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Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Powers You Up – E3 2019 Hands-On Preview

Dragon Ball video games have made somewhere north of $5 billion USD revenue throughout the series’ lifespan. So, naturally, a new title was front-and-center at Bandai Namco’s E3 2019 booth. We got our hands on an early build to bring you our Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot E3 2019 preview.

Hello Nimbus, My Old Friend

Our demo began with some relaxed flying, high above the ground aboard a Nimbus, the ridable cloud that occasionally makes an appearance in the Dragon Ball series. Flying can be a challenging mechanic to get right in a third-person action game, and in Kakarot, there are two methods of flying, with and without the Nimbus. Goku can ditch the Nimbus and just fly regularly, if he needs some extra speed or agility. In either case, floating Dragon Ball orbs are available to collect, presumably to power up one of Goku’s many power meters or health bars. Some of these appeared in large circles, which were awkward to collect in either flight mode. Pressing a button to perform a corkscrew helped to pick up more than one orb in a single pass, but ultimately it was kind of a pain to collect every single one. Hopefully Bandai Namco can include some sort of automatic collection mechanism that is common in games that include such collectibles.

Awkward flying out of the way, we were advised on our objective: Goku is flying around with Piccolo as they search for Raditz, who has kidnapped Goku’s son Gohan. The whole area was ours to explore, provided we did so within the allotted demo time of 20 minutes. The area to explore was large, as it would easily take several minutes to fly across the whole thing. Every now and then, enemies would spawn in to fight. These weren’t particularly tough enemies, but they did provide a distraction and a chance to test out the combat mechanics present in Kakarot.

For most of these enemies, mashing the circle button would be enough to take them out. There were also opportunities to fire energy balls at enemies, and a power meter could also be charged up to make subsequent attacks more powerful. Goku was susceptible to outside attacks while charging up, however, so there was a risk-and-reward system to take into account as well. Blocking was also an option, though this is a technique to be used during more difficult fights as opposed to against peons.

Great Looking

The demo ended with a showdown against Raditz, and without spoiling anything, the events played out essentially exactly like they did in the anime. So, for those who remember, you know what’s coming. But it’s still pretty cool to see those events play out entirely in-game. While we were unable to confirm the frame rate, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is using the Unreal Engine, so players should expect a high-performing, PS4 Pro-enhanced, fluid fighter if the demo was any indication.

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot aims to let players assume the role of the original Super Saiyan with a power level of over 9000 (or was it 8000?). While flying may take some getting used to, and combat felt sort of simplified, playing through iconic moments of the venerable should appease those looking to get their latest nostalgia fix. Look out for more on Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot’s development in the build-up to the game’s release sometime next year.