Dragon Ball: The Breakers is Bandai Namco’s upcoming survival multiplayer game set in the Dragon Ball universe. Dead by Daylight fans might recognize the premise: Eight human survivors must summon the Super Time Machine using five Power Keys scattered across the map, all while fending off an all-powerful Raider.
It’s a fun premise, but judging from the beta, the game needs to give survivors more of an edge to balance the two sides.
Strive to survive
Survivors have been sucked through a temporal seam and trapped with the Raider. Ideally, this means cooperating to escape. Players can win if they escape on the Super Time Machine, with or without their teammates. However, survivors don’t win as a team unless all of them make it out alive. The Raider wins if they stop even one survivor from escaping. It’s possible for multiple players and the Raider to win, while the survivors who fail to escape simultaneously lose.
Each match is split into a Search Phase, Defense Phase, and sometimes an Escape Phase depending on how the game progresses. Search and Defense Phases always happen one after the other, and the Escape Phase triggers depending on whether the Raider destroys the original Super Time Machine or not. If so, survivors need to activate and escape through backup time machines or summon a dragon god to help.
During the Search Phase, survivors search and activate the Power Keys for all five areas of the map and gather power-ups for the Defense Phase. Once survivors place all the Power Keys in their proper places, the Super Time Machine appears and the Defense Phase starts. Survivors then need to prevent the Raider from reaching the Super Time Machine and gradually interact with the machine until it’s fully activated. The machine activates faster if more people interact with it at the same time.
Meanwhile, the Raider’s goal is to eliminate all the players. It can absorb defeated players to grow stronger and remove them from the game, and evolve all the way to a Level 4 threat. So players need to take care not to get absorbed and help their fellow survivors to prevent the Raider from growing stronger. Naturally, because there’s only one Raider versus seven survivors, the Raider is stronger and difficult to defeat.
Survivors can evade the Raider with rechargeable abilities like smoke screens and grappling hooks. There’s even a teleportation pod that can transport players anywhere on the map to quickly travel or escape in a pinch, and a camouflage technique transforms survivors into walking vases and barrels to blend in with the environment. Players can use Super Saiyan abilities after they collect enough power-up cubes, but these are supposed to be used as a last resort more often than an attempt to actually defeat the Raider.
Players shouldn’t have a problem playing as defensively as intended with the available resources. The map seems overly large at first, so much so that players could get lost in caverns and not interact with other survivors or the Raider for much of the game. However, the large size of the map makes sense considering the Raider has the option to eliminate entire portions of the map each time it evolves. Not that it would do much good to just run around the map anyway. Each match has a time limit. If survivors don’t escape in time, the Raider wins by default.
Finding a balance
Dragon Ball: The Breakers makes sense in theory. However, the power dynamic between survivors and the Raider needs some work. The Raider can evolve into its strongest form fairly quickly while survivors scramble around the map to raise their levels. It isn’t uncommon for an entire team of survivors to unsuccessfully fend off a Raider, even when all of them have charged Super Saiyan abilities. Abilities don’t seem to damage the Raider that much and expire fairly quickly.
It’s also somewhat problematic that the Super Time Machine appears at an obvious, fixed location. The game encourages players by design to gather in one place to more quickly activate the machine at the cost of lining up as easy fodder for the Raider. The Raider can knock down survivors with one hit. After that, they’re downed and can only crawl. Survivors can revive their fallen comrades, but it takes an inconvenient amount of time. It might be fine for instances where the Raider leaves a downed player during the Search Phase. However, if the entire team of survivors is protecting the time machine from the Raider, it can be difficult to multitask.
In short, it’s too easy for the Raider to overpower survivors. Out of the 20 or so matches I played, there wasn’t a single time where survivors completely won. This is a closed beta with set time frames that testers can play, so of course, no one will be an expert right away. However, it’s eyebrow-raising how easy it is for completely new Raiders to defeat survivors of the same experience level. It might be a tall ask for the development team to add a completely new mechanic like a health bar, but hopefully they find a way to balance the game a little more.
Dragon Ball: The Breakers is set to launch sometime in 2022. Bandai Namco aims to release the game for PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
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