Dragon Quest XI

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Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
Dragon Quest XI cover art.jpg
English-language promotional artwork
Developer(s)Square Enix[a]
Publisher(s)Square Enix[b]
Director(s)Takeshi Uchikawa
Producer(s)
  • Yosuke Saito
  • Hokuto Okamoto[1]
Designer(s)Yuji Horii
Programmer(s)Toshihide Kitamura
Artist(s)
Writer(s)
  • Yuji Horii
  • Kenjirou Mori
  • Jun Ito
Composer(s)Koichi Sugiyama
SeriesDragon Quest
EngineUnreal Engine 4
Platform(s)
Release
July 29, 2017
  • Nintendo 3DS
    • JP: July 29, 2017
    PlayStation 4
    • JP: July 29, 2017
    • WW: September 4, 2018
    Windows
    • WW: September 4, 2018

    Definitive Edition

    Nintendo Switch
    • WW: September 27, 2019
    PS4, Xbox One, Windows
    • WW: December 4, 2020
    Stadia
    • WW: March 16, 2021
Genre(s)Role-playing
Mode(s)Single-player

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age[c] is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square Enix. An entry in the long-running Dragon Quest video game series, it was released in Japan for the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation 4 in July 2017, and worldwide for the PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows in September 2018. An enhanced version, Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition, was released for Nintendo Switch in September 2019, for PlayStation 4, Windows and Xbox One in December 2020, and for Stadia in March 2021.

One of the first games announced for the Switch, the game was originally conceived to be fully open world, but the idea was discarded when it conflicted with the story the developers wanted to tell. To increase the awareness of the Dragon Quest franchise in the west, support for Microsoft Windows and features such as voiced English dialogue and 4K resolution were included. Elements added later included an expanded plot and an option to listen to an orchestral version of the score.

While many critics considered Dragon Quest XI to be the best in the series, as well as one of the best contemporary JRPGs overall, some have formed a view that the game was overly traditional and non-innovative. The game shipped over six million copies by September 2020. The game's protagonist, the Luminary, has also been featured in crossover media.

Gameplay[edit]

In-game screenshot showing a common battle
The Nintendo 3DS and Definitive Edition versions have an optional mode that allows the player to play them similar to older Dragon Quest games.

Dragon Quest XI continues the gameplay of previous games in the series, in which players explore worlds and fight against various monsters, including the ability to explore high areas.[2] The Nintendo 3DS version features a different style to the other versions, showcasing 3D graphics on the top screen and 16-bit styled sprites on the bottom screen. Before entering battle, players can also toggle between the 3D and 2D graphical styles at any time.[3][4] Like with Dragon Quest IX, on land the game's battle system features no random encounters and shows all enemies on the overworld. The battle system also adds a free-form camera option inspired by the MMORPG Dragon Quest X that allows players to move around the enclosed battlefield, although it is purely visual and provides no other benefits to gameplay.[5][6][7]

Plot[edit]

The game is set in the world of Erdrea, and begins as the kingdom of Dundrasil is invaded and destroyed by an army of monsters. The protagonist, an infant during the attack, survives and is found floating down a river by an old man named Chalky in the village of Cobblestone. The protagonist is adopted by Chalky's daughter Amber and raised in the village. After the protagonist's coming-of-age ceremony, Amber reveals the truth to him about his birth and adoption, and sends him to meet King Carnelian of Heliodor. However, the king accuses him of being an evil entity and throws him into the dungeons. Imprisoned, the protagonist meets a thief named Erik who reveals that he was sent to meet him, as the mark on his hand is proof that he is the Luminary, a legendary hero chosen by the world tree Yggdrasil to save Erdrea from evil. The pair escape and evade capture, later joined by two mages: Veronica, who is trapped in a child's body due to a curse, and her twin sister Serena. On their quest to help the Luminary reach Yggdrasil, they gain three other companions: Sylvando, a traveling entertainer, Rab, former king of Dundrasil and the protagonist's grandfather, and Jade, exiled princess of Heliodor who helped the infant protagonist escape during the attack of Dundrasil.

