Dragon Quest has always been an enigma for Square Enix. Though the franchise has found stunning success in Japan, it has been unable to penetrate the North American market quite like Final Fantasy. With Japan favoring handhelds in recent years, the Dragon Quest franchise has since retreated to handhelds and has not released a mainline entry on consoles in over a decade. With Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age, however, Square Enix is looking to try again. With an English dub coming to consoles, the publisher hopes to finally penetrate the North American market.
The brief snippet we got to see follows our unnamed protagonist and his party as they travel deep into the desert to help the sultan’s cocky son. Determined to slay a massive monster, the boy has wandered ahead and fallen into its trap. Accompanying the player on the quest is the rogue Erik, fire mage Veronica, and healer Serena. The four are joined by Sylvando, a traveling performer who aides the heroes as a guest character.
Those who have played previous Dragon Quest games will find themselves right at home in Dragon Quest XI. The game uses a turn-based battle system where players input commands in an orderly fashion. Maintaining your stats and items are of great importance, especially when facing some of the game’s tougher bosses. The combat may seem simple on the surface when facing off against low-level enemies, but the difficulty ramps up when facing challenging bosses like the Slayer of the Sands. With the characters be able to traverse open maps filled with dangerous monsters, you’ll need to be on your guard.
Dragon Quest XI has been out in Japan for about a year now. Fans of the franchise have no doubt been consuming as much content from that version as possible. The real question is who does the western port fare? Square Enix has done a lot to improve the game over the past year, including updates to the graphics and UI. The updates make the game’s art style look even more vibrant and gorgeous. Then there are the quality of life improvements, such as the introduction of dashing. Now, when on the open map, players can now dash about to avoid combat and get to the objective faster. While players will still need to grind, dashing does cut down on many unnecessary battles. Also, the 3DS version is not coming to North America. The game will only launch on PS4, PC, and Switch in North America.
As a JRPG, Dragon Quest XI has plenty for players to do. Before being set loose in the desert of Gallopolis, Square Enix detailed all the many things players could participate in. They could go straight for the story objective and fight the boss, hunt collectibles, side quests and grinding. On top of well-produced cutscenes, players should expect to spend a lot of time in this game.
Dragon Quest has always had a dedicated fanbase in North America, but it’s never been able to match the size of Japan’s fanbase. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age looks like its prepared to change that. With a release on consoles, enhanced visuals and gameplay improvements, Dragon Quest is ready to leave a mark on the North American market.
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is out September 4 on PS4 and PC. A Nintendo Switch version is due at a later date.