A lot of JRPG fans lament to this day that the ultra popular Final Fantasy XV was more action RPG than traditional turn-based affair. Many gamers long for the days when the FF series was more about limit breaks and menu surfing than four bros on a journey in their kickass car. For them, Square Enix is bringing the first mainline game in the Dragon Quest series stateside since 2010.
It’s been 8 years since Dragon Quest IX on the Nintendo DS, and FOURTEEN years since the epic Dragon Quest VIII on PS2. The tenth entry skipped us entirely, as an MMO that came out in 2012 and has remained in Japan only. Unlike Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest never quite became the sales-force its other JRPG cousin always has been. But if it’s an epic classically styled JRPG you’re looking for, Dragon Quest XI has that in spades.
The Akira Toriyama art is as sublime as ever (see Dragon Ball, Chrono Trigger, etc.), and wisely the Square Enix team has kept even the sound effects and music squarely in the “nostalgic” zone with sweeping but classic orchestral scores. Where the JP version had no voiced dialog, all the cutscenes in DQXI for the west have been fully voiced. Additionally, the have been numerous quality of life changes from the super-successful JP version - such as a sprint button to make traveling in the overworld less tedious.
You’ll get a mount to travel the world too, and it can sprint and run over mobs, as you’ll never have to fight anything randomly. All combat takes place with monsters you can actually see in the world. Some will run if you outlevel them, others may chase you to the ends of the earth. Once in combat, you can use a static/cinematic camera, or a free camera and free movement that lets you rove about the fight. This doesn’t have any real function other than letting you move both your character and the camera - the fights are still traditional turn-based JRPG fair.
Your hero, the resurrected Luminary chosen to the protect the world in its time of need, quickly finds that not everyone is excited he’s returned. For, if the chosen one has risen again, that means the baddies can’t be far behind. Luckily, you’re a jack of all trades, and as you level, you can learns tons of skills across a bevy of weapons and magics. You’ll collect and recruit tons of party members each with their own back story to progress through as well. Which reminds me - DQXI is a BIG game. The story alone will take most people around 80 hours to complete, while adding in the side missions and additional content will add another 20-40 hours.
Oh, and there’s no DLC or expansions planned here - DQXI is the complete package. No hidden fees, no extra charges, though there will be a collector’s edition, we’re sure.
The world of Dragon Quest XI is just as lush, vibrant, and content-filled as ever. If you long for old school JRPGs that remember why Blue Slimes need to die, Dragon Quest XI won’t disappoint you. We only saw about 30 minutes, but it was enough to make us confident that Echoes of an Elusive Age will be worth the 8 year wait between mainline entries in the series. Final Fantasy can keep being the experimental IP for Square’s RPGs. I’ll gladly take the gorgeous and content-filled traditions of Dragon Quest. September 4th can’t come soon enough for both the PS4 and the PC editions to launch.