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Game 44 of 52: Dragon Ball the Breakers Season 5 - 20/05/24


Ryannumber1gamer

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Finally time to take a break from the long string of Sonic entries with a game that I've been chipping away in the background, and finished a few days ago. 

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Made during what felt like a boom of asymmetrical multiplayer survival titles, from Ghostbusters, Evil Dead, and more all aiming to replicate the success of Dead By Daylight's gameplay, Dragon Ball the Breakers felt like a absolute no brainer. The villains of Dragon Ball are iconic, and the constant power dynamic of trying to face up to such large scale threats is already such a natural part of the franchise that it felt like the best fit. 

I know for a huge fan like me, I was hyped for this game from the very beginning, and I put hundreds of hours into it. I got into the initial closed beta test, and every single beta test after that until launch, and then at launch, I played the game for at least another 100 hours. To say I have plenty of experience with Breakers is a understatement. 

However, in spite of how much I played the game, I ultimately ended up having a gigantic break from it following Season 2. About halfway through Season 2 in fact. This is primarily because I had played as survivor for so much due to the priority system the game uses to determine the role you get to play. They introduced a role queue system in Season 2 that let me pick raider (IE - the villain) as much I wanted, which was great. I didn't mind waiting as long as I got to pick the role I wanted to play. But it was then removed due to queue issues, which caused my interest to plummet.

This repeated come Season 4, where raider queue came back only to be removed shortly after again, killing my interest.

However, with Season 5 being based around the Goku Black arc and me getting back into the game, I finally decided this time, I did want to fully complete the season, especially as my new main had become Goku Black and Zamasu. 

So I think the best way to go through this is just to go briefly through my experiences.

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First things first is to tackle the survivor side of things. I always thought Breakers deserved a lot of credit for how it handles survival in this game. There's multiple win conditions, such as getting a escape time machine, or activating several key in different areas to summon a Super Time Machine to restore history in the time rift (yes, the game is set in Xenoverse's continuity). What is pretty cool however is how it works specifically the Dragon Ball elements in. In most survival games, you have zero means to fight back against a killer. Not intentionally at least. You're supposed to buy time, try to escape, maybe stun a killer, but never outright take them on head to head.

Yet that's exactly what you can do here. If you attain enough power and team up with enough teammates? You can all gang up on the raider and actually take him out. Back in early seasons, this was excellent, as it did truly feel like a power struggle of multiple different and lower powered regular characters trying to take on some of the most powerful Dragon Ball characters, and pulling a win off was insanely great to feel. There's also a lot of freedom in how you can handle builds as well, from a support build with healing items and skills, to a escape build, or a full blown fighting build. Even cooler is the Dragon Balls is present in the game, meaning gathering all seven can either power up the survivors if they collect them, or allow the raider the upper hand if they manage to steal them and gather all of them up. 

All that said, it's becoming outright absurd just how broken survivors are becoming in this game. The gacha system used to get skills is already pretty bullshit, but survivors have just so many tools for dealing with raiders now. When I was playing the game, winning against a survivor felt like a genuine accomplishment, achieved through either proper coordination, or planning. But now? There's instant transmission, a skill that lets you teleport across the map. Jaco's UFO which gives you a get out of jail free card for most raiders. Multiple fighting skills that if used together with a premade group - can mean you can constantly fight survivors. The balance has become horribly skewed towards the group who should be on the lower rung of luck here.

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However, the problem also arises that this is a team game with random players. So while premade groups make games for raiders absolute and utter hell - randoms can make your life equally miserable as well. From people who feed into the raider so they can get their priority for raider up, to those who act like selfish assholes and hoard a single dragon ball because they stumbled upon it and feel entitled to the wish while someone else worked their ass off to collect the other six. I legit had a game where we were kicking a Vegeta's ass online, and were about to win until one particularly selfish asshole decided to not hand over a Dragon Ball, then let another teammate die and steal the other six from them - only to proceed to get themselves immediately taken down by Vegeta, Vegeta stealing the Dragon Balls, and using it to change to his final form, immediately sweeping the entire match, all due to one selfish player's actions.

It's incredibly infuriating frankly when this happens. When someone else's decisions just ends up completely fucking you over. It's not to say I haven't had great matches and teams either, I did - but when the negative ones hit, they really hit. I also find because of this that survivor gameplay ends up burning out on you after a long while. 

