Dragon Quest XI
|Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age|
English-language promotional artwork
|Engine||Unreal Engine 4|
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 for the Nintendo Switch, Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition, was released in September 2019.
While many critics considered the game to be the best in the series, as well as one of the best contemporary JRPGs overall, many others had criticism over its overly traditional and non-innovative design. The game's protagonist also appears as a playable character in the 2018 crossover fighting game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The game had shipped over 5.5 million copies worldwide by December 2019.
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. 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. 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.
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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, is among those who attempt to escape, but becomes separated and ends up floating down a river and is found by an old man known as Chalky in the village of Cobblestone. Being adopted by his daughter, Amber, the protagonist is then raised in the village. As a teenager, he eventually participates in a coming-of-age tradition by climbing the mountain Cobblestone Tor with his childhood friend Gemma. During the trek, they are attacked by monsters and while fighting to protect Gemma, a mark on his hand glows, allowing him to summon lightning to defend themselves.
Upon returning, Amber reveals the truth to him about his birth and adoption, and sends him to meet king Carnelian of Heliodor. However, upon meeting him and his royal knights Sir Hendrik and Sir Jasper, the protagonist is thrown into the kingdom's dungeons under the accusation that he is the Darkspawn, an evil being predicted to destroy the world. Once imprisoned, he meets a thief called Erik who recognizes the mark on his hand, calling him the Luminary, a legendary hero chosen by the world tree Yggdrasil to save Erdrea from evil, and says he was fated to meet up with him. The pair then escape by using a tunnel Erik dug, and evade capture from Hendrik and Jasper. In a town called Hotto, the pair meet two mages who hail from the city of Arboria: Veronica, who fell into a curse that transformed her body into that of a child's, and her twin sister Serena. The two immediately recognize him as the Luminary and swear their allegiance to him, as is their sworn duty. The four then set on a quest to reach Yggdrasil so that the Luminary can understand more about his destiny. On the way, 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 Jasper, Carnelian and Hendrick. It is then revealed that Carnelian was possessed the entire time by an evil being known as Mordegon, otherwise known as the Lord of Shadows, and that Jasper has been an agent of his. The two then subdue Hendrik and the Luminary's party, with Mordegon taking and corrupting the Sword of Light and absorbing the heart of Yggdrasil for himself, destroying the tree and plunging the world into an age of darkness. Separated from his companions, the Luminary is revealed to have been rescued by mermaids from the underwater kingdom of Nautica, where he learns that since the fall of Yggdrasil, Mordegon sent his forces to terrorize Erdrea.
Upon leaving Nautica, the Luminary returns to Cobblestone, now 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 then joins forces with the Luminary, and together, they reclaim Heliodor from Mordegon's forces, which brings back the sun. On their journey to save other parts of the world, they reunite with the rest of the party except for Veronica, where they discover that she perished saving the others during the fall of Yggdrasil. At Arboria, the party learns about a huge flying whale, called Cetacea. Using it, they travel to an ancient floating island known as Havens Above, where they discover the means to forge a new Sword of Light. After forging it, the party eventually take to Fortress of Fear, Mordegon's flying fortress. There, the party defeats Jasper, who has turned into a demon, and Mordegon himself, which restores Yggdrasil and the world. A few days after their victory, the party gathers at Arboria to celebrate and pay their respects to Veronica. Following that, the party investigates some mysterious ruins, where they discover an ancient relic that gives them access to the Tower of Lost Time. At the tower, the Luminary is told by the Timekeeper, the spirit who guards the tower, about the opportunity to go back in time to save Veronica and all others who had died during the fall of Yggdrasil. Making the tough decision to leave his current party, the Luminary does so, and defeats Jasper and Mordegon before he has a chance of stealing the Sword of Light and Yggdrasil's heart again.
However, due to Mordegon's absence, a dark spirit is able to summon an evil monster known as Calasmos, which was previously thwarted in the timeline of Mordegon's rule. The party then seeks counseling of Havens Above's sages, who lead them on a quest to learn the truth regarding Calasmos' return. By doing so, they discover that a Luminary from ages ago, called Erdwin, was betrayed and killed by his mage companion Morcant, who absorbed Calasmos's powers and transformed into Mordegon from his desire of power. Serenica, Erdwin's former sage companion and lover, then sealed the weakened Calasmos and attempted to return to the past at the Tower of Lost Time, but was turned into the Timekeeper instead, as only one with the mark of the Luminary can use the tower's powers. After making their preparations, the party sets out to confront Calasmos and defeat him once and for all. After doing so, the Luminary entrusts his mark to the Timekeeper, who returns to her original form as Serenica, 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 eventually 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
Dragon Quest XI started development in 2013, with it being announced in 2015 for the PlayStation 4, Nintendo 3DS, and Nintendo Switch. 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. Initially, the team considered making the game fully open world, but decided against it as it would have led to issues telling its story. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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, 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. The 3DS version was not localized outside of Japan, while the Switch version was delayed while the team updates it to a newer version of the Unreal engine that the system supports. The Switch version was re-announced at Tokyo Game Show 2018. 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. A demo for it was released in August, allowing for game saves to be transferred to the full version.
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. Multiple publications called it the best game in the Dragon Quest series, as well as one of the best contemporary JRPGs. Kotaku's Tim Rogers, a long-time player of the series, called it one of the best games of all time. GamingBolt wrote that it displayed a great command of the "ins and outs of its genre" the way few other games did. 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. PC Gamer praised the English localization, calling it "the most brilliant, underappreciated writing of the year".
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. PC Gamer also agreed, noting that while the Windows port ran without issue and "looked great", they believed the game itself was "disappointingly safe". 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. Some critics also wrote that the game's non-orchestrated, MIDI synthesized soundtrack was often at odds with the game's visuals. For the Windows version, fans released a mod that replaced it with existing orchestral recordings. An orchestral soundtrack was later included in the Switch version, although the original soundtrack was also available.
The game sold two million 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. In North America, the game had the best launch month in series history, doubling the dollar sales of the previous best, Dragon Quest IX. By November 2018, it had shipped over four million copies worldwide. Dragon Quest XI S sold 303,204 copies in its first week in Japan. By the end of 2019, the game had shipped over 5.5 million copies worldwide.
The Luminary also appeared as a playable character, via downloadable content, in the 2018 crossover fighting game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Yggdrasil's Altar is also featured as his related stage, along with several music tracks from the series.
|2018||Famitsu Awards||Game of the Year||Won|||
|Game Critics Awards||Best RPG||Nominated|||
|Golden Joystick Awards||PlayStation Game of the Year||Nominated|||
|Ultimate Game of the Year||Nominated|
|The Game Awards 2018||Best Role-Playing Game||Nominated|||
|Gamers' Choice Awards||Fan Favorite Role Playing Game||Nominated|||
|Titanium Awards||Game of the Year||Nominated|||
|Best Artistic Design||Nominated|
|Best Role-Playing Game||Won|
|2019||D.I.C.E. Awards||Role-Playing Game of the Year||Nominated|||
|NAVGTR Awards||Game, Franchise Role Playing||Nominated|||
|Italian Video Game Awards||Game of the Year||Nominated|||
- Additional development support by Orca. The 3DS version had assistance by Toylogic.
- Dragon Quest XI S was published outside of Japan by Nintendo.
- 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
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