We got the chance to play the new Dragon Ball Z action RPG, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, at this year’s E3. The game is a fresh take on the franchise, marrying action RPG mechanics with staple Dragon Ball fighting. Read a preview below with takes from a few of our staff that all played the game:
Brandon Orselli’s take:
I grew up with the Dragon Ball series, so much so that I feel like I can never stop being a real fan. I can’t explain it, despite how silly or dragged out some of the story arcs got, I would happily check out the newest things in the franchise. When I heard it was getting a new, semi-open world ARPG, I nearly lost it.
I think the majority of Dragon Ball fans agree the beginnings of the series are simply fun, and can always be a joy to experience all over again. When Goku and crew get super powerful later on, some of the silliness and charm is lost. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is a wonderful return to the series’ roots. You can just go around and do whatever you want as Goku.
The game starts off in the beginnings of the Dragon Ball Z arc, and lets you do odd jobs for the locals, as well as battle other saiyans and their weaponry. The demo I played let you fight drones, dinosaurs, and eventually – Raditz himself. Roaming around as Goku in whatever method you want is pure fun – saiyan flight, riding the nimbus cloud, and running really fast are all options.
I did a side quest for Android 8 (Eighter), who due to his past with murderous robots and androids, wants you to clean up the area of the robots deployed by Raditz. Once I wiped out the other bots I did a few other side quests – there seemed to be quite a lot in this one area alone. Goku’s overall power level felt appropriate to this particular section of the Z Saga.
Combat overall felt great, once you transition from the free-roaming mechanics you engage with light fighting game mechanics, i.e. the controls feature your main attack, your ki blast attack, step or boost moving, charging your ki, guard, burst, super attacks, and super boost. Most fights you can plow through with some basic combos and a super move or two, but Raditz is another level.
The Raditz fight was a multi-phase, boss-level fight that closely followed the main story arc. Goku and Piccolo are both not quite up to his power level, and despite giving him a run for his money, have to resort to Piccolo’s Special Beam Cannon. Eventually Gohan bursts out of captivity, throwing Raditz off balance, and Goku pins Raditz down – allowing Piccolo to shoot them both.
Overall the combat in its more engaged form mostly felt like an authentic Dragon Ball fighting game experience. It may not be as deep as a full blown fighting game the series has seen, but it felt just right in the context of this game as a semi-open world ARPG. I had to block, dodge, combo, and ki blast my way through whittling down Raditz’ massive health bar.
The fight with Raditz had some light platforming or shoot ’em up elements too – when he fired out bursts of energy blasts or huge energy beams, they encompassed the entire area you fought in. As his power level is quite higher, you have to dodge them to avoid big damage. It really felt like you were fighting in the Dragon Ball Z anime, and as a longtime fan, it was something special.
My favorite part about the Raditz fight was that after he enters his second phase – when you have to buy Piccolo time to charge his Special Beam Cannon, the original Japanese theme song to Dragon Ball Z kicks in. I can say wholeheartedly the team has fully captured the feeling and joy of the series, and I really hope the rest of the game turns out to feel as special.
Tyler Valle’s take:
Dragon Ball is a series that is very near and dear to me. It makes up a large part of my childhood, and even as an adult I still go back to it and rewatch the series once every year or so.
When I heard that Cyberconnect2 were going to be working on a new Dragon Ball game, one that mixed the combat of Xenoverse with a more traditional open world RPG, to call myself excited would have been an understatement.
The one aspect of Dragon Ball that always felt like it fell to the wayside as the series went on was the vibrant world that the series took place in. From the days of dinosaurs and Red Ribbon armies to androids and alien invaders, there was such a rich universe to explore.
Luckily, with Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, it does seem as though there will be awesome and diverse environments to explore! Though my demo was short, I was able to fly over small villages, see dinosaurs and large creatures and even ran into some familiar faces.
The demo ended with me battling with Raditz, just how Dragon Ball Z started. It was a very fun and intense battled helped by the use of the theme song playing in the background during the fight.
I walked away with a much clearer understanding of the kind of game that Kakarot is going to be and now I know that I need it. It is unclear if the game will continue past the Frieza saga, but I can only hope so because Kakarot has the potential to be the best Dragon Ball Z game ever made.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is launching sometime next year for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.