Interview with Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 producer Masayuki Hirano
Less than two years after the release of the original game, Bandai Namco has returned with a sequel to the highly successful Dragon Ball Xenoverse. Touted as the “largest and most detailed Dragon Ball world ever developed," Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 was tucked away in a quiet corner of E3 this year. While it wasn't playable to the public at large, we were able to catch a bit of gameplay in a hands-off presentation - introducing us to some of the exciting things fans can expect when they dive into the game later this year.
During the show we had the chance to sit down with the game’s producer Masayuki Hirano, who detailed many of the improvements, additions and surprises coming to Xenoverse 2.
RPG Site: So the first thing we wanted to ask was – what can you tell me about the changes from the original game (Xenoverse) and the sequel?
Masayuki Hirano: In Dragon Ball Xenoverse the whole concept was to deliver a brand-new Dragon Ball experience, and that’s what we’re trying to do with the sequel as well. We’re trying to deliver something different from Dragon Ball Xenoverse.
One of the biggest changes from Xenoverse is the online features. We’re really focusing on making the online experience richer. For example, the hub. In the first game we had Toki Toki City but now we have Conton City, which is much larger and you’ll be able to interact with a lot more people.
This hub is something that’s quite new, though we can’t go into too much detail just yet there’s a lot of online gameplay you can find within this hub. I hope that fans will look forward to that information as it’s one of the biggest differences between the two titles.
RPG Site: Will there be any balancing to the roster at all for characters coming from the first game?
Hirano: So there’s obviously stronger and weaker ones depending on the characters. For example, it’d be quite odd if Yamcha were stronger than Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Goku so there are some balances we need to implement in that sort of way. Basically we don’t want players to not be able to win just because they’re choosing a character that they like, so we are balancing that out within a certain range where if you’re good at the game you can still beat other opponents.
RPG Site: How are you guys looking to mitigate spam this time?
Hirano: We’re working to include several elements. One of the things we wanted to concentrate on this time is - because people are playing online - some specific attacks were stronger than others. When an avatar was fighting against another avatar, they were basically using the same attacks over and over again and we don’t want that to happen this time. We really focused on balancing out the attacks and adjusting so that in the end players will be using different attacks.
RPG Site: What sort of customization can we expect this time with the character creation tools?
Hirano: In terms of customization we have a lot more volume such as more costumes and more features as well. In terms of the costumes, there were more popular costumes than others – and when you’re choosing a costume, you want to choose it because you want to look like that. So we’re adding in new features that players can be strong while choosing the costume that they really like.
RPG Site: What sort of co-op features are you looking at bringing out with Xenoverse 2?
Hirano: To be honest, in terms of online co-operation we really are putting our efforts into making that a great experience, but there’s not much we can tell you right now. Please look forward to news on that in the future.
RPG Site: Can we expect any characters from Dragon Ball Super?
Hirano: We can’t go into any details but since Dragon Ball Super is an on-going anime and it does take several months to create just one character… we don’t know what extent we’ll be able to do this but we do have a feeling that we want to include characters – maybe at the timing of release or it might be after the release. We do hope to include those characters.
RPG Site: Being able to concentrate on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One generation exclusively, do you find it easier to develop for or was it more challenging?
Hirano: Obviously now that we’re just focusing on the current generation, we’re able to really maximize the power of those systems. For example, in terms of battle we’re finally able to run the game at 60 frames per second, so we’re really taking advantage of the current generation consoles.
RPG Site: In the first game one of the biggest user complaints was the RNG (random number generation) factor. Will RNG be more lenient or replaced with something different in the sequel?
Hirano: With regard to modifications and adjustments, we are making a lot of these based on user feedback. The bottom line is that we made it easier to acquire costumes or maybe items that drop during battle. It’s because we want our players to be able to move on to online matching – we don’t want them to not go there just because they don’t have specific items.
RPG Site: Will there be any adjustments to the PvP (player versus player) systems?
Hirano: We’ve modified the network stability so that there won’t be as much lag when you’re fighting worldwide against other players. We have received a lot of feedback from fans in terms of battle. For example, the combos – players said they weren’t able to do many combos. It wasn’t because they weren’t there but because the opponent was able to easily dodge and move around. In order to avoid that we’ve implemented a new feature called Stamina Break where you can hit a specific attack against an opponent they’ll lose their stamina so that they won’t be able to avoid your attack during a combo.
We also had this issue where players were running around. They’d do one long-ranged attack, hit their opponent and then run around for the rest of the time… so we’ve added this feature called Burst Dash, which you can use to pursue an enemy automatically and perform an attack. By inputing a certain command you can go straight to an opponent’s back, so you can dodge and attack at the same time.
We really focused on the battle tactics so we could bring a deeper battle experience.
RPG Site: I wanted to ask about the story – so we saw in the first trailer, the teaser trailer, a certain message that sort of suggested the player would be able to go back to certain events in Dragon Ball history and maybe change them to different outcomes. How is that going to work? Will there be different choices you can make?
Hirano: The only thing we can say right now is maybe you’ll be able to change events – we can’t say for sure yet. We want players to feel this inner conflict because their mission is to return the history back to normal, but there are outcomes in the Dragon Ball story you wish were different. We want players to feel that inner conflict between what they have to do and what they want to do.
Another concept that’s really important to this game is the idea of two generations. For example, Future Gohan and Trunks, Bardock and Goku, and the original Time Patroller and Time Patroller appearing in Xenoverse 2. This story concept is really important and is linked deeply so we want you to look forward to it.
Thank you very much to Masayuki Hirano for the interview. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 will release later this year on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.