Dragon Ball: The Breakers, Bandai Namco Entertainment’s take on the asymmetrical survival genre just had its closed beta test (CBT). I took part in the CBT on PC, but note that the game will be officially released on Switch, PS4, Xbox One, with compatibility for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. The release date is expected to be sometime in 2022.
There isn’t much story or plot for Breakers, but we do have an upcoming interview with the producer, Ryosuke Hara, which we plan to inquire more about the narrative. For now, the official synopsis of the game is:
“The protagonists are ordinary civilians, who are suddenly caught in a temporal phenomenon. These civilians find themselves in what’s called a Temporal Seam, a world with time and places mixed together. Unlike the famous heroes from Dragon Ball, these “Survivors” don’t own superhuman powers, but several countermeasures are prepared by the Time Patrollers, an organization well known from the Xenoverse Series. With the help from the Time Patrollers, the Survivors must find a way to put a stop to the famous Dragon Ball villains, and make an escape from the Temporal Seam.”
What we do know is that the game shares the same universe as Dragon Ball Xenoverse and saves from Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 will be linkable once Dragon Ball: The Breakers is released.
Asymmetrical survival games are a tad bit more complicated than your typical video game, so I’ll be breaking down how a match works. Each match features one Raider who has to hunt down seven Survivors. Survivors will obviously need to avoid the Raider and focus on escaping.
One thing to note is that Survivors are basically your custom characters. You can customise your Survivor’s gender, skin colour, clothes and so on. There are not a lot of customisation options though, so don’t expect MMORPG-levels of character creation tools. It’s about the same as Dragon Ball: Xenoverse.
Let’s have a look at the Survivor side of the gameplay.
Survivor – Search and Run
The goal of the Survivors is to escape the Temporal Seam while avoiding the Raider. Survivors can escape from the battlefield by activating the Super Time Machine.
In order for the Super Time Machine to appear, Survivors must first set all the Power Keys to activate the Startup System. There is one Power Key hidden in each area (the CBT map has 6 areas) and Survivors will need to find and place it at a specific location.
Before the Super Time Machine can activate, Survivors must fix/protect the Startup System, which appears in the middle of the map. The more power keys are set, the less time it will take to activate/defend the Startup System.
Once the Startup System is successfully activated, the Super Time Machine will fix the Temporal Seam and allow all Survivors to escape, ending the match and earning them the win.
If the Startup System is destroyed, all hope isn’t lost yet. Beacons will appear on the map to call out various Escape Time Machines, which lets players escape solo or with other Survivors. Failing to escape or running out of time will result in defeat.
Besides avoiding the Raider, Survivors are also encouraged to search for items. Items are obtainable through looting supply boxes or by breaking destructible objects around the map. Weapons can be used to shoot the Raider (for negligible damage) while vehicles help players move quicker on the map. There are also radars, which makes looking for items such as Power Keys easier. Items can be divided into the following categories:
Items that activate when you pick them up: This is Change Power, which increases your Dragon Change level (You will be unable to pick up any more Change Power once you have reached the max limit).
Items that are stored in special slots: Includes Dragon Balls and different types of radars.
Items that need to be activated to use: Includes items such as barrier recovery devices and rocket launchers. You can carry up to two of these types of items at a time. Items will be equipped on your hands and your back.
Zeni: You can use this to purchase items such as Power Charge or Barrier Recovery from vending machines during battle.
Note that picking up different types of radars will combine their functions. If you pick up a Dragon Radar, a Rescue Radar, and a Power Key Radar, you’ll have a radar with all their functions, making the hunt for items a lot easier.
Skills & Dragon Change
Skills can be used to help Survivors hunt for items or get away from the Raider more easily. For example, the Saiyan Pod Remote can be used to board a pod and land anywhere on the map. Other skills, such as Change, let Survivors transform into a random object trying to avoid the Raider, or Solar Flare that temporarily blinds the Raider. Once used, skills will be available again after a period of time.
Dragon Change lets Survivors transform into a Z-Fighter temporarily through the use of Transpheres. Survivors can equip up to three Transpheres which contain the souls of characters like Goku, Vegeta and Piccolo. This ability can be activated by collecting a Change Power.