The party eventually arrives at the heart of Yggdrasil, which contains the Sword of Light, the Luminary's destined weapon. However, just as the Luminary is about to take it, he and the party are intercepted by Carnelian and his retainers Jasper and Hendrik. It is revealed that Carnelian was possessed by an evil sorcerer known as Mordegon and that Jasper is Mordegon's agent. The two subdue Hendrik and the Luminary's party, with Mordegon taking the Sword of Light and absorbing the heart of Yggdrasil, destroying the tree and plunging the world into an age of darkness. Separated from the others, the Luminary returns to Cobblestone, turned into a fortified refuge for Heliodor citizens led by Carnelian and Hendrik, who apologize to the Luminary for all the troubles they caused him. Hendrik joins forces with the Luminary, and together they reclaim Heliodor from Mordegon's forces. After reuniting with the rest of the party, except for Veronica, who perished saving the others during the fall of Yggdrasil, the Luminary obtains the means to forge a new Sword of Light, which they use to defeat Jasper and Mordegon, restoring Yggdrasil and the world.

Afterwards, the party discovers the means to bring Veronica back within the Tower of Lost Time. There they meet the Timekeeper, who gives the Luminary the power to go back in time and defeats Mordegon before he can steal the Sword of Light and Yggdrasil's heart, thus saving Veronica from sacrificing herself. However, due to Mordegon's absence, a dark spirit is able to summon forth a mysterious orb called Erdwin's Lantern and merge with it, thus awakening the game's true antagonist, The Dark One, Calasmos, who was previously destroyed in the timeline of Mordegon's rule. The party learns that a prior Luminary named Erdwin was betrayed and killed by his mage companion Morcant, who absorbed Calasmos's powers and transformed into Mordegon. Since he could not be destroyed forever without the power of the Luminary, Serenica, Erdwin's former sage companion and lover, then sealed the weakened Calasmos within Erdwin's Lantern and attempted to return to the past at the Tower of Lost Time, but was turned into the Timekeeper instead. The party then confronts and destroys Calasmos, before the Luminary entrusts his mark to Serenica, who reverts to her original form and uses it to return to the past and reunite with Erdwin. Accompanied by Veronica and Serena, he also returns the Sword of Light to Yggdrasil, who reveals itself to be Yggdragon, an ancient dragon of light who was defeated by Calasmos ages ago, whose body transformed into the tree Yggdrasil and gave life to Erdrea. Yggdragon bestows upon the Luminary the title of "Erdrick", the mightiest of all heroes, and keeps the Sword for the day when a new hero will need it to defend Erdrea from evil. In the mid-credits, Serenica reunites with Erdwin in the past, while after the credits, a young mother, after reading the Luminary's story in a book, wakes up her child from bed, setting up the beginning of Dragon Quest III.

Development and release[edit]

As with the majority of the series, Dragon Quest XI was designed and written by Yuji Horii (left), with music composed by Koichi Sugiyama (right).

Dragon Quest XI started development in 2013, with it being announced in 2015 for the PlayStation 4, Nintendo 3DS, and Nintendo Switch.[8][9] It was one of the first games announced for the Switch, which was known under the codename of Nintendo NX as it had not been fully revealed at the time.[10][11] Initially, the team considered making the game fully open world, but decided against it as it would have led to issues telling its story.[12] The PlayStation 4, Windows, and Switch versions use the Unreal Engine 4 game engine and had developmental assistance from ORCA Inc, while the 3DS version had assistance from Toylogic Inc.[2][13]

In April 2017, Square Enix held a special presentation for the game, where the release date for the PlayStation 4 and 3DS versions of the game in Japan was revealed to be July 29, 2017.[14][15][16] The same month, Sony Interactive Entertainment and Nintendo unveiled special editions of their PlayStation 4 Slim and New Nintendo 2DS XL hardware for Japan to tie into the game.[17] Coinciding with the release, lead designer and scenario writer Yuji Horii announced that an international version, localized in five separate languages, would be released in 2018.[18] The exact date was later revealed to be September 4, 2018, along with a version for Microsoft Windows via Steam, a first for the main series. It includes voiced English dialogue, a first-person camera option, support for 4K resolution, and an additional "Draconian Quest" hard mode difficulty feature, among other minor changes.[19][20][21] Square Enix stated they wanted to expand the Dragon Quest brand outside of Japan, which they believed that these features, in addition to having a Windows version, would assist it.[22]

