Last month, Bandai Namco announced the latest Dragon Ball game in their generally fighting-heavy portfolio for the series. Eschewing the usual genre choices this time around, The Breakers is actually a 7v1 asymmetrical multiplayer game where non-fighter characters in the Dragon Ball universe work together to escape an evolving villain like Buu or Cell. It’s a new idea for the license, but not that new an idea for gaming, as titles like Dead by Daylight and Friday the 13th have already tread upon this ground previously with fairly major success.
A lot of developers would shy away from that comparison and present their game as an original idea, but Bandai Namco and Producer Ryusuke Hara faces it head on.
“I would be lying if I said that these games were not an inspiration,” Hara said in an interview with Fanbyte. “However, the concept behind the development of this game was to express the overwhelming power difference between characters with Superpowers and normal human beings, in a very Dragon Ball-like way. So, I have to say that the biggest inspiration were the scenes in the Dragon Ball universe that represented this concept, such as the scene where Bulma was hiding from the enemies on Planet Namek, or where the civilians were absorbed by Cell in Ginger Town.”
Not to say the influences aren’t both direct and enjoyable, though.
“I do play asymmetrical multiplayer games such as Dead by Daylight and I do enjoy playing this game,” Hara added.
The Breakers‘ structure, as Hara puts it, has villains with superpowers trying to chase down survivors who are scrambling to build a time machine and escape the area. The villains, known as Raiders in The Breakers‘ parlance, are currently Buu, Frieza, and Cell, enemies that transform throughout their respective arcs to get more powerful which makes them ideal for this kind of gameplay. Hara has another reason for those three as the starting lineup, however.
“We have considered that Cell, Buu and Frieza were one of the top iconic Dragon Ball rivals,” Hara said, explaining that it made sense for the trio to be the initial Raider set.
It’s not overall the deepest bench of Dragon Ball characters, but much like Dead by Daylight, one hopes that The Breakers will add more content along the way. After I professed my love for Lunch as a character that does not get much play in Dragon Ball games, Hara agreed.
“I agree that Lunch is a great character! I’m not saying that you’ll see this in Dragon Ball: The Breakers, but I would also like to see more of the characters who went to the same school as Gohan,” he added.
Hara also mentioned, when I asked about including content from series like Dragon Ball, GT, and Super, that it was too early to talk about anything like that. The game does, however, connect to the Dragon Ball Xenoverse game series, where time-travel is an already large component even relative to the source material. While he didn’t have any details yet, having Xenoverse series save data would have some effect in The Breakers.
Ultimately, The Breakers‘ biggest virtue may just be that it’s a different kind of game that your usual Dragon Ball fair and that is at very least interesting. It’s not wholly divorced from the tenets of the series, as Hara explained that even the lowly survivors can have their moments of abject power.
“One of the biggest charms of Dragon Ball is the sense of becoming stronger and/or transforming. If the Survivors focus on running away from the Raiders, this may be fun as an asymmetrical game, but not as a Dragon Ball game,” he explained. “That’s why we implemented the feature called the Dragon Change, that allow Survivors to borrow the strength of the Super Warriors for a limited amount of time.”
Dragon Change is a temporary comeback mechanic that allows the human survivors to borrow the powers of characters like Goku or the Namekian Piccolo to power up and fight off the would-be pursuer. It’s a Dragon Ball world, why shouldn’t you get a piece of the ki pie?
Last month’s The Breakers beta got some mixed response from players, but Bandai Namco seems to be hoping that development, balance, and the strength of the license can help push the game through. We’ll find out for sure when Dragon Ball: The Breakers releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch this year.