Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below
Move over, Hyrule Warriors. Dragon Quest is the next series getting the Dynasty Warriors treatment. Square Enix recently announced plans to bring a new hybrid, Dragon Quest Heroes, to North America as a PS4 exclusive. This is a pleasant surprise considering the publisher passed on bringing Dragon Quest X and the Dragon Quest VII remake stateside.
Dragon Quest is known for its traditional turn-based battle system, but this isn’t the first time the franchise has tried a flashier, more action-oriented approach. In 2008, Dragon Quest Swords launched on the Wii, taking advantage of the motion controls, but ended up a disappointment. Heroes has much more potential, since Dynasty Warriors developer Omega Force has a better track record at creating thrilling action.
In Dragon Quest Heroes, monsters suddenly start attacking the peaceful city of Arba. This leads to you teaming up with memorable characters from Dragon Quest IV through VIII, like Yangus and Jessica from VIII and Bianca and Nera from V, to put an end to the chaos. You play a hero, Luceus, or heroine, Aurora.
As expected, the game has you slicing through waves of iconic Dragon Quest monsters, like slimes and drackies. However, Dragon Quest Heroes also allows you to use magic and turrets to get an edge. On the battlefield, you control one character, while the A.I. takes control of your three allies. You can swap between characters at any time.
Levels aren’t all just about cutting down swarms of enemies; some adopt a tower-defense approach, where you must protect a person or place. You also collect coins from defeating monsters, which can then be used for summoning creatures to help you during laborious fights. Dragon Quest Heroes also has a similar leveling system to the other games, where you decide which skills and stat boosts you want to unlock.
During a hands-on session, I attempted to take down Cyclops, a massive one-eyed foe that won’t go down easily, and I only have an allotted time to drain his health. You have fast and heavy attacks to form combos with, but these do very little to chip away at Cyclops’ health. I notice cannons on the battlefield and run up the stairs to them. Aiming straight for his eye, takes off a good chunk of damage. I keep doing this until the cannon needs to recharge. During this time, I try to tap into tension mode and release as many special attacks as I can. Special attacks are on a cooldown, so I must use them sparingly. Combat is fast, fluid, and easy to get the hang of; the hard part is finding the strategy to get the monster down timely.
Every second matters and one missed shot from a cannon could be costly. I like this frenzied challenge though. I lose on my first attempt and get back to work, but once again fail as I don’t plan my time well for trips to the other cannons. However, Square Enix said that these characters haven’t been leveled up the way they will be when your customize them in the game. Either way, I’m confident the third time would have been a charm. Every time, I got closer to Cyclops’ ultimate demise. I thought it’d merely be a button-masher, but it’s more than that with the other elements on the battlefield to consider. This was more fun than I expected and I can’t wait to play more.
Dragon Quest Heroes offers plenty of nostalgia to keep fans hacking-and-slashing through enemies. I’m curious to see how the casts from previous games come together and interact. Something about having to think on my toes through challenging battles with my favorite Dragon Quest heroes just seems like a delight. The game was received well in Japan, so hopefully it makes a similar impression with a Western audience.
Dragon Quest Heroes will be out on October 13 for PlayStation 4. In addition to the standard version, a collector's edition with a plush slime, a slime keychain, slime lanyard, a collection of slime-themed weapons, and bonus quest items will be available. The collector's edition is priced at $99.99.