Dragon Quest Heroes Preview
Two things you should probably know before drooling all over Dragon Quest Heroes, which will land in North America on October 13: 1. It’s not an old-school RPG, and 2. It’s not your standard Omega Force production (these are the guys that do the countless Dynasty Warriors titles, remember). This is a blend and while you might assume it therefore caters to nobody – it doesn’t have enough action and strategy for the DW followers and and not enough traditional charm for the JRPG lovers – that’d be an incorrect assumption. At least, I hope it’s incorrect. Based on what I’ve been reading, it seems those who adore Dragon Quest are in for a treat.
Firstly, as this game was designed for PlayStation 4, you can anticipate the best-looking DQ adventure yet. The character models are polished and refined and the number of enemies that explode on the screen at any given time should make the presentation glitter with effects. I’m hearing the frame rate remains steady, too. And yes, this is where the Dragon Quest lore and artwork really shines; Omega Force ahs worked hard to adapt to the legendary RPG’s style and theme. The game will boast bunches of familiar faces, so DQVIII lovers will be happy to see the likes of Jessica and Yangus. In general, it’s very colorful; certainly a lot more colorful than any Dynasty Warriors game I’ve ever played.
As the game is a mixture, it sort of defies labeling. Some are calling it an “action/RPG,” which may fit best, but when you’ve got massive swarms of foes encountered in real time and tower-defense systems, you realize the production leaps over genre boundaries. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It has the traditional role-playing depth long-time fans of the series will love, and the ceaseless fast action that demands vigilance and strategy. Characters will gain levels and unlock new skills, advancing in a very RPG-like way, while you clear maps of scores of monsters. Other objectives will include protecting a certain position or simply advancing from one objective point to another. Some monsters will drop coins and you can either use them as a special attack or as NPC allies.
You advance onto the field of battle with four party members, and that means the three you don’t control will be handled by AI. This is where my suspicion meter rises because in pitched, chaotic battles, you really need your companions to step up. If they’re sitting back and watching you do all the work, that’s going to be a tremendous problem in a game that puts a heavy focus on fast-paced combat. The good news is that I’m hearing the AI is decent and on top of which, you can switch to other characters and take control if you don’t like what they’re doing. You’ll also have to switch if you want them to use their unique Tension moves. Provided switching is smooth and effective, I think the mechanic should work quite well.
Creating a game like this can be tricky. You’re trying to appease two very different sets of fans and I imagine that when DQ fanatics see Omega Force on the box, they’re going to balk. Understandably so. However, when done correctly, and without damaging or altering the environment and fantasy of the franchise in question, the new blended production can be great. Maybe I’m not hoping for greatness, but I am hoping that Dragon Quest followers will be pleasantly surprised. If you check a few import reviews for the game, you’ll find some glowing praise, which is a good sign. And don’t forget that if you have made a purchase decision, there will be two special editions coming in October. Which will you choose…?
6/8/2015 Ben Dutka