E3 2019 Hands-on: Dragonball Z: Kakarot

At E3 this year, Bandai Namco finally gave a name to it’s Dragon Ball Game Project Z Action RPG: Dragonball Z: Kakarot.

I had a chance to sit down with the game this week and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The game is being touted as a Dragonball Z RPG and though while the areas are large, the presentation made a point to say that it is not an open world game. As you explore an area, you’re able to collect resources such as minerals and food, as well as run into characters from the Dragonball series to take on side quests for EXP and various rewards.

During my hands-on time, I was able to take on a quest that had me zooming around the map and eliminating some leftover robots from the Red Ribbon Army. I could either fly around the map, or choose to ride on Goku’s Nimbus. The visual aesthetic of the world was a good match for the show. As I flew around exploring the map, I discovered that I could burst through smaller mountains- similar to what you see in the anime.

While going after the Red Ribbon Army robots, I was able to fight against a few small groups of enemies to get an idea of how the combat in the game works. You can dodge, punch, and shoot ki at your enemies. At a point, Goku was also able to charge up a bit and give a temporary boost to himself, increasing the damage dealt by his attacks. You also have a variety of super attacks to choose from.

To no surprise, the Kamehameha felt like it was the strongest of the abilities in Goku’s arsenal, and was something I found myself using again and again.

At the end of the demo, you go up against Goku’s brother, Raditz, in order to free Gohan from capture. This was where the best and worst of the game started to make itself known. As can easily be the case with many action games, I found the camera in Dragonball Z Kakarot to be troublesome during this longer fight with Raditz. Multiple times during the battle, the camera would zoom out as Raditz unleashed an attack, and each time it threw me off a bit and gave me a sense of uncertainty in terms of where to move and how to dodge the attack.

Similarly, I felt like the camera often times couldn’t quite keep up with Goku as I would dash forward to attack, or get knocked backwards by an attack. During this boss fight, the camera felt like the true opponent.

On the other side of this coin however, we have one of the cooler elements that can be seen while fighting. In the anime as Goku fights his opponents, they send each other flying across the ground and through mountainsides, leaving destruction in their wake. These elements are included here in the game as well! As I fought against Raditz, the characters would create long trenches into the ground, or blast each other through small land masses, making them crumble and fill the screen with debris.

When my time was up, I left with mixed impressions. Seeing the environment be affected in a big boss battle was one of the best things about my time with the game and it really felt like a great representation of some of the craziness that can occur during a Dragonball series fight. However, the camera wasn’t already cooperative and the environments felt, well, boring.

Dragonball Z: Kakarot is currently set to release early next year for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.