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Dragon Ball Z Kakarot Preview

Dragon Ball Z Kakarot Preview

Recently, I was invited to a preview event at Bandai Namco’s offices, to check out the upcoming game based on the hit anime franchise Dragon Ball Z. Yes, I know it was a manga first, I read it years ago, but it’s got more anime than manga by now so deal with it.

Dragon Ball Kakarot deals with events from the start of Dragon Ball Z through to the Buu Saga - from what we’ve seen so far. It might go further, I don’t know. You play as the various Z-Fighters in a 3D action-RPG "open world" setting, going from fight to fight with the occasional fight in between. It's not a true open world as there are large open areas to explore, but they are seperated - I've just used that phrase as it's easier.

The preview build had the whole of the Saiyan Saga, which - if you’re not a fan - accounts for the first “season” of the anime. We were told there was about three hours of playable content, but that was if we rushed through it. I, however, decided to check out the open world with more detail and spent about five minutes flying Piccolo’s head through mountains at super speed.

We played on PlayStation 4 Pros, so of course the game looked bright and vibrant, though I’ll admit that I was sitting far too close to the screen due to how they were all set out. I also missed someone saying the pizza had arrived, so points off for that in this un-scored preview.

Dragon Ball Z Kakarot appears to feature English voices as well as Japanese, though I couldn’t toggle the option in this build. As a long time fan I’m familiar with the Japanese voices, so didn’t mind not being able to change, though there’s just something special about Sean Schemmel’s Goku.

As you explore the open world, you’re going to find a lot to do. That’s a good thing, as I’ll mention what lets the game down a bit later. You can run and fly anywhere to your heart’s content, collecting food items, Z Orbs or completing side quests. The Z Orbs are used for acquiring super attacks and come in different colours.

Food items are required for cooking dishes, or rather asking other people to cook them for you including Goku’s wife Chi-Chi. The dishes and meals give you meal effects to boost certain stats temporarily. If you need certain items, such as apples, you can search for ki signatures in the open world and then head on over to where you saw the small circles. Some are easier to spot than others - deer are deer-shaped for instance. You can also go fishing, which is a pretty basic mechanic but requires you to wait for a fish, then hit a button to kick it onto shore.

While exploring the open world you’ll come across airways, which are wind tunnels that automatically carry you along collecting Z Orbs. I’ll be honest, I have no idea what to do with Z Orbs and I played for a good couple of hours. Nor did someone else I spoke to, though he stayed after I left, so he might have found out? I didn’t unlock more than two moves in that time, however, so if they’re to do with super moves, it’s no wonder. They are certainly plentiful in the world. Another thing I didn’t get to collect any of the Dragon Balls, which you apparently can collect - though I’ve no idea what they are used for either.

Exploring the world is great, though. Flying at speed can make you smash through mountains or leave the ground torn up in your wake. It fades, however, so you can’t spell your name unless your name is just O. If you don’t want to fly, you can run at speed as well! You may want to do so whilst escaping from a dinosaur, or just collecting onions, shrimp and iron. Maybe you want to take a vehicle, instead? Well there are races, and controls for vehicles, so apparently there are multiple! In the build I played Goku could travel on Nimbus, his cloud, but I highly doubt that’s the only vehicle.

While completing side missions, you’ll unlock Communities. When I saw that title, I was concerned it was some kind of forced social thing, but it’s actually all in-game. As you meet characters, they get added to your Communities as a Soul Emblem. There are several Communities, each one giving you special buffs or lowering prices in shops, depending on how many Soul Emblems you place in them. If you place the emblems next to each other, they will activate bonuses. For instance, if you place Goku, Krillin and Yamcha near each other, it unlocks the Turtle School bonus - as they were all taught by Master Roshi. There’s a similar mechanic in the mobile game Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle. You can raise Soul Emblem friendship levels by giving them gifts, which you obtain from exploring the open world. This affects how they perform in battle.

And this is where the preview goes down in tone a little. When you think of Dragon Ball Z, you think of epic battles. In Dragon Ball Z Kakarot, the battles are pretty tame. While exploring the open world, I was attacked many times by Red Ribbon Army robots, so I got in lots of unscripted fights as well as the story ones. I just felt so underwhelmed by them all…

Your basic fight controls are: melee, ki blast, charge ki, step, guard, boost. There are no combos, super attacks are done by holding a trigger and pressing a button, items are used via the d-pad. It’s just so… basic. There’s nothing wrong with basic combat, and I struggle a lot with combos and specials in Dragon Ball FighterZ, but… Every Dragon Ball game I’ve enjoyed in the past has required more skill than “melee until he hits them away then super attack”, and that’s literally all I was doing towards the end.

When I tried anything fancier, I got beaten pretty easily. Not counting the enemies with the red aura that I attacked, which turned out to be a full 10 levels higher than me and beat the snot out of me…

Things change up slightly with multiple enemies, as you have to decide which is the most dangerous and focus on them, or just keep switching to avoid hits coming from other angles. For instance, Tien constantly Tri-Beaming me in the back while I was wailing on Chiaotzu…

If you’re looking to scratch that Dragon Ball FighterZ itch, then you’re better off sticking with FighterZ. If Xenoverse has had you jonesing for some battles as the Z-Fighters instead of alongside them, then you’ll be more at home with this. The story that I’ve experienced is great, because it goes over well-trodden ground whilst adding it’s own flair. It even includes little bits around the periphery - such as what was Goku doing before heading to Kame House in the pilot episode, or why did Raditz go to Earth?

As I’ve mentioned, the open world parts are great. Lots of places to explore, plenty of people to interact with, collectables to find, animals to hunt… This is everything that I wanted from an open world Dragon Ball Z game. I just wish the combat was a bit deeper, and that I had a reason to use special attacks other than Special Beam Cannon and Kamehameha…

Andrew Duncan

Andrew Duncan


Guaranteed to know more about Transformers and Deadpool than any other staff member.

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