DRAGON QUEST XI on the Nintendo Switch is a game I have been waiting to play for some time, ever since the game was first announced in a Nintendo Direct, I was, even more, happier when I heard the game will have content only coming to this version, so even though I had purchased the game on PC, I decided to wait, and it was a very long wait indeed. The game was first released in 2017 on the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo 3DS in Japan, then in 2018 the game was released globally on the Playstation 4 and PC, the 3DS version was going to be exclusive to Japan only. Moving forward to September 2019 the Nintendo Switch gets the Definitive Version of the game with a host of new features which include some of the following.
- All-New 2D Mode
- The World Of Tickington
- Photo Mode
- New Soundtrack
- Voice Overs
- Fun-Size Forge Can Be Used Everywhere
- Battle Speed Selector
- Clustered Item pick up
But even with all these enhancements how does the game stack up to its original release? Well, all I can say is this game on the Nintendo Switch is a masterpiece of game development, a game that should be played.
So did you miss the game when it first got released? have you been waiting on this version like I was? or are you a bit dubious of the JRPG franchise? In the west Final Fantasy was the RPG to play with Dragon Quest being more popular in Japan, but did you know that the franchise even pre-dates the first Final Fantasy game. I would have to admit I am one of the gamers that have never played any of the Dragon Quest JRPG games, and the franchise has never been at forefront of my ‘to-buy list‘, yet I do enjoy playing Dragon Quest Builders but that is a totally different genre.
So what enticed me to this game, first it was the story, which tells a tale of a group of heroes led by you a hero of legend known to all as the Luminary. Your fate, to save the world of Erdrea from the forthcoming darkness. The story starts off with your mother fleeing for her life, holding a child with a symbol on his hand;
The mother did what all mothers would have done, protect her child, well not all mothers world have put their child in a Moses basket and set the basket upon a river, you never know what would happen. But lucky for her child, the basket passed safely and was found by an older man, and was brought up by a loving family. Years have passed and now the once child has grown up to a become a strapping young lad, ready to pass the trails of Cobblestone Village and start his quest as the Luminary.
Now, in all honesty, this is all I wish to tell you about the story, why you ask, well everything else, all the twists, turns, surprises, heart-breaking moment would just spoil it all for you. As with every storytelling, you need to experience it for yourself, all I can say is, get ready for a rip-rolling rollercoaster of a ride, through many emotions.
To help tell a story, Square Enix has gone to town, with bringing the Dragon Quest XI to us westerners, with amazing localisation with all the qwerks, jokes and charms us westerners know and understand. Not only that but the game has some of the best voice actings I have had the pleasure in listening to since my last Playthrough of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt which reminds me the game is not available in the Nintendo Switch. For fans that simply love the Japanese version of the game including all the Japanese voice acting its all here for you to enjoy, all you have to do it choose the option in the menu.
The next part of the game that enticed me was its gameplay, being a fan of Final Fantasy or more recently with the release of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch on the Nintendo Switch, I love HUGE RPGs with hours and hours of gameplay. I can not stand FPS shooters and all these quick match games like Paladins, PUBG, Fortnite and many other games of this genre.
When you first start the game you might be thinking to yourself that the game feels rather slow, but this is only for your benefit, as the game introduces new mechanics and options throughout your game time, mostly when new characters join and when you level up. This leads to a host of skills and spells to use for each character, which can be rather overwhelming to some of us gamers. There is a helping hand here, as you do not need to control every character in your group, you can set them to be controlled by AI, though many fans of the JRPG franchise says ‘To Experience a True JRPG, you need to control all the characters yourself’. For me, though I always controlled the main hero ‘The Luminary’ while I left the AI control all the other characters, with me only stepping in to control other characters when I gained pep power. What is Pep Power? they are special abilities that can be activated while certain characters are in a Pepped state, and they are pretty damn powerful. How I decided to play the game, in no way took away from my experience and my enjoyment, I think I actually enjoyed it more. You might be thinking this was the easier option, for me it was, but on times I did have to take control and make critical choices.
Roaming the world is stunning in design with enemies scattered around everywhere, once you come in contact with an enemy a turn-based battle will ensue. As previously said you can control how to battle AI or player-controlled and this is done through the battle system menu under tactics. You can also choose how you want each character to act during a battle, like go all out, or to concentrate on healing or be more tactful etc. Through combat and other objectives, you will level up each of your heroes and gain skill points, these skill points can then be spent in the character builder.
When not in combat or concentrating on skills, you will be traversing the world, talking to plenty of AI characters and taking on quests to progress the story forward. You can fast travel, or use a mount, for some reason I never used either, I always felt that I would miss something. When it comes to saving your game, you will be using which churches, religious scholars and statues found at campsites. I found this somewhat Odd, having to use forms of religion to save my progress, but I guess this is a way to add this aspect to this game when it is not used in any other way.
Something you will be keeping an eye on a lot will be your heroes MP and HP (Mana Points/ Hit Points also known as Health/ Mana) as the game does not regenerate these aspects after a battle. You can do this by using food and mana pots or simply by resting overnight at an INN at a local town or at a campsite. While resting why not use the Fun Sized Forge, which can now be used anywhere at any time, something that was not available when the game first got released. The Fun Sized Forge offers a little mini-game which sees you bashing out your new weapon, armour or accessory all built by materials found throughout the world. You can of course also purchase gear from stales within towns, but come at a cost. New recipes, can be a little harder to get hold of, but with a little extra time, and a good eye, you can find new recipes by finding red books scattered around bookshelves in chests and many other places, including quests. I found myself spending a lot of time in the world looking around the chests and those pesky Red books.
I also spent a lot of my time killing monsters and grinding through those levels to become a right thorn in the side of the Darkness, however, grinding a lot of enemies is not required to get through the game. You can be a thorn in the side of darkness, just by ploughing through the main quests, I guess I just enjoy power.
Something new has come to this version of the game, the ability to play the entirety of the game 2D. The 2D version of DRAGON QUEST XI was originally released exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS in Japan in their native language, now western audiences have there chance to experience the game in their native language. Warning though, save your progress before progressing to the 2D version of the game and be prepared to start the playthrough at the start of a chapter. If you are not interested in the 2D version of the game, you do not have to worry that much, however, you do need to do The World Of Tickington in 2D which takes you on a journey through important parts of the Dragon Quest Timeline. In all honesty, this is rather fun apart from the random encounters that popped up every few steps, which for me was bloody annoying.
The only thing left now to talk about is the soundtrack, which is outstanding, but if I am, to be honest hearing the same soundtrack over and over with each battle became tiresome in the end.
Overall DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age is one of the best JRPGs I have ever played, it has an amazing story which is always evolving. A game that is well made, fun to play and extremely engaging. The game is HUGE with more hours than I could count, and I will 100% come back to it again to replay. DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age is one of my top choice RPGs.
DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age is currently exclusive to the Nintendo Switch with no ETA on the update heading to PC and PS4.
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