Dragon Ball: Xenoverse Review

A wrinkle in time.

You can only tell the same story so many times, and Dragon Ball games are well past their allotment. I've seen Raditz perforated by the Special Beam Cannon more than 100 times by now, and while I love the series' grandiose narrative and iconic moments, it has long needed a spark. Dragon Ball Xenoverse, in spite of its pronounced deficiencies, puts the beloved series back on track. What it lacks in mechanical depth it makes up for in scope and fresh story arcs, and even if you still see Frieza bring Namek to its knees and Cell crumble before a familial Kamehameha, the addition of a customized character shines a new light on scenes that were growing far too dim.

It all starts with your own unique Z Warrior. Instead of reenacting the well-worn script as Goku, Piccolo, or another member of the colorful cast, Xenoverse inserts your own hero into each of the classic scenarios. From his species to the shine of his boots, your character's presentation is entirely up to you, and the depth of the adjustable characteristics allows you to successfully craft your ideal fighter. If you want to make a blue-haired lady-Saiyan with a jet-black outfit, the tools are there to make it happen. While stylish, your protagonist is far from verbose--uttering little more than a grunt and the title of a special attack during battle--but it's hard not to grow attached to this silent soldier as he battles alongside the established heroes. As a child who too often pretended that he could shoot energy from his palms and grow golden hair with a flourish, watching my addition to the roster be acknowledged by Goku and company was an inimitable pleasure.

After establishing a persona, you're brought in by Trunks as a member of the Time Patrol, a team that travels from era to era, correcting hiccups in the timeline that could radically alter the course of history. The villains meddling within the different timelines create problematic circumstances, diametrically opposed to the regular flow of this world's history. What if Raditz broke Goku's grip and avoided Piccolo's shot to the gullet? What havoc could Frieza have wrought if he immediately transformed to his final form instead of brandishing each of his less impressive molds? It's up to you to battle major characters possessed by an indomitable power and restore the timeline to its rightful progression.

Most of what you see, though distorted, follows the established Dragon Ball Z order of events, and if you're unfamiliar with the show, you'll likely find yourself lost among all the spiky hair and massive explosions. Xenoverse expects you already to have an established relationship with the anime, but the latter story missions have characters and content that are entirely new to the universe. It's not always prime material, with the dialogue ranging from fair to dreadful, but it's still refreshing to do new things in a Dragon Ball game. There's a lot to see, and seeing it all through the eyes of someone outside the well-established crew had me rushing to see how the script would be flipped next.

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Dragon Ball Xenoverse, in spite of its pronounced deficiencies, puts the beloved series back on track.

What I didn’t always look forward to were the battles, which, unsurprisingly, are the meat of the experience. The combat isn't broken or unpleasant, but it does feel incomplete. Dragon Ball Xenoverse fails to present you with enough effective offensive outlets to remain captivating from start to finish, and while the over-the-shoulder perspective and cinematic ultimate attacks effectively replicate the visual spirit of the show, they just weren't enough to keep me engaged. Employing basic strikes, special attacks, and earth-shattering finishers between your enemy's combos might be effective, but even efficient strategies tend to result in apathy. The more you play, the less novel fighting becomes.

On a basic level, combining heavy and light attacks and topping them off with a burst of energy feels satisfying. The fists, elbows, knees, and feet that do connect result in an authoritative thwack, sending bodies flying into splintering mountains. Even the most devastating ability takes no more than three button presses to unleash, so it's simple to pick up the controller and begin punishing your competition with thunderous, destructive skill. However, there's little substance behind the thick layer of theatrics, and pounding away at buttons as you watch enemy health bars slowly tick away grows more tedious over time. It's easy to pick up and easy to master, which makes for a flat, unchallenging experience overall.

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It's not always prime material, with the dialogue ranging from fair to dreadful.

This problem is only exacerbated by the presence of more bodies, and Xenoverse often presents skirmishes with multiple fighters on each side of the battlefield. It's common to jump into three-on-three competitions where you spend too much time putting fist to face with little substantive support from your allies. The speed of the action already makes one-on-one combat feel loose, with your character sporadically swinging at air as your back's to the enemy, so adding two additional targets can make it difficult to control the chaos. When it all works, it's easy to appreciate the bedlam. But these moments of bliss are too often followed by monotony, made frustrating by a less-than-perfect targeting system.

The action disappoints, but the methods of progression are both vast and gratifying. Beyond leveling up and applying points to various statistics, you can purchase and use an assortment of clothing and special techniques to empower your fighter. The deeper you progress within the different sagas, the more options you have. It takes time and even a bit of grinding to become powerful enough to conquer Cell or the best Buu, and going from level 25 to 27 often isn't enough to turn the tide of battle. But that didn't stop me from testing new pieces of armor and altering skill sets to search for the most lethal combat concoction.

