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Expectation... Dragonment?

I think that Dragon Quest Heroes II hurt its marketing and reception by titling itself in a misleading way (much like Bubsy: Paws on Fire! did).

Dragon Quest Heroes (the first one) is one of several Musou crossover games (see also One Piece: Pirate Warriors, Hyrule Warriors, Fire Emblem Warriors, etc. etc.). These games feature Dynasty Warriors-like (a.k.a. Musou) gameplay flavored with a few mechanics inspired by the particular crossover franchise, set in the world of and starring the characters of that franchise. These games tend to be loaded with fan service for the crossover franchise, but it’s hard to imagine anyone who doesn’t enjoy Musou gameplay could enjoy these games.

The first Dragon Quest Heroes was absolutely one of these games, but Dragon Quest Heroes II is not. As I’ve mentioned briefly, Dragon Quest Heroes II pushes things much farther in the Dragon Heroes direction, and while it still has clear Musou influences the result is really an action RPG. Large-scale battles do happen but they are the exception rather than the rule, and there’s almost no tactical management of multiple simultaneous threats. The emphasis is much more on individual combat encounters between your party and small groups of enemies in an interconnected and semi-open world. I really enjoyed this (though there’s clear room for improvement in a sequel) but it’s definitely not Musou.

So, we have a sequel that’s in a different genre from its predecessor. And as much as I might wish otherwise, Musou is niche. Plenty of people are uninterested in Dynasty Warriors and its crossovers. Those people, even if they were Dragon Quest fans, would likely have ignored Dragon Quest Heroes and paid even less attention to its sequel - they never would have learned it’s not a Musou game, even if they like action RPGs.

Meanwhile, the people drawn to Dragon Quest Heroes specifically because it is Musou have a high chance of feeling disappointed or outright betrayed by the sequel not being Musou. I’m saddened by this Steam review of the game, which starts by acknowledging the game is not really Musou and proceeds to list many of the game’s “mistakes,” the supposed-worst of which are just consequences of the game not being Musou - such as enemy groups being smaller and enemies having more health than you’d expect in a Musou game. (While I’m not going to accuse the reviewer of being biased against the game, I will note that most other listed “mistakes” didn’t match my experience or were misleading/exaggerated/inaccurate. Though I do agree that it’s crap that enemy aggro causes your character to stop running to draw their weapons and walk more slowly.)

The review closes with the question, “When a musou fails to meet the requirements to even be a good musou, what’s the ♥♥♥♥ing point?” Of course the response is that this game isn’t a Musou because it’s an action RPG - but can you blame the reviewer for expecting a numbered sequel to a Musou game to be a Musou game?

By titling itself as the direct numbered sequel to a Musou crossover and then not being a Musou crossover, Dragon Quest Heroes II made itself harder to find for the people who’d like it and set up the people who did play it to be disappointed. It’s a shame, because I actually think the game is quite good at being what it is - but even I came very close to never playing it and was surprised by what it turned out to be.