DRAGON QUEST XI – “A Legend Reborn” (Launch Trailer)
Who it Caters to
Here in Japan, we had the opportunity to play Dragon Quest X online and explored the many facets of the Dragon Quest world through an MMO experience. Much of the west, however, weren’t able to experience that since the game was exclusive to Japan and the only way was through a VPN service, which wasn’t easy to work around. When you think about it, the last true Dragon Quest experience most had was perhaps Dragon Quest Heroes, the spin-off from the main series along with Dragon Quest IX, which released back in 2009 for the Nintendo DS.
Dragon Quest XI takes players on a brand new adventure that feels a lot like its predecessors in terms of the classic turn-based approach to battles, with breathtaking visuals that really bring the game to life. Anyone familiar with the series will most certainly feel right at home and will not be disappointed, and because the game takes on a new story, new players to the franchise can hop right in and enjoy without feeling lost. If you’re looking for a new JRPG experience with a strategic approach to battles, an incredible cast of characters along with a well developed story, then Dragon Quest XI is for you.
What to Expect
Those who started their Dragon Quest adventures with the Heroes spin-off titles will definitely be surprised as this is the main entry in the series, and no musou-style gameplay is implemented. While those games were a blast to play in their own right, it was just a culmination of all the popular Dragon Quest characters in one title, duking it out for pride. With Dragon Quest XI you’re rewarded with a profound story about a young boy who must reclaim his lost kingdom, which had been destroyed many years ago by a dark force. The game moves at a slow but enjoyable pace, with every battle growing more difficult the longer you play.
What’s special about Dragon Quest XI is the Draconian Quest feature, which allows you to up the ante if you will, adding more challenging options to the game to make things more appealing for those hardcore players. One example is the option to not gain any experience points from easy battles or weaker enemies, and only focus primarily on the harder battles which will help you to level up faster. Of course, if you can clear the game with these Draconian Quest options on you just may receive a little something, so we encourage you to try! The new dash function in Dragon Quest XI, a new addition to the series allowing you to run around the map much faster, plus a plethora of other enhancements (such as overhauled menus and UI) make Dragon Quest XI the most comprehensive Dragon Quest title to date!
A dark and stormy night approaches and the kingdom of Dundrasil has been attacked by an evil force. In one fell swoop the tension rises, as the queen tries to escape with her newborn in hand, but hands the child to the princess knowing that her fate may soon be sealed. Fast forward many years and you are that child, the Luminary, and now you must endure a long journey ahead to discover to truth about your past and unravel the mystery of his fate. With the help of loyal companions along the way, the adventure begins and it’s time to put an end to the turmoil that plagues the nation.
Dragon Quest XI is hands down one of the most luscious looking games we’ve seen on the PlayStation 4. Its use of vibrant colors and realistic design really bring the game to life in a remarkable way, but still giving players a fantasy style feel to it all. It’s leaps and bounds better than Dragon Quest X, and makes great use of the camera options to add depth to the beautiful landscapes you traverse through. Each section of the game is rendered in stunning detail and never fails to amaze us every time we lay eyes on it, with the monsters even coming to life in their own unique way. While the monsters take on this very intimidating approach when they attack you, it all feels fun-loving in a way. What we mean is that Square Enix does a splendid job of ensuring that the game appeals not only to the hardcore audience but more importantly the younger audience as well. The characters certainly look like they’ll do some damage, but the soft color scheme really gives off this sort of innocent feel that’s truly genuine, and makes these monsters seem approachable in a way.
The Dragon Quest franchise is no stranger to high class orchestrated music, since it’s notable in Japan for its incredible live performances. Dragon Quest XI really hits the spot in the sound category because the music really compliments the gameplay, and really feels like you’re on this epic adventure to seek out the truth about your past. The powerful trumpets pierce your heartstrings as you listen to the iconic intro, and even the more simpler tones like praying at the church still resonate in our hearts to this day. While some may complain about the repetition of music within the game, you really can’t take away the fact that Dragon Quest XI delivers a truly invigorating audible experience that can’t be matched by any other title. From the talented English voice overs that can only be found in the NA version of the game, to the very minute things like the classic and charming victory sounds you get after a hard battle, the sound aspect is monumental in its own right.
The return of the classic turn-based style is a breath of fresh air, but this time in Dragon Quest XI you can actually move around during battle. This of course doesn’t really do much in terms of damage output, but being able to wander around the battlefield is nice, since you can change the camera angle to create a more dynamic scene. The game is new in its own right but certainly does feel somewhat old in that, compared to other turn-based titles out on the market, nothing groundbreaking has been added. Now this can be seen in two ways: on one hand it’s a good thing since the game retains its appeal and doesn’t try to trip over itself adding in too many features that could tarnish what the series is well known for; on the other, due to a lack in innovation the game may feel somewhat boring to those playing at times. Be that as it may, Dragon Quest XI certainly delivers, and while some of its features may not necessarily be up to par with the more recent JRPG titles, we don’t mind that because Dragon Quest is Dragon Quest and that’s how we should remember it by.
One feature in particular that we do love a lot is the new pep state that your characters go into after taking a certain amount of damage. In this pepped state, your character receives enormous buffs such as increased critical hit rate, or magic abilities doing more damage. When you team up with others who are also in pep state then these very same buffs get double the power, and in cases can heal the entire team back to full health and mp.
Trying to add in too many extra features destroys the integrity of a game, and Dragon Quest XI tries to keep things simple while still rewarding players in various ways, like the Draconian Quest. Over time you get to know more about each character in great detail, and that in itself brings more depth to the gameplay, since you can build an emotional bond with those you interact with. That perhaps is one of the primary selling points of Dragon Quest XI in that, every character you encounter is special in their own right and, because the story is rich and well executed, you truly feel enveloped in it all right down to the very end. The emotional highs and lows will grip you and the tough boss battles are something to remember.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
With spectacular CG cutscenes, a well scripted story, a versatile skill tree feature, 100+ hours of gameplay, and the Draconian Quest to really add more to the game in terms of difficulty, Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is the quintessential Dragon Quest experience that any fan should pick up and play. We can’t stress enough just how much more fun the game is if you play it with Draconian Quest mode on, as it really throws a wrench into the mix, giving you a greater sense of reward after each gripping battle. The story itself will take you around 30-50 hours, depending on the pace at which you play; when you tack on all the side quests, along with collecting every hidden item, then the 100 hour mark is just about right. We highly recommend grabbing Dragon Quest XI once again if you’re on the market for something new to play if you’re a JRPG fan!
Beautifully rendered CG cutscenes, landscapes, character designs, etc.
English voice overs are actually quite good and add personality to each character.
Draconian Quest just gives the game a lot more oomph, encouraging you to come up with more strategic ways to win.
100+ hours of gameplay is a win in our books.
Riding horses around the lush landscape feels invigorating.
The skill tree is pretty good and allows you to create a versatile character for battle.
The game does feel old in terms of the gameplay, but that’s DQ for you.
Honey's Final Verdict:
We hope that you found our review of Dragon Quest XI to be an insightful one and that what you take away from this is that the game is worth every penny. Don’t sleep on this one if you’re a fan of the series, and if you’re new, then Dragon Quest XI is a great starting point! Just like the Final Fantasy series, the story may use familiar characters but overall, each iteration is different and takes you on new adventures every time.
As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!