Review – Dragon Ball: The Breakers
Dragon Ball has been a household name forever at this point. Parents and children alike know about the adventures of Goku and friends, or at the very least know the signature orange suit and spiked hair. Dragon Ball has also had a game on probably every console to ever come out since it originally debuted in the 80s. There have been plenty of styles of games surrounding the Dragon Ball series: top-down adventure games, fighting games, even card games, but never a survivor game like Dead By Daylight. Welcome to Dragon Ball: The Breakers.
Off the bat you’ll learn the selection of characters present is pretty minimal. Instead, you play as a survivor, a character who managed to escape the raiders that are out destroying planets. You’re free to make our survivor your own, being able to change the clothing, hair style, face, and even buy different styles. The main type of currency will buy most things you could want, that is unless you wanted some of the clothes worn by the main characters of the series, which are locked behind the games premium currency.
Thankfully, you can earn some premium currency through the battle pass, which is free, which hands you over a very minimal amount of currency at a time, however. By the end of the battle pass, you may be able to get one premium item. On the other side, you will be able to buy customisation items for the raiders as well, but nothing to actually change how they look. Instead, for the raiders you’ll be able to collect little quipes for them to say before matches.
Onto the actual gameplay. Just like other asymmetrical survivor games, there are two main parts of gameplay. When searching for a game, you will be able to search to play as a raider, or as a survivor. Every match only has one raider against seven survivors, which is, in theory, a fair fight.
Starting out with the survivors, your goal is to find power keys in different areas throughout the map, then spawn a super teleporter and get away from the raider. The raider’s job is to destroy you, simple. You’ll find power to level your character, which will up a charge bar, letting your survivor transform for a brief time into a fighter spirit, which is a cross between your survivor, and one of the many heroes in Dragon Ball. This is essentially the only time you will see characters like Goku, Vegeta, and the like throughout this game, with the only original hero present in the game being Trunks.
Different spirits can be bought at random from the hub world and changed up who you transform into during games. They also have a star rating, so getting Goku is fine, but getting a five star Goku is the goal. This leads us to the first way you can win a game, transforming into one of these characters, and beating the hell out of the raider because yes, they can die too. Be careful though, death is the end, you will be able to go down one time, but after 60 seconds, or going down a second time is the end.
Throughout the world you’ll be able to find a variety of items, like a rocket launcher to shoot the raider with, a scouter to find him, and more. A survivor radar will let you find survivor NPCs that can be rescued; they’ll give you some charge toward being able to transform for doing so. A dragon ball radar will let you search for dragon balls: collecting all seven dragon balls will let you summon Shenron and make a wish. You can wish for ultimate charge for yourself, or just a charge for the whole team. The ultimate charge is definitely the way to go, making yourself much stronger and ready for a real fight with the raider. The saying is “if you want something done right, do it yourself” after all. Let’s say the dragon balls just aren’t working out though, maybe fighting just isn’t your style, well then onto our second way to win.
The last radar is a power key radar, as mentioned before collecting power keys will let you spawn the super teleporter, which takes time to charge up and save everyone, but the raider can destroy it. Work together with teammates to make sure you can escape, otherwise we are on to a last ditch effort to escape. The third and final way to win, if all goes wrong, is to escape in your own teleporter. Beacons will appear if the super teleporter is destroyed allowing you to call in one for yourself to escape on, a couple teammates can join you in nearby, but if you’ve gotten to this point it’s quite likely your team is split up around the map.
Getting to play as a raider can be a bit frustrating. Every time you search for a game to become a raider and end up queuing as a survivor instead, you’ll get one priority point. It took me 19 matches gathering priority points before I was able to finally play as a raider. Thankfully, matches are quick and matchmaking isn’t glitchy. There are three raiders: Frieza, Cell, and Buu, all of which start at a very basic level 1 in the beginning. The goal of the raider is to defeat all the survivors, of course.
As the raider, every time you power up, you’ll be able to destroy a section of the map, forcing survivors to run if they’re in the area. Once a player is down, and if they’re alone, you can finish them off, granting more power and making a good push to the next transformation. The different transformations do genuinely feel different; for instance I got to play Cell, where you start as Larva Cell, and transform all the way up to Perfect Cell, if the game lasts that long. Raiders are also able to collect radars and find survivors to kill them and build up their power. You can also find the dragon balls, but it doesn’t exactly feel worth it unless it’s a last ditch effort.
In the hub area there are a few things you’ll be able to do. You can around a little bit, of course, although it’s not a large area to explore. You’ll be able to customise your character, buy new items, and roll The Breakers‘ gacha minigames for better transformations. You can customize your survivor equipment as well, giving your character stuff like zip-lines and smoke bombs, usually helpful for getting out of view of the raider. Unfortunately, there is so little you can actually do with the raider, it almost makes it less fun to play as them. Having no real customisation means your raider is essentially the same as everyone else’s, it’s much less special that way.
While the visuals aren’t exactly bad, with characters actually looking pretty good, the pop-in distance isn’t great. Trying to run around and suddenly realising you’re heading towards a bunch of trees and not an open area is a bit strange. Given the size of The Breakers‘ maps, it makes sense that the Nintendo Switch’s dated hardware can only handle so much. The real drawback is the music, which feels nothing like Dragon Ball. There are a ton of music pieces in the series that could have been used to make it feel much more like the Dragon Ball fans know and love. Characters are fully voiced though, and your character has a variety of voices that can be used, so at least there’s that.
End of the day, coming into Dragon Ball: The Breakers expecting the stress of Dead By Daylight is going to be disappointing. You can fight back, as running is only part of the strategy. While it has the bad guys from Dragon Ball Z, there isn’t a huge amount that makes this feel like a Dragon Ball game outside of the title. The lack of customisation is disappointing, especially for the raiders, and not being able to queue solely to play as a raider made it take incredibly long to finally get in a game as one, let alone getting to play a few to fully get the feel for it. Hopefully, with future seasons, a lot more content comes to Dragon Ball: The Breakers, otherwise there will be a massive drop off in players.
The look of the characters and diversity of the areas are only hard done by the limitations of the console I played it on, the Switch. All the characters do feel as if they could have been ripped from the show in some capacity though.
The Breakers is quite a bit of fun for short bursts. Taking so long to finally be able to play as a Raider is a little frustrating, but being able to fight back is great. Unfortunately, this game lacks variety.
The characters all are voiced, but there’s such a lack of atmosphere to the music and sound effects. It almost feels as if this could be some other game reskinned to be a Dragon Ball title.
All around, The Breakers does feel good to play for short bursts, but it definitely doesn’t feel like a Dragon Ball title past the name. Maybe a couple updates down the line it will feel more at home to Dragon Ball fans.
Final Verdict: 6.0
Dragon Ball: The Breakers is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.
A copy of Dragon Ball: The Breakers was provided by the publisher.