Square Enix 2017 Preview – Dragon Quest Heroes II Shines While FFXV: Episode Gladiolus Underwhelms

Mixed Reactions to Upcoming Square-Enix Line-up

This week COGconnected had a chance to preview four of Square Enix’s upcoming PS4 games: Dragon Quest Heroes II, Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD Remix, Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Age, and Final Fantasy XV: Episode Gladiolus. As hot, medium, and mild fans of these franchises, COG’s Stephan, Paul, James and Rory are here to give you their impressions. In part two of our two-part preview, we take a look at Dragon Quest Heroes II and Final Fantasy XV: Episode Gladiolus.

Dragon Quest Heroes II

Stephan: This was the game that I was most excited to play today. The original Dragon Quest Heroes is a Dynasty Warriors-style game, with heavy RPG leveling up, ripped straight from the Dragon Quest franchise. As a fan of Dragon Quest and Musou games, I was still surprised to discover how well the first title worked so cohesively. When playing today, I tried to focus on the differences between the first game and the second, and there is one huge (and awesome) change. The system of “beat a level, then level up characters in a menu, then beat another level” is gone. The structure of the game is now kind of like Mario 64, with a hub world that connects missions. This makes the game feel much more like recent Dragon Quest titles, as the player is always traversing fields and towns. This one seemingly small change made it so the game felt less like Dynasty Warriors, and more like Dragon Quest. But I’ve gotta say, while I was talking to townsfolk, and schmoozing with the King, I was looking over at Rory, and he was laying waste to everything in sight. And instead of the main character that I was using, he had turned into a freaking thunder cloud, so please Rory, explain that.

Rory: (laughing) Yeah, Stephan, I was having a blast with Dragon Quest Heroes II and I’ll be honest, I had no clue what was going on half the time. After running around the town hub for a bit and getting the cold shoulder from a horse, I found the open gates to the first couple battle grounds and ventured in. Within minutes I was slashing and dashing my way around the map, engulfed in a horde of slimes and other bizarre enemies. At one point I had transformed into a giant Rock Troll looking enemy and just laid waste to everything in sight. I thought the smile on my face couldn’t get any bigger but I then somehow transformed into the aforementioned thunder cloud and proceeded to rain down destruction with devastating lighting attacks. It was simply put, glorious. It’s been a while since I had seen so much pure havoc on screen with twisters of fire spiralling across the map and deadly spikes of ice piercing the ground. I felt unstoppable and it was really satisfying. I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Dynasty Warriors style of game but Dragon Quest Heroes II charmed me with it’s appealing character designs, solid writing and the surprisingly decent english voice acting. How long it would hold my interest in the long run is still questionable but I can’t deny the fun I was having in the moment.

Paul: Dynasty Dragon Warrior Quest was actually kind of fun to play. The Dragon Quest art style plays extremely well in this environment, and there seem to be lots of quests and things to do in the world. Not exactly up my alley, but it seems well put together. In any case, those li’l slimes are just so darned cute!

James: The Dragon Quest aesthetic feels right at home in this setting. I never played the first dq heroes, which colored my expectations somewhat. Like all dynasty warriors games, your characters are gods compared to the regular enemies. She threw up fire tornados and they scattered like leaves in a heavy wind. There’s an extended selection of quest and rpg style elements baked into the game. You collect loot, gain levels and customize your equipment. There’s cut scenes and plentiful dialogue to flesh out the story. If this is a dynasty style game, it’s heavily coated in dragon quest mechanics and standbys, right down to the sound effects and the archaic vocabulary.

Final Fantasy XV: Episode Gladiolus

Paul: Final Fantasy XV was a really confusing experience for me. One second I’d be loving the bromance and be almost overwhelmed with joy at how incredible things were, and the next I’d be so beyond disappointed… Sigh. Anyway, the DLC for the game is supposed to fix that sadness, filling in the gaps in the main game and expanding on the positives as well. We played about half an hour of episode Gladiolus, and to be honest I was a bit underwhelmed. You play as Gladio, obviously, but the section we looked at was super linear, and didn’t do much to differentiate Gladio from playing as Noctis besides having fewer battle options. Maybe that gets better, but no word on that for now.

The demo looked gorgeous, but was running pretty rough – poor framerate and laden with glitch weirdness. Still, there’s always potential and I’m hopeful the end product is strong.

Stephan: Oh this looked good. Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to play this one, but at one point I looked over at Rory, and he was fighting a giant cobra, and I just wanted to be there, with him, battling that cobra. Or maybe even being the cobra. It looked hot.

Rory: Stephan, that battle looked exciting and cool but I wasn’t really having much fun. Final Fantasy XV: Episode Gladiolus was majorly underwhelming for me but as Paul pointed out, we were only able to play the first 30 minutes of it, so I’m trying to stay optimistic that it gets better. What I love about Final Fantasy XV is the camaraderie and bromance, the way the boys interact not only with casual banter but in physical battle as well. Episode Gladiolus strips FFXV of that aspect completely, at least in the section we played. It was ridiculously linear and action oriented as well. Maybe that’s the point, but I wasn’t feeling it. Being funnelled down narrow areas into pits to fight a swarm of baddies or mini-boss wasn’t very satisfying for me, especially with what seemed like fewer combat options. It really felt like a beat-em-up with some minor RPG flair and I wasn’t finding it all that engaging. The performance of the demo was pretty rough and only got worse as it went on as well. Major framerate inconsistencies were distracting and Gladio would clip through the environment when climbing ledges and such. I was told it’s not the final build but I’m a little concerned considering how close to release we are. Fingers crossed they can get it up and running smooth by launch.

James: The combat feels ďifferent from 15 proper. Every swing of his enormous sword comes with extra power and heft. The rage mechanic, wherein power is built up through attacks, also feels more aggressive. The music is angry and packed with guitar noise ( butt rock). Are Cor and Gladio voiced by the same actor? Maybe there’s a reason the two characters don’t have a lot of screen time alone in the main game. I played up to a boss fight with a huge bird. The quicktime prompts had me riding it like a wild bull before stabbing it in the neck with my sword. Pretty rad, as far as boss fights go.