The international PlayStation 4 release also saw a special collector's edition, titled Edition of Lost Time, which includes the base game, a set of bonus in-game items, a 128-page hardback art book featuring original character design concepts from Akira Toriyama,[23] a two-disc soundtrack featuring orchestrated versions of the game's music by Koichi Sugiyama, a cloth map of the game's world, and a steelbook case.[21][24] The 3DS version was not localized outside of Japan, and the Switch version was delayed while the team updated it to a newer version of Unreal Engine 4 that the system supports.[25] The Switch version was re-announced at Tokyo Game Show 2018.[11] Known as Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition, it was released worldwide on September 27, 2019, and features Japanese voice acting, a 16-bit graphical mode adapted from the 3DS version, an option for orchestral music, and expanded plot elements.[26][27][28] Dragon Quest XI S was also released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows on December 4, 2020.[29] It was also released for Stadia on March 16, 2021.[30]

Reception[edit]

Dragon Quest XI received "generally favorable reviews" according to review aggregator Metacritic, with critics praising it for its visuals, traditional turn-based combat, plot, and characters.[31][32] Multiple publications called it the best game in the Dragon Quest series, as well as one of the best contemporary JRPGs.[41][45][46] Kotaku's Tim Rogers, a long-time player of the series, called it one of the best games of all time.[47] USgamer considered the game to be the natural followup to Dragon Quest VIII, the last main-series console game to be released outside of Japan, and an ideal entry point for newcomers to the series.[44] PC Gamer praised the English localization, calling it "the most brilliant, underappreciated writing of the year".[48]

Despite the common praise, some critics regarded the overly conservative nature of the game as being a detriment. Polygon stating that the upgraded visuals and presentation were "grafted onto a frail and aging skeleton" and that it was unlikely to bring in any new fans to the series due to its non-evolving nature.[49] PC Gamer also agreed, noting that while the Windows port ran without issue and "looked great", they believed the game itself was "disappointingly safe".[50][43] IGN criticized some sexualized elements in the game, included a quest to dress up a female character in a bunny outfit, as well as the series' usual "puff puff" content.[42] Some critics also wrote that the game's non-orchestrated, MIDI synthesized soundtrack was often at odds with the game's visuals.[44] For the Windows version, fans released a mod that replaced it with existing orchestral recordings.[51] An orchestral soundtrack was later included in the Definitive Edition, although the original soundtrack was also available.

Sales[edit]

The game sold over two million physical copies on its first two days of sale in Japan; the Nintendo 3DS version sold 1.13 million, while the PlayStation 4 version sold 0.95 million.[52] In North America, the game had the best launch month in series history, doubling the dollar sales of the previous best, Dragon Quest IX.[53] By November 2018, it had shipped over four million copies worldwide.[54] Dragon Quest XI S sold 303,204 copies in its first week in Japan in its Switch version.[55] By September 2020, the game had shipped over six million copies worldwide.[56]

Awards[edit]

Year Award Category Result Ref
2018 Game Critics Awards Best RPG Nominated [57]
Golden Joystick Awards PlayStation Game of the Year Nominated [58][59]
Ultimate Game of the Year Nominated
The Game Awards 2018 Best Role-Playing Game Nominated [60]
Gamers' Choice Awards Fan Favorite Role Playing Game Nominated [61]
2019 D.I.C.E. Awards Role-Playing Game of the Year Nominated [62]

Legacy[edit]

The Luminary also appeared as a playable character, via downloadable content, in the 2018 crossover fighting game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.[63] Yggdrasil's Altar is also featured as his related stage, along with several music tracks from the series. In addition, a Luminary Amiibo was released in October 2020.[64]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Additional development support by Orca. The 3DS version had assistance by Toylogic.
  2. ^ Nintendo published the Switch version
  3. ^ Dragon Quest XI: Sugisarishi Toki o Motomete (ドラゴンクエストXI 過ぎ去りし時を求めて) in Japanese

References[edit]

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External links[edit]