Dragon Quest Heroes scratches a very particular itch. It’s for those who like hack and slash action, along with long hours of questing, driven by a sturdy narrative, alongside trusty companions. It provides a satisfying grind of leveling up your characters, acquiring new loot, and taking down enemies.
Dragon Quest Heroes 2 follows up on the same formula, and apart from a few missteps, improves upon it in almost every way. You play as one of two cousins, Lazarel or Teresa, as they find themselves in the middle of a clash between two kingdoms. You then set forth on a journey, tasked with setting things straight, and encounter an interesting cast of friends, foes, and many others with vested interests. From the onset, the story feels more carefully crafted as compared to the previous game, and also introduces new characters often enough with interesting plot twists to keep you engaged for long hours.
You’ll also see familiar characters from other Dragon Quest games making an appearance, though the game doesn’t make excessive use of them, instead giving the center-stage to the new characters, and giving the time needed for them to develop over the course of your journey. Dragon Quest Heroes 2’s plot of formerly peaceful nations now at war feels more compelling, and is a believable premise as compared to the previous game’s monsters gone rogue premise.
The gameplay itself is where you’ll be extracting most of the value from this game. The combat, inspired and evolved from Dynasty Warriors, feels fast, flashy, with you slaying thousands of enemies on an hourly basis. Stringing together combos, mowing down hordes of enemies, mixing up magic attacks with heavy melee attacks, all feel empowering and immensely satisfying. The map itself is an open world, where you can pick a direction and start cleaning house. You don’t, however, need to kill every enemy in sight, as they’ll keep re-spawning infinitely. Instead, your time is better spent helping out NPCs in need, or doing quests that’ll build your character or progress the story. Not all areas are expansive and open though, with the game taking you to more, if not narrow, combat focused regions. As you progress the story, more regions are made available to you, each with enough variety to keep things from ever feeling stale.
The quests themselves have a variety of flavors to them, with you chasing down numerous miscreants, or items. Some of these quests need you to solve environmental puzzles, using means such as teleportation, and so on. While the game can on occasion fall into the trap of doling out fetch quests, doing them is more often than not rewarding, and upgrading your character with better abilities, weapons and armor is the main enjoyment in these games.
Dragon Quest Heroes 2 does have similarities to the previous game, but it refines most of what it borrows from its predecessors, and adds an adequate amount of new stuff to keep you hooked. The new premise, and the overall journey it takes you upon also feels ultimately satisfying. Hey, and if you ever get tired or lonely, you can always ask a friend to join in and play the game in co-op. While, as of now the multiplayer does have some issues, like being able to join in quests you have already completed, or getting kicked out after the quest is done and having to re-join if you wish to continue playing together, it’s functional enough to add value to the package.