E3 2019: Relive the Series Once Again in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
Project Z is just as crazy as you'd expect it to be.
06.23.19 - 1:04 PM
Teased earlier in the year as an untitled Dragon Ball Z RPG, Bandai Namco brought their newest Dragon Ball game, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, to E3 along with a playable demo. I sat down with the demo and, as a kid who used to watch the series when I was sick and off school, Kakarot felt like a nostalgic ki blast for both casual and die-hard fans.
In the 20-minute demo, Goku and Piccolo fly through the skies following Goku's defeat at the hands of Raditz. Raditz has run in with Gohan, Goku's son, so Goku and Piccolo need to work together to rescue him. The team confirmed at the show that Kakarot would be a retelling of the original DBZ show, but that there would be new characters never before seen in the Z series, along with unique dialogue to make this revisit worth it for the fans.
The first thing I noticed was just how open the world and environments were. You can fly around as Goku freely within each area and explore by using the map to find out where your quests are, where you can go fishing, where resources are kept, etc. The team were very clear that Kakarot is not an open-world game, though; it has a set story to follow and occasionally sidequests and activities you can partake in.
While I loved exploring the area, flying around, breaking down boulders and picking up quests, the controls felt very floaty and loose at times. Pressing left or right would sometimes send Goku flying much farther than I was aiming for, and this made travelling a little bit awkward. The team are still working things out with the game, and I'm sure by its 2020 release, flying around the world as Goku will make you feel like a Super Saiyan.
There was a sizeable amount of content in the demo, and I tried a little bit of everything to get a feel for the game. Fishing sees Goku use his tail (which, canonically, he shouldn't have in Z) to catch fish in all bizarre shapes and sizes, and it's very much like any other fishing minigame. I also went hunting for dinosaurs, taking them down from afar by firing ki at them to get their meat and eat it. Lastly, I spoke to Nam in one of the villages and carried out a fetch quest which saw me trading a few materials to get what he wanted. There's nothing groundbreaking or new here, but these quests all have sweet nods to the entire series that fans will adore.
Kakarot is an action RPG with fast and frantic battles that feel like a fighting game, which makes sense given CyberConnect2's work on the Naruto Ninja Storm games. Goku can use standard punches and kicks, guard, or dodge attacks as part of his basic arsenal, or he can chip away at foes from afar with Ki Blasts. Goku can quickly warp or dash toward enemies, and you can also fight in the air as well as on the ground. While playing, I felt like I was directing a fight scene from the anime in the palm of my hands. It was frantic, with plenty of explosions and lasers, but I had a blast, even if I could largely button mash my way through fights.
The fight against Raditz gave me a chance to try out some of Goku's other skills. Goku can have four super moves equipped at one time, and using these consumes ki, but they are devastatingly powerful and look outstanding. Your ki recharges on its own outside of battle, but you can also recharge it yourself at any time during battle; just make sure to do this when you're not vulnerable to an attack. You can also break your enemy's guard by attacking them consistently and increasing the break gauge to enable yourself to do more damage. Lastly, Goku has two meters, a Tension Gauge which fills up whenever he deals or receives damage, and his Ki. If both of these are full, he can complete a Ki Surge, which makes all of his attacks that much more powerful.
There's so much on offer in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, and this demo is only a snapshot of what the game might look like come early 2020. As a casual fan of the series, I had a total blast taking down Raditz and flying around the world, but the game understandably needs a bit of polish in the form of controls. Regardless, this is one game that DBZ fans should have right at the top of their wishlist for early next year, when it releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows.