|Dev: Omega Force|
|Pub: Square Enix|
|Release: October 13, 2015|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Not yet assigned a final ESRB|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
Remember how much fun Hyrule Warriors was? How cool it was to see your favorite Zelda heroes in a totally different genre? Well that’s exactly what Dragon Quest Heroes is trying to do for Square Enix's venerable RPG series. They even got Tecmo Koei’s Omega Force team to help them out, so the game has a real Dynasty Warriors feel to it.
There’s just one problem, and that’s Dragon Quest’s fan appeal. While rabid JRPG lovers like myself may recognize the franchise, doing a “who’s who” of Dragon Quest characters doesn’t exactly have a lot of appeal to random generic fans out there. Meanwhile, Zelda is known and loved by pretty much everybody. So, on the surface it looks like Dragon Quest Heroes is setting itself up for failure, if only in marketing. The game itself is quite fun.
You start out as a pair of completely original heroes (as you do with these sort of crossover games) who are tasked with figuring out why monsters are suddenly attacking peaceful villages (as you tend to do with Dragon Quest games. You form a party of four out of a band of familiar Dragon Quest faces, and set out to save the world.
As I said before, you kind of have to be a series fanatic to recognize most of these faces. I recognized Jessica from Dragon Quest VIII, and that’s pretty much it. The main characters were specifically left out, as they are silent and play more of a role of a stand-in for the player. But the problem is, the heroes are the characters I remember the most!
At the same time, I feel like Dragon Quest Heroes knows it can’t sell itself on name alone and thus works really really hard to provide a unique gameplay experience. The party system alone sets it apart from most other “warriors” games. Your three party members will follow you around everywhere and automatically attack and use their skills when you aren’t controlling them. A simple touch of a button allows you to jump into the controls of any of them, which is more useful than it sounds. Party needs healing? Swap to your healer to make sure it’s done on time. Ranged attacker is getting mobbed? Switch to her, run away, and cast spells at a distance.
A lot of other Dragon Quest elements will be included as well, like monster raising, item usage, and special ultimate skills (like we saw in Dragon Quest VIII), although these take the role of Musou style attacks in Dragon Quest Heroes. Even the interface has a Dragon Quest spin to it, with damage popping up in tiny cartoony bubbles.
But make no mistake. Despite its Dragon Quest trappings, this is still a Dynasty Warriors game at heart. You’ll go from area to area, defeating enemies in order to move on, and that is the core of the game. At points you’ll have to complete side quests, like launching a catapult in order to deal damage to an enemy force and open up the way, but to do these side quests you usually have to just keep wading through hordes and hordes of bad guys. Instead of enemy generals, you now fight huge versions of iconic Dragon Quest monsters (they even take the poses that they have from classic Dragon Quest games, which is a nice touch). Fighting a humongous dragon or gigantic cyclops is far more fun than fighting another dude on horseback, and they give the game a nice sense of scale.
But unlike many other Dynasty Warriors games, Dragon Quest Heroes is incredibly hard. I cannot tell you how often I died while trying the game at the Square-Enix booth. I was ready to put a controller through the monitor. It’s very easy to get swarmed by enemy troops, and you don’t have the benefit of your own army to back you up. You just have your party, and while it’s cool to have 4 super powered fighters on your side, it’s also easy to get chewed up and spit out if you aren’t paying attention.
Hilariously, the one thing that annoyed me the most about this game, other than the difficulty, was the title. It’s a Dragon Quest game done in the style of Dynasty Warriors. Why on Earth didn’t they call it Dragon Warriors as a throwback to the original English title? That’s a missed opportunity, Square.
Even so, Dragon Quest Heroes was a lot of fun. I didn’t play it as long as other games at E3, and I probably wouldn’t play it as long as I played Hyrule Warriors. But the Dynasty Warriors franchise has milked The Romance of the Three Kingdoms as much as it possibly can for content, and it’s really nice to see the formula getting changed and innovated upon. Honestly, I’d say Dragon Quest Heroes is probably a better Dynasty Warriors game than many of the franchise’s recent releases.
Dragon Quest Heroes will release in North American territories this October. You can pick up an important Japanese version right now!
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Senior Contributing Writer
Date: August 4, 2015