There's little substance behind the thick layer of theatrics, and pounding away at buttons as you watch enemy health bars slowly tick away grows more tedious over time.

Alongside the story missions are offline and online Parallel Quests, which act as supplemental scenes to the main narrative. Here, you might battle next to Frieza and his henchmen instead of the actual good guys or search for the Dragon Balls on planet Namek. Dozens of these mission open up over time, and they can be tackled alongside basic CPUs, recruited NPCs that cost money to employ, or online players that often provide a great deal more assistance than a mindless ally. These quests, coupled with additional jobs handed out by named characters in the overworld, provide longevity and act as a great way to train for the difficult end game.

There's local multiplayer as well as an online arena, but the combat just isn't strong enough to stand on its own. It's fun to test your unique characters against the competition, and two-man duels are substantially more entertaining than the dizzying melees found within the story and side missions. But without a narrative backbone, the basic fighting doesn't maintain attention for more than a few rounds. Additionally, I've experienced consistent issues connecting online, at times preventing me from finding opponents and even kicking me out of the overworld itself.

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Structurally, this is the most interesting and involved Dragon Ball game in years. The new spin on tired stories provides enough intrigue to keep you playing through even the most tiresome moments, and the enhancements you can make to your created character keep you completing missions well after the natural narrative conclusion. It's rich in content, but the shallow battle system and unnecessarily bloated health bars of some foes make this feel more like a hesitant step in the right direction than a true home run for the franchise. Dragon Ball Xenoverse isn't a good fighting game, but it does have enough interesting supplementary features to make it a consideration.

The Good
Detailed character customization
New, interesting take on a tired story
The Bad
Basic, loose controls make for uneven gameplay
Immense enemy health bars result in shallow, frustrating end game
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Josiah Renaudin has seen every Dragon Ball Z saga at least seven times, and is still recovering from Dragon Ball Evolution. For the purpose of this review, he played Xenoverse to completion and created a character using each of the provided species.
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Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

This game gives me a first impression of a severe lack of polish. It's barely half an hour into the first video of someone else's playthrough and I am already seeing a defeated opponent lying on his face - in mid-air. The developers did not go through enough contingencies in their programming.

Also, it seems like the overall plot of time-traveling shenanigans is just there to toss in crap-loads of what-if situations.

Avatar image for RossRichard

6 is on the mark, and this review echos my feelings with the game almost exactly. Not a bad game, but definitely flawed. I paid $20 for it, if I paid more I would feel ripped off.

Avatar image for janembadbz

6 is about right, and I'm a die hard DBZ fan. Easy buy for franchise fans, but worth some consideration for non-fans. The game feels rich in content and is awesome in putting you in the DB universe, but fighting could be a little better and gameplay could've been expanded upon more. The rest of the game is also lacking polish (ie. the Quest Level being in the Gameplay Policy menu slide). This game IS a step in the right direction for DBZ - it just needed more TLC.

Avatar image for yeknomdab


Avatar image for geeklord2471

I have always enjoyed the DBZ series. Ever since I first played DBZ Budokai on the gamecube. I cannot wait to try this game. It looks amazing and I also enjoy mmo/rpg's.

Avatar image for Propitiated4

This review did pretty much nail it, it is certainly a step in the right direction but is missing some key elements, namely the combat system which is a bit shallow and underdeveloped not to mention the annoying and inevitable "punching the air" with your back to your opponent, which seems to happen a lot in this game - targeting system is also very annoying, as is the manner in which dragon balls are collected.

It does become monotonous but leveling up your character and the ability to change his clothes/accessories helps with keeping the gamer involved and excited in the game, but as far as progression in the game goes, the fighting system is just too shallow to allow for some real fun and difference between battles.

Avatar image for GSyysirryn_kanaryyGS

Hat to double check who reviewed it after seeing the score. Couldn't believe that it wasn't KvO haha

Avatar image for Uangry

Game deserves a 7 max so this is about right. Worth a play for fans but theres no need to say its great. It isn't.

Avatar image for bamster28

When IGN gave this game a 6.5 I was extremely upset, all the points against the game were either extremely biased (I suck at the game so they made it too difficult), had too many omissions (like anything regarding online) or just plain not true. And I hated her and the rating.

This guy gives it a 6, and I'm not mad. I like the fighting but it's no street fighter or tekken, sure. But I love the game, and at least he mentioned every aspect of the game at least a little bit, and admitted that this game is a step in the right direction, which it is. I'd give this game an 8 but I can't fault his logic for giving it a 6 either.

Avatar image for Nightelf123

@bamster28: scores aren't important at all. for example IGN gave God Hand a 3.0 in 2007(this game at least deserves 8) but in 2009 they listed it as one of the best PS2 games.

