Echoes of an Elusive Age
Dragon Quest XI came out for PlayStation 4 in 2018. The latest in the 30-year line of Square-Enix’s Dragon Quest series, DQXI debuts the series in high-definition, modernizing decades of tradition while embracing standards of the current generation standard of JRPGs.
What does this game do to uphold a legacy of 30 years and manage to captivate the player from start to finish? Read our Dragon Quest XI review below and learn what makes this game stand out amidst this generation’s RPGs!
The Beginning of Dragon Quest XI.
The opening starts off showing off the characters and some beautifully animated sequences. In the story, you’re the protagonist who has come of age. As an orphaned baby living in the humble village of Cobblestone, you journey up a mountain with your childhood friend to finish a ritual for coming of age. Upon finishing this quest, your power awakens and you discover your destiny – you’re the Luminary of Legend!
Upon learning of your lineage, you embark on a quest to destroy the Lord of Shadows and bring peace to the world. Fulfilling an ancient prophecy, you learn you’re the reincarnation of a hero from a legendary past. In a story filled with betrayal, allies, and strong character development, you’ll travel the world – more than once – to fulfill your destiny, even when you’re at your lowest and weakest point.
The storyline will progress to your quest, as well as helping others in need. You’ll meet Erik, the wily thief, Jade, the strong, beautiful fighter, the magic twins, Veronica and Serena, and many more. Each character is filled with colorful personality and a matching backstory to boot. You’ll learn more about them as you progress through the game and meet your seven party members.
In addition, you’ll find plenty of storyline to go with the world’s characters. Some of these quest involve the mainline storyline, some of which include a decision. At times, you see silliness, and at times, you’ll note serious character development. You will discover scenes that move you. Not everything is as bright and pretty as you see. And perhaps that’s one of the most beautiful parts of this game.
In these cases, you’ll become surprisingly sympathetic to some of the characters. You might not want to see someone die and you’ll want to save them. Sometimes you’ll be helpless to do so. But if you’re going to be the hero and save the world, you must move past tragedy and fight to reclaim the world’s peace.
In Dragon Quest XI, you explore through the world of Erdrea. The overworld comprises of large, open paths in between cities. The paths offer tons of items, battles, campsites, and paths to other areas. You can also travel by ship or even Zoom, which enables Quick Travel to locations you’ve visited.
Campfires are situated all over the world. These are rest points where you can forge weapons with the Fun-Size Forge! You can also converse with party members and even buy items and weapons from a traveling merchant.
While on the overworld, you’ll encounter monsters. You’ll trigger battles by running into them. You can also hit them to start a battle, adding damage before the fight. Unfortunately, enemies can still attack you preemptively despite this.
Dungeons, Loot, and Crafting.
In the dungeons, you’l fall through crumbling tomb floors, unlock doors in a palace made of gold, climb vines on the cliffs, and even ride mounts. You can ride monster mounts that boost your speed, crawl up walls, and even jump up cliffs and platforms. This opens up a new layer of exploration rarely seen in this genre.
Later on in the game, you’ll take flight on a heavenly creature to explore the skies of the world. This will open up some new possibilities, which will also aid you in important quests. You’ll get to explore by flight in two major parts of the game.
Similarly to the modern-day JRPG, you will find loot pieces for crafting materials. You’ll find shining gem spots to hunt down trinkets and other items. Using the Fun-Size Forge, you can craft stronger weapons, armor, accessories, and even rework your current equipment to +3. Using the forge is quite enjoyable, as you’re testing your skills to hit a meter properly to get the optimal equipment. Moreover, you can always redo it and try again, so long as you have the Perfectionist Pearls. Forge as much as you can, and learn new techniques along the way!
Also, don’t worry about ever getting lost! Dragon Quest XI always gives you a marker and a brief description to point you out to your next destination. You’re free to explore the field or the sea as you please. But if you’re looking to follow your next destination, you don’t have to worry about a cumbersome trek to find your next goal.
In battle, you’ll amass a party of four members. Each member has their own class (Fighter, Healer, Mage). Turns are centered relatively around Agility. However, unlike most JRPGs, this is not set in stone. Sometimes enemies will take the turn, other times slower party members will take the turn.
