Omega Force’s ongoing campaign to turn every franchise into a Warriors (or Musou) game continues! We’ve seen Musou games based on Zelda, The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Fist of the North Star…you name it, you can probably kill armies by mashing some buttons in it. Dragon Quest got into the act in 2015 with Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below, and now we’ve got a sequel to that title on our hands with Dragon Quest Heroes II.
The world of Accordia was once wracked by war, but when everyone got tired of the whole killing each other thing, an agreement was made to cut it out and people generally stuck to it. Everything was divided up between seven realms, everyone was nice to each other and that was that for the whole war thing. This lasted for a millennium or so before one of the realms, Dunisia, attacked their ally Harba with an army of monsters. A pair of Dunisian cousins, male and female, get wrapped up in the ensuing conflict on account of being in Harba at the time, and they journey to try and uncover the cause of the world’s newfound aggression.
Naturally this means engaging in plenty of diplomacy to try and bring the world back to the status quo, right? Well…there’s a little of that in cutscenes, I suppose, but for the most part you’re engaging in the same sort of Musou-style slaughter that you’d expect from a sequel to the original Dragon Quest Heroes. This is modern Musou in the same vein as Hyrule Warriors and recent Dynasty Warriors games, which means huge and bombastic attacks that take out entire hordes of enemies at a time. It’s pretty cathartic.
Dragon Quest Heroes’ monster-summoning medal gimmick also returns, allowing you to call upon defeated foes to perform special attacks or fight alongside you. There’s a couple new tweaks on this formula, though. Most obviously, you’ve got a new set of summoning medals that actually allow you to transform into the monster in question. This is both neat and powerful; especially early on, monster transformations are much more powerful than your actual characters. The other change from the original game is a drastically reduced focus on defense-style missions; the summoning medal thing was initially intended as a means of survival during Heroes’ take on tower defense, but since that’s much less of a thing here, you’ve got more freedom with how you use your monsters.
New to this title is the ability to change your character’s class. Your characters begin as Warriors and are initially capable of using a handful of weapons, including dual swords, sword and board and so on, but by changing classes you can mix up your options and learn new skills. Since you can unlock passive abilities that apply to your character as a whole and cross over between classes, it’s worth mixing it up often to try everything out. The ability to shake up your playstyle by switching to a mage or martial artist is greatly appreciated and helps give the game some legs; I was especially fond of the Thief and their wide-ranged whip attacks.
It’s all tied together with the same classic Dragon Quest presentation we’ve come to expect from the series in the modern era. Beloved characters and monsters show up all over the place; as a fan of the PlayStation roguelike Torneko: The Last Hope, I was pretty happy to see the titular character appear early in the game, and it goes without saying that you’re doing battle against monsters you’ve known and loved since you were a kid. You’ve got your accent-heavy localization that modern Dragon Quest is known for as well, which is as endearing as ever. It’s a beautiful game all in all, and very pleasant to play, especially on PC where it runs like a dream.
If you were turned off the original Dragon Quest Heroes due to that game’s focus on tower-defense style missions, then it’s absolutely worth your time to check out the sequel. Dragon Quest Heroes II is more of a traditional blend between the Dragon Quest and Musou franchises and it’s going to appeal to anyone who was expecting that from the original game. It’s also a generally well-rounded and polished experience all around; Dragon Quest Heroes II is easy to recommend.