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Jumping into the raider gameplay, this is easily what I love playing the most in Breakers. I've never seen a Dragon Ball game so greatly capture just the sheer power fantasy of playing as a Dragon Ball villain to this degree. Your objective is simple - you start in a base form, you are to hunt down all citizens and players, level up into your max form, and kill everyone. Even better, every raider has a different playstyle and niche. Cell for example is based exactly on the anime - where in earlier forms, he relies on hunting prey and has skills suited for this, but towards Perfect form, he proceeds to become a powerhouse against everyone. 

Frieza on the other hand builds his form via a passive rage mechanic when he's attacked, and has collecting the dragon balls as a primary mechanic, even being able to wish for immortality if he gets them and summons Shenron. Goku Black on the other hand has Zamasu as a assist who scopes through the map, hunting enemies down and attacking them, and even goes into corrupted merged form after a certain point.

If there's any reason to play Breakers, it's this mode, easily. All of the raiders are really damn fun to play in my opinion. But that also comes with the main issue - Raiders aren't solely playable. As mentioned above - the game uses a priority system where you can only play as a raider after a certain number of survivor games - which in my experience can be upwards of 5 or 6, and even more if you're really unlucky.

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This to me continues to be one of the game's massive downsides, bar none. No matter how much the fanbase whines about the population not being strong enough to allow for Raider Only, which frankly could easily be fixed by removing the region locking from matchmaking, and with cross play now implemented. There's plenty of times where I wouldn't mind just loading into Breakers for a quick game or two as Raider, having some fun screwing around as a villain, and then calling it a night - but the way Breakers is at the moment essentially forces you to commit to over a hour of survivor gameplay before you get one shot at playing a raider, and if I'm just plain not in the mood to put up with survivor gameplay and shit teammates, that means I won't touch the game at all. Hell, it's again what caused me to avoid the game during most of Season 2-4. 

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What makes this problem so much more worse however is the mixture of two survivor problems. As mentioned above - your fun depends greatly on your teammates, their sportsmanship, and their competence. All it takes is one or two bad players to mess a game up and ruin your mood, making you resent the survivor side of the game. On the other hand - the broken balance that's become so extreme in Season 5 also means that you can suffer through these matches, only to have your priority wasted because you got matched with a premade team of high-level sweats that run the most meta abilities and powers.

There's nothing more absolutely soul-crushing to suffer through multiple matches of bad survivor games, to then get absolutely trampled on by a team who rush the power keys being planted, getting stun-locked by multiple well-timed stuns, getting beaten to a bloody pulp because you get jumped on by multiple coordinated survivors, who also have abilities and even abuse lag to ensure you can't ever hit them because their dodges are glitchy and spammed.

If you at least had a dedicated queue for playing raiders, it's not so bad. One bad game can happen, and you can just queue back up for another game and still have some fun with the next team. But it's so demoralising to go through multiple bad games to have all of it lost due to bad matchmaking screwing you over. 

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The state of the game honestly just saddens me, because I still think Breakers is a underrated and extremely fun multiplayer game. Having close games as survivor but still pulling off a win is still extremely satisfying. It's really funny when you get the rare games where a raider is willing to spare you if they've deemed you worked your ass off to try your best. The sheer fun there is to be had in playing as characters like Bulma, Oolong, King, Chi-Chi, King Kai, and so on as you try to survive raiders is a great novelty. There's just plain heaps of fun in what is frankly some of the downright best villain gameplay I've ever seen in a Dragon Ball game, period.

The game has plenty of issues. The gacha system is key amongst all and is heavily to blame for the horrible balancing issues that's put survivors in this state. But I think it has a lot of good qualities too. Key of which is Battle Passes being entirely free and not even very grindy, especially compared to Season 1 IMO.

But as things remain, I can't see Breakers surviving for much longer just due to the sheer level of frustration and demoralisation the fanbase is currently experiencing with how horrendous the matchmaking, ranked system, and balancing that's heavily skewed towards survivors is, meaning only Goku Black can really compete, and even that's with gigantic downsides. I really hope they get their act together and do some hefty fixes come Season 6, because I really don't want to see the game die out due to bad balance decisions at the moment.

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