After more than 30 chapters released between the main saga and spin-off, Dragon Quest is preparing for what will perhaps be the most ambitious episode ever made. We are obviously talking about Dragon Quest XI, whose release is scheduled for next summer in Japan and “who knows when” in the West.

To prepare for the event there is nothing better than Dragon Quest Heroes 2, the second chapter of a mini-series whose progenitor was well received by audiences and critics at the time of its release. A year and a half has passed since then and the Omega Force team has decided to add further pulp to a gameplay that makes action its main feature, without forgetting the RPG soul that has always distinguished this franchise.

As per tradition, this new Dragon Quest begins with the choice of the character between male and female. The protagonist not chosen will still have an important role in the story and will be part of the group that will face the adventure. The plot that acts as a leitmotif is not particularly original, but acts as a good glue to the events involving the “young and impetuous” Lasaar and the “thoughtful and talented” Theresa. After a millennium of tranquility following the bloody War of the Kings, the kingdom is again on the verge of conflict and it will be up to the two cousins ​​to lead a handful of heroes who will have to restore peace.

The incipit of the game is, as usual, aimed at teaching the gameplay of Dragon Quest Heroes 2, which uses a combat system and a control system that is as immediate as it is effective. It won’t take you more than ten minutes to assimilate them and everything else will come by itself. The clashes take place in real time and the protagonists can use both physical attacks and magic.

Baldo Baldini, an old acquaintance of Dragon Quest, has a strong Florentine accent in this chapter …

Initially, you have only a few attack options available, but as you progress, the possibilities multiply dramatically. It is also possible to jump during fights and use combos that also depend on the type of weapon equipped. The paraphernalia that you will have at your disposal has nothing to envy to those seen in more serious and noble RPGs. You can use the classic single weapon and shield combo or select double swords or two-handed weapons. Each obviously has different basic characteristics. In short, the variety is certainly not a problem in the fights of this Dragon Quest, even if you always remain on terrains already beaten by other similar titles.

During the battles you can also dodge and parry the opponent’s attacks, but being a Dynasty Warriors-style game it is clear that the best defense is always the attack. Nourished throngs of enemies can be mowed down with basic attacks, one quick but less powerful and the other slower but definitely more energetic, while for the bosses and mini-bosses you will encounter you will have to use a slightly more shrewd tactic.

Some clashes are inevitable and follow the course of the story, but during the phases of exploration or passage from one location to another, you will encounter a myriad of enemies that you can avoid or face at your leisure. Your character will maintain a normal “stance” when you stay away from them, but as soon as you get close he will grab the weapon and you can mow down anything that gets in your way.

Bringing a certain number of attacks activates the Tension bar. In this status the protagonist is more powerful, spells do not consume MP, and devastating final hits are available.

Collecting resources is not difficult, but even the most important loot is an element that is far from negligible in Dragon Quest Heroes 2. During the clashes (or in the many chests scattered everywhere) you can come into possession of new equipment or “ingredients” to be used to create new items. There are hundreds of them and we can assure you that you will spend hours in the various shops that you will find around towns and villages. In this regard, the size of the DQH2 map may not be able to rival those of the most famous open-worlds, but we can assure you that it is not small and there are many secrets to be discovered.

During the adventure your character will be supported by a number of allies that will vary up to a maximum of four. At any time it is possible to switch from one to the other with the push of a button, while the others are managed by a rather good Artificial Intelligence. Their behavior on the battlefield proves to be quite useful, to the point that in the first hours of the game the clashes are all too easy. In case a cast member dies, it is possible to put him back into play by reaching him with a second protagonist and resurrecting him with a special object available but in limited quantities.

Compared to the canonical “musou”, Dragon Quest Heroes 2 offers solid RPG elements that are reflected above all in the possibility of enhancing its protagonists. Each character has a different basic equipment and powers that can be expanded thanks to decidedly canonical skill-trees, composed of passive and active powers. These abilities range from the enhancement of the basic characteristics to the acquisition of special attacks, which on the battlefield can be activated based on the amount of MP in the possession of the protagonist in turn.

Dimensional dungeons (aka alternate dungeons) can be tackled both in single and co-op for up to four players.

As in the first chapter, the Monster Coins are present but with some differences. They can be obtained by defeating enemies and there are three types: Activist, Sentinel and Support. The first allows you to summon monsters that will use their most powerful technique only once and then disappear. The latter, on the other hand, will fight alongside you until the last drop of their life bar. Finally, the third type of Monster Medal is the rarest and allows the protagonist who uses it to transform into the creature who possessed it for a limited time. This sort of summons are the most powerful but must be used at the right time and are also the ones that occupy the most slots in your Monster Medal Holder.

The missions that fit into the narrative arc are all quite classic for this genre of games. They range from defending a character to the need to defeat a certain type (or number) of enemies, passing through timed battles and so on. It is also possible to face parts of the game in multiplayer thanks to two special options. The first allows you to recruit online companions to face the Dimensional Dungeons, a suggestive name for dungeons of varying difficulty. Alternatively, you can ask other players for help in the toughest battles of the adventure or go to their rescue when they need it. Communication during Online sessions is unfortunately limited to predefined phrases, so forget about group chats and stuff.

On a technical level we are facing a title of undoubted impact. The characters as always are well characterized, thanks to the unmistakable “Toriyama style”. The localization of the Italian subtitles is excellent and in some cases it has gone even further, trying to give some protagonists a sort of dialect. A similar attempt had been made in the past with Final Fantasy IX for PSone and made many fans turn up their noses.

Fortunately this time the result is much better and it is very pleasant. Regardless of the moment or the situation, the engine that moves Dragon Quest Heroes 2 runs like a beauty. The game moves almost constantly at 60fps with very few uncertainties and gives a glimpse of some of the wonders that we will probably admire in the highly anticipated eleventh official chapter of the saga.

The term “pleasant” used just now fits perfectly with the whole Square-Enix / Omega Force production. We never forget that a video game must be beautiful to look at, have a possibly captivating plot, but above all … it must be fun. Here, Dragon Quest Heroes 2 has both the first and the third feature. Maybe he won’t win awards for his script and he won’t be remembered for the originality of his gameplay but … boy, is it damn fun to play.

In the long run you may perhaps find it a repetitive thread but which game can you not address this criticism to? Our advice is to consider buying them both if you love Dynasty Warriors titles and RPGs without too many frills. Once you have the controller in your hand, you may find that letting go of it is really difficult.