Dragon Quest Heroes II

Dragon Quest Heroes II (ドラゴンクエストヒーローズII 双子の王と予言の終わり) - PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Vita, Switch, Windows (2016)

This entry is part 15 of 15 in the series Dragon Quest

Not too long at all after Dragon Quest Heroes released, something magical happened. Dragon Quest games started getting localized again. The 3DS remakes of VII and VIII, after years of waiting finally came stateside. A new side series arrived with Dragon Quest Builders. And last, but definitely not least, a sequel to Dragon Quest Heroes. One that is most definitely a better experience in every way than the original.

The story this time around covers the Seven Realms. Seven circling kingdoms that surround Accordia as their capital. A thousand years prior these kingdoms were at devastating war. But thanks to the wisdom of a kind king, the world started long period of peace. Suddenly one day however, an invasion from the kingdom of Dunisia attacks the small port-town of Harba, where our two protagonists, cousins Lazarel and Teresa abide. Dunisia however is the home of their close friend, a prince named Cesar. As they go to investigate this, they are accompanied by a member of the royal guard, Dedemona. Throughout this, the story becomes a bit of a murder mystery as deaths are blamed on other kingdoms as reason for a new war.

The two new characters this time are the previously mentioned Cesar and Desdemona. Cesar is a warrior prince who wields massive two handed swords. He’s a bit angsty, but he does have reason with his father being assassinated and all. Next up is the sexy gladiator Desdemona. She wields a heavy axe, but like Yangus did in the previous title, but is quite more pleasant to look at, and a bit more helpful. Much like the first game, Heroes II has heroes from previous titles return, even more than the first game as a matter of fact. The wild wolf raised child, Ruff and the bratty Maribel come from Dragon Quest VII, claws and boomerang users respectively. The 3DS remake of VII just freshly released in the west, so both characters should be familiar. Everyone from DQIV returns, but now with Maya’s sister Meena, who uses cards in her repertoire, as well as the jolly merchant Torneko, who’s main weapon is a abacus, but will use whatever he can get his hands on. Carver, a massive muscle man who fights with his hands joins Terry from VI. Last, but not least, Angelo joins and replaces Yangus to join Jessica to represent DQVIII. He uses a bow, one of his weapon choices from his game. All weapons from the first game are represented again, but like the character selection, it’s broader.

The core gameplay is still the same. Somewhat. Big crowds of creatures still flood stages. You still control the game the exact way in fights, but something is different…this game doesn’t feel cramped. Is that an overworld? Why yes it is. Dragon Quest Heroes II is in every way a more open game than its predecessor thanks to the introduction of Wild Zones. The most obvious way is that you’re no longer just going to a map and clicking a button to go to a stage to fight a mob and then it ends. These stages may be big, they may be small, but they’re all a bit stifling at the end of the day. In Heroes II, this isn’t really a thing anymore. The stages are vast, they interconnect, and you are going to do a lot of walking. This all ends up making Heroes II feel more like an RPG proper, even if it’s in an arguably superficial way. Even on a deeper gameplay level though, it feels better and more satisfying to know you trekked across the desert to get to the woods or to the lush green fields. To find hidden items and chests, to hunt down strong monsters. To finally be able to run when not in a fight. And if you’re in late game and you just can’t, you can use zoom to move around and quick travel.

The overworld isn’t the only new thing Heroes II brings to the table. Everything about the first game that returns has been reworked and for the better. The skill points and the menu for them have been simplified. A section for Spells and Abilities and a section for a character. For our leads, there seems to be a section for Vocations as well. Characters can and will have more than four abilities, so it’s a good thing for every character you can set what abilities they’ll use. Want to make two characters with the same weapon feel different? Then give them vastly different abilities.

Weapons now, much like the mainline games have proficiency. The more you use a certain kind of weapon, the higher it gets. The higher that proficiency gets, the more perks you’ll receive. It can be new abilities, stat buffs, or even just enhancements to your other abilities. For more characters this is just going to happen naturally, majority of the characters in the game only use one weapon. However, our two leads Lazarel and Teresa are different.

