Dragon Ball: The Breakers would be horrifying if it weren’t a bloodless anime game. It mimics the premise of Dead by Daylight, a co-op survival game, with seven Survivors versus one Raider. These poor souls have been sucked into a pocket dimension with an all-powerful supervillain that wants to kill them. If they summon a Super Time Machine and activate it in time to escape, they win the game. Meanwhile, the Raider wins if it stops the Super Time Machine from activating or kills off the entire cast.
When I tested the game last year, I highlighted the power imbalance between the Survivors and Raider, reflected in how the Raider would consistently win every match even though everyone was new to the game. There was a much easier learning curve when adapting to the Raider than with Survivors. PAX West 2022 was my first time reuniting with the game since the closed beta test last year, so I was curious to see if my issues with it had changed much. While Raiders still dominated, the Survivors stood much more of a chance this time around.
During PAX West, I played once as the Raider and once as a Survivor. It was much easier being a Raider, mostly because of the power difference. The rep at the booth said that Raiders who even slightly knew what they were doing would typically win. I could tell why. It was my first time playing as the Raider and I didn’t have much of a problem killing off all the Survivors — even though I was very, very confused while doing it.
The Raider starts as a larva that slowly evolves as it absorbs and kills off players. The UI alerts you to the general location of nearby players with the word “player” floating over the grasses and mountains, but it’s purposefully not as helpful as the ones you see as a Survivor. As a Survivor, you can see how far the Raider is from you on the map as an icon and with the number of meters displayed on the screen if it’s close enough. There’s no “distance” like the number of meters to find players as a Raider.
While I was aimlessly searching for players to kill, the last three Survivors eventually activated the Super Time Machine. Thankfully, I found them just in time because of the beam of light the Super Time Machine shoots into the air when activated.
The Survivors can activate temporary “Super Saiyan” powers with items they find while exploring the map or completing small quests. The Survivors I fought saved their transformations for the final showdown at the Super Time Machine, and they put up enough of a fight to deplete more than half my HP. However, the last Survivor’s transformation sequence ran out just in time, after which I swatted them out of the way like a fly and killed them.
It’s wild that a player who lands their hits could be rendered powerless as soon as the transformation deactivates. I understand that the Survivors are essentially playing a stealth game, but it still feels a little off.
So then I played as a Survivor — and won.
The development team added more options for Survivors to achieve their own victory even if their teammates failed. The biggest blow against the Raider would be if a boatload of Survivors escaped on the Super Time Machine. If the conditions are so bad that there aren’t enough Survivors to activate the Super Time Machine, then little Time Machines pop up across the map so that the remaining Survivors could save their own skins. There isn’t a set number, so you don’t need to worry about stealing them from each other.
As the Raider hunts down Survivors, the Survivors are supposed to activate keys to summon the Super Time Machine in each section of the map labeled with letters A through E. In my playthrough, most of the Survivors died before they could call the Super Time Machine and so a smaller one popped up. I hopped in as soon as possible and flew out before the Raider could catch me. The last guy, who was trying to activate his mini Time Machine too, was interrupted by the Raider and consumed before he could leave.
The Dragon Ball: The Breakers experience is such: Spend as much time hiding from the Raider as possible as a Survivor until you can summon a Time Machine to escape. If you see any valuables lying around, grab those in case they happen to be power-boosting items. Meanwhile, if you’re a Raider, fly around until you find people and kill them.
Also, of course, don’t get hit.
The Raider still seems too powerful for me to call it a “balanced” asymmetrical multiplayer game, but it definitely feels fairer for both sides than it was last year. Even if it launched as is, I think I’d be able to accept it the way it was, now that I don’t need to rely on other Survivors for my own “win.”
Dragon Ball: The Breakers will launch for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch on October 14, 2022.
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