Dragonball Z Kakarot is not a good video game.
That's really it.
Also I can't stop playing it.
So DBZ:K is yet another attempt to make a DBZ RPG complete with characters leveling up, skill trees, random battles, and all that fun stuff you expect from an RPG. To the game's credit the RPG systems here are actually rather deep and that's kind surprising. While each character has a talent tree that unlocks and powers up their super moves, the real depth comes from the Companion Board system. The way this works is that each famous Dragonball NPC you meet gives you an emblem that can be slotted into any one of seven Companion Boards to grant you passive effects. Each board is tailored to a different aspect of the game, combat, exploration, cooking, collecting, etc etc. As you slot these emblems into the board they provide the board a certain number of levels and upon hitting certain level marks you gain a new passive effect.
You gain give items that you can feed into these emblems to power them up on specific boards to increase the effectiveness that they grant to that board. On top of that certain emblems team up when set on a board next to each other that grant them more levels toward the board they are set against. For example putting Tien and Chau-zu together grants them a bonus based on their obvious relationship in the series.
The gameplay itself is broken up into two gameplay aspects, exploration and combat. You are dropped into a fairly small zone that is filled with your typical open-world elements. From floating power orbs you collect that act as your currency to fill your talent trees, to campefires for cooking, to animals to gather meat from, to side quests, and of course random enemy encounters. Flying around these zones is fun, if unrewarding, it strikes an Anthem-like feeling in flight minus the overheat mechanic as in DBZ you can fly forever. You have a limited meter of super speed which is a fun little thing to do as you can fly through mountains and trees and you tear the ground apart if you fly to low, it feels very Dragonball and that's really great. Shame the control is so floaty and unresponsive you will constantly overshoot any item you try to grab, orbs you wanna fly through, or npc's you wanna talk to. Up and down are controlled by the right shoulder buttons and they are incredibly slow to respond.
However the other open world elements feel fucking pointless. The side quests are insanely stupid things like "gather 6 deer", eating at campfires is supposed to grant bonuses like Breath of the Wild but these bonuses are lame and the best thing you get from eating is full health back.
The biggest mark against this game for me is how worthless the random enemy encounters are. I love to grind in RPG's, I dunno why but I love it, I like to overlevel or close to it before taking on the main story challenges. The problem with the random encounters in DBZ:K is that they are fucking worthless. You gain like 50 exp per fight, which would be fine at low levels but I'm level 15 now and they still give 68 exp when I need over 10K to level. That's dogshit. Especially when you consider that the last story fight gave my 55,000 exp. The game clearly is balanced to level you as you do main quests and main quests only, using side missions and maybe one or two random encounters to just inch yourself over to the next level when the story missions get you 98% of the way there.
So you can just mostly ignore the open world stuff.
That brings us to the combat. It's bad. I mean....it's not good. It's not terrible, but it's like 1 level below fine imo. You see the big problem is that the game has a sharp contrast between random encounters and side quest fights when compared to main story fights. Minor encounters are simple and they teach you very basic combat flow, but none of these encounters really do anything interesting and mostly just stand there. Yet story fights do all kinds of crazy shit, they have super attacks that become quick time puzzles, they will just hit you out of nowhere when you got them in combo stun, they'll blast you with a big energy beam out of nowhere, and every fight is more of a puzzle than it is using the combat system itself.
Each boss fight you have to learn the pattern, learn when to attack, how to dodge all of their moves, and learn when it's safe to go in on them. Sound fine right? Sure if the controls worked it would be great. Except the controls suck, they do not respond as quickly as you need them too in a chaotic fight like DBZ fights. I believe the biggest problem is that the game wont let you do a new action until your entire animation for the previous action finishes, which in Dark Souls is fine, but with how fast things happen here it just feels unresponsive and sluggish. You need to zip around energy beams, but if you were blocking you have to wait for your character to drop the block and lower their arms before you can start moving away. This delay will always get you blasted which gives the game a feeling like you have to always be thinking ahead of the boss in order to survive, you have to predict instead of react and that's never gonna go well the first time you see a fight. Additionally your super moves look really cool, but they lock you in place for several seconds and if you are fighting multiple people at once, you are gonna get rocked if you try to use them.
Imagine a Dragonball Z game that discourages you from using a Kamehameha beam.
Then there is another issue I have for the game. It tells the tale of Dragonball Z, in almost it's entirety. From episode 1 to episode 297, this game will have you journey through the entire series, seeing the same cut scenes we've seen in every other Dragonball z game to come before it. Some of the side missions are cute and flesh out things that happen in the show on the sidelines, but all of them are shitty mundane fetch quests are just another "fight me" quest.
It's kinda hard to get invested in a game where the story has been done 1000 times before. I skip a lot of cut scenes because they are straight ripped form the show, and I know that is a stupid complaint about a DRagonball Z but the gameplay parts of the game aren't very good, so I dunno what I'm supposed to be latched onto in order to keep playing the game.
However despite all of this, I keep playing it. The spectacle of the fights once you get used to the lag and predicty nature of the controls, is fun to watch. And there are bits of charm sprinkled throughout that are enough to keep a fan of the show into it.
But if you aren't a big DBZ fan, just stay away. You'll fucking hate it. This is a game for fans, and barely even is passable for them.