Its portability is MAXIMUMER!
I have a confession to make. I’ve never played the Xenoverse games.
I wrote off the first entry due to the poor reviews it received at the time. When the second rolled around, I was distracted by the multitude of other games that were coming out at the time and afterwards, and told myself I’d pick it up later. Flash forward to now, and I finally have my first taste of the series.
Unfortunately, the base game doesn’t necessarily click with me, and the exclusive features for the Nintendo Switch version aren’t necessarily helping its case either.
So let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. I’m not a fan of how the combat plays out, and it feels like the only real diversity in the moveset is the interchangeable special moves. It’s also a letdown to see the game retread the same arcs from Dragon Ball Z that most of the games do, while also not making the most of the ‘what if’ scenarios it presents. However, I know you’re not here for my thoughts on the core game, you’re here to find out about the Switch version. If you haven’t played or read about Xenoverse 2 before, you can check out the review by our own Christian Chiok.
Performance wise, the game looks and runs fine, albeit at 30 FPS instead of 60 FPS. In comparison to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions, it holds up well. When docked the game runs at 1080p, while in portable mode it downgrades the resolution to 720p. The only real downgrade from the other version is some minor environmental objects like grass being removed. Regardless, it still looks pretty good, and this could be attributed to the cell-shaded direction the game took. However, Xenoverse 2 does bump up the frame rate to 60 FPS if you are in a one-on-one fight such as versus.
There is one noticeable problem in regards to performance. Conton City, the main hub world, occasionally suffers from slowdown. For whatever reason, it’s not clear. It can occur at any point in the city, and it’s inconsistent. Even the act of opening your main menu or the emote menu can potentially trigger the slowdown, that’s how unpredictable it is. The slowdown doesn’t render the hub city unplayable when it happens, however it is slow enough that it will annoy many.
Now let’s talk about the exclusive new features for the game. It’s possible for players to face each other using only a single Joy-Con controller. You would think this would lead to a convoluted control layout as a result, which it does to a degree, but it also somehow works. If a friend came over and asked to play a round, I genuinely wouldn’t mind using this layout for a round or two. The game also has local multiplayer for multiple Switches, but because I did not know anyone locally with a copy I was not able to try this feature.
The same can’t be said for the motion controls however. When enabled, they override the button commands for your specials, and require either one hand or two hands to pull off. To summarize it in a nutshell, they work as well as an early Wii game. It’s either triggered with no effort, or it doesn’t register at all. After 10 minutes of trying, I could not get the gestures for the iconic Kamehameha to be consistently recognized, that’s how bad it was. Also, should you enable the motion controls, they cannot be turned off mid-mission, as I found out by going into a mission right after the tutorial for them.
Another major selling point for the Switch port was two exclusive free DLC packs in the form of the story and missions of the original Xenoverse, along with a character unlock. On paper the former sounds great, but in actuality it is poorly executed. The biggest thing that holds this back is that you do not get to do these missions whenever you want. In order to access any of them, you have to do the Xenoverse 2 equivalent. Want to play the missions involving the Buu arc from the original Xenoverse? Have to beat the Xenoverse 2 version of the Buu arc. If anything, this insane unlock method only helps expose how minimal the changes are to the missions between the two games at times. These missions are also done with your Xenoverse 2 character meaning no, you can’t retcon in a different character to be the hero from the previous game, it has to be one of the generic defaults. This DLC takes up 2GB of space, and is only available until October 31.
The latter piece of DLC is actually extremely useful. By unlocking all characters early on, it makes the versus suite much more attractive, but also has another benefit. It means that if you go to do the offline parallel quests, you have end-game characters available to you. This potentially makes the early game a little easier, as being able to blast through the parallel quests thanks to characters like Broly and Cooler means more experience and abilities sooner rather than later. This DLC is only available until October 31 as well, although honestly I feel it should be permanently free to make the Switch version more attractive.
As for the rest of the DLC, it’s not included in the base game and sold at the same price. This means $29.99 USD for the season pass like everyone else. However, when you remember that the other versions are regularly discounted due to being a year old, along with a complete version coming to PlayStation 4, it makes it hard to justify grabbing the Switch version over waiting for the other versions to go on sale.
Overall, the port comes off as a mixed bag in the end. On one hand, with the exception of the slowdowns in Conton City, it’s a very well put together port of Xenoverse 2 that happens to also be portable. I genuinely hope more ports are done as well as this one in terms of performance in the future. On the other hand, it’s going for a higher price than the other versions are, it doesn’t include any of the DLC packs, and the free DLC that gives it an advantage will no longer be available after this month. If you haven’t played the game yet, it’s definitely an option worth considering if the portability justifies the higher price to you, however it’s hard to justify a double dip if you’ve played and beaten it before. Then again, having Broly, aka the best Dragon Ball character, in portable form is a pretty great selling point.
[This report is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]