Dragon Quest Heroes II Review -- A Much Bigger Adventure Than Expected
Dragon Quest Heroes II for PC and PlayStation 4 adds many new systems that allow it to fit in perfectly with the Dragon Quest series.
Dragon Quest Heroes II
Review copy provided by the publisher
When Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below released in 2015, I had my doubts about the collaboration between two of my favorite franchises. Quickly, I discovered this wasn’t going to be the case with this game, which took many liberties to stand out when being compared to Omega Force’s other developed titles.
Now, Dragon Quest Heroes II has arrived without an insanely long title and I couldn’t have been more curious to see the refinements and new systems that developer Omega Force is known to bring with their sequels. Surprisingly, the sophomore title brings so many new features to the series that one would think this is instead the fourth or fifth installment.
Dragon Quest Heroes II tells the story of a world at peace after a devastating war. Players assume the role of cousins and knights-in-training, Teresia and Raziel, as they are caught in the middle of a surprise invasion and volunteer to investigate the cause. The story’s premise and tutorial battles all happen rather quickly, which I enjoy from these types of games because I want to get right out into the action.
After accepting the mission to defuse a potential war, I was released into an open world. Readers, I cannot stress enough how enormous the world of Dragon Quest Heroes II is. Looking back at Dragon Quest Heroes, everything took place on a hub ship; players could then travel around the world on the ship and be dropped off in various places. The issue, that I didn’t really consider an issue when I first played the game, was that this could feel less like a Dragon Quest game and more like a typical Warriors game featuring an enclosed area with a few branching paths.
The game hosts many familiar faces found throughout the Dragon Quest series. Along with Teresia and Raziel, new characters Cesar and Desdemona join the party. I must say that this new cast fits in quite well with the returning characters. The game keeps the premise simple, the classic tale of a group of heroes saving the world, but the supporting cast and adventures along the way make it feel unique and exciting.
Getting back to Dragon Quest Heroes II, the small enclosed areas are now a thing of the past. There are six Kingdoms that connect in one way or another to the seventh Kingdom of Accordia, which will act as the hub area where you’ll be able to buy weapons, items, and access menus to change your class and party members.
The areas between the kingdoms each have their own theme and can be explored at the leisure of the player. It’s good to mention that the game rewards exploration by containing secret paths and treasure chests, which is something I enjoy finding, being the completionist that I am.
Additionally, the open world has tons of monsters that vary depending on where you are. Most of the time you can just pass these guys up, but sometimes there will be “wanted” creatures that can be defeated for extra loot or, alternatively, secret bosses that should only be taken on if you are properly leveled and prepared.
I often assumed that I was ready to take on a secret boss, but it seemed my ego got the best of me as the monster one shotted me to the Game Over screen. Furthermore, quests can be accepted that require a certain number of a specific monster killed or items. Completing these can be done on your own time and grants special items or money as rewards.
Dragon Quest Heroes II’s combat system is similar to the first in the series, but offers some improvements to help streamline the game. Now, players are able to change their weapon class for the two main characters whenever they want in the hub kingdom. However, each weapon class starts at level 1, which could add hours of gameplay for those who want to become proficient at each class and find the weapon that works best for them — the level does not revert back to 1 if you change it.
Additional improvements include the ability to run faster with the press of a button, something Dragon Quest Heroes needed desperately. Other than special skills as you level up, the combat system is a typical musou style “hack-n-slash.” There is an option for manual and automatic combo systems. I left it in auto for most of the time because I’m one of those weird people who enjoy mashing two buttons and executing awesome combos in the process.
Something to mention: I don’t think I’ve ever died as many times in a musou game as I did while playing Dragon Quest Heroes II. I’m so used to the one-vs-one thousand over-powered characters from other Omega Force titles that I took for granted the difficulty of some of these missions.
Healing during battle is limited and so is resurrecting, so having a balanced offense and defense during mission battles is crucial if you want to survive. However, if you do die, the developers graciously allow you to keep your earned levels and items during the mission, but start start over from the beginning.
To add variety to combat, the medal system has returned with some improvements. After picking up an enemy medal, players are now able to turn into the creature for a limited amount of time and use their attacks. Additionally, some creatures can just be summed and let lose in battle or provide character buffs. Approaching some of the more difficult battles often requires a nice bank of powerful enemy medals to escape certain defeat.
Now, let’s talk about controls. Why do all of these Dragon Quest spin-off games seem to have the strangest control scheme? The worst part about it is that you aren’t able to change them in the systems menu. However, after about an hour-or-so your fingers get accustomed to the layout and it ends up okay, but I would have preferred to have the option of mapping the buttons to a more comfortable configuration.
Also, when a character is talking the normal custom in games is to press “X” to speed up the text, but Dragon Quest Heroes II does not follow that tradition. Instead, you have to press the ”down” button. I know it sounds like petty complaints, but I could never get used it.
Along with that, you aren’t able to skip any of the jingles, which is fine at first, but they can get extremely repetitive overtime. For example: after every side quest you accomplish you have to go turn it in and get your reward. Well, every time you turn it in you have to sit through the jingle. I’m not saying it’s a bad jingle, but I would just like to turn in my quests quickly to get back to the action.
Developer Omega Force is truly a force to be wrecked with. The Japanese developer has not only continued a franchise, Dynasty Warriors, for 20 years, but they have found ways to bring their hack-n-slash formula to other notable series. Dragon Quest Heroes II fits in perfectly with the other entries in the Dragon Quest series, only with a splash of that musou battle system. Being a huge fan of the Dragon Quest mainline series, I was blown away with the how well this collaboration was executed and could easily call this one of my favorite games of 2017.