The ability to create your own character and build them in a RPG fashion is the main draw of this game, and it repeatedly rewards you as the game progresses. You can choose from Saiyan, Earthling, Namekian, Majin, or Frieza Clan. Xenoverse provides general moves and equipment but also offers specific sets of moves and equipment for each race. This makes playing each race unique.
Campaign: The first 5 hours of the game are perfectly balanced as your character levels up at the same rate as the story progresses. Xenoverse follows the storyline with Vegeta, Ginyu Force, Frieza, Cell, Majin Buu, and more. Opponents are challenging and its very fun as you gain the most XP doing the campaign missions. When you get to the 5-20 hour mark, Frieza and Cell come into play and you will be required to do side missions to level up your character. Side missions offer material rewards, armor, and new moves. It's fun getting through the side missions as they offer more story context and allow you to visually see your created character in more action. Once at the 20 hour mark, the game becomes a grindfest. You will have to repeatedly do side missions in order to level up your character enough to progress the story.
Combat: Combat is pretty simple. Mash two buttons and hope for the best, block, repeat. Aquire enough ki and then start doing combinations of button mashing and super ki blasts. If you hit the right sequence of buttons, you can pull off a sweet attack that involves powerful punches that launch the opponent a far distance that follow up with teleport strikes that we are familiar with in the shows. It's not very clear how to do them, I typically just press one button 5 or 6 times then switch it to the other strike button.
Side Missions: More time will be spent doing side missions than anything else. They offer a base set of currency and based on your performance, it can increase. They also offer moves and new equipment, however the biggest problem is there aren't any conditions known to the player to acquire moves or equipment. Before a side mission starts, there are a list of things the player can obtain by completing the mission. I recall doing a mission 6 times trying to get Frieza's Death Slash. I figured I had to grind to progress anyways, and I really wanted that move. I still don't know what I did to obtain it, but I felt more happy my frustration ended rather than happy I did something to earn the move. This gets ever more frustrating when there are moves you feel are necessary to obtain in order to progress in the story. For example Super Saiyan 2 power up is acquired via side mission. It's very powerful and I tried over and over again to get it. I ended up having to purchase it for 50,000 zen. This is long after I had grinded to progress the story and it was available in the shop.
The art style is true to the Dragon Ball Z universe and looks absolutely fantastic. I played on a PS4 and the cell shaded characters make repetitive gameplay worthwhile. There is so much attention to detail. From the particle trails when traveling at supersonic speeds, super blasts, vanishing during combat, unique combat animations, and unique combo styles per each race, the art keeps your attention as you appreciate the amount of work that was done. Character creation allows for color selection for every single piece of clothing equipped which allows for endless amounts of customization.
Cinematics: The story comes with its own animated show integrated into the game. There is a mix of in engine cut scenes and full Dragon Ball Z episode type of animations to progress the story. As a Dragon Ball Z fan, its refreshing to see new episodes in a world I exist in. They are just long enough for you to feel satisfied and get back into battle, which is great because sometimes when games spend a lot of time on the story, the cinematics are too long and get annoying. The in engine cut scenes don't contain any dramatics with avatar animations, but it's really not needed. They are dialogue sessions and do its purpose.
Environment: The whole experience is encompassing. The world itself looks identical to the TV show. Couple that with the authentic audio, crazy particles, unique animations for super moves, and the small cut scenes for perfectly timed combos, immersion sets in quickly. There are also dragon balls that exist in the world, although I'm not exactly sure how to obtain them all. It seems to be random or when I do a great feat in side quests.
Conclusion: This is a fun game, but I would not buy it at full price. At one point its very addicting and you can't stop yourself from playing. Then out of nowhere, the game gets so hard you have to grind for a couple of hours, repeat. Teaming up with people online to grind together can be a waste of time, because EXP is given to those that contribute the most. Completing a mission online might not even offer the player a grade if teamed up with players at a higher level than you. It ends up being frustrating.