Square Enix has been on a roll recently with some amazing games released in the past couple of months, from Final Fantasy XV, re-release of Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5+2.5 Remix to Nier Automata, they have delivered an enjoyable set of games that target a wide range of audience. Dragon Quest Heroes 2 is another brand new action RPG from Square Enix that continues this trend.
Heroes 2 is a sequel as seen in its name however it is also a more focused iterative adventure that kinks out some of the flaws of its predecessor while concentrating on providing a story that is entertaining enough on its own. Despite having plenty of characters to choose from in Dragon Quest Heroes 2, they all have their own distinct personality and skills which makes each of them stand out on their own. Not to mention the fact that the game features some of the fan favorite characters from the past mainline Dragon Quest games.
The game provides the option to play either as a male or a female character which are interchanged as cousins in the game’s story. The choice of gender here has no effect on the story and since we can already change characters during combat, it doesn’t serve much purpose aside from keeping the focus on the particular character during cutscenes.
The story tackles a theme of all out war between the seven main Kingdoms in Dragon Quest Heroes 2. The two main characters are visiting a neighboring Kingdom when their own Kingdom suddenly starts an attack that comes as a surprise to them. Determined to find out more about the attack and why the peace between both Kingdoms is threatened, they set out on a journey that takes them through a variety of locations while meeting an interesting cast of characters. The story isn’t exactly worthy of praise but it is the pacing that keeps it from becoming a chore. During your quest, you will be able to visit multiple towns while the better part of your time will be spent in the semi-open areas in between them, which is usually where the majority of the combat takes place.
When it comes to the hack-and-slash genre – particularly games that feature combat with a huge number of enemies, often called Musou – can get repetitive easily, Dragon Quest Heroes 2 doesn’t feel like one because of the skills and progression system that it employs along with the ability to switch characters mid-battle. The character switching mechanic is relatively painless and requires the press of a single button in order to switch out the characters. Each character comes with their own set of skills and attacks that flesh out the combat system. Some are useful for clearing a huge mob while others serve better as heavy hitters.
The one aspect that I enjoyed in Dragon Quest Heroes 2 is not the addition of a more densely populated semi-open world with monsters to fight, it is the fact that each town now feels like it is from a proper JRPG with multiple points of interest. This means that during the main adventure, the player will have to restock and upgrade equipment as he ventures from one point to the next. It is exciting to enter a new town and check out the new weapons and armor that can be purchased, or quests that can be taken. The game doesn’t shy away from showing cutscenes that advance the story and they often look gorgeous and feature detailed character models that are not seen during actual gameplay. They serve the purpose of introducing new characters or advancing the plot but more importantly, their inclusion makes it easier to feel like we are playing a proper JRPG. This is important since in most Musou games, it often feels like I am just fighting horde of enemies one after another without any proper sense of progression, which isn’t the case here.
The combat revolves around stringing together a combo with a light and heavy attack – sounds familiar, right? Well to make it more interesting, the developers have added a jump button that can be used to chain combos and there are skills that can be used to punish the enemies while building up a combo chain. This could get repetitive quickly if we were forced to play with just one character but we can keep a party of four main characters that can be switched at any point during the battle with the press of a single button. This keeps the combat from becoming repetitive quickly.
The game also keeps a standard JRPG level up system which means if you defeat enemies, you gain experience points and gold. Some enemies also drop random loot that can be used to create new items. Each level up provides the character with skill points that can be used to unlock new skills and stat boosting abilities for the character. This is not the only way skills are unlocked as there are some alternatives like talking to a master in Accordia, the main hub of of the game, or mastering some weapons that can unlock new skills.
The main story isn’t that long but the game does offer sidequests. These sidequests are not mandatory for the most part except during certain sequences when the story takes the backseat, however they do provide the party with neat weapons and equipment which makes the game easier to complete. If you prefer online multiplayer, there is the option to either create a lobby, join one or randomly go through an unlocked map with other players online. You can also help other players in story battle or ask for their help. The experience on offer here isn’t that deep but it is nice to have multiplayer in a strictly single player action RPG.
Since the game features several semi-open sections in between the various towns, navigating between them on foot can take some time. This is mitigated somewhat by using the Zoom spell which works as a way of fast travel between one location to the next.
Dragon Quest Heroes 2 Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Dragon Quest Heroes II is a hack-and-slash game developed by Omega Force and published by Square Enix for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, and Microsoft Windows. It was released in Japan in May 2016, and worldwide in April 2017.
Dragon Quest Heroes 2 is a much more focused action RPG compared to its predecessor, it starts with an adventure that goes through the main Dragon Quest lore while providing cameos from each of the main cast of characters in the Dragon Quest universe. It is aimed at the fans of the series but even if you aren't a fan, you will enjoy the multitude of characters and hack-and-slash gameplay that manages to avoid the repetitive nature of similar games in this genre.