As Dragon Quest XI S starts, your tasked with climbing a mountain in your town as your coming of age ceremony. What you find there are monsters waiting to waylay you. However, something goes awry and as you're saving your friend something strange happens: a sigil on your hand glows a mysterious light and suddenly you're both safe. Your adopted mother tells you you're special and all of a sudden you're off on a journey. This begins your adventure in Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition.
From Developers Square Enix, Toylogic, Orca and Publishers Nintendo and Square Enix comes the next version of Dragon Quest XI for console owners, and now it is on the Nintendo Switch. Dragon Quest XI S takes the remastered version to the Switch, and it steps up its game with a new 2D retro option for playing through the story. Let’s dig a little deeper.
The first thing I tried when I installed Dragon Quest XI was the retro mode. I grew up with the original Dragon Warrior I and II on the Nintendo Entertainment System, so retro games give me something to look forward to when I play them. The retro mode in this game is the same as those old games with one change, the mechanic for 2D can be turned on or off at any save point within the game. Now, this may sound awesome to most of you, however, I discovered something in the mechanic that is a little disappointing. When you switch from 2D to 3D or vice-versa, you have to save your current game as normal, and then you have to select a checkpoint to load the opposite version of the game from.
So, what does a checkpoint consist of? A checkpoint is any major story area that you have visited, or have begun exploring. When I tested this feature it was at the very beginning of the game, and another time later on. When you select a checkpoint it does not take you directly to where you just saved your other game, which I feel it should. Instead, it takes you to the very beginning of the selected checkpoint. It doesn’t appear that you lose your levels gained, but it is a pain to redo whatever work and story in the area you have already completed.
Combat is exactly as you remember it from the original versions of this game. You can run up behind people in the main world and hit them, which damages them before entering the actual battle. You can accomplish the battle as you normally would. In 2D mode, you will go back to the old style of gaming where you see the low pixel enemy’s pictures and you simply attack with text options and watch as they disappear when defeated. I do feel that leveling up may be a little more difficult for you in the 3D mode, and this is simply because you can see all of the monsters and run away from them if you choose to. With the retro mode, you will have the randomized encounters that fans of the original games will be more familiar with. I find the random encounter system to be more fulfilling, and the difficulty of the bosses and monsters later in the game make leveling up important. So skipping fights with monsters is not something you want to do.
When it comes to graphics you want to look at while playing, Dragon Quest XI doesn’t disappoint. The 3D mode is set up beautifully just like the original versions of the game, and meet the high standards of games of its type on the market currently. Normally this is my favorite thing about newer games, but since I had already played a little bit of the game on my PlayStation 4, I decided more playtime in 2D retro mode would be better to see how that part of the game works. The avatars, NPCs, monsters, and all of the world graphics are great for being 16-bit versions of the full game.
Personally, I feel that the way the 2D world is set up is a bit easier to play through than the 3D world. It is more direct from town to town and quest to quest. Coupled with the random engagements to give you more chance to directly level up, it helps you to get to where you are going without the option to avoid the fights of monsters you see running around you.
While this is only a preliminary preview of the full game I have found it to be true to a lot of the story elements of the Dragon Quest story. I don’t want to give too many spoilers away, but you will meet a lot of characters that will group up with you, and they are a varied group of people. If you have played on a different console before, as I have, the 2D retro mode is definitely worth a shot on the Nintendo Switch. We will have a full review once I have completed the full story.
Note: Our copy is under review on the Nintendo Switch with a code provided by PR, and this is a preview of around twenty-five hours of gameplay.