I watch a lot of anime. Yes, I know, I’m sorry but it’s true. Despite that glaring personality flaw though, I don’t play a lot of anime games, especially not on my mobile.
I love seeing those familiar characters, hearing their sweet wee voices screaming unintelligible jargon. Bu the games are, usually, rubbish.
I’ve played card games, alright? I’ve played card games, I’ve played gacha games, and far too often there’s, well, no actual gameplay in between all the collecting to keep me involved for longer than a couple of sessions.
So often these anime licensed titles decide to just insert the characters into what feels like a generic mobile template and call it a day. After the first, it’s hard to recommend.
So I went into Dragon Ball Legends with a fair amount of hesitation, and came out, well, not blown away, but certainly feeling more positive than when I went in.
Instead of opening a card pack and throwing down with some nonsense about a weapon triangle on a game board, my character, Shallot, was actually just there. In 3D. Swiping and tapping on the screen made him react. Incredible.
Dragon Ball Legends is a gacha game though, and it does have some of those frustrating and typical mobile game aspects I’ve already railed on. But it’s much more comprehensive as a gameplay experience than I would’ve expected.
You float in the air while locked on to an enemy opposite you. You can swipe side to side in order to move your character, and then tap the screen to throw out either a melee combo or a small ranged ki blast, depending on your distance from the enemy.
It’s a proper action combat battle system, one where dodges will avoid attacks, and then they’ll warp you right next to your enemy, giving you a free counter. It’s honestly not something I expected, and what’s more, full-scale epic Dragon Ball battles are possible on mobile. Incredible.
For the most part though, you don’t actually need good reactions, just to select the right move at the right time. You can usually hit incoming enemies with a ki blast combo, and can move in on distracted enemies with a melee combo, both activated with move cards.
Yep, Dragon Ball Legends actually kind of does have a card mechanic to it.
Tapping a ki blast combo will send out multiple damaging orbs which will block enemies from moving towards you, unless they dodge and warp for a counter.
Melee combo cards will make you zoom in and get up close and personal, though moving in can make you vulnerable. Other cards include character-specific special attacks and brief power ups.
It actually all comes together to make a pretty fun experience, while it lasts. Change the characters you’re playing with, earn more, and you get a decent, varied experience. It’s one that doesn’t continually bother you for money for energy or premium currency as well.
Away from battles you get a variety of modes, the usual missions and training to earn more items and EXP, but the Story and Event modes are definitely the meat of the game, right next to PvP.
Story takes you through an original story that frankly drags on far too long and saw me skipping dialogue after just a few quests. Decent enough, but just really there for the rewards you get from completing it.
Events are like the story quests but much tougher, with big rewards at the end, like unique characters. The best part of the Events though is the story scenes, which take still frames from Dragon Ball Z, and add some nice music.
The only other chunky section of the game is PvP, which is sadly a bit broken. All the gear, levels, and experience you earn in single player carries over to PvP, which would be great if it didn’t mean enemies which far outrank you will be appearing.
Massive health bars and deaths in a single combo? Yep, it’s all possible when you’ve found someone who’s played the game more than you have, sadly.
When playing against an enemy of similar power though, there’s a fun metagame of dodging and warping to be explored, one where throwing out too many attacks is actually a detriment.
Dragon Ball Legends has so much going for it, the fabulous visuals just being one of those factors. However there’s a fair few annoying pieces too, such as the swamp of menus you have to wade through in order to equip items to characters and use the Soul Boost mode. It can be impossibly obtuse and confusing.
But all of those annoyances fall to the wayside when you’re in a battle which could genuinely go either way. The game can feel intense at times, frustrating at others, and, very occasionally, disappointing.
Ultimately though, for a free to play game based on the Dragon Ball license, this is a shockingly good way to waste your time.