Dragon Quest XI originally came out for PS4 and Nintendo 3DS way back in 2017 with a worldwide release in 2018 which included PC, though the 3DS versions didn’t make it out of Japan.
A year later the enhanced edition of the game that is XI S hit the Nintendo Switch with a raft of features, most notable of which is been able to play the game in a traditional 2D mode, that may have just left many fans who’d bought the standard release a little upset. Overall, the critical and commercial reception to Dragon Quest XI was incredibly good, with many calling it a series best, if not one of the best RPG’s ever made.
Now new owners can find out for themselves while early adopters of the original release can finally get their hands on the enhanced version of Dragon Quest XI S as Square Enix prepares to release the ultimate edition of the game on PS4, Xbox One and PC in December.
So what does XI S add to the base game that would make it worth splashing out on again?
New story quests have been added for XI S that focus on your compatriots along with endgame quests and more story bits focusing on past Dragon Quest games in a 16 bit mode. You can now switch between English or Japanese voices which, for quite a few, is of significant importance. There is also a fully orchestrated soundtrack and a MIDI version as well which brings me to one of the reasons I’m really interested in the XI S version: 2D Mode. That’s right, you can play the game in a traditional top-down 2D mode that you can swop between during gameplay, though you will need to create a separate save file for this. And of course there is the now standard for games Photo Mode, which is pretty great since DQ XI S is a pretty gorgeous game – even though this is a port of the Switch version so there does seem to be a bit of a graphical downgrade – and has the best looking and animated Akira Toriyama character designs I’ve seen in quite some time.
There’s also a plethora of quality of life improvements as well. The games crafting mechanics by way of the Fun-Size Forge can now be used anywhere, unlike the originals release of relegating it to campsites only. Battle speed can also be increased now which is great for those grinding sessions. New costumes have appeared, party members are viewable in the overworld, cutscenes are skippable and a whole lot more.
So if you’re expecting a simple update, you can reassess that notion. And if you’ve played it before, well there’s more than enough reason to dive right back in.
And if you haven’t touched a DQ game before? Well then you should give this a bash as you don’t need to have played previous games to play this one.
Of course, you could really take advantage of the fact that Square Enix have released a demo of DQ XI S on PS4 and Xbox One for you to try out. And a pretty significant demo it is, whopping in at 10 hours worth of playtime, longer if you choose to hit the demo’s level cap. And with a 10 hour runtime, that’s more than enough time to decide whether or not you want to play DQ XI S. And if you choose to continue your journey, you can start on the retail copy exactly where the demo ended as your save can be carried across.
Clocking in at just over 11 hours of playtime myself, I found DQ XI S to be a thoroughly charming and engaging RPG. Despite the gorgeous 3D visuals, DQ XI S is a very traditional Japanese RPG and there’s nothing wrong with that in a time where every other developer is looking to innovate in this space. There’s plenty of hardcore level grinding here for those that love that sort of thing. That’s no longer my scene to be honest, which made been able to speed up the flow of battles tremendously important.
Where DQ XI S really did shine for me though, was in the games writing and characters. There’s a real heartfelt RPG here, and by the time I got to the end of the demo I wanted to launch into the full product. Putting aside the traditional level grinding, of which there seems to be quite a bit, the game characters were just wonderfully written and voiced. There’s a distinct English accent pervading most performances, but they’re all equally of the highest caliber so far, with your party members making the back and forth questing a joy as you get to learn more about them.
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of An Elusive Age launches on December 4th on Xbox One, PS4, Windows PC and Steam, with it being available on Gamepass at launch.
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