Dragon Ball Z has been in a good place since last year's excellent Dragon Ball FighterZ, and Bandai Namco is trying to keep the streak alive with Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. This isn't a straight up fighter: Kakarot breaks out of the fighting game genre and lets players explore the world, playing through a good chunk of Goku's life (yes, again). It's an action-RPG, which isn't a first for Dragon Ball games, but few of them have made their way to PC, and so far Kakarot looks like a fun one.
Here's everything we know so far about Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot.
What is Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot’s release date?
At Tokyo Game Show 2019, Bandai Namco announced that Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is releasing January 20, 2019 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
A new Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot trailer is all about Gohan
This dramatic trailer teases Gohan's arc in the Cell Saga and recreates key moments from the anime in Kakarot's beautiful 3D style. You'll be able to play as Gohan and seemingly train alongside Goku.
Watch the Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot gameplay demo from E3 2019
The 10-minute demo gives a good sense of Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot’s scale and adventure-combat loop. Players are given lots of freedom to explore, with flying your primary means of travel (though you can also see Goku running at super speeds, too). Flying around just looks fantastic. When Goku’s not breaking the sound barrier with his boost, you can see the wind flatten his hair before it bounces back to spiky anime perfection. The flying reminds me of Anthem, but with personality.
Fighting looks more-or-less like a Dragon Ball Z game, but it’s cool that battles happen dynamically wherever you are in the world, instead of separately rendered locations.
What type of game is Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot?
Kakarot is an action-RPG, but also kind of a fighting game. When flying around the world as Goku, it controls like a typical third-person game. When a fight breaks out, perspective shifts to an over-the-shoulder fighting game. Outside combat, you can free roam locations to complete side quests, mine minerals with Ki blasts, and fish (more on that later).
What sets Kakarot apart from the countless DBZ fighting games is its emphasis on RPG progression. Gameplay is consistent with the anime story arc, meaning Goku doesn’t start out with his most powerful moves. Speaking to Kotaku at E3 2019, Kakarot director Hara Ryosuke explained the decision. "The idea is to immerse the player into what Goku is feeling in those different moments." It’s a small thing, but it could be novel for Dragon Ball Z fans looking for something different—many past DBZ RPGs, like The Legacy of Goku, have been on handhelds.
Who’s developing Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot?
CyberConnect2 is heading up Kakarot, which is a pretty stellar fit. The studio has a long history making anime fighting games, particularly with the .hack games and the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja series. The Ultimate Ninja games are highly-accessible fighting game fun, so Kakarot will likely be no exception.
Oh, CyberConnect2 also made Asura’s Wrath
Which is to say, these folks know how to make anime video games look good. Asura’s Wrath (a 2012 action game that inexplicably never made it to PC) has some of the most awe-inspiring action moments I’ve ever seen, so hopefully Kakarot has some surprises up its sleeves.
Kakarot follows the story from the Dragon Ball Z anime (mostly)
Yep, they’re doing the mainline Dragon Ball Z story again. There’s not that much DBZ material out there, so I guess it makes sense to go with what fans already know and enjoy the most. Though, CyberConnect 2 is taking creative license with the side quests. I hope you’re ready to beat up Raditz, gather some dragon balls, and bring your friends back to life.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot introduces a new character designed by Akira Toriyama
Bonyu, a former member of the Ginyu Force, will be introduced in DRAGON BALL Z: KAKAROT! This brand new character designed by Akira Toriyama will make her first appearance in a short sub-quest! #gamescom2019 #dbzk pic.twitter.com/w8m1hgEUSHAugust 21, 2019
That's right, the creator of the Dragon Ball franchise has an original character premiering in Kakarot. Bonyu is apparently only showing up as part of a "short sub-quest." This makes sense, considering Kakarot follows the mainline DBZ story from the beginning and will only break canon in its side content.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot isn’t exactly open world
It has open areas, but it’s not one huge sandbox. Areas are gated by story progress, like Goku’s additional moves. That said, the area shown in the demo had some impressive verticality and looked nice. But I have doubts about the depth of the side content: the openness strikes me as a reason to have flying more than anything.
Goku can fish...with his tail?
Yeah, so, unless you watched the original Dragon Ball anime from the late ‘80s, this will probably look confusing. The fishing mini game seen in the demo is an homage to an episode of the old anime where kid Goku fishes with his Saiyan tail (Content Warning: the scene shows a butt naked child Goku for a moment).
Except, the adult Goku from Kakarot doesn’t have his tail anymore, so how does he pull it off? With a brilliantly simple solution to make the moment work, Goku simply takes a tail out of his pocket(??) and installs it on his tailbone.
By the way, the heck’s a Kakarot?
*pushes anime glasses up nose*
Kakarot is Goku’s birth name from before he arrived on Earth. That’s why Vegeta, a Saiyan through and through, prefers to use his proper name instead of his Earth name.
Fun fact: all of the Saiyan names are weird mutations of the names of vegetables! Kakarot (carrot), Raditz (radish), Beets (uh, beets), Broly (broccoli), and of course, Vegeta(ble).