With titles like Dynasty Warriors Gundam and Hyrule Warriors, Omega Force has demonstrated its battlefield beat-em-up mechanics are capable of adopting the aesthetics of disparate franchises. It was still a surprise, however, to see the announcement of Dragon Quest Heroes. The Dragon Quest series (sometimes known as Dragon Warrior in North America) is no stranger to spin-offs, but it is a turn-based RPG first and foremost, making the idea of its heroes battling swaths of enemies in real time a strange one.
In Heroes, you meet and fight alongside familiar Dragon Quest characters from past games, but my time with the game was spent exclusively with new characters Aurora and Luceus. Aurora is a headstrong soldier who doesn’t like to waste her time waiting to fight. Luceus is constantly trying to plan ahead to even the odds. In some ways, it feels like Luceus represents the game Dynasty Warriors wants to be: a tactical action scenario where your decisions have weight. Aurora, on the other hand, represents what Dynasty Warriors actually is: a game where the sooner you start fighting, the sooner you make progress. Watching their interaction is charming and lends a level of humor missing among Dynasty Warriors’ typically dour cast.
Akira Toriyama’s art style and character designs are present hroughout the game, and they are the sharpest they have ever looked. Toriyama is known for his work on Dragon Ball Z, which saw a new game released on current-gen consoles this year with Xenoverse. As a result, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen his work adapted to current-gen graphics, but this is easily the best. The same can be said when comparing Heroes to other Dynasty Warriors titles; this is the best looking Dynasty Warriors game to date.
The biggest separation from the standard Dynasty Warriors formula comes in the form of gathering Monster Medals. With these, you can use the monsters you’re fighting against as soldiers for your cause. This leads to moments of the tactical battlefield Luceus desires, forcing you to direct a monster army elsewhere while you fight in a different direction.
Dynasty Warriors has always been an enjoyable, but shallow experience. It seems that sentiment won’t radically change with Dragon Quest Heroes, but I am enjoying seeing the series explore familiar franchises and add new ideas, like making enemies part of your army. Even without much personal affection for the Dragon Quest series, my brief time with Heroes left me feeling optimistic