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Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot — Preview for PC, PS4, and Xbox One

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot — Preview for PC, PS4, and Xbox One

We were recently invited to a special three-hour preview of Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, the latest adaption of Akira Toriyama's seminal work. Contrary to what you may think from the title, you can play as several different main characters in this action RPG, developed by CyberConnect2.

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot — Preview for PC, PS4, and Xbox One

After the success of Dragon Ball FighterZ, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot was a surprising announcement. Nobody expected another new adaption of the celebrated manga series so soon, yet CyberConnect2, best know for their work on the Naruto: Ninja Storm series, announced a new title: an Action-RPG set in the Dragon Ball Z universe. This new title is targeting a different audience compared to Arc System Work's recent release, with Kakarot also being more easily accessible. In Kakarot, players will replay the events of Dragon Ball Z as different protagonists and partake in battles that will become legendary. For this preview, we were able to play from the start of the game up to the Vegeta encounter during the Saiyan Arc.

  • Genre: Action-RPG
  • Release Date: January 17 2020
  • Platform: PS4, PC, & Xbox One
  • Developer: Bandai Namco Entertainment, Cyberconnect2
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Price: $59.95

Pure Dragon Ball

Right from the get-go, we were plunged into a rather simplisitc cinematic introduction featuring a young and naive Gohan searching for his father in a forest. This was immediately followed by a combat tutorial between Goku and Piccolo. What was striking was the sheer variety of moves that were immediately available to us. The game seeks to use all combat mechanics available to create fights that are as varied and dynamic as the source material. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot features close-range and super attacks that can be accessed through customisable shortcuts, which are accumulated through the course of the story either through character progression or by collecting "Z Orbs" scattered throughout the map. In total, up to four shortcuts can be used at the same time, each with their own Ki cost. Ki itself can be charged up during combat by holding down the Triangle button.

Besides Ki, taking or dealing damage will fill your Tension Gauge, eventually allowing your character to enter a Surge state when both it bars are full. It's also possible to unlock different customisable transformation shortcuts for specific characters throughout the course of the story. From the start, it's not only possible to parry attacks, but you can also teleport yourself directly behind your enemy, trading a hefty portion of your Ki bar for a guaranteed advantage. This leads to a follow-up attack, which shows off the dynamic gameplay that Kakarot has to offer. One final point on combat, you can also use item shortcuts during combat to heal yourself or to simply increase your power temporarily. In addition to being able to call on assists attacks from other main characters during combat, your assists may even make emergency blocks on your behalf or perform super attacks that are as beautiful as they are deadly.

It's important to note that Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is not an open world game, rather the map is separated into several large zones that can be freely explored. This is a smart decision, as the story follows a consistent linearity. You are able to move through these environments on foot, as each protagonist is able to run at impressive speeds and perform immensely satisfying jumps. You are also able to fly, and it's also possible to get behind the wheel of several different vehicles. While playing this preview, we were able to try out the famous Nimbus cloud, which is a true pleasure to fly on for any fan of the series — trust us. Touching on the characters themselves, their models and animations ooze with CyberConnect2's professional polish. Special attacks and facial expressions are truly impressive, especially during key moments, and should certainly be considered on par with the anime. And when you consider the re-recorded anime OST and the Japanese and English dubs are also features, it seems that the developers are certainly not taking things by halves and are focusing on pleasing fans of the series.

The environment itself is faithful to the manga and creates a coherent world when combined with the original content. From above, everything looks great and inviting, with dinosaurs and other wildlife popping up throughout the world. Yet unfortunately, things appear less impressive up close. Textures lack quality, rivers are a real let down for a franchise of this quality, and any animals you come across sometimes move very unnaturally.

Train Like Goku

This shift towards the Action-RPG genre is quite unexpected, given to what we're used to from CyberConnect2. The RPG aspect comes in the form of character progression through gaining XP during combat, which increases your stats and your characters' levels. You can unlock certain attacks simply by levelling up. There is also a character link system that is split into several different Community Boards, each of which provide you with various different Community Skills. For example, you are able to unlock emblems with unique specialisations by finishing quests. These emblems can be connected with other emblems to improve the stats of members of the Z-team. Once you improve a connection, you will unlock items that can permanently improve the attack, Ki, or defence of any hero.

It's clear that the studio wanted to adapt this section of Dragon Ball Z in its entirety. On the story side of things, despite the introduction of an entirely new character in Bonyu, there aren't any other unexpected surprises on the horizon. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot retreads familiar ground from the anime with a well though-out narrative accompaniment. Though dialogue during scenes seems identical to the source material, dialogue between characters when exploring the map allows newcomers to discover their pasts, what binds them to the story, and the events of Dragon Ball.

Exploring the different large zones is complemented by a plethora of secondary quests which are available depending on who you're playing as, as NPCs may only give out their quest to certain characters. From what we've seen, these side-quests, at least at the start of the adventure, are not particularly inspired and can be broken down into fetch quests or quests that require you to gather a specific item. Fishing is hardly more innovative, as it merely consists of finding a fishing spot, casting your rod, then executing a short QTE. Searching for different coloured Z orbs in their different locations makes exploration more interactive, in part due to the random enemy encounters throughout the zone.

One disappointing takeaway from our session was that we only encountered one type of enemy: robot pirates. Here's hoping that the final product offers at least some variation when it comes to your enemies. Finally, and this may well be the most important point, boss fights offer a breath of fresh air thanks to different patterns that must be learned and mastered. Encounters with primary antagonists are not the easiest, and require you at times to farm and optimise your command shortcuts to come out on top. The choreography and animation of these boss fights is complimented by nerve-wracking and immersive gameplay, all of which is pays effective homage to the work of Akira Toriyama.


Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot promises to be a faithful adaption of Akira Toriyama's manga. Featuring some of the most iconic moments of the series, Kakarot offers rich gameplay and fantastic character models and animations. The re-recorded anime soundtrack combined with the Japanese dub offers excellent immersion, whether during combat or in exploration. It's a real pleasure to fly through the different zones and feel the power of the protagonists. However, the presence of some low quality textures in the environment is a shame. We also hope that the side-quests will become a bit more complex as you progress through the story. Our 3 hour preview session showed us that we have a well thought-out adaption of Goku's adventures on our hands, and that Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot has an enormous potential to be an excellent Action-RPG shaped addition to the series.

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