Even as a Z-Fighter, Raiders will still overpower Survivors. Combine that with the short duration of the transformation, and Dragon Change is best used strategically. The strength of the Z-Fighter depends on the level of the Transphere (up to 3 levels). Level 1 and 2 Z-Fighters barely do any damage to Cell if he reaches his Perfect Form.
However, level 3 Z-Fighters can overwhelm the Raider, especially if the Survivors attack in unison. Thus, killing the Raider is also another strategy to win the game. In a few of my own matches as a Raider, this was how I lost. The Survivors didn’t bother to escape—they just focused on finding Transpheres and once many of them were level 3, they all ganged up on me.
Just when you think that there are too many mechanics, Dragon Balls enter the fray. Finding all 7 Dragon Balls will let you summon Shenron to grant a wish. The wish can be either raising the Dragon Change level, or raising the power of all allies. The level 4 Dragon Change (also called Ultimate Dragon Change) can only be obtained by summoning Shenron, and gives a power that matches the final form of a Raider.
However, Raiders can also summon and wish to Shenron, either to be healed or to raise their evolution level by one.
Raider – Bully the heroes in DBZ fashion
The Raider’s objective is simple—kill anything that moves. If a Raider eliminates all the Survivors, it will be a complete victory. During this closed beta test for Dragon Ball: The Breakers, Cell is the only available Raider.
If a Survivor’s HP is reduced to zero, they can still be rescued by an ally. However, if the Raider delivers the finishing blow to a downed Survivor, they’ll be unable to move.
Evolution and Skills
Raiders will evolve throughout the game. Cell starts off the match in his 4-legged larva form. As he absorbs Survivors and civilian NPCs, his evolution gauge will rise, eventually reaching 1st form, 2nd form and Perfect Form.
With each evolution, the Raider gains more power and new skills become available. These can range from being able to detect Survivors with Ki Detection, to powerful skills like the Perfect Kamehameha.
Destroy the Environment
Each time your evolution level goes up by one, you can destroy an entire part of the map, preventing Survivors from setting up the Power Keys in said area. Any area you destroy becomes off-limits, giving Survivors fewer options for escape and making it easier to hunt them down.
Graphics, Sound and Performance
Graphically, the game is pretty weak. Character models look subpar. They look even jankier especially on the map. The game’s environmental assets are also poor, and the map looks too bland and too empty. Compare the graphics to something like Tales of Arise, another game from Bandai Namco, and you can easily see the difference in quality.
Furthermore, what I find especially egregious is the lack of background music. There is no BGM that plays, only sound effects and certain audio cues. Because of this, the game just feels really unpolished. Dead by Daylight sets a fantastic example through its map and sound design—they’re brimming in atmosphere. Dragon Ball: The Breakers just feels unfinished in comparison. This is still forgivable, since the game is not out yet, but you’d expect more care to go into this department.
Another aspect that exemplifies the janky nature of the game is the clunky controls and animations. Characters’ movements can be quite awkward. The biggest offender is definitely the controls for flying—it’s really wonky. If you struggle to catch survivors in Dead by Daylight, good luck catching them in this game, where you also have to take into account the vertical plane of movement.
One more issue that will probably be fixed in the future is the lack of a voice/proximity chat feature. For a game like this where communication and teamwork are paramount, voice chat is a must.
As for performance, the game ran smoothly. There were no bugs. As for the queue times, queuing as a Raider obviously takes a long time, since that’s what everyone wants to play as.
In my opinion, Dragon Ball: The Breakers is a step in the right direction. I applaud the developers for providing us an experience that’s a far cry from the usual Dragon Ball games. At the same time, the game is distinct enough from Dead By Daylight.
What the game needs to improve on is execution. Graphics, animations and sound design need to be vastly improved. The gameplay will obviously need to be improved over a period of time through updates. Games like this cannot be completely balanced, but they can be fun—which is what the developers will need to work on.
Overall, Dragon Ball: The Breakers has a lot of potential. I foresee that it will have a pretty rough launch as I’m doubtful they can improve the graphics and animation in time. However, with consistent updates, it’s possible that it will be more fun in the future. In the meantime, visit the game’s website for more information.
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