users the option to change resolutions, toggle V-sync, uncap and cap framerates (yes, you can lock the fps to 30, to 60, or make it pump out as many frames as your rig can do.) and enable various post processing effects. It’s fairly optimized too, as even hardware that fall below the official minimum system requirements manage to run the game at surprisingly decent/playable speeds (I’m getting 40-60fps on a GT 240 and low end i3, with visual settings all maxed at 1080p.)
It’s not perfect, though. There’s a really big problem with the release at the moment: server availability. You’re going to spend quite some time trying to successfully log in, as the game’s master servers are buckling under the sheer number of the players right now. The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that the game makes you connect to the servers even if you’re only trying to play the single player content (we’re assuming that Bandai Namco could hit two birds with one stone simply by not forcing the game to go online for single player mode, as it will reduce the server load while also allowing single player-only gamers to play without any delays. It’s not like the online-function will prevent piracy.) Fortunately for people who just want to play alone, you can get past the login issues simply by going offline on Steam or disabling your Internet connection while in the menu screen, both of which force the game to disable online functionalities.
So is the game worth getting at its current full price? It depends. If you’re a big Dragon Ball fan and just want to play an enjoyable single player game (especially one that you can tweak to your hearts content if you have a decent gaming PC: super kamehame wave on 4K, amirite?,) then buy the game. Nothing’s preventing you from going the piracy route if you just want to play single player content, but at the very least, buying the game encourages Bandai Namco games to port more of their anime-based properties to the PC (Did you know that One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 is coming to Steam? Exactly.) If you want a fulfilling, competitive multiplayer game based on the Dragon Ball IP, then you might want to wait a bit. Temper your expectations and wait for a Steam Sale, as the various technical hitches may already be fixed when that time comes.