Video games are almost universal about repetition. Think about how many times you've jumped on a goomba in Super Mario or hidden in a bush in Fortnite . With a few variations means playing a game to do the same again and again. This is not a bad thing; At best, the games manage to make this repetition a loop, one that can either fill you with excitement when something unexpected happens or create a warm sense of comfort when you master it.
Perhaps no genre exemplifies the latter as a Japanese role-game game – especially Dragon Ques t-series. During three decades, the core of the experience has been largely unchanged. You go out into the world, fight some monsters, visit a city and see the story progress. Rinse, repeat, and throw in a sporadic tough boss. The structure has become so impoverished that even small shifts ̵
Dragon Quest XI which launches next week on PlayStation 4 and PC, feels like the ultimate form of the 30 year old formula. Basically, it's not all that's different from previous posts. But the diversity of sophistications and enhancements, ranging from battle to visual to story, makes it the best, most accessible Dragon Quest to date. It's the video game to put on your favorite sweater and get in for the night.
Things do not start with it as promising. In its opening meetings, Dragon Quest XI seems like a big cliché. You play like a young man in a small village (in line with the series of serials, he is absolutely quiet), which turns out to be the reincarnation of a famous hero from the generations ago. Known as "luminary", it is his destiny to save the world from an imminent darkness. So when you discover his true identity, sit out to see the king and fulfill your destiny.
It's a premise you've seen in countless fantasypics. But thanks to a twist quite early, which I do not want to destroy here, Dragon Quest XI is able to (for the most part) ward off cliché and give up a surprisingly exciting story. In fact, the most remarkable of the game may be that it has a story worth mentioning at all. As a dear like Dragon Quest it is not exactly known for its memorable stories; I've played almost every game in the series, and I can barely remember what happened in any of them. Dragon Quest XI with an amazing, if any predictable, fantasy song full of strange shifts, dramatic moments and an incredible character.
In the past Dragon Quest Dragon Quest ] game, I will usually continue to play to reach a new milestone. A new level of experience, or maybe somewhere else. But in XI, I pressured to see what happened in history to learn new revelations about why my circus partner, friend Sylvano, left home or why the ancient explorer Rab looks so familiar. There are strange moments involving time-consuming, strained conflicts between parents and their children, heartbreak over long-lost lovers, and of course too dramatic monologues about the destiny of the world. It's about as dark and gray as Dragon Quest can come without losing its unique charm. But do not worry: the words are still here and they are in full force.
This story is important because it is what makes endurance's challenging playing time portable. To see Dragon Quest XI through to the end, play for about 70 hours, and it does not include optional page assignments or items that occur after the credentials. You will not even meet the whole main box for 20 hours in the game. But the long search never ends at any time. It's almost perfect, with constant turns that make the hours fly by. On several occasions, I found myself playing late at night without realizing it. There always seems to be something important right across the horizon.
The game also feels like a slightly refined version of previous games. Take battle, for example: Dragon Quest is somewhat notorious for "fighting, fighting, healing" the structure of its turn-based strokes. They often do not require much strategy. In DQXI you can still play so much of the time. But there are also new items, including a wide range of abilities and spells and a well-rounded game of fighters to choose from that adds a more strategic element. It's not as robust as in many other RPGs, but it's enough that you feel like you're in control of your adventure and that you can customize them just to better fit your game style. The loop is still, but it is more satisfying and flexible than ever.
Likewise, the world is absolutely massive; It's so big that to get around, you have to ride the horseback and take shortcuts by boat. But it is not an open world with any stretch. Just like in previous games, dating back to the NES original, the world consists of a series of big spaces that are almost empty, afraid of the monsters you have to fight. In fact, Japan also launched the game on 3DS, and the players could switch between the more modern 3D version of the world and a classic 8-bit style sprites. When you remove the advanced graphics, it is exactly the same game below.
But these pictures make a difference. They create a sense of scale that makes it feel like you're on an epic task, one that spans a sprawling, diverse landscape. The World of Dragon Quest XI is like a typical fantasy setting crossed with Japanese folklore, with some cities inspired by real-world places. One minute you are in a remote sea village reminiscent of Honolulu; Next, you are trudging up a tower to find a Tibetan-style monastery. Later you meet mermaids just talking in the rhyme, and along the way you will fight with fire-popping horses dressed as Chinese New Year's races and undead knights riding the back of surprisingly cute dragons. There is a strange mixture of influences, but it is held together by Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama's peculiar visual style.
If you do not look too deep, most of these elements – the story, the world, the battle – can seem largely unchanged from the previous Dragon Quest adventure. But it's the small details that make all the difference. It's a story that lets you squeeze for hours, with struggles that are flexible enough to make it fun to experiment with different fighting styles. It is a world that is so beautiful and tempting that you will explore, although there is not much to do in addition to combat monsters.
For fans, Dragon Quest is just the way you want it, but in a larger, more modern package. For everyone else, it's the best possible version of an iconic role-playing game, one that does not saddle with decades of luggage. Dragon Quest XI is a slow burning that takes time to go, but when you get into the loop you will not go. It's just so comfortable there.
Dragon Quest XI Releases September 4th on PS4 and PC.