17 Essential Sand Land Tips To Get You Started

17 Essential Sand Land Tips To Get You Started

Sand Land, the video game adaptation of Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama’s one-volume manga of the same name, arrives on April 26, 2024 for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows.

I’ve been enjoying this thoroughly engaging open-world action RPG prior to release, and have come up with an assortment of beginner tips to help you get off to a good start if you’re looking to dive in.

Stick to the default vehicle control scheme

After you hop behind the wheel of your first vehicle, you might prefer to use R2/Right Trigger to accelerate as is standard nowadays for most vehicles in games. Sand Land’s alternative control scheme will allow you to do this, but you should resist that urge.

You’ll spend a sizable amount of time in a vehicle in Sand Land, potentially fighting and traveling even more this way than you will on foot. Keeping a controller trigger under constant pressure can be physically exhausting. But not only that: Vehicles like Jump Bots use legs instead of wheels, so using a thumbstick is more intuitive in some cases. It’s also easier to rely on the left thumbstick for directional movement during combat as well.

Just think of your vehicles (for the most part) as a more armored version of Beelzebub.

Don’t forget about auto-pilot (especially if you’re using the alternate control scheme)

There is an auto-pilot too! Hit up on the d-pad and your vehicle will start moving forward automatically. If you’re using R2/Right Trigger to accelerate your vehicle, this will give your index/middle finger some much-needed rest. And it’ll be easier to take in the sights (the skyboxes in this game are a delight).

Wait until you get the Jump Bot to explore the world

As an open-world action RPG, Sand Land allows Prince Beelzebub and pals to explore the world, gather items, and grab side-quests. I advise waiting until you get your first Jump Bot (which happens shortly after you head to Junker Market: Lisab) as it will allow you to access a wider variety of different areas.

Definitely do the side-quests (they’re good, mostly)

As you travel Sand Land, be sure to pick up the side-quests. While the actual activities they entail aren’t the most interesting (you’ll often have to go to a place, shoot a thing, talk to a person, etc), the actual story content is quite compelling. I don’t want to spoil too much, but the narratives that unfold in Sand Land’s side-quests are more emotionally heavy than you might assume, and more than a few quests have alternate outcomes.

Screenshot: ILCA / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

Also, finishing side-quests will allow you to invite folks to move into the town of Spino, which is your base of operations.

Don’t forget about ally abilities

Regardless of how strong Prince Beelzebub thinks he is (and he definitely is strong), he can still benefit from the help of his allies. Rao and Thief have skills you can unlock each time you level up. You can assign them to an L1/LB + Face Button command. For example, on PS5, you can assign Rao’s “Superhuman” ability, which juices your vehicle’s attack damage, with L1 + X (or any other face button).

Screenshot: Bandai Namco / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

There are a nice variety of different abilities here for you to mix and match.

Swap weapons when reloading

Reload times are a bummer when an enemy is approaching you swiftly. By default, you’ll hit R1/RB to reload. While a weapon is reloading, however, you can swap to your secondary weapon and start firing with that (assuming it’s loaded too, of course).

Screenshot: Bandai Namco / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

While certain weapons are more effective against certain kinds of enemies, getting into a pattern of letting your weapons reload (which really is just a cooldown) while you swap and use your other weapon is a handy cycle to exploit.

You can open things up in vehicles

Save yourself time and stop hopping out of vehicles to check chests you come across. You can just ride your vehicle up to a chest and hit Triangle/Y to open them. Also, you can shoot Iron Ore deposits with your vehicles’ weapons and just drive over them to pick them up.

Vehicles are almost always deployable

Up against a foe that’s a bit too hard for Beelzebub’s punches and kicks alone? See if you can deploy a vehicle instead. While there are some sequences that don’t allow you to summon a vehicle, you can hop into a tank or Jump Bot (or whatever else you have) in most places, like when you’re exploring caverns and dungeons.

You don’t have to get out of vehicles to change them

Gif: Bandai Namco / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

Sand Land will make you swap vehicles from time to time, sometimes mutiple times during the same sequence. There’s no need to hop out. Simply hold right on the d-pad and select a new vehicle. You’ll immediately change seats from your current one to the next.

Don’t get into needless fistfights when you can blow up enemies with your tank

Getting into fistfights, particularly against wildlife, can be very risky. Not only can it take a little longer, but you also open yourself up to taking on damage you don’t need to. Instead, hop into your tank or other weaponized vehicle to take out random hostile wildlife and bad guys (especially if they’re high in number).

R2/RT is dodge

If you play a lot of melee action games, you’ll probably be used to using circle/B to dodge (or some face button, at least). By default, Sand Land uses R2/RT for dodge. It’s a little unconventional for sure, which might lead you to taking more hits than you need to.

No, flicking the right stick doesn’t change targets in combat (bummer)

By pressing the right thumbstick (or R3 on PlayStation) while in melee combat, Beelzebub will lock on to an enemy like in many other action games. However, you can’t switch targets by flicking the right stick as you would in say, Dark Souls or something.

During fights against multiple enemies, you’ll need to change targets by clicking and re-clicking the thumbstick.

You can remap many of the buttons

Sand Land gives you two control types. In Options > Control Settings, you can alter most of the controls, such as choosing to bind Beelzebub’s dodge to something like circle/B instead of R2/RT.

Don’t forget to tinker with your vehicles!

You’ll have to manage your vehicles’ parts if you want the best outcome in battle in Sand Land. Be sure to check in with Anne frequently when in Spiro to see what new gear you’ve come across in your travels.

Vehicles have a base level you can upgrade in the Upgrade Vehicles section of Anne’s garage menu. You can also upgrade individual parts if you want to hang on to weapons and gear that works out well for you.

Objective markers are confusing

Screenshot: Bandai Namco / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

While you can technically un-track the main quest in Sand Land, the objective marker won’t go away. Since both side-quests and the main quest use yellow stars on their icons, it’s easy to get lost. Be sure to either use pins for side-quest locations on the map or just get used to telling them apart. Side-quests have a star with a down arrow underneath them, as opposed to the main quest which uses a yellow star over a badge-symbol.

The Genji dragon encounter is all about dodging, not speed

Early on in Sand Land, you’ll have to outmaneuver a Genji dragon. It’s a fun sequence straight out of the original manga. Rao’s constant yelling to drive faster, however, isn’t helpful because you can’t outrun this beast with speed alone (overly chatty NPCs repeating the same lines of dialogue is a common sore spot in Sand Land across the board).

Screenshot: Bandai Namco / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

Pay attention to the ground before the dragon jumps up at you. You’ll need to swerve out of the way. Accelerating and boosting with nitro won’t help you here.

Turn up the music a bit!

Sand Land has a great soundtrack with lovely chill guitars, wonderful uses of gentle-but-compelling synth arpeggios, and a lush vocal pad that comes in and out during various moments. The only problem? The default setting has the music too low! With everything set to 80 out of the box, feel free to nudge that music up to 95 or even 100. You’re welcome!

Screenshot: Bandai Namco / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

Following the anime adaptation of Akira Toriyama’s Sand Land, the video game treatment of this one-and-done manga is a pretty sweet open-world action RPG with some compelling themes of environmentalism, war, and the need for people to come together to survive. These tips ought to make your time in the dunes of Sand Land a little easier.

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