Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is a semi-open world fighting game where you relive the most memorable moments from the anime series. You step into the shoes of Son Goku – and a few other characters – as you save the world from one crisis after the next. If you've seen the show, you'll immediately recognize some of the missions. Despite Dragon Ball Z's quirky nature, the plot focuses on many personal stories that are quite powerful. Unfortunately, the technical aspects of the game let it down, especially when it comes to the open world.
Save the world
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
Bottom line: Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is a good fighting game that needs more polish.
- Excellent fighting mechanics
- Great visuals
- Fun open-world activities
- Lengthy campaigns
- Poor animations outside fighting
- Intermittent voice acting
- Confusing perk and skill trees
- Archaic flying mechanics
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot first steps
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is an excellent starting point for anyone looking to learn more about the bizarre yet fascinating Dragon Ball Z universe. While the game's story doesn't start from the very beginning, it fills you in quite fast through voice-overs and other details. You learn the history of various characters, Dragon Balls, races, and the true origins of Goku.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot's voice acting, especially in English, sounds exactly like the dubbed version. This is great because the hilarious nature of the show translates well to the game. While many players will prefer Japanese, I would recommend flipping between the two to gain some perspective. There are a lot of minor details like this that elevate the overall experience.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot powers and upgrades
Despite the fact that Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is a comedy, the combat scenarios give you a sense of urgency. If someone's been kidnapped, you feel like it's your duty to go rescue them immediately. However, since it's a game, this is foolhardy because many enemies are a couple of levels above you. Grinding some side quests is the sensible approach here and you should always stick to it. They're marked by blue bubbles on the map.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot has a number of upgrade mechanics that can be confusing to understand. There's a Soul Emblems system that acts as perks. As you encounter other Dragon Ball Z characters, you can equip them in slots demonstrating your relationships. This grants bonuses like increased health or more.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot features sublime combat
There's also another skill tree that allows you to upgrade your moves. You can punch harder and do even more damage through other combat maneuvers. The currency used here is colored orbs that can be found scattered throughout the world. However, they're also rewarded rather generously by defeating powerful foes.
By going the open-world route, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot offers a lot of side activities that are quite fun. Aside from gathering resources, collecting orbs, flying freely like a superhero, there's hunting and fishing. Hunting is mostly an exercise in stealth because you have to sneak up behind animals, but fishing involving putting your tail into the water and then punching a massive beast. It's quite addictive and a great way to gather food that grants bonuses. Just cook it up on a campfire and you're good to go!
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot fighting mechanics
While the open world is an interesting addition in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, mostly because it allows you to interact with familiar characters and learn more about the franchise, it can't compare to titles like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or other, proper, role-playing games. The real star of the show is still the fighting.
Speaking of fighting, it's sublime. There are a lot of Super Skills to unlock, moves to upgrade, and playstyles to experiment with that you'll spend dozens of hours just doing that. We aren't even talking about exploring the open world in that count. Each punch feels like there's weight behind it and the animations are spot on. If you punch your enemies into the ground, they crash through rock and leave a trail of destruction, validating your awesome power. Even evading attacks looks like you're teleporting, a characteristic found in many anime shows.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot features endless customization and upgrades
The combat is complex, but accessible. It's easy to block, attack, and pull off unbelievable combos that make you feel like a superpowered Saiyan. Since you take control of various characters, you'll have to determine what the best skills for them are. For example, Piccolo can fire a laser out of his hand while Goku's smash is the go-to ability. You'll have to figure out what works for you because some people will want to use ranged attacks while others will want to get up close and personal.
Throughout the campaigns, you'll become even stronger as you face off against unbelievable enemies. Try to keep on experimenting as you find new powers because you never know what you'll need to use in the future. You should evolve your fighting style as the hours go by in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot because it'll keep you competitive.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot performance and visuals
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot looks amazing on Xbox One X because it appears to be running at 4K resolution on the system. Coupled with its vibrant visuals and saturated colors, the game is a sight to behold on a 4K display. Unfortunately, it doesn't run at 60 frames per second (FPS) like Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 on the console.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is locked to 30 FPS even on Xbox One X, but the fighting mechanics are incredibly responsive so you don't feel like you're at a disadvantage. However, I would've loved a boost to the frame rate, or a 60 FPS mode, because it would've made the entire game feel much tighter due to reduced input lag. It seems like that's the trade-off of going open world. Luckily, the frame rate is stable.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot technical problems
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot has a couple of problems aside from its frame rate target. Outside of the fighting, the animations – especially when interacting with characters – feel stiff and don't quite represent the quality found in the anime. Even during in-game cutscenes, it looks like Goku and others are doing the bare minimum to restrain an opponent because they hardly move. Unfortunately, the issues don't end there.
Aside from the story missions, side quests don't feature voice acting. This can be quite jarring because you expect the hilarious banter to continue to every aspect of the game. While this is a minor grievance, I would've liked to see more consistency in the experience. The lack of voice acting makes it seems like the side quests were tacked on at the last minute.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot features the ability to fly. Unfortunately, the controls feel quite archaic because it's like controlling a helicopter. You can increase your elevation and decrease it. The game doesn't allow you to use the camera to look where you want to go. On many occasions, it seems like the open world wasn't given the attention it deserved compared to the fighting portions of the game. The odd controls also make it hard to collect orbs when you're flying around the map.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot final thoughts
Overall, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is a good game, but it may not appeal to everyone. If you've seen the anime series, you know what to expect already. This can make the entire game seem a bit dull because there are no surprises. However, if you're looking for an experience where you can relive the best Dragon Ball Z moments – and get immersed in an open world with varying environments – then you should pick it up.
I just wish the team had spent more time polishing the open-world gameplay – traversal, interactivity, and animations for the most part – so that it would've been equal to the stellar fighting. Hopefully, we'll see a patch or two that makes it better, but we may have to wait for the sequel to see greater improvements. Despite its problems, I had a blast playing Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot and I can't wait to experience more stories from the acclaimed anime series on my Xbox One X.
The game was reviewed on Shadow and Xbox One X with codes provided by the publisher.
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