Avatar image for morfinesommers

"Pinto" Bean?! Really?

Avatar image for potatoturtle

i think this game gets a fair 8

Avatar image for sakaixx

This is actually a good game based on an anime/manga

Avatar image for Darkauscus

Josiah Renaudin...you be tripping...first i dont consider this a "fighting game" per se. I look at it more as a "brawler rpg" if you know uat i mean. U cant compare this to Tekken or Street Fighter or none of that its like comparing Hitman with Battlefield....(their not the same but u shoot ppl on both). I think that besides the online server issues and THE ABSOLUTELY TRAGIC FACT THAT VANISH IS BUGGED ON PC (for now) the game is TONLOADS of fun and always fills me with nostalgia and joy. The game does uat it set out to do....its like DESTINY but with fighting, the difference being that DESTINYs single player is much inferior to the mighty DB Xenoverse. I think the user scores are accurate...anything between a 7 to a 8 is only fair for a game like this. << LINK REMOVED >>

Avatar image for ftskamins

The score for this game is just WRONG!!!
I usually agree with GS reviews but this time it seems like its describing almost a different game!
The combat is great and not senseless button mashing!

Avatar image for bamster28

@ftskamins: This is nothing compared to IGNs review, at least he makes valid points. 6 is a fair score, which means if you're a DBZ fan, he's basically saying buy it.

Avatar image for klonoa53

@ftskamins: Ya know 6 means its alright. Its a good game and there's nothing to be excited over it about.

Avatar image for ftskamins

@klonoa53@ftskamins: No, 6 means "above average" and this game is "very good"----->8+ score.
Obviously this is my opinion but as i wrote"I usually agree with GS reviews" which is why i wrote the comment,no excitement...

Avatar image for mesomorphin

@klonoa53@ftskamins: The game deserves a 9, its incredible.

Avatar image for frost_don

I wasnt feeling this game too much either I love DBZ games this one kinda fell short I don't like the combat it's very confusing plus where Tf was a proper tutorial

Avatar image for shadow6323

"New, interesting take on a tired story"

Tired story? Wtf?

Avatar image for maximimon

wut a 6? go home gamespot you're drunk

Avatar image for fordy269

Havnt watched dragon ball since I was a kid. Kinda grew out of it. Amazed by it's fan base still

Avatar image for just_mishaari

I have played almost all of DBZ games from the PS1 era, except for the sh!tty ones in the last few years, and guess what I'm buying this game.

Moreover, are there any characters that are locked as DLC or something like that? Since Vegeta SS4 is a pre-order content?

Hopefully this game will keep me busy and out of troubles for a few weeks

Avatar image for seriousdave

@just_mishaari: Yeah, plenty of DLC-characters incoming. The first ones are little GT-Goku, Pan and GT-Trunks, more announced for future DLCs but not yet confirmed, but no hints for future releases for SS4 Vegeta.

Guess those who didn't pre-order (luckily steam was really generous in that point, like 6 hours before release and still got him) really won't get him.

Avatar image for bamster28

@seriousdave@just_mishaari: Yeah I tried to buy the game the monday before at 9pm and I couldn't get the pre-order package I was so mad about that. Hopefully with the season pass I'll get him at a later date, or at least ssj4 goku

Avatar image for seriousdave

It really has it's ups and downs. It is very enjoyable but some things just outright suck. "Bosses" with super armor, infinite Ki and a bazillion health are NOT fun. They're just there to waste your time, artificially ramp up the difficulty and to hide the fact that the NPCs AI is god aweful in this game and that's the only way how they could "solve" that problem.

It is fun to get all the moves and gear as reward from the Quests but the friggin reward system is right out of destiny. Everything is random in this game. Even the stuff you're supposed to do during the quests is only triggered by random events. That's friggin bullshit.

I really love this game but sometimes when it takes like 30+ tries to get somethng cause of frigging randomness I also really hate it.

Avatar image for zuckerton

I have a love/hate relationship with this game. It was fun at the start and I still periodically get enjoyment out of it, but when you have a "master" and that master seems to refuse to teach you anything, it gets a bit ridiculous. I went with Krillin, but haven't learned anything since "Destructo-Disc". I've leveled up three times, but still have yet to learn "Spread Shot Retreat" or "Scatter Kamehameha". Then you have the terrible targeting system. If I'm locked onto a fighter and he flies to the other side of the map while there's a guy attacking me from the side or back, it should auto-lock onto the nearest enemy. Or at least have the option available. Then you have the Senzo Beans. If you have these equipped, it should automatically revive you, but it doesn't. I don't know how the hell to get those things to work. If they are STRICTLY for one certain gameplay type, it shoukd be mentioned.

