Dragon Quest Heroes II Is More Of The Same – PAX East Preview

Credit: Square Enix
Credit: Square Enix /

Our demo of Dragon Quest Heroes II at PAX East 2017 showed us that while the game does make a few minor changes to the hack-and-slash “Musou” formula, it’s ultimately more of the same.

Dynasty Warriors spin-offs are a dime a dozen these days. “Musou” games are generally lackluster when it comes to their story, instead focusing on mindless and repetitive combat. There admittedly is something visceral about hacking and slashing tens of hundreds of incapable enemies in spectacular fashion, though. It’s all about letting you experience endless, “exciting” action with characters from your favorite series.

Dragon Quest is a little bit of a different situation from most titles that take on this classic formula. Square Enix’s turn-based JPRG seems like an odd fit for a hack-and-slash spin-off. But after the success of Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below, it comes at no surprise the Dragon Quest spinoff was going to get a sequel. If anything, it’s glorious getting to see some of our favorite Dragon Quest heroes and creatures beautifully rendered in full 3D.

We got the chance to meet with Square Enix at PAX East 2017 and play the English-dubbed sequel, fully titled as Dragon Quest Heroes II: Twin Kings and the Prophecy’s End (why the need for these insanely long titles I will never understand). From just the beginning segments of the game’s tutorial, it was clear that the second title in the Dragon Quest Heroes series is extremely similar to the first. The game’s controls and combat mechanics still utilize the same old button mashing fighting interspersed with special attacks from your attack option wheel. Run to a new group of enemies, button mash until they drop dead (and look badass doing it), rinse and repeat.

This time around, Dragon Quest Heroes II focuses on the story of two young Dunisians: Lazarel, a young man training to be a swordsman, and his cousin Teresa. Similar to the first Dragon Quest Heroes, the game utilizes the two protagonist’s’ clashing personalities along with repetitive “goo” jokes made by the returning slime Healix. If you enjoyed the (attempted) humor in the first title, expect more of the same in Dragon Quest Heroes II.

The seven kingdoms are at peace, as war and fighting are forbidden. While Teresa is visiting her cousin at school in Harba, the Dunisian Army attacks the city of Harba. Naturally, Teresa and Lazarel take the lead in the battle against their own people, and thus begins their journey to discover the sudden collapse of the once-peaceful kingdoms and stop it before it’s too late (and yes, the story is that cliché).

Similar to the first title, you start out as a party of two but quickly meet new heroes to ally with. In our forty-five minute demo alone, we added two friends: the “Axe-Wielding envoy,” Desdemona, and the mustachioed arms merchant, Torneko. Each hero has their own special attacks, and you can switch freely between them in battle. Similar to the first title, you can only party up with a certain number of heroes at a time, though.

Dragon Quest Heroes II
Credit: Square Enix /

There are a few key gameplay updates to the sequel that make Dragon Quest Heroes II more “RPG-like”. The first is the introduction of classes for the two main protagonists. You can assign classes such as warrior or mage to both Teresa and Lazarel, which affects their equipment type and weapon skills. Each class also features a unique aesthetic change to their weapons and outfits. This not only adds more combat customization but also gives players more reason to explore to gather the different item types needed for each class.

The second major change is the how world exploration is handled. Instead of choosing your next mission on a static map, the game now features an explorable world, interspersed with random monster encounters, hidden treasures, towns, and instanced battle stages. The game also features a new weather system, which affects the party’s status in battle. As you progress through the story, you will unlock “Zoomstones,” which will enable you to fast travel between previously discovered locations.

Dragon Quest Heroes II
Credit: Square Enix /

Dragon Quest Heroes II now features a co-op mode so you can party up with one other friend while you complete the main storyline. The game also features four-player co-op in special multiplayer only “Time Labyrinth” stages, which are only unlocked by discovering various map pieces throughout the game.

More from Previews

Ultimately, Dragon Quest Heroes II is a natural next iteration in the series. At its core, the game is the same hack-and-slash fighting game you would expect. I do give some credit to Omega Force for integrating more RPG elements into the game. It is a part of the great JRPG Dragon Quest series, after all. These types of games are not for everyone, but fans of the first title will surely find some enjoyment with both its new and familiar gameplay mechanics.

Dragon Quest Heroes II is set to release for the PS4 and PC on April 25th in North America. The game is also available for the Nintendo Switch in Japan, but no official release date for the NA Switch version has been announced.