Asymmetrical multiplayer games are a fantastic way to bring horror experiences to gaming. Many horror movies involve multiple characters working together to defeat some terrifying foe. However, the same concept also applies to most anime/manga series. With Dragon Ball being the most famous example, it makes sense that Dragon Ball: The Breakers would attempt to bring these concepts together. Given the three most iconic villains and some of the most notable heroes are included, is this enough to make for a winning experience, or should they wish for a better time?
Given Dragon Ball: The Breakers is all about the concept, there isn’t much narrative. Players are introduced to “Future” Trunks and some dialogue that covers the events after Frieza’s defeat and before Cell’s rise to power. It makes for a logical prologue, which in this case acts as a tutorial to the typical gameplay loop of constantly trying to defeat these impossible foes, using a time machine to attempt in another run or die trying.
While this is an excellent introduction to the concept, it doesn’t help players learn the mechanics. Compare Dragon Ball: The Breakers to the recently released Evil Dead: The Game. The tutorial for Evil Dead: The Game walks you through every aspect of the gameplay loop. Also, story stages are challenging and require critical skills to win online matches. As for Dragon Ball: The Breakers, outside of the prologue, there is a practice mode to mess with mechanics and a trial match option, though the latter requires a whole team of eight. There is also a manual, but it’s minimal and hides a lot of helpful information behind vague topics. For example, the last page of the training page mentions skills that anyone can use if you level them to 10, or the fact coins are automatically collected is mentioned on the last page of items. None of these things are bad, per se; they just cause many issues plaguing Dragon Ball: The Breakers.
Not only is Dragon Ball: The Breakers a massive departure from every other Dragon Ball game, players are not conditioned to understand what is required to succeed. For instance, in a 1-versus-1 fight, the raider should always win, even if they’re at a significantly lower level than their attacker. Many players don’t understand this, rush the raider, and set the survivors up to fail. There are also a lot of subtle mechanics, helpful elements, and more that players need to figure out if they want to be successful.
This is a shame since the core idea is fun when both sides are evenly matched. Survivors need to run around collecting resources as the raider attempts to kill them and power up. Depending on how the match flows, players will either have enough energy to potentially defeat the raider or must work together to get in the time machine and escape this timeline. It’s fun since players constantly work towards every goal, though it has some downsides.
As I’ve already mentioned, many players don’t understand how they’re supposed to play and end up losing. A level four player can kill a raider; you just need to work together with your teammates to bring them down. This typically looks like four or five characters shooting named attacks or a flurry of punches that overwhelms and slowly destroys the enemy. However, most players don’t understand the teamwork aspect. They will instead die withholding Dragon Balls, trying to solo the raider, or are too busy doing other things to keep up the momentum. Long term, I think these elements will work themselves out, though with that comes some level of skill creep and player attrition.
To make matters worse, characters and skills are in a weird place. These can be unlocked through Spirit Siphon or training. The current rule of thumb seems to be passive skills must be obtained through RNG, which in some cases is a 1 percent chance of appearing, making for a considerable grind. Super attacks can be bought through training, though they cost substantially. Even with all the early adopter advantages, I would estimate a skill takes about 30 to 40 matches. This doesn’t include leveling passive skills, which take roughly the same amount of time and resources.
In addition to being a sizable grind, the actual pool of characters is surprisingly low. Excluding preorder bonuses and other forms of DLC, there are eight transformations. These include Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, Piccolo, Krillin, Trunks, Tien, and Yamcha. Given this makes up Spirit Siphon Vol. 1, there will probably be additional characters, though it’s unlikely to happen before Feb. 2, 2023, when the first volume expires unless they’re unlocked through different means.
Players can also earn Dragon Tiers; Dragon Ball: The Breakers take on a battle pass. These include some notable cosmetics items, resources, and Spirit Siphon pulls. Players can complete daily and weekly challenges, find a scarce commodity, or pay to progress. It’s a nice touch that leads into one of Dragon Ball: The Breaker’s best aspects.
Instead of focusing on various forms of Goku, Gohan, or Vegeta and cosmetics centered around them, many items embrace Dragon Ball’s history. The best example of the final Dragon Tier reward is a skin featuring the Farmer, who appeared in most Dragon Ball Z arcs. Beyond this, there is also an intro featuring Mercenary Tao’s iconic pillar, Oolong, Bulma starting skins, and more. This suggests a willingness to have fun with the concept, which could help the long-term experience. Some of these items will be available after the season, so newcomers might not miss out on some lovely things.
Dragon Ball: The Breakers Review Verdict
While I wouldn’t call Dragon Ball: The Breakers a bad game, it has some shortcomings. The poor tutorial will make things harder for newcomers, along with frustrating players who match with them. In addition, the small number of characters, maps, and mechanics, make most matches feel the same. There are only so many times you can run around finding energy/keys, summon the time machine, and/or fight the raider before you get bored. Add in long grinds and RNG, and it will turn players off. That said, you should get your money’s worth; it is a lot of fun when everyone is at their best. So if you have a squad or love the genre, I think you’ll probably love Dragon Ball: The Breakers. However, if you just want to fight bosses and make powerful attacks, you’re probably better off checking out Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 if you haven’t already.
[Editor’s Note: Dragon Ball: The Breakers was reviewed on PlayStation 5, and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.]