Tuesday 23 October 2018

Dragon Quest XI ★★★★★

‘Dragon Quest’ is a series of old-school JRPGs that has been around for over 20 years and, unlike a lot of newer JRPGs, has stayed very close to its roots in the way of its mechanics and style (for better or for worse). ‘Dragon Quest XI’ is the first mainline series console game since ‘Dragon Quest VIII’ which was released in November 2004, whereas the games in between were either handheld or only released in Japan.  The Japanese version was released last year and there have been several changes to the Western release which I believe has improved the quality of the game tenfold.

Firstly there is the voice acting, which wasn’t included at all in the Japanese release. Although some characters are quite annoying in a childish way the voice acting does improve the overall experience of the game. One of the biggest changes is the inclusion of Draconian mode, which is very much needed if you are looking for a challenging experience - it allows you to make several changes to the core mechanics of the game such as making the monsters much harder to defeat and not allowing you to equip armour or weapons. Playing without this the game is quite easy so I would suggest to try it out if you need something a bit more difficult. 

A single playthrough of ‘Dragon Quest 11’ will probably span across 100 hours or more so it wouldn’t be very good if the mechanics were not enjoyable. Luckily the tried and tested turn-based combat system, which has been in the game since the first ever game ‘Dragon Warrior’, is still fun to play. This combat is very tactical as you need to expose enemies’ weaknesses, and each party member (who you gradually gain over the course of the game) has different skills and weapons they can use to do this. Your party members can also link together by using a new mechanic called Pep Powers which is where, at a certain time during battles such as after an onslaught of attacks against you, your characters will become pepped up which allows you to release bigger, flashier attacks that can devastate your opponent. This is a very important mechanic when in Draconian Mode to assist with the more challenging nature of the battles.

When you are not battling you will be exploring a massive open world, completing quests and working out puzzles as you progress through what is a rather clichéd JRPG storyline. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and does have a few surprises, but I wasn’t blown away by anything related to the plot. The one thing that has always been excellent in ‘Dragon Quest’ is the enemy and world design, as you would expect from characters designed by Akira Toriyama, of Dragonball Z fame (noticeable immediately by the eyes on some of the characters). The character designs and animations fit in perfectly with the rest of the world and at times you feel like you are playing through a Saturday morning anime. Even with how beautiful the game is I had no performance issues on PS4 Pro and did not experience any crashes or soft locks. 

Unlike JRPGs like the ‘Final Fantasy’ series, has had so many new mechanics added with each new game, ‘Dragon Quest XI’ stays very close to its roots. Despite this, it does it so well that even at 100 hours in the game is still great to play and you can easily get lost within such a vibrant and fun world. With the inclusions in the Western release, this is a must-have for any JRPG fan. 

Hannah Read

Dragon Quest XI at CeX

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