It’s the most definitive video game adaptation of DBZ yet but Kakarot’s tale still has some issues.
You’ve seen the show once or twice over the years because it’s always on. You’ve probably read the manga and maybe even played a fighting game or two. But Bandai Namco’s Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is the definitive version of Akira Toriyama’s property, rendering in gorgeous visuals with excellent combat. That doesn’t mean it’s without its flaws though, whether that’s on a technical or game design level. So let’s dive into several things that players dislike about the game.
Retreading Old Ground
Some may not view this as a problem, especially given how good the game looks and how well it captures the essence of the property. But for all the work that’s gone into Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, it may be a little repetitive for fans to go through the same plots, the same arcs, the same deaths, again. For as long as Dragon Ball Z has been on and how many Dragon Ball Z Budokai games have covered this story, it would have been nice to see something different. Yes, even if it was just the first few arcs of Dragon Ball Super.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot does feature some returning characters from the initial Dragon Ball arcs and even some nice interactions that aren’t in the anime. However, for some reason, there’s the odd retcon. Remember when Piccolo destroyed the Moon to stop Gohan’s Great Ape transformation? According to this game, he didn’t actually destroy the Moon. He creation the illusion that it was destroyed. This was likely done to explain why the Moon re-appears at some point down the line. Yes, of all the explanations, revealing an epic moment to be just a ruse was all they could come up with (especially when waves from the Moon’s existence are what triggers a transformation, not just seeing it).
Lots of Filler
When CyberConnect2 was talking about covering the many aspects of the Dragon Ball Z story, they weren’t kidding. Unfortunately, this has some downsides when going over the uninteresting parts. Yes, you’ll be training with the Z Fighters before Vegeta and Nappa show up (for all the good it did), but you’ll also spend time fishing, hunting, gathering items, orb collecting and so on. It’s not all bad but it can take a good long while before the story picks up steam again.
It might have helped if the game’s activities and side quests had a bit more going on mechanically. For the most part, you’re either fetching something for a character, defeating enemies or some mix of the two (with some orb gathering thrown in). Yes, even hunting is quickly resolved by just obliterating foes head-on. Neither baseball nor fishing have much going on past the first few times doing them. Some quests are more interesting and present some genuinely cool stories about the cast but they’re the exception rather to the rule.
Unrewarding Side Quests
For as many side quests as the game throws at you, they aren’t really worth doing. The amount of experience provided is fairly low, especially compared to the main quests, which further incentivizes sticking to the story. It’s possible that the developer wanted to discourage over-leveling and thus trivializing some of the key story battles. But some other alternative would have been preferred, especially given how repetitive many of the side quests can be.
Superfluous Community Board
However, another strange aspect of Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot’s progression is that the game isn’t overtly difficult. You don’t have to take advantage of the numerous ways to become stronger, and can experience the main story just fine. But that makes certain interesting aspects, like the Community Board, superfluous. It’s a shame given how the Board works as you strengthen connections and receive incremental boosts in power from your allies. But who knows – it may come in handy if some end-game content is added down the line.
Lack of Polish in Some Scenes
For every iconic scene that Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot recreates, whether it’s seeing Piccolo sacrifice himself for Gohan or Goku turning Super Saiyan for the first time, there are other scenes which lack that same level of quality. Lower animation quality or missing lines from the source material often stick out like so many sore thumbs. You could argue that some corners will always be cut in a story of this scale and you’d have a point. However, a little more polish would certainly help especially when this is aiming to be the most definitive version of Dragon Ball Z’s story yet.
Let’s be real – though many locations like the World Martial Arts Tournament, King Kai’s Planet and Kami’s Lookout are iconic, the majority of environments and backdrops in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot are fairly empty and bland. They work for the various fights, whether on Namek or out in the badlands, but they don’t make for the most interesting places to roam about especially when you’re completing side quests. The cities are detailed at the very least, though they’re similarly forgettable.
Repetitive Voice Lines
One doesn’t expect to hear tons of random lines while traveling the open world, it would certainly help the game’s cause if the same set of lines didn’t play so frequently. Games like Horizon: Zero Dawn and even The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt strike a happy balance between the character making personal observations and being silent. And that’s while having a good number of lines to draw from. While it’s nice to hear how self-assured Gohan is against weaker foes, “I think I can handle this” doesn’t have to be repeated, again and again and again.
Console Loading Times
If you’re playing on consoles, you may have noticed the loading times to be a little…long. PCs with solid state drives don’t have this problem but Xbox One S players are reporting loading times of 30 to 50 seconds on the shorter end. On the longer end, that time can extend to a good two minutes. The problem has become so widely noted that a patch is in the works to address the same.
Flight is a big part of traversal and exploration in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, what with it being one of yoyr primary ways to move around the game’s maps. And while that’s something that the game should have ideally paid a lot of attention to, sadly, the flight controls in Kakarot are a bit stiff and mechanical. You ascend by pressing RT or R2, descend by pressing RB or R1, making the movement mid-flight feel too jerky and inaccurate, while having to repeatedly press the left stick to go faster also feels very unwieldy- especially because the speed of normal flight movement isn’t exactly the fastest.
Finally, the movement, which ties into our previous point quite a bit. When you’re in the middle of battles, zipping around and chaining Ki blasts with rapid hits, the game can be amazing. The combat is great, posing a good amount of depth while being easy to get into. But there’s one aspect of the movement that just feels awkward. When on the ground, you can high jump or fly up into the sky. You cannot jump and then transition into flying. There is a way to transition directly from the ground to aerial movement through a particular jump (pressing RB or R1 while on the ground), but when you’re doing the regular jump, there’s no way to go straight into flight from that. The movement certainly take some getting used to, especially in different environments, but this one aspect just feels so weird that we wouldn’t be surprised if it was patched later.