I need a hero.
Another month, another Musuo game from Omega Force – at least, thats how it feels sometimes. “But wait” they cry, “this one is different!”. Aren’t they all? And yet still they fall to the same familiar beats; lone soldier vs hundreds of foes, sprawling battle maps swarming with enemies, a plethora of characters, weapons and upgrades to unlock.
And yet they are all different. And if the core loop at the heart of the game appeals to you – as it does to me – each of them have something very unique and compelling to offer, and come generously laden with content to unlock and explore. In this regard, Dragon Quest Heroes II certainly meets expectations. But it goes above and beyond when it comes to mixing up the Musuo gameplay and adapting it to something more befitting of the Dragon Quest name.
Although the pitched battles that the Warriors series is famed for do play a central part, the majority of the game plays out like an action RPG. You’ll explore wilderness regions, Zoom to and fro between waypoints and town, customise, level-up, and equip your party, take on sidequests, and fight wandering enemies that inhabit the sizeable region maps that comprise the game world. The storyline is perhaps unnecessarily grandiose; a tale of warring kingdoms that’s full of charming characters and scheming monarchs, it certainly carries the game but does have a tendency to get bogged down in overly-long cutscenes.
Although you can control any of the game’s characters, the main story revolves around two siblings who find themselves caught up in the wars (you can name them, but can’t customise their appearances). These siblings are unique in that they can change classes, becoming warriors, clerics, thieves, and so on, unlocking different powers and abilities to customise their skill set. This being an Omega Force game, there are naturally dozens of skills, abilities, and weapons to unlock, and coupled with the fun cast of characters (partly imported from other Dragon Quest games) you’re never lacking for new play styles to experiment with.
Dragon Quest Heroes II… goes above and beyond when it comes to mixing up the Musuo gameplay and adapting it to something more befitting of the Dragon Quest name.
The actual combat is typically Warriors – you have light and heavy attacks which can be strung together to make different combos, a tension meter which builds as you fight and can be used to unleash coup-de-grace special moves, a nifty dodge roll and block, and a customisable set of spells for each character. This makes the combat feel much more varied than the usual hack-n-slash fare, and there’s a strategic element to balancing out the skills / spells of your party members to complement each other.
Adding further diversity is the Monster medal system, which lets you collect medals from defeated enemies. These can then be used to summon creatures to battle alongside you or help you out in combat, or in the case of some of the more powerful critters, allow you to transform into them for a while and use their powers. When you’re in the form of a towering Stone Golem, that can be pretty fun – less so when you’ve transformed into a Slime.
The Monster Medals prove especially vital in the story battles, which see your band of heroes battling alongside (and against) hordes of soldiers and monsters. Having an army of monstrous allies can prove invaluable when trying to hold an area or defend a character, and being able to turn into bigger monsters makes fighting them a lot quicker. Given that the battles can be surprisingly tough, you’ll need to make use of all the options you have available – you can’t just grind your way through most of the encounters in Dragon Quest Heroes II.
Technically, the game holds up pretty well. The Warriors engine has been given a few welcome coats of paint, and whilst the visuals are hardly cutting edge they are full of character and charm, and run well on PS4 and PC alike. The orchestrated Dragon Quest soundtrack will hit all the right notes with series fans, as will the wonderful voice work and localisation. Sadly the engine improvements have come at a cost: DQHII lacks splitscreen multiplayer, though does offer Online co-op.
The orchestrated Dragon Quest soundtrack will hit all the right notes with series fans, as will the wonderful voice work and localisation.
If you’re a Warriors fan or a Dragon Quest fan, this game is a no-brainer. Even if you aren’t, though, Dragon Quest Heroes II offers a metric ton of content, satisfying combat, an endearing cast of characters, and bucketloads of charm.