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If someone asked me what would be my ideal Dragon Ball Z game, I’d probably say something like Dragon Ball FighterZ, you know, because it’s a proper fighting game by a real developer instead of the Budokai and Xenoverse games we’ve been used to. If this same question had been asked to me, like, fifteen years ago when I was watching DBZ every day after school, it would’ve been a game like this. 

Dragon Ball Z: Kararot is an action RPG based on Goku’s life after the events of Dragon Ball. Just like in most RPGs, you’ve got a leveling system which increases your health and mana, you’ve got stats (which I didn’t get a look at, but they are definitely in the game), and there’s a big world to explore. I didn’t get to spend much time exploring the world and doing side quests as we had to look at other games at the event. Judging by the world map, it looks as though you are able to fish, go mining, gather fruit, take down dinosaurs and trade goods with NPCs. Unlike most Dragon Ball games which aim to hit on all of the key points in each of the sagas like fighting Frieza, Cell and Majin Buu, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot looks to go through that while covering a lot of the filler parts of the anime that haven’t been covered in the games before.

One of the side quests available in the E3 build involved a minor character named Nam who only featured in Dragon Ball. There was also confirmation in Jump magazine that this game will cover the infamous driver’s license episode where Goku and Piccolo learn to drive. In addition to this, there are brand new characters being added to the game like Bonyu, a former member of the Ginyu Force. This might be one of the biggest Dragon Ball games ever, though as of right now there has not been any confirmation as to how long the game spans. Considering what we know about the game so far, it’s likely Kakarot covers the bulk of the DBZ anime.

I’m sure there’s probably some Dragon Ball Z scientists out there who will be able to fill in the timeline judging by what we know of the game so far. If you fight Raditz at the beginning of the game when you are level 4, and you fight Perfect Cell at level 55, then chances are you are roughly around level 30 when fighting Frieza and probably close to level 99 when fighting Kid Buu.

As a Dragon Ball Z fan, I always hated the 3D ‘behind the back’ perspective of the Budokai Tenkaichi and Xenoverse games. These games always felt like casual, mindless button mashers to me. Don’t get me wrong, these games can be sorta fun, but only if you take them for what they are: bad games. Most of my time playing DBZ: Kakarot was spent fighting against Raditz and Perfect Cell, and this really helped to sell the game to me as I enjoyed the combat far more than I expected. Sure, it’s not on the level of something like Dragon Ball FighterZ, but it’s certainly above the level of something like Xenoverse because it’s doing a lot more during the big fights. Take this moment in the fight against Cell: here he is able to step back and fire a load of projectiles, forcing me to either dodge them or find an opening to attack him. It’s the small moments like this that do a great job in making the game feel more like a playable version of the anime.  

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is made by CyberConnect2, the same developers who made the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm series. This explains why the combat is so much better than the other 3D Dragon Ball Z games which focus mainly on the spectacle of the battle, rather than having fun combat.

I never thought we would get a Dragon Ball game like this, especially not after the success of the Xenoverse series which has sold over 10m copies in less than five years. To go in this direction despite seeing clear success elsewhere is a brave decision, but I believe it’s going to be a decision that Dragon Ball fans (even those that love Xenoverse) are going to appreciate in the long term. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is shaping up to be one of the most ambitious Dragon Ball games of all time, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out when it launches sometime in 2020.