Last year Bandai Namco revealed one of the Dragon Ball games they were working on. Unfortunately, it was not Xenoverse 3, or Budokai 4, and instead Dragon Ball: The Breakers. A game akin to Dead by Daylight that is focused on surviving one of the big villains of Dragon Ball Z. The one, in particular, that was shown to us first, was Cell. A lot of divided takes came about due to this announcement but I personally was optimistic. I really enjoy having different types and genres in various franchises. Dragon Ball is one that definitely needs more than just fighter, 2D fighter, Arena Fighter, and so on.
Game Name: Dragon Ball: The Breakers
Platform(s): PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Publisher(s): Bandai Namco
Release Date: October 13th, 2022
Overall, Dragon Ball: The Breakers did not change the formula from the beta all that much. Luckily the changes they did have were very helpful, with the biggest gripe I had with this game which was the balancing issues. I noted that the raider basically has no problems getting all the survivors in one spot and then killing the lot of them without any resistance. Heck, the one time in the beta I did play raider, that was my strategy, and it worked with flying colors. There are a lot of good balancing issues, but still, the game itself is barebones.
The start of Dragon Ball: The Breakers showed one of the best changes I was happy to see, no more text, only tutorials. There is a full on prologue that is shown that helps you get the feel of the game early on. You follow Trunks as he is trying to help you escape Perfect Cell and find any other survivors. You get to find some of the power keys and plante them while he is protecting you. Then while he is taking on Cell by himself, he instructs you and the other survivors that you find to start the Super Time Machine. This is the basic criteria you need to finish every round. If you are a survivor, your main goal is to get the super time machine to fix the rift. I am really happy they went this way to introduce the game, and it helped me understand the purpose a ton better than the huge text tutorial.
When you are a survivor, you have multiple ways to achieve your goal of survival. You gain passive and active skills based on the heroes you have equipped to your character. Their rarity can determine how useful those powers can be. For instance, a five-star rarity Goku gives you the Kaioken Rush. A move that lets you instantly go a far distance that you can see without much effort. It can even hurt the raider if they are in the way of where you want to go. Most of the heroes you will get from the spirit siphon shop will likely be three stars with few passive or active skills to help you out. When you draw a four or a five-star hero, they will be much more helpful.
You want to grab charge power as a survivor. The charge power goes from zero to level three. You can initiate a spirit change, which gives you the powers of the hero you have equipped. You can use these powers to hurt the raider or to fly fast around the map, and hopefully, you can get away from the eyes of the raider in the process. The higher the level, the longer you can stay in the form. Also you can adjust which hero you change into based on where you place the character on the equipment list. The first one you have equipped is your level one hero, the second level two, and third for level three. You can then adjust your passive and active skills based on which heroes you have equipped to your character.
They added a good change of variety to the skills and more options of items than what was previously in the beta. One thing I noticed is if you get attacked while you have a charge level of one or above, you will instantly activate the spirit change. This allows you to then run away with your hero that you have equipped. If you have multiple survivors attacking the raider, they can also get stunned in a combo if you are the same level as them or above. This allows other survivors to run away or get some more shots in with their lower-level hero form, or just to have more time mounting a power key or speeding up the power process of the Super Time Machine. If the raider does destroy the Super Time Machine, the survivor can ditch the rift entirely by just using a normal time patroller time machine. One thing I noticed is in the actual game, you can have up to three other survivors on the time machine, not just one person per machine.
Destroying Time Itself
The raider, on the other hand, only changed in the sense of having more raiders available. In both closed betas I was a part of, only Cell was available to play. I tried out Frieza, and boy, was I happy with him. Frieza starts in his first form hovering with his chair. He moves slow-ish, but he has a lot of range. He can shoot blasts immediately as well as use his scouter to find life forms around a close proximity to himself. His second form gives him a lot more speed, but he no longer has a scouter. He can now use a break strike skill to get rid of any enemies trying to stun him. Then he can quickly get away and force himself to use ki blasts to attack survivors who are even stronger than him. It felt so satisfying to destroy a level three survivor as just second form Frieza. He gets faster and stronger with each transformation. You feel practically unstoppable once you hit his final form.
