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Dragon Ball Legends: A Genuinely Impressive Mobile Fighter

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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Mobile games have long been a divisive topic among gamers, with many a self proclaimed “hardcore” player banging on about how mobile games aren’t real games. 

Given the deluge of Candy Crash clones and microtransaction-ridden messes, it’s an argument that isn’t entirely without merit, but it seems Bandai Namco are stepping up to create a mobile title that will appeal to the hardcore gamer and casual gent (or lady) alike. A noble cause, if ever there was one.

Dragon Ball Legends, in short, looks legit. It’s a mobile game, yes, but from the brief hands on time I had with the title, it’s a game that makes the best possible use out of being on mobile – it’s accessible, punchy, and really quite addictive.

As you might expect, the game is entirely played with the use on one finger and a series of swipes and taps –  but that actually works in its favour, creating a kind of old school arcade fighter vibe that I wasn’t really expecting.

The game works thusly: You choose three characters (from a roster of six, though more will be added post launch). The first player to lose their three characters, loses the game.

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Combat is simple. You’re thrown into a 3D arena (not unlike Xenoverse), where all you have to do is tap the screen to perform standard attacks, and swipe to dodge.

Of course, if all you wanted to do was tap and swipe you could just sit on Tinder, but Dragon Ball Legends is a little more interesting than that – you also head into battle with a number of cards, accessible on the bottom of the screen. These cards act as special attacks (buffs, dashes, projectiles and the like), and can be strung together – along with standard attacks – to create satisfying combos.

You’ll only have five cards on screen at any time, and using a card randomly generates the next one, so you’re never guaranteed the ability to spam the same move or combo, which is a nice touch.

Use of cards also depletes your energy – you have 100 and for example, using a dash will use 20 of that, while a more powerful attack may use somewhere around 50. This energy does refill slowly during battle, but if you go crazy and use tons of cards in one combo, you’ll have to cool off and wait for that energy to recharge before the next big attack.

There’s also a giant super duper move that does massive damage, because obviously – this is a Dragon Ball game, after all.

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It’s a wonderfully simple system that anyone can pick up and play, though I’ve no doubt that after launch there will be players who learn to master devastating chains of attacks, it’s good to know that all players will be on fairly common ground, given the random nature of the card attacks.

If the gameplay itself is simple though, the tech behind is anything but. During the game’s reveal, much hubbub was made of the fact that the online multiplayer will be powered by the Google Cloud Platform – essentially one massive server that means no regional restrictions, and smooth, lag free gameplay between players (real players, not “player data”, we’ve been promised).

We were told the Google Cloud Platform is five times bigger than the internet, whatever that means, but credit where credit’s due: when playing the PvP mode, everything ran extremely smoothly, without so much as a hint of lag.

Of course, a bunch of journalists playing in the same building is hardly as big of a strain as, say, a global launch, so I’m probably gonna have to reserve any opinions on the quality of the PvP mode and the Cloud Platform until after launch, but I’m really hoping it goes well.

The team behind Dragon Ball Legends have clearly put a lot of work into creating a mobile game that still feels like a proper, high quality Dragon Ball title. There’s even a story mode on the way, and a separate mode that lets players reenact the biggest fights from across the show’s history, though we didn’t get a look at those.

Basically, if the Google Cloud Platform can handle global PvP like it claims it can, you should be very, very excited to get your hands (or finger) on Dragon Ball Legends.

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