Avatar image for bamster28

@zuckerton: I was told that if you go to play data, you can check your progress with your masters, and the more you use their moves in combat, especially if you chose them as a partner in your quests, you open up the training faster.

Avatar image for pixelinkers

Im actually really enjoying the game as I feel like Im part of the DBZ universe. Fighting is great as well. Tons of moves and items to collect. Not sure about it getting a 6 :(

Avatar image for rarerichz

this game is great bad review , do not listen to this this guy he probably sucks at the game. it depends on the skills you acquire and leveling up to beat enemies with large life bars. it in no way makes the game unbalanced. there is no problem with this game , it only gets better the more you play it. im willing to bet the reviewer spent a couple of hours playing it.

Avatar image for jasongm

This franchise has been going on waaay to long now, its more than 25 years old and its time they pulled the plug on this series. They need to bring new anime franchises stateside.

Avatar image for simonbarfod

it's pretty good for a DBZ game, but the fact that that sentence exists is sad, and should never excuse a bad game. this game is good compared to all the many crappy ones we normally get. but with that said i'm not a fan grinding in any game. so if you enjoy grinding, you might like this game more than I.

Avatar image for quietguy15

The main cons I've noticed with this game are the servers, useless AI teammates, bad voice acting, and the characters speech is out of sync with their mouth movements.

Avatar image for ALOIYD

"Bad voice acting"

Agreed, Seriously, Imagine Trunks having Shadow The Hedghog's voice.

Avatar image for jumpchump

@quietguy15: Yeah man, wtf is up with the AI? I was in a 3v3 match and I had goku and piccolo as my AI team mates. I had to beat the enemy on my own. Literally, all the AI did was revive me when I got 3 way stomped.

Avatar image for seven7swords

@quietguy15: Character speech out of sync with mouth movements?

Do you even anime, bro?

Avatar image for DarkHawkPro

I'd personally give it a 8/10 While i find the game as a whole much more enjoyable then some of the most recent additions to the series. The dialogue is the biggest thing in Xenoverse that needed some extra touch up. With a unique story and custom characters I found myself brought pretty heavily into the game right away.

the Master system allows for a feeling of a personal connection to the character that you might have loved in the show and in previous games and makes the whole experience personal and unique, allowing you to play it in a way that you will enjoy it the most.

Avatar image for deactivated-584419ec3a052

I went into it not expecting much but it was probably the most enjoyable DBZ game I've played since Budokai 3. It's a little difficult at times, but at least being a super saiyan made overcoming frustrating fights incredibly easy.

Avatar image for Alnando215

Wow 6/10! I really..REALLY enjoy the game! I loved budokai 3 so i was looking for sow thing just as fun. I would give it around 8/10. Yea it has some small issues but the gameplay is good. Hard learning curve but the controls are somewhat basic. Hopefully they can patch up a few areas and add a practice mode like the original budokais

Avatar image for rexpowercolt

I'll pick it up when it drops into the $30 category

Avatar image for xgalacticax

I am really enjoying this game and would recommend it to any DBZ fan as it is one of the better DBZ games out there - if you can put up with its flaws. I'm about 10 hours in and still in the Cell Saga due to the endless grinding to keep up with powerful enemies.


1. RPG and customisation elements.

2. Custom character acknowledged in the story and is unique.

3. When good, combat and moves can be very satisfying.

4. It is awesome to see different races and characters populating Toki Toki city.


1. Grinding can be a chore - relationship with master/ loot drops and upgrades/ etc.

2. NPC allies are DUMB and useless in many levels - looking at you Parallel quest 21.

3. Online parallel quests feel more competitive than cooperative due to the way scores are given. This makes it NOT fun.

4. Combat can be frustrating - enemies that spam KI blasts/ lock on is flawed for a fast paced game.

Dragon Ball: Xenoverse More Info

  • First Released Feb 24, 2015
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • + 3 more
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Developed by famed Osaka-based Japanese videogame developer Dimps (the team behind the fan favorite Dragon Ball Z: Budokai series); Dragon Ball XENOVERSE will be the first Dragon Ball game to make its way to the new generation of consoles with all the epic battles fans have come to expect between Goku and his most feared enemies; Vegeta, Frieza, Cell and many others, with brand new gameplay design. Dragon Ball XENOVERSE will take the beloved universe from series’ creator Akira Toriyama by storm and break tradition with a new world setup, a mysterious city, a mysterious fighter and other amazing features to be announced in the future.
    Average Rating215 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Dragon Ball: Xenoverse
    Developed by:
    Dimps Corporation, Bandai Namco Games
    Published by:
    Bandai Namco Games
    3D, Action, Fighting
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Cartoon Violence, Mild Blood, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes