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May 2022

Dragon Ball: The Breakers

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Online Multiplayer
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Release Date: 2022


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Switch/PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC Preview - 'Dragon Ball: The Breakers'

by Cody Medellin on Dec. 10, 2021 @ 12:00 a.m. PST

Dragon Ball: The Breakers is an eight-person online multiplayer game that combines both cooperative and competitive dynamics to create a revolutionary asymmetrical online survival action experience set in the Dragon Ball Xenoverse universe.

Several genres fit the Dragon Ball Z series quite well. The fighting game is an obvious one, but throughout the decades, we've seen the likes of adventure games, RPGs, and even card games. The asymmetric multiplayer game is not where anyone expected the franchise to go, but that's exactly what's happening with Dragon Ball: The Breakers.

Set in the same world as the Dragon Ball Xenoverse series, The Breakers casts eight players into two roles. Seven of the players are Survivors, who are regular people sucked into a time rift. For them, their goal is to find the keys in each zone and plant them in the designated areas to power up the Super Time Machine. Once all keys are planted or enough time has elapsed, the group needs to configure the Startup System to prep the Super Time Machine to take the Survivors out of the area. Should that fail, there is a backup plan in the form of the Escape Time Machine, which can be called upon to take a few Survivors back to safety.

The eighth person in the game takes on the role of the Raider, which becomes one of the many major villains from the franchise — Cell, in the case of the preview build. Compared to the Survivors, the Raider has a simpler task in that they must take down every Survivor or last until the time limit expires. It's fine to let Survivors faint, but Raiders can absorb Survivors to gain levels and strength. For example, you start off as the larva version of Cell, but ingesting Survivors makes you go through its various forms until you reach the Perfect version. In addition to using powers to beat up and absorb every Survivor, you can blow up the Startup System and Escape Time Machine to hinder the progress of any Survivors. The most devastating move is using your powers to blow up an area to limit their movements.

The power balance is authentic to the source material, but the Survivors have some tricks to last longer. Basic smoke bombs can cover their escape, and they can also transform into a random item to hide from a pursuing Raider. Finding items like a bazooka can repel an incoming Raider even if the damage is trivial, and they can also call upon a capsule to immediately escape an area and reach a new locale. The most valuable of these tricks is energy, which allows them to transform into one of three heroes from the series, albeit for a brief amount of time. This grants them the ability to fly, initiate some energy blasts, and attack the Raider — at a fraction of the power. It's enough to distract them if you're going solo, but it can be a real threat to the Raider if more Survivors attack in their transformed state.

Of course, with this being a Dragon Ball game, the titular items make an appearance and offer big advantages to each party. For the Raiders, collecting breakers means they can wish to level up by one or fully heal any damage. The Survivors can either make a wish to power up everyone's level by one or give themself ultimate power by leveling to four to be an even match for the Raider.

On paper, it seems like quite a few things to keep track of. In practice, it's simple to follow no matter which side you're playing on. It takes some getting used to as far as finding the exact spots to plant keys, but you become used to the flow after playing just a few matches. It's surprising that it all seems so balanced. Across several matches, the Raiders won a few, but it took practically the entire duration of the match to eliminate everyone. There were a few matches where, despite not having mics, everyone gathered enough power around the map to call the Super Time Machine and transform to beat the crap out of the Raider. The lack of a predictable outcome is promising to see this early on, while the use of a license that is both popular across generations and considered more family-friendly gives this a good shot at being an alternative to its inspiration, Dead by Daylight.

There are still some things to work on before Dragon Ball: The Breakers is released to all platforms in 2022. Character progression feels absolutely grindy due to the scant rewards being doled out. Only a few things are counted toward your level per match, and the rewards aren't enough to buy anything in the store, but that doesn't matter much this early on. What does matter is how good the base mechanics are, and thus far, they've nailed it down. Look for more on this unusual but intriguing title as it gets closer to its release date sometime in 2022.

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