This is where Vocations come up. Vocations are the job system of Dragon Quest. Games like III and VII, and IX heavily use them. New Vocations give you a change to start up a new path in life, get new skills, use a new weapon, and something I know might bother folks, level up all over again. This means that Lazarel and Teresa at most instances are going to be a bit under leveled, regardless of how good their stats may be. When certain Vocation are leveled up or mastered, you’ll gain access to even stronger Vocation that allow for even more abilities and give access to even more weapons.

Monster Medals return and are mostly the same, but there are new Monster Minions to use. This time you can even take control of some of the monsters you summon. They all have their own unique set of moves…for better or worse. This can mostly help you out, but there are definitely instances where it can and will feel like a hindrance, especially when in mob situations. It’s best to get familiar with these medals before you go head and buttocks first into a fight you know nothing about.

The Stonecloud of the first Heroes was maybe a bit cramped and impersonal of a hub. Its personality came mostly from the tavern. Accordia is a bit more of a hub than that. For one, it’s an actual town. Everything is a bit more spread out with there being a circle of stalls for your purchasing and alchemy needs. All of the functions from before return, but now there’s a few new ones. Even those old ones have a bit of spice to their personality too, like with a monster running that Mini Medal trading. Perhaps you need to trade materials for others. There’s even a place to upgrade your accessories, a new mechanic to this game. Do you really like those Slime Earrings? Wish they were a bit more useful? Well then throw a truckload of material and money into them and they can give new perks and benefits to using the accessory. It’s like how your skill points and proficiency can boost you and your weapons. All are gonna take grinding, so get going with that.

Which brings up a bit of an issue that Heroes II has over the original, it’s grinding. As Dragon Quest Heroes was a Musou in addition to having more of that RPG blood in it, it did definitely have a grind. Though with the bigger crowds being more common in well, common areas, you’d have the mash buttons endorphins running. In Heroes, instances of big overwhelming crowds, especially when you’re exploring in post-game can be quite a bit rarer. To make up for this however, when fighting bigger, stronger monsters, you can get bonus experience. In addition to all of that, you can even use a Bonus Ball to double experience, try mixing that with a King Metal Slime. Now, yes, there is ways to fix the grind issue, but ultimately it’s just a bandaid as oppose to a real fix.

Perhaps the biggest addition in Heroes II is the inclusion of multiplayer. In what is most likely a herculean task years after release, players can go online to cooperatively tackle dungeons with other players. You *could* do these solo, but that’s probably not exactly a wise idea with how crowded they get. You can even play using characters from the first game that weren’t in the story in these dungeons. Unfortunately only in this mode for reasons unknown. Definitely beats just having events for online functionality at the end of the day, which does return.

The more things do change however, the more you’ll see what stays the same. The music of Dragon Quest is good, hearing it from an orchestra is also good. The fact that much of this game’s music is reused from the last game is not. There is new music, it’s not all reused, but lets say if you’re playing both games back to back for some bizarre reason, it’s going to most likely cause some anguish.

Much like the first game, Heroes II launched in Japan on the PS3 as well as the PS4 version, the later of which would be localized. This time however, a Vita version would also launch for those who wanted to play the game in the comfort of the bus or bathroom. A year later, to line up with the Nintendo Switch launch would come a Nintendo Switch version of the game, this time bundled with the first game and a few extras that to this day are exclusive to that version. The biggest one being Ragnar, whom fans of the series will recognize from Dragon Quest IV. His partner being a Heal Slime is something that fans should also notice as both sets of heroes in both Heroes titles have a Heal Slime for a partner. The Nintendo Switch version would not leave Japan unfortunately, even after many false scares, it wouldn’t hit stateside, most likely due to its massive cartridge size.

Dragon Quest Heroes II and its predecessor very much come off as Musou for the gamer who dislikes Musou.  Considering the broad appeal and popularity of Dragon Quest, especially in Japan, this is very likely deliberately done.  Was this a way to make Dragon Quest fans more comfortable with action RPGs or was it a way to get them into Musou…probably both.  Either way,  despite talks and teasing, there would not be a third Dragon Quest Heroes at the time of writing.  There’s more the series could do, but perhaps it’s best to let other gameplay styles and spinoffs take the spotlight.  There is so much more that Dragon Quest can explore and so much more for its fans to get lost and broaden horizons of new genres.  How about a fighting game soon?

Series Navigation<< Dragon Quest Heroes

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