Draw your sword and ready your turn-based combat skills; Square Enix is excited to announce that they are bringing you the first new main title Dragon Quest game in 13 years. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is making its American debut later this year.
This title will follow an unnamed character called the hero (until you give him a name). This young man has just returned to his hometown after completing a coming-of-age ritual for his village. Little does he know that this ritual will reveal that he is actually a reincarnation of a legendary hero from long ago. When he takes this new information to the king, he receives the opposite of a warm welcome. Now the king is calling him “The Darkspawn”, and he is on the run from a relentless army. The hero gathers his thing and sets off on an adventure to find out what his new identity means. Along the way, he will gather a ragtag team of companions of all walks of life who will help him on his journey.
One of the big selling points of this particular game is that it is not connected to any of the previous titles in the series. It is made to be accessible to new players who don’t know anything about the series. Everything from the characters to the combat are designed to be simple enough for new players but complex and interesting enough for veterans of the series. A tough line to walk but an impressive feat if it manages to stick.
While the game has already been released and received plenty of praise in Japan, the American version will be launching with a few key differences. The biggest is likely the fact that the game will now feature full voice acting, where the Japanese version had none. A first person camera mode, updates to the menus and UI and smoother controls will also make an appearance. A dash button will players get around faster, and finally Draconian or hard mode will actually be even harder. Another big promise made by the developers is that the game will be “whole out of the box”. That means that they have no planned expansions or DLC. Given the current trend of announcing DLC as soon as you announce the game, this is definitely a different tactic, and a welcome one at that.
Recently, I got a chance to hear a presentation from some representatives of the game, as well as see some new gameplay that hasn’t been debuted anywhere else yet. Now I’ll admit that I don’t know much about Dragon Quest as a franchise, but given that this is meant for newcomers, that works out pretty well.
The art style is wonderfully cute and cartoony, but it also creates some beautiful scenery as you explore the open world. The open world seems enormous, even in the small sections they were showing off to us. The combat was simple enough that I could follow what was going on, but I can see where someone with a complex understanding of the systems at play could find a lot of interesting things going on. The open world adventuring was errand and quest based. You could wander around town and chat with the locals, blissfully ignoring your destiny while you fetch them various things they need, or you could focus more on combat and advancing the story. With the sidequests, developers estimate that there are 100+ hours of content within the game.
Overall, I was impressed with what I saw. While this type of adventure RPG isn’t generally what I spend my time playing, I might just have to pick up a copy myself. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is due out September 4 digitally and physically for PS4 with an additional digital release for the PC.