Over the years we have seen many attempts from Bandai to try to create a Dragon Ball Z game that captured the essence of the television series or the manga. Most of the installments have centered on the fighting aspects of the games and followed the story only through cut-scenes, and now we can walk through the world itself while interacting with characters from the main story, and even some from the original Dragon Ball series.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is a semi-open world game with an action-RPG element that allows us more freedom than ever before to relive Goku’s story. You are able to walk around the world, fly, or swim underwater as you go. This is a big step forward for Dragon Ball Z games. We finally have the closest thing to an open-world game in Dragon Ball lore. Kakarot takes us back to the beginning of the series with the Saiyan Saga, and it continues until the end of the Buu Saga. You can see my first impressions here.
Immediately, upon watching the iconic intro to the series you are thrown into a battle against Piccolo. While this early battle doesn’t actually happen in the show, it does help to introduce new players to the user friendly control schemes in Kakarot. Between Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC, Dragon Ball Z Kakarot, in my opinion, is easiest to play with a controller. The ability to move quickly from button to button is far easier, but a keyboard and mouse could still be useful. . For me, however, the controller felt most natural. . Even the combat layout defaults to the image of a controller with no UI option for the Keyboard.
Mechanically, the fighting system is similar to other Dragon Ball games, such as Xenoverse and Xenoverse 2. You have buttons that are mapped for punching, powering up, energy blasts, and then others for using your super attacks. The layout feels intuitively designed.. Learning when to dodge is a little more difficult. . You will miss the dodge sometimes and end up taking a hit for your efforts. As you move through the story, you will learn skills that can be leveled up and added to your attack preset list. Fighting in random enemy encounters will help you to earn experience points so that you can level up your character. With each level, you will gain more health points and battle power (bp). The higher your level the stronger your basic and super attacks will be.
Along with leveling up through battles, you will also need to collect Z-Orbs from around the map. These orbs can be found in different areas, such as the green orbs you find in forests or plains areas, red in the mountains, blue near the water, or the rainbow ones that appear anywhere on the map. The orbs will help you level up different skills on your skill tree and this is essential for becoming stronger in your fights. After you pick up the orbs, go into your skill tree and you will see the amounts of collected orbs to the side of the screen. When you go to the skill you want to learn you will see how many orbs are required for unlocking it, and what color orb you will need. As long as you have the correct amount, you can upgrade your skill.
If you’re already familiar with the Dragon Ball Z story, you’re not going to be covering any new ground here. The story follows the traditional arcs of the anime, such as the battles against the Saiyans, Frieza, and so on. While not every single event is shown on screen - story beats are narrated using splash screens and text. .
I am playing Kakarot on my gaming rig, equipped with a 2080 GPU, 32GB of 3200MHz RAM, a Ryzen 2700x, and a 1TB NVMe SSD. The frame rate rarely drops below 70FPS. On it hovers at 110FPS. There seems to be a little bit of a drop going from the cutscenes into the gameplay, but not by a lot.
I have seen a few glitches with the game, usually centered around cutscenes. At certain points in the story, I saw characters slide from their initial starting point to the right off of the screen. You will still see the game text or hear the character talking, but I thought this was a silly bug that could’ve been caught in testing, and it has happened twice to me so far. I have also seen some characters clip into the environment, which is a common bug, but still an annoyance.
Communities are another feature and are a good way to increase your stats, They can be upgraded by using your character tokens earned throughout the story. Communities are simply a way to earn extra bonuses in the game. For example, King Kai can give you extra experience points for combat. The tokens for each character that you can get are obtained through story, or side quest missions. Some of the characters will be the leaders of each tree, while others are there for support. There are different character pairings that will give you extra bonuses as well, for example, Goku and Gohan paired together gain bonuses for being a father and son. You can also get a bonus for Krillin, Yamcha, and Goku because of being Turtle Hermit students. There are different boards with main characters for each, Goku for the Z-Fighters, Master Roshi for the adult board, and so on.
Dragon Ball Z Kakarot also allows for some side quests if you need a break from the main story. Some side activities include fishing with a fake Saiyan tail. Some of these side activities play a role in other aspects of Kakarot, such as cooking meals to boost your stats before a battle. There are also some entertaining side quests from iconic DBZ side characters you can do if you want a distraction from the main quest.
My overall feeling of Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is that it’s a solid open world action game that is enhanced by its RPG elements. We can finally play a game with the most involved world map to date. I have enjoyed every fight, every side activity, and being able to meet up with classic characters from the Dragon Ball universe. Other than the few glitches I experienced; I have had a great time with every minute I’ve spent playing this game. Playing it has taken me back to the first time I played the Japanese version of Legend of the Super Saiyan for Super Nintendo, a turn-based RPG. Kakarot feels closer to that than a traditional fighter, and I love it. Even the side quests are fun and meeting up with old friends and enemies to complete missions lends welcome depth to the lore of the universe.
- Semi-Open World RPG
- Follows along the anime closely
- Side games/quests add to the overall game
- Some cutscene glitches where the characters slide out of the camera
- Want to participate in more of the story
Full Disclosure: Game was reviewed using a copy of Dragon Ball Z Kakarot for PC provided by PR.