Buu starts off as Spopovich, really slow, and strong but also with little range at all. Once he gets to level two, he becomes Majin Buu and much faster and has range. It is such a slog to go through Spopovich. Heck, the Cell Larvae state feels faster to me. My preference is Frieza from all the three raiders. I hope to see what else they have in store for Raider opportunities. I have a feeling this game is going to be run like a live service Free to Play kind of game with adding content constantly. I will go through my thoughts on that whole concept later.
Some things are similar to both being a survivor and a raider. You will need to either rescue civilians as a survivor or kill civilians as a raider to get charge power. The more civilians you find means the more charge power you receive. You can also find seven dragon balls on every map. If someone were to find all seven, they can use them to get a wish. That wish ranges from healing yourself to making yourself upped to level four automatically. If you are a survivor, becoming level four is only possible with the dragon balls. When you are level four, your survivor becomes the hero you have equipped. Rather than have similar features, you can become Vegeta, Goku, Gohan, Piccolo, or any of the other characters you can get in the spirit siphon draw.
At the end of each match, you gain experience as either a survivor or a specific raider. I would recommend finding your favorite raider and just focusing on getting their level higher and higher. Survivors level up and will give you some form of in-game currency or unlockable. Raiders get skill points that allow you to customize your preferred raider and the skills they have access to.
My problems with Dragon Ball: The Breakers are mainly due to how progression works. You have daily and weekly challenges that allow you to level up your Dragon Tier. This gives you stickers, in-game currency, and cosmetics with leveling the tier up. This changes per season of what’s available. You instantly get ten tickets and a free five-star ticket. You use the five-star ticket to get a five-star hero from the spirit siphon. The spirit siphon is basically a gacha system from mobile games that determine what abilities and heroes you have access to in your survivor rounds. The main system of getting more abilities for your characters is through this gacha spirit siphon system.
Usually, I wouldn’t be too against gacha systems. Actually, I usually like them if they aren’t too demanding. In this game, however, you get very little in-game currency to be able to use this system. After 20 levels of Survivor and five levels of raiders… I have gotten precisely three tickets to summon and a handful of Zeni I can use to summon as well. Not even enough for a summon of ten.
It is such a terrible grind when you take a look at trying to get more and more skills and heroes to unlock. They basically have this system set up as a really bad incentive that most games have when they go free to play. This game doesn’t cost much money, but it still requires you to buy it. In consoles, that also means you need to have subscriptions to play this game online with friends. That is much more than this game should require if progression in this game is so darn stalling. I got to Dragon Tier 9, but it still doesn’t give me enough in-game currency to do much of anything with. I barely got enough zeni to buy a second shirt for my character. It just does not feel worth it to play this game if it gives you so little reason to keep playing it.
A small gripe I do have is the variety of the cosmetics. There is the Turtle Hermit Gi, a Kimono for premium currency, and basic t shirts. That is it. All the character customization is basically ripped straight from Xenoverse, which is a whole new problem, in my opinion as well. Xenoverse is about creating strong warriors who can take down any villain in the series. Dragon Ball: The Breakers is about having normal civilians that just get caught up in the mess.
They should not look like they can take on the villains with ease. They need different body types and hairs that can look normal on generic background characters in an episode of Dragon Ball Z or Dragon Ball Super. They don’t. These characters look like characters from Dragon Ball Heroes instead. I bet they plan to have more outfits and customization once this game gets an audience and continues to be a live-service game. That is the problem with picking this game up right now. There is not enough to justify its purchase. I would wait until there is more content down the line before you pick up this game.
Dragon Ball: The Breakers has come far from its beta days. The gameplay is much better balanced and feels fairer to play. It still has the horror of not wanting to confront the villains of Dragon Ball Z, but it also feels like it is a game you can actually win. It has a lot more options as a player and has come a long way from being the mess of balance it once was. That said, having a paywall with needing to buy the game but also needing you to pull your teeth out to get anything unlocked is annoying and not satisfying. You get so little for accomplishing so much in the game.
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Dragon Ball: The Breakers is a solid game loop that feels fun to play, especially if you are with friends. However the progression system and the cosmetics have much to be desired. Hopefully the longer this game stays in service, the better the options become.
- Beating a Raider feels possible and satisfying
- Playing as a villain never felt so good
- Lots of fun especially with friends
- Has an actual prologue to help teach the game now
- Takes forever to unlock currency and outfits
- Dragon Tier progression feels like it belongs in a Free to Play game
- Needs more cosmetics and outfit options