You can use basic attacks, Abilities, and Magic. The latter two require MP. Meanwhile, you can also trigger a “Pep Up.” Similar to a Limit Break mechanic, your character’s stats power up briefly. But moreover, they can unleash finishing attacks or massive stat boosts when using a Pep-Up ability with another party member.
Party members can switch out at anytime and Pep-Ups can be stored when benched in the party. You can use all of the abilities based on what you learn in a character’s respective skill tree. This allows you to learn a weapon, passive abilities, magic spells, and even unlock Pep-Up abilities! Furthermore, these can be changed via respec at anytime after you leave the village Hotto.
Also, there’s an option to turn off running around the field during battle. I recommend doing so as it provides no advantage whatsoever. It’s there to look nice, but it’s an extra step you don’t really need.
Dragon Quest XI boasts some of the prettiest visuals seen in the current gen. The fields are gorgeous and radiant, while the enemies and characters – designed by Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama – display blissful animation! The character designs, right up to the NPCs, look like more than placeholder characters. They show Toriyama’s passion for designing characters, a career which transcends decades.
Composed by longtime Dragon Quest composer, Koichi Sugiyama, the soundtrack consists of many new tunes as well as throwbacks to games like Dragon Quest III. While an orchestrated soundtrack was released, however, the PS4 and PC versions of the game use the MIDI files. The Nintendo Switch version, however, will play using the full orchestral soundtrack.
One particular facet I love about Dragon Quest XI is the town design. Many of the cities are based off of famous, large cities or countries. Puerto Valor is based on Puerto Rico, while Gondolia represents Venice, Italy. Hotto takes on a Japanese flair, while Sniflheim is rooted in Scandinavia. Arboria is based on Greece, while Lonalulu is based on Hawaii. You’ll find many different regions and cultures based on real world settings here!
If you want to clear the main storyline, you’ll be playing for roughly 80 hours. After the credits roll, you can continue the adventure, which throws you into a new postgame campaign. This leads into the true ending of the game, which should total up to roughly 100 hours! For me, this is the second longest game I’ve ever played right after Persona 5, and just longer than Tales of Berseria.
In addition to the main story, you can undertake numerous quests. Among these are basic side-quests, Wheel of Harma battle gauntlet challenges, horseback riding, and even gambling at a casino. You can play a game called Slime Quest, which plays like a self-parody RPG quest while trying to win tokens to earn rare prizes. You can use these to purchase rare items or even change your costumes!
Dragon Quest XI became one of the best JRPGs I have ever played. I enjoy its pacing, battle system, music, visuals, and character development. Despite everything, it does have a little flaw, as some boss fights might become quite difficult due to the luck-based use of status ailments. I honestly feel discouraged to use debuffs or status ailments on bosses as a result. You can win these fights, sometimes with a little trial and error. You can’t always guarantee status ailments will work on bosses when you need them most. Sometimes the random number generator (RNG) isn’t on your side. As a result, it becomes a slight inconvenience when dealing with a difficult boss who smacks you with Curses and you’re stacked up on ailment resistances.
Some players might also find the game to be quite easy for a large chunk of the game. Veteran JRPG players, however, may want to invest in the Draconian Quests, which can be accessed before starting a game. Postgame bosses can be quite challenging, however, even without the use of the challenges.
Dragon Quest XI takes the best of its old-school roots and brands it as the standard of the current-gen. With its gorgeous animation, beautiful soundtrack, and smooth pacing, you truly feel compelled that you’re playing one of the single greatest games of this generation. That being said, several decisive plot points will tug at your heartstrings and further compel you to play the game for hours on end. You never have to worry about forced grinding, either. Each dungeon provides you with plenty of EXP and still provide a challenging boss at the end.
With that said, if you want to purchase Dragon Quest XI, I personally recommend you wait for the Switch release. If you do not own a Nintendo Switch, then get it on the PlayStation 4 or PC as soon as you possibly can. However, if you own a Switch and are looking forward to the additional content, this game comes out later in 2019. But if you absolutely cannot wait and want the core experience now, don’t let me stop you. Get this amazing game as soon as you can!
Thank you for reading our Dragon Quest XI review! What excites you most about the game? Will you get it for Nintendo Switch or another platform? Let us know in the comments below!
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