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Dragon Quest Heroes II Review: Like the original, but only better

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It has been almost two years since the original Dragon Quest Heroes released. The original mixed up the formula typical Dragon Quest formula a bit with its new combat style and fast-paced hack and slash take. Basically, in a nutshell, the Dragon Quest Heroes series is a re-skinned version of a typical Dynasty Warriors game. Featuring over 15 playable characters, each with their own unique battle style and weapon preference, the game plays just like a Dynasty Warriors title, but with a Dragon Quest flair that is hard to miss. Everything about the original game was lovely, and the soundtrack and characters were carefully picked from across all the past released games. As much as the original was great, it was missing a few things here and there like multiplayer support, and a deeper customization option for characters. This where the sequel has come in and changed things. 

The sequel follows the story of Lazarel and Teresa, two cousins who get involved in a war of the region. As you go about the game, you meet characters that are willing to help you in the ongoing fight between evil. These characters have all be chosen from across the Dragon Quest universe, and some of them even made an appearance in the original title. Each of these characters can be controlled individually if you wish, but by default, you take control of one of the twins, which you choose at the start of the game. Every character is filled with life, and every cutscene polished just as we would expect a Dragon Quest game to be. It all helps bring you into the story and helps connect you with the characters. As much as this is a Japanese game, the lip sync and great voice acting still make for an enjoyable experience.

Dragon Quest world comes to life

Unlike the past game that saw us travelling across a vast map choosing missions to undertake, Dragon Quest Heroes II features a more open world-like setting. Different hubs are scattered around the main city centre of Accordia, and throughout the game you head to each one, complete a few quests, and take down a boss at the end. Each hub is unique visually from the frozen tundras to the dry desert. Each of them also has their own unique enemies found in them, and they prove to be an enjoyable distraction to kill along the way. Do not get it wrong though, as you should not expect the detail and finesse of say the Witcher series, rather just a handful of enemies placed in different places of each hub. 

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Combat in the game shines the brightest, especially when you are taking on a few hundreds of enemies at once. Spamming buttons and pulling off combos to watch your combo counter rise is thoroughly enjoyable. Using your special attacks to whip them all into the air and kill them is even more. Each character you meet in the game can be played, which makes the battles fun too. As soon as combat felt boring, I would change characters and stick to playing as that character for a while. You would be surprised just how much diversity and uniqueness there is in each character. Combos are all different, and every spell and coup de grace look better than the last. 

Using the character for the combat ahead is always key to winning, as some enemies are weaker than others like robots are weak to lighting, so quickly switching to someone who used Zap will win the fight faster.  There is much more to it than just charging into battle without any planning, as that will result in you dying, or struggling to win. The starting part of the game is especially brutal, mainly because I had no played the past game in a while, and also because the game just feels harder. 

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When you kill enemies they can drop medals which can be used to summon them into battle. Some medals summon a monster for one attack, while others let them fight alongside you, and the newest model sees you taking control of a large beast for a few seconds. It was pretty cool stomping around as a Golem and smashing things apart. 

Multiplayer mess

While the game does feature an online multiplayer where you can head into dungeons and even fight alongside three other players to replay story missions, this never worked at all for me. I tried to create a lobby and it failed all the time, and when joining one it never connected either. This was a huge let down for me as the biggest thing missing in the first game was the ability to play with friends. So not having this feature work when you are so looking forward to it has shifted my judgement on the game. I am not sure if this will change in the future, or if it will remain broken, but right now I could not play with my friends, and they could not play with me, or anyone else. 

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In the end, however, as repetitive as the combat might get in Dragon Quest Heroes II, the game holds true to the Dynasty Warriors cross RPG series. It has a great cast of characters and oozes Dragon Quest. We don't really have much of an option as current gen gamers when it comes to Dragon Quest games, so this is as good as it is going to get for now, and that is not a bad thing. 

Available on: PS4, PS3, PS Vita, PC, Nintendo Switch | Reviewed on: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 28 April 2017

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