Dragon Ball XenoVerse is a good game in itself, but it's one of those titles that's begging for a sequel. For a first attempt, XenoVerse gets a heck of a lot right, but as is the case with many licensed Japanese titles, it's really just laying the foundations for something bigger and better. Enter Dragon Ball XenoVerse 2 - a sequel that clearly plays it safe, but at the same time, looks to build upon the concepts that its predecessor introduced.
After spending a good ten or so hours with the recent XenoVerse 2 beta, we're quietly confident that it'll be a successful sequel - even if it doesn't appear to take many risks. A refined combat system, a bigger hub area, and more playable characters are all obvious improvements, while the jump to 60 frames per second makes for a much more fluid fighter.
To start with, let's get stuck into the game's combat. All of the basics are still in place, with simple combo strings and easy-to-use special moves making up most of the action. Movement remains key, too, with evasive manoeuvres, dashes, and flight all playing a part whether you're on the attack or you're being forced to defend. Needless to say, it'll all seem very familiar to those who have already repaired Dragon Ball's history, but a few subtle tweaks come together to create an overall better system.
Almost immediately, it's clear that combat moves at a quicker pace. Brawls feel breathless at times as you and your opponent jet around the map, exchanging lightning quick blows and teleporting to safety at the last possible moment. We're not exactly sure what's changed here - whether general movement speed has been increased or the aforementioned 60 frames per second boost is working miracles - but we do know that battles look and feel great when you've got the rhythm down.
The art of tying super moves into your basic combos seems a little more forgiving as well. In the first game, popping off a kamehameha after slamming your enemy into the ground would rarely result in a confirmed hit, usually due to the fact that downed foes would gain temporary invincibility. Now, finishing your combo with a flourish appears to be rewarded, as almost every special attack that we activated would connect, regardless of whether we'd just swatted our opponent to the floor. Hopefully, this is an indication that super moves will be more viable across the board, and advanced players won't have to rely on the same few techniques over and over again.
When you're not engaged in hectic battles with evil aliens, you'll be spending most of your time in the revamped hub area. An improvement over Toki Toki City, Conton City feels like more than a glorified main menu. It still houses all of the activities and shops that were present in the previous game, but it's far more expansive, and feels better realised as a headquarters for the Time Patrol. It also helps that you can zip around Conton City thanks to a fun little hoverboard that you can whip out anytime you like.
Everything that we've described so far is either a welcome addition or a clear improvement, but we wouldn't say that any of it is particularly exciting. For the most part, XenoVerse 2 is more than happy to refine existing features rather than tread any new ground - and we're okay with that for the most part. However, the title also seems keen to reuse large chunks of its predecessor, which leads to some moments of undeniable deja vu - and not in a good way.
That mission where you're tasked with taking the Dragon Balls back to Trunks' time machine on Namek? It's still here, and seemingly unchanged. Stopping Raditz from breaking free of Goku's grapple? That's here, too, and as far as we could tell, the accompanying cutscene is barely any different. You can't really mess with Dragon Ball's story - we get that - but it's a bit disappointing to be dumped back into missions that we've already completed a ton of times in the previous release.
All in all, though, we like what we've played of XenoVerse 2 - even if it does feel a little too familiar at times. If you enjoyed the original XenoVerse, we can certainly see this sequel holding your attention all over again, while newcomers will most likely be jumping into a better all-round experience right from the off.
Did you try the Dragon Ball XenoVerse 2 beta? What did you think of it? Are you looking forward to the finished game? Give us your scouter readings in the comments section below.