Dragon Quest Heroes II review for PS4, PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: PC
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: KOEI Tecmo
Medium: Blu-ray/Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes

The original Dragon Quest Heroes was a pretty pleasant surprise, blending the world of Dragon Quest with action-RPG mechanics, somewhat reminiscent of the popular Dynasty Warriors series, but also with some more unique, almost tower-defense like mechanics mixed in. The end result was a lot of fun to play, featuring a mixed cast of characters culled from previous Dragon Quest titles, along with equippable items, skill points, boss fights, and various locales.

Dragon Quest Heroes II gives you a lot more of that, with a few more gameplay mechanics tossed in that really build upon the solid groundwork of the previous game. Like the first title, you?ll pick either a male or female protagonist, and slowly expand the cast by having new heroes join created strictly for Dragon Quest Heroes II, along with familiar faces like Terry, Maya, Torneko and others that are pulled into this universe from their respective worlds.

Like in the first Dragon Quest Heroes, you can control any available party member when out in the field or in battle, so you?re not necessarily stuck to the standard protagonist role. However, you can now change your vocation for your Protagonist, moving from the default Warrior class over to Mage, Priest, and so on. This opens up your available skill trees quite a bit, and each class levels independently from one another. This allows for a lot more diversity in your party make-up, and since the game essentially features two main characters (the one you select and then the other gender), you can change the vocation for both characters if you want.

Not content to battle it out with AI controlled partners? You can also take the game online with 4-player co-op, which is active for both story battles and unique, single battle dungeon maps. I didn?t get much of a chance to sample the online, but what I played seemed to work well enough, and the game is certainly much more enjoyable with another player in tow. The AI can honestly be pretty bad, you?ll often seen the computer controlled characters not fighting when they should, or not using spells appropriate for the moment. You can babysit them to some degree, it?s easy and quick enough to switch between characters, but having everyone controlled by an actual person makes battles that would normally be difficult far more easy than before.

Dragon Quest Heroes II also features a pretty expansive overworld that connects the various kingdoms you?ll visit throughout the game. In these areas you can tackle side-quests, explore for chests, and battle it out with large groups of enemies scattered throughout the map. You can also gather up resources from defeated foes and resource points on the map, which in turn will allow you to power up accessories via the alchemy pot back in town.

There?s a lot of other, smaller features present in Dragon Quest Heroes II as well. There?s a trainer character that can provide both individual and group bonuses as you improve your proficiency with various weapons. This can expand quite a bit since you can change between multiple vocations, which gives an additional reason to grind out some of the different classes featured in the game. This isn?t just for the main characters either, you can also improve the proficiency of your party members, which in turn incentivizes you to switch out characters more often.

I also enjoyed the use of the Alchemy Pot system used to upgrade your accessories. Every accessory can be upgraded a number of times, provided you have the necessary materials to do so. These materials will either drop off of defeated monsters, be found in treasure chests, or can be discovered at different resource points you?ll find out in the overworld. Some materials can be quite rare, which in turn balances the upgrade system so you?ll generally improve your items slowly as you advance the story. The upgrades are neat though, in that each accessory has it?s own upgrade path, which can not only improve the inherent ability of the accessory, but can also improve core stats for the characters that equip them. It makes the system feel worthwhile, and allows you to fit characters with accessories that improve their play style.

Dragon Quest Heroes II even gives you an incentive to play throughout the real-life week. For instance, logging in Friday may net you an improved chance for mini-medals to randomly drop, while jumping on during a Thursday to play may give you better luck when it comes to material rarity. This is a relatively small thing, sure, but depending on what you?re trying to accomplish, you can ideally plan out your calendar and play on the days that will be most beneficial to you.

I?m very, very impressed with what KOEI Tecmo and Square Enix have managed to do with this sequel. I think it builds upon the first game in a really solid fashion, and does so while still feeling fresh and enjoyable to play. The A.I. can be really spotty, but overall that?s a fairly minor complaint for a game that honestly doesn?t have many issues to speak of. It runs well, looks and sounds great, and for Dragon Quest fans, you?ll be getting the appropriate amount of fan service here. Even if you?re not necessarily a Dragon Quest fan, I think the switch here to an action-RPG can make Dragon Quest Heroes II appeal to just about anyone. So I?d certainly urge you to give this a try, Dragon Quest fan or not, because I think you?ll be pleasantly surprised by how fun this game can be.

Grade: A