Dragon Quest XI

Square Enix gets this huge JRPG lo­calised for Western au­di­ences in an im­pres­sive fash­ion

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The num­ber­ing has al­ways been prob­lem­atic. Of the two decade-span­ning Ja­panese RPG fran­chises in Square Enix’s ros­ter, it was al­ways Final Fan­tasy that achieved world­wide acclaim and recog­ni­tion. Western au­di­ences quickly grasped – thanks, we’re sure, to the im­pact Final Fan­tasy VII had on the mar­ket – that the games were ap­proach­able, and that the num­bers counted for lit­tle in the grand scheme of things. Dragon Quest has never been quite so lucky over here. In fact, in spite of it be­ing one of the big­gest game se­ries to ever launch in the East (for real, it’s like crazy pop­u­lar) it never quite repli­cated that suc­cess over here; the sig­na­ture Blue Slimes never res­onated in the same way as the beloved Cho­cobo or Moogle, the turn­based com­bat was seen as ar­chaic and the whole pre­sen­ta­tion seemed to do lit­tle to stir in­ter­est out­side of the core fan­base. The num­ber at­tached to the side was a de­ter­rent, if any­thing.

Truth be told, we don’t blame RPG fans for ap­proach­ing with cau­tion, but the truth of it is that Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elu­sive Age is well worth pay­ing at­ten­tion to should you have the time or in­cli­na­tion. It’s rare to see a Ja­panese RPG se­ries con­tinue to be so in touch with what made it so great to be­gin with, and so many years on down the road.

This 11th in­stal­ment sees se­ries cre­ator Yuji Horii, char­ac­ter de­signer Akira Toriyama and com­poser Koichi Sugiyama team up once again for what is un­doubt­edly the big­gest en­try to date. It’s a quest across huge, sprawl­ing con­ti­nents – a race against time to push back against an omi­nous world-end­ing threat.

It’s also a quest that’s de­signed to be en­joyed by fans and new­com­ers alike. The deep and finely tuned turn-based com­bat is easy to grasp, while the de­tailed world and in­tri­cate char­ac­ter work is en­joy­able to get on board with. The stu­dio has even taken steps to make the game more ap­peal­ing to Western au­di­ences – tak­ing on feed­back and an­swer­ing crit­ics since the game’s re­lease in Ja­pan last sum­mer. We’re talk­ing a fully over­hauled UI and menus, more in­tu­itive world nav­i­ga­tion and graph­i­cal en­hance­ments to make it more ap­peal­ing to the eye; cam­era mode has been in­tro­duced, much to the ex­cite­ment of PS4 play­ers, while sys­tem-level en­hance­ments such as im­proved cam­era and char­ac­ter con­trol and an all-new dash func­tion only serve to make Dragon Quest XI one of the most ac­ces­si­ble en­tries in the fran­chise to date.

If you’ve ever been cu­ri­ous about Dragon Quest in the past, this is the best time to jump in and give it a try. It can be in­tim­i­dat­ing at times, but that’s all part of the fun of it. They don’t make many Ja­panese RPGS like this any more (just look at what hap­pened to Final Fan­tasy), so be sure to give this a try should you have the op­por­tu­nity.

DRAGON QUEST XI is the lat­est project from the tal­ented folks at Square Enix. Find out more here: drag­onquest.com

Square Enix is bring­ing a host of awe­some new up­dates to the Western re­lease.

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