One thousand years of peace are swiftly broken in Dragon Quest Heroes II, the upcoming sequel to the hack n’ slash take on the venerable series. Siliconera got to experience some of the storyline, meeting some familiar Dragon Quest heroes, as well as bash enemies heads around as one of the two starting playable characters, Lazarel and Teresa.
Dragon Quest Heroes II begins by letting players choose between the two cousins, both coming from the city of Dunisia. Lazarel, the goofier of the two, uses dual blades, and the more serious cousin, Teresa, wields a sword and shield. Both will head out on this journey, ensuring a lot of silly moments involving bickering between the two, but the player only controlled one character during this demo.
Teresa was chosen, and the game gave a run-down on how combat would work. Players will carve up enemies using an array of simple hack n’ slash attacks. By spamming attack buttons, players will lash out at their enemies, cutting them down Dynasty Warriors style. It’s as satisfying as that series as well, making the player feel powerful as they fight entire armies on their own.
The delightful enemy designs, many pulled from the series’ history, just makes fighting them more fun. Stomping an array of different enemies with varied attacks adds more appeal, giving players a bit more direction on who they should prioritize in combat. They’ll still be slashing at a few dozen enemies at once, but the varied enemies give players something to focus on to better survive combat. Plus, it’s always a pleasure to see Toriyama’s designs come to life in 3D combat. Players will also enjoy the in-game descriptions for these enemies, assuming they enjoy the series’ love of puns.
Players have a few high-powered abilities to dig out should they take too much damage in combat. They can use MP-based skills that are unique to the character to deal extra damage across wider areas, giving them a greater array of abilities and providing more difference between the playable characters.
Players can also activate a High Tension Mode after its bar has fully charged, making them temporarily immune to damage, cure status ailments (which didn’t come up during our time with the demo), increase damage output, and make spells cost no MP. Players will want to watch the meter for this ability drain as they fight, as when it is almost empty, they can end High Tension Mode with a Coup De Grace, an even more powerful attack that will clear out many remaining enemies.
Players will not just be fighting in scripted battles as they play Dragon Quest Heroes II. They will be able to move across Wild Zones as they head to new towns, and ambushes await them as they travel. Enemies will hide in bushes or around them, ready to strike and start up a fight right in the field. Sharp-sighted players may wish to hit any shaking bushes they see as they walk, as hitting the enemy before the fight will instantly kill them.
The plot introduced a handful of characters (including Torneko), having them join the player’s party or accompany them in some way. The demo unfortunately did not open up to let players control them, though, so it is unclear how they play. It did talk about a conflict between the main characters’ home town and another city, however, and its title video teased some exciting appearances from Dragon Quest’s history.
However, the demo often liked to drop huge dollops of exposition on the player, often interrupting combat and play. This can be a nuisance for players who simply wish to cut down monsters, but the game seeks to set up a complicated narrative right from the start – one that includes characters from across the series’ lore. It seems to be a necessity, and again, seeing the character designs in motion adds a fun appeal to hearing the story.
Musical nods to the series were everywhere in the demo. Almost every track had some nostalgic hint to it, from full themes to something as simple as the selection sound effect. Dragon Quest often puts it long history to work in its audio, and this game continues that tradition, drawing up pleasant memories even with different gameplay.
Dragon Quest Heroes II is a plot-heavy, but welcome addition to hack n’ slashers. Its character and monster designs are a constant delight, adding variety to a combat system with some already-pleasant twists to smashing whole legions of enemies. Players who enjoy Dragon Quest’s long history will again find many things to delight them, exploring and playing as many heroes from over the years. It will be exciting to be able to do that with four players when the full game releases in April.