The Dragon Quest Heroes games are beat’em ups through-and-through. The Musou influence is pervasive and felt in every possible element. But here, with Dragon Quest Heroes II, we have a game that feels just as much like a solid RPG. So many of the elements work toward making it feel like an actual Dragon Quest game, rather than a Musou title with Dragon Quest characters.
The way Dragon Quest Heroes II handles its leads is a good start. Lazarel and Teresa are the two original characters, When the game begins, you pick one as your avatar. This character will have to be present in every party. However, you aren’t given someone who is a stereotypical warrior. Both can be warriors, monks, mages, priests, and thieves. Each one of these starts at level one when you first choose your class, but the levels are maintained when you switch between them. I like having Teresa as a warrior, to round out my party that always includes Terry as an additional warrior, Maya to handle hordes and aerial units, and Meena for healing and ranged attacks.
Each class also has its own skill trees and attributes to unlock with skill points earned as you level the characters up. One group that unlocks new skills for battle, another that has upgrades for that particular class, and a third for stat upgrades that are applied no matter which class you’re currently using. Naturally, this means getting Teresa and Lazarel to a level where all these across-vocation stats are unlocked benefits you as a player, and the ability to reset earned skill points helps you experiment to find a class that works best for your party, then go back and pump expended points into stat upgrades that apply across vocations.
The other character-care elements in Dragon Quest Heroes II point to its RPG nature. Each character has certain weapons they can equip, with Teresa and Lazarel being able to switch depending on the class they currently belong to. The number available vary and increase in number as you complete Blacksmith side quests in Accordia. Accessories can be dropped during battle and improved in town, increasing their sphere of influence on your character. Defensive orbs can be purchased to increase your characters’ fortitude. While you can get away with not keeping every character updated with the best equipment for a while, making sure everyone is set is just as important here as it is in an actual Dragon Quest.
Getting characters prepared is easy, since there are so many ways to keep growing in Dragon Quest Heroes II. There are open fields in the world, which you traverse to get from major story battle to major story battle. These fields are large, open areas with enemies littered about. You can seamlessly go from one to another. Fields connect to Accordia and one another, and sometimes even have locked areas, but don’t open up unless you proceed through the story. They’re wonderful ways to level up, especially since treasure chests scattered about and zoom stones encourage you to further explore. It feels like moving across a Dragon Quest world map populated with enemies.
The assortment of story and side quests also make Dragon Quest Heroes II feel closer to the source. Story quest missions vary in purpose, so it isn’t always like you’re attempting to defeat everything on the map. Some require a bit more tact. Side quests can involve collecting items, which you’ll probably already have thanks to the ample amounts of enemies in each area, fighting certain enemies, using a certain class to accomplish a task, or reaching and defeating a certain number of foes within a specific period of time. The diversity keeps things fresh.
With Dragon Quest Heroes II, we have a spin-off that really captures the heart and soul of the original games. We have the class systems for our lead characters, a town to explore as our home base, fields to traverse, skills to upgrade, and side quests to undertake. It feels wonderful and true to the JRPGs, while still having that Musou approach, making for a game that reminds you more of a real Dragon Quest.
Dragon Quest Heroes is available for the PlayStation 4 and PC.