I am possibly the worst person possible to look at Dragon Ball Xenoverse. For starters, what I don’t know about Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and all associated Dragon Ball franchises could (and does) fill a very large number of manga and anime series. For another thing, what I want to know about it would have difficulty filling a very small piece of paper. So… yeah, I’m not exactly a fan, and this is a game very, very clearly aimed at fans.
Still, it also means that I’m analysing it on its merits as a game, which is a perspective that has a few advantages. My like or dislike for the franchise also has pretty much no bearing on looking at the more technical aspects of the port, which is exactly what I’m doing here.
So! After an 8GB download (with a 10GB install footprint), let’s have a gander at the options menu.
So yeah, that’s a rubbish set of options. Only one anti-aliasing setting, and maybe only one or two options that have anything to do with the visual fidelity, so you’re really not going to be tweaking the settings to get it running just right on your computer, or battling between beauty and framerate. On the bright side, it is nice to see options to enable or disable the stuff that often annoys: glare, motion blur, depth of field.
Also, the options confirm that the game happily runs at 60FPS (it can be set to 30, 60, and Variable, for what it’s worth). I have no idea if the resolution or refresh rate can be set higher than 1920×1080 and 60 respectively, though. Those are the highest my monitor supports, so it’s entirely possible that the game just won’t let me set things higher – I can’t alter the refresh rate at all, so that at least seems to be locked to what the monitor supports. One way or another, though, I wouldn’t expect it to support much higher than 1920×1080.
For the sake of it, here are three screenshots showing the game on full details with everything turned on, full details with glare/motion blur/depth of field off, and low details with everything off. It’s not the most intensive scenes and the shots have no movement because I was trying to get equal comparison screenshots, but they’ll give you some idea of how it all looks.
Setting them all to high really makes things glow. Pretty much literally. That aside, the only hugely noticeable change between the highest and lowest settings is the shadows, which… isn’t a big surprise, as they’re one of the only things you can actually change. The anti-aliasing isn’t too hard to spot, either, but (to me, at least) it doesn’t seem like a big change.
Performance-wise, it runs fine. Dragon Ball Xenoverse isn’t a graphically intensive game and I’m running an i7-3820 with 16GB RAM and a GTX 670, so I’d be rather surprised if it didn’t run fine, but it’s good to know anyway. It does have some serious issues with screen-tearing, which are incredibly noticeable when running along the ground, but Vsync (obviously) alleviates this. Also, you can choose between English or Japanese voiceovers, which I’m very happy about.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse runs fine, looks fine, but doesn’t offer much in the way of graphical tweakables. Let’s have a look at something else: the controls.
Obviously, everything is absolutely fine on gamepad. Dragon Ball Xenoverse is a game that has been developed for console first and foremost, and the fact that its controls are console-oriented shouldn’t come as any such surprise. What might be a surprise is that it appears to be fairly playable on mouse and keyboard. I mean, I wouldn’t outright recommend it, but if you have no gamepad for some reason, then you might be able to cope.
Left click is a light attack, right click is a heavy attack. Middle mouse button locks on. Tab cycles targets (which you’d think might be the mouse wheel, but no), WASD moves you around, Shift lets you “boost” around the map, CTRL and ALT are your modifiers for super and ultimate attacks, Q fires out Ki blasts. It’s… not ideal, but it’s playable, and the controls seem to be redefinable anyway.
Ironically enough, the big problems with mouse and keyboard controls are outside of play. You can’t navigate the menus with the mouse at all, for instance, which is a bit of an oversight when most of them have huge buttons that look perfect for clicking. Even more bizarrely, those WASD controls that move you around in the game? Yeah, you don’t use them to navigate the menus. The menus use the arrow keys, instead.
This leads to slightly bizarre situations. You have your hands on your mouse and WASD to move around. You walk up to the mission select, you tap E to talk to the chap, and… then you have to switch over to the arrow keys to actually select the mission.
Nit-picking? Yeah, almost certainly, but this is the sort of thing that really niggles at the back of my mind. It’s not game-breaking, but it indicates a depressing lack of attention.
There’s just one other rather large technical problem I’ve spotted with Dragon Ball Xenoverse. Let me illustrate:
Ah, server issues. That screenshot was taken last night; let’s try one from an hour before writing this article.
Oh, that looks more promising. Let’s connect to the Single Lobby.
Oh. And hitting “OK” just led it to it trying to connect again and again until I hard-quit the game with Alt-F4.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse does not have a natural way of playing it offline. Right now, the only method I’ve found of playing it is to actually set Steam to Offline Mode, and then boot up the game, which obviously isn’t ideal. I mean, the game works, but considering it’s a game that lets you trade items, and interact with other people, and do co-op missions, and battle online… welp. And let’s face it: putting Steam into Offline Mode just to play a game is rubbish, not least because it locks you out of everything else that Steam does.
Putting aside the server issues, Dragon Ball Xenoverse on PC appears to be an adequate port. It’s not an excellent one; it’s clearly a console game that’s been shunted onto PC, with only a degree of care and attention for making it work on the platform. By the same token, though, it’s not a terrible one – it works, it’s quick, and it doesn’t appear to be completely unplayable if you don’t have a gamepad.
Adding in the server issues, though… well, you probably want to hold off a little while until things settle down. There appears to be a lot of emphasis on the online stuff, and the fact that it’s barely functional (and I’m being kind there, by assuming it’s been working at times I haven’t tried) several days after launch is really not a happy thing.
Let’s close on something a bit lighter, though: if you’re a Dragon Ball fan, and if the online issues get sorted, and if my first few hours of play are indicative of the quality of the game… then I’d probably recommend it. The fighting engine seems fairly robust, and the basic idea behind the game is incredibly solid – you create a character, and then participate in a number of the biggest battles from Dragon Ball Z, while levelling up your character and learning new moves and so on. I don’t like Dragon Ball and I’m still playing it, which surely says something, and giving fans the ability to canonically Mary Sue themselves into climactic moments from the series is likely a dream come true for many.