It’s well known that companies these days like to experiment with their most famous franchises, which not only gives fans something new, but can also attract a new audience. Square Enix has done this several times in the past, especially with the Final Fantasy franchise, and back in 2015, the company experimented with the Dragon Quest franchise with the release of Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below, an experience that felt like a mix of Dragon Quest and Dynasty Warriors. Now, nearly two years later, Square Enix delivers more nostalgia for Dragon Quest fans with the release of Dragon Quest Heroes II.
Dragon Quest Heroes II takes place in a peaceful land of seven kingdoms. A thousand years before the events of the game, there was a long and terrible war, and when the war finally came to an end, the people made a solemn pact never to fight again. Shortly after this, the world was divided into seven realms, and peace returned. However, the flames of war look ready to rise again, as some of the kingdoms start fighting amongst themselves. The game follows the story of cousins and fellow knights-in-training Lazarel and Teresa. When the duo arrives in the Kingdom of Harba, the Dunisian army invades the kingdom, and they fend off against the Dunisian attack. With the world’s peace being threatened, it’s up to our heroes to put an end to this war.
Similar to the original Dragon Quest Heroes, as you progress through the story, you will be joined by characters from previous Dragon Quest titles, such as Torneko and Alena from Dragon Quest IV, Terry and Carver from Dragon Quest VI, Jessica and Angelo from Dragon Quest VIII, among several others. Once again, while the game does well in terms of nostalgia, the story is clearly below Dragon Quest standards. In fact, even though the setting is completely different, the base narrative is very similar to the original Dragon Quest Heroes, which says much about its originality.
The gameplay is where Dragon Quest Heroes II truly shines with its Musou action similar to Koei Tecmo’s Warrior’s series. Attacks can be performed by pressing the square and triangle buttons. You can press these buttons in different combinations to perform various combos. In addition to normal attacks, each character also has its own unique spells and abilities, which consume MP, and can be accessed by holding the R1 button. By stringing combos a tension meter will start to fill, and once it's full, you can enter High Tension status, which gives the character more attack power, invincibility status and zero MP cost, before unleashing its ultimate attack.
Dragon Quest Heroes II’s story mode features 15 different playable characters, with each character having its own weapons, moves and abilities. From characters that use close-ranged weapons like swords and axes, such as Terry and Desdemona, to characters that attack from afar using bows and boomerangs, such as Angelo and Maribel, Dragon Quest Heroes II offers a lot variety in combat style for the players to choose from. The game also introduced Vocations (Job Classes) for the two main characters, which means that Teresa and Lazarel can change Vocation at any time, with each Vocation having its own skill set and group of weapons to choose from. As you deal damage to enemies you will earn proficiency with the weapon type you were using, which allows you to level up your class for that specific character. Leveling up your class increases that character’s stats when using that weapon and unlocks new moves.
You can take a team of 4 characters to missions, and with so many different combat styles and abilities sets, having a perfectly balanced party is crucial to victory. One of the few issues I had with the combat system in general was the ally AI. While I enjoy switching between characters in middle of combat, there were occasions where the other characters were just standing still doing nothing while I was battling the enemy. This was especially frustrating when one or more characters were low on health and the only healer in the party was idle, forcing me to switch characters and doing the healing myself.
Although you can go all out and dish out some powerful attacks and combos, there’s still some depth and strategy involved that goes beyond just having a balanced party. Lots of missions feature enemies called mawkeepers, which open portals and call in more monsters into the battle. If you wish to end the battle quickly and not be overwhelmed by the enemies, defeating the mawkeepers quickly should your be your priority. There’s also several missions in which you have to protect a character from enemies’ attacks, which means that you have to stay close and protect him/her, otherwise you will surely fail the mission.
The monster medal system from the previous game also makes a return, but with a few additions. When you defeat monsters, they will sometimes drop Monster Coins, which in the previous game could be used to summon these monsters to fight at your side. In Dragon Quest Heroes II there are three types of Monster Coins: Saviours, Sentries and Substitutes. Saviours are minions that support you using their trademark moves, such as a performing a devastating attack on enemies or using a healing spell on your party. Sentries are monsters that fight at your side until they die, while Substitute coins let you temporarily take the form of a monster and deal massive damage to the enemy. There’s also some strategy involved with which Monster Coins types you should collect and use. For example, Sentries were crucial in missions where I had to protect someone since they acted as a last line of defense, while Saviours provided help in situations where I was in a pinch and surrounded by enemies.
One of the issues I had with the original Dragon Quest Heroes was the fact that the game didn’t feature an open world or large fields to explore, with the game’s missions instead taking place in small areas which can be accessed in the game’s hub area. Thankfully, that is no longer the case in Dragon Quest Heroes II. While story battles still take place in small areas, you need to travel through open areas to get there, giving you that sense of adventure and exploration.
What is probably the most welcomed feature that was not present in the original game is the multiplayer. Dragon Quest Heroes II supports online co-op up to four players. The multiplayer mode allows players to enter dungeons filled with powerful monsters to battle or tackle story missions together. While the multiplayer is certainly a great addition, it’s disappointing that it lacks couch co-op. In addition to story mode and the multiplayer, Dragon Quest Heroes II also features several sidequests. Although most of these are pretty straightforward, such as killing a certain amount of enemies or collecting certain items, there are a few with some unique twists that add some challenge to the situation.
From a presentation perspective the game does a fantastic job. Just like its predecessor, Dragon Quest Heroes II’s graphics are colorful and very detailed, with the character designs of Akira Toriyama looking absolutely amazing. Despite all the action that goes on screen during the chaotic battles, the game manages to deliver a consistent 60 frames-per-second for the most part, which make this visual experience even more enjoyable. The soundtrack offers another touch of nostalgia for fans, with the entire soundtrack being composed of Koichi Sugiyama's tracks from previous Dragon Quest titles.
Dragon Quest Heroes II does exactly what fans expect from a sequel, building upon the original with some new features and slight gameplay improvements. The open world areas are certainly a great addition in comparison to the original game, but the multiplayer is the new gameplay element that definitely stands out, not only adding replay value, but also allowing players to play the story with some friends. Although there are some issues here and there, Dragon Quest Heroes II is a game that those who played the original game or enjoy Dynasty Warriors' gameplay shouldn't miss.Dragon Quest Heroes 2 was reviewed using a Playstation 4 provided by Square Enix. You can find additional information about Gaming Union's ethics policy here.
|Enjoyable combat with enough variety and depth.|
|Lots of playable characters, each with their own skills and abilities.|
|Plenty of nostalgia moments for Dragon Quest fans.|
|Multiplayer co-op up to four players.|
|Horrible ally AI.|