Dragon Ball Legends is Xenoverse in your pocket, and it’s bloody brilliant
Dragon Ball Legends is, undoubtedly, an incredibly ambitious mobile game for Bandai Namco. Unveiled at GDC 2018, Bandai delved deeper into its latest mobile game during a hands-on event in San Francisco revealing a whole host of new details around what makes this stand apart as a definitive Dragon Ball title.
Not content with sitting on their laurels on the success of Dragon Ball Fighterz, Dragon Ball Legends is an all-new global PvP mobile fighting game. Slated as a way to “enable everyone to have the Dragon Ball universe at any time, anywhere”, Dragon Ball Legends is the ultimate celebration of the Dragon Ball series as a mobile game.
Developed in tandem with Dragon Ball Xenoverse studio DIMPS, this fully-3D title is as close to a proper Dragon Ball fighting game as you’ll get on mobile. Having played it, it’s fast, frenetic and surprisingly deep.
Pitched as a card-based battler, Dragon Ball Legends is actually closer to a one-finger fighting title with cards used for tactical play. You move around the field by dragging your finger, swiping evades or approaches your opponent and tapping the screen delivers a volley of punches and kicks. Arts Cards then enable the use of powerful melee attacks, swift ranged one or special moves that dish out a lot of damage.
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There’s even more depth to proceedings by snapping up all seven of the mythical Dragon Balls. Bringing them together lets you fire out a super-special move that requires your opponent to match correct cards to avoid your attacks. Battles have even more complexity as there are five different types of character classes and each one works better against another in a five-sided rock-paper-scissors mechanic.
The current character roster hasn’t been unveiled just yet, but we’ve seen Super Saiyan Goku, Piccolo, Pan, Vegeta, Nappa and Frieza in his first form. There’s also a brand-new Saiyan designed by series creator Akira Toriyama and it looks as if we’ll see potentially every notable Dragon Ball character arrive at some point. Even in the teaser trailer we saw glimpses of Cell, Frieza in his final – non-golden – form and Kid Buu. Chances are we’ll see more in due time ahead of its release.
Interestingly, the most significant feature of Dragon Ball Legends is one that most players won’t even notice. Unlike other mobile PvP titles on the market, Dragon Ball Legends utilises Google’s new Cloud Platform. According to Miles Ward, director of solutions at Google Cloud, this means Dragon Ball Legends has access to a $30.9 billion network that’s five times the size of the internet. Instead of running on server-based connections, it simply links two people across the globe near latency free.
In practice, it actually seems to work blazingly fast. Battles feel slick and, in an on-stage demo of a match between Tokyo and the US, a connection was made quickly and there was less latency here than you’d find in a console or PC-based title. If Dragon Ball Fighterz online issues have you hot under the collar, Dragon Ball Legends appears to suffer from none of these issues.
Another interesting advantage of Google’s Cloud Platform is how it doesn’t require downtime for maintenance. Instead of traditional SQL-based infrastructure, games can be updated on the fly with new content being pushed instantaneously to users around the world with no need to update an individual app to keep people playing. This allows Bandai Namco to change up their strategy based on player data to keep things feeling fresh without having to suspend gameplay to test something new with players. If you’re curious to know how that all works, it’s explained briefly in the live stream around the 1h 10m mark in the video at the top of this piece.
You can currently pre-register for Dragon Ball Legends on the Google Play Store ahead of its worldwide release this summer. For those interested, there’s a closed beta coming soon and you’ll be able to register your interest in it from 21 March until 26 March.