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Dragon Quest XI: The Kotaku Review

Dragon Quest XI is the best game in the 32-year-old series.

It was not until I looked at a rough section of my 36-minute video review of the game on my TV at midnight on Sunday night, I decided to make this statement. I had managed to say that in the script I wrote for the purpose of voiceover for that video. In the end, I decided for such bold statements. If you watch the video, you will not hear me declare any kind of ranking at all for the title.

Looking at my video review, I said loudly in my dark room, "This is the best Dragen Quest game."

You must understand that I do not say this easily.

I've been obsessed with these games for thirty years. I have played every single entry in the series several times and see all their possible end and defeat all their optional bosses.

The games resonate with me at levels ranging from mathematical to sentimental. I used Dragon Quest V on Super Famicom to help my learning process of the Japanese language (in addition to, you know, live in Japan and make some friends). Investigations in the game's mathematical details inspired me to begin thinking critically about game design, which led me to pursue a career in game design, which eventually led me to my current job as a guy who makes videos full time for Kotaku. [1

9659002] After this I have played Dragon Quest XI for over 300 hours, starting with the release of the Japanese version in July 2017. After dreaming about the game and the content for a year, now

I many years I will tell everyone who showed the least interest in getting in Dragon Quest to trace Dragon Quest V for Nintendo DS. From today, I will officially tell them to play Dragon Quest XI for PlayStation 4 or Steam when it comes to North America on September 4th. Or Nintendo Switch, when it eventually comes out of it. [19659002] I would love it if you watched my video, which is easy on spoilers. The main game takes about 80 hours to complete, but if you go into the play (as you think you should) that number will quickly reach triple digits. All footage in the video comes from the first twenty hours of the experience. I have omitted all dialogs that contain some details about anything.

But if you do not have the time to watch my video, I've provided an easily edited version of the script as text here. [19659000] Lead “/>

Back to box quote

"This is un-Quest-ionably the best game in my favorite series."


Excellent figures and story, Akira Toriyama in shimmering 4K HDR , incredible cities


The main game is only about 80 hours long, the midi music can be hecky dinky in dramatic cutscenes


PlayStation 4, Steam

Release date

4. September 2018


Completed main assignments and all sidequests + post games twice in Japanese in 2017. Played just over half of the English version. Will get the Platinum Trophy. (Total ~ 300 hours.)

I love Dragon Quest .

In 2017 I purchased every Dragon Quest XI product available in Japan. I played through the Japanese version of the game two whole times. I've played a little more than halfway through the English version as well. Immediately after I have written this review, I will continue to play until I get the platinum trophy.

So I might be the best and the worst person to rate this game.

Along the way I will prevent myself from making some sweeping grandiose statements. Let's begin:

Dragon Quest XI is one of the best video games I've ever played. I would rate it somewhere slightly below Super Mario Bros. 3 with regard to its greatness.

Ah, heck. I destroyed it already.

Dragon Quest XI is the first single player Dragon Quest played on a modern home console since Dragon Quest VIII released on PlayStation 2 in 2004. [19659002] If you have never played a Dragon Quest game or have not played one at a time, you can definitely start with Dragon Quest XI . The game is about reincarnation of a legendary hero who might be the legendary hero Loto aka Erdrick from Dragon Quest I II and III so if the story of Dragon Quest XI confuses a newcomer to the series, your confusion will be a simulation room of the confusion of the protagonist.

Dragon Quest XI is hugely tall and chill like heck. It took me about 80 chill as heck hours to complete my main assignment my first time. I would recommend this game to anyone who likes chill characters, colorful aesthetics, Akira Toriyama's art, extremely ancient role-playing games, adventure stories or ridiculously detailed video game towns.

No English language review of a Dragon Quest game would be complete without any historical background on the series. So, let's talk about the game's story.

" Dragon Quest game is popular in Japan" is about dumping an understatement like "the kalamata olives are popular in my house." An ubiquitous urban myth informs global gaming -likes that the Japanese government mandates that Enix releases Dragon Quest s only on Saturdays to put a phenomenal geyser of children and adults calling into quote unquote sick at work or school.

Or maybe they publish them on Saturdays, just because it's easier to create an advertising event out of a product launch this weekend.

Whatever the case, the games sell with bucketload to salivate Saturday hunters without failing. Japanese people, young and old, play the games, talk about them, buy and public show cozy goods, and refer the games in conversation as we Americans can talk about our favorite sitcoms.

I lived in Tokyo for ten years in my life-Most of my twenties and the tip of the thirty years of Isberg. I bought Dragon Quest V at Super Famicom three days after moving to Japan. I used it along with the old pastime of "making friends" and "joining a band" to learn casual japanese. I had many conversations over the decade with the theme Dragon Quest . I had a boyfriend once where the automatic response message was a reference to Dragon Quest . [19659000] In my anecdotal experience, my friends who played Dragon Quest randomly describe a similar pattern: they played it on weeknights for half an hour or one hour after taking a bath and before going to bed. That way I played it too. How to play Dragon Quest XI in Brooklyn. How to play Dragon Quest VIII in Minami Senju. How to play Dragon Quest VII in Kami-Fukuoka. How to play Dragon Quest V in Kita Urawa.

Dragon Quest games are bedtime stories. Dragon Quest game is collected with care and attention to detail in a hotel room overlooking a sleeping city.

The basics of Dragon Quest The games have been largely the same in the past four decades. Western critics often attack this point. But I see this on the biggest strength of the series. When a Dragon Quest release degrades, you know that it will be suitable for playing in a bathrobe before bedtime. It's not just a video game: it's your old friend, come home from a long journey abroad.

As a clockwork every time a Dragon Quest game's western release method begins, the conversation begins: could this be The One that becomes popular in the United States? Whispers was highest for Dragon Quest VIII with its almost seamless 3D world and its gorgeous cell shadow. And then they made this into boxing art.

Left: Japan. Right: USA.

Like, what's this thing behind the characters? Why did they do that? Likes, look at the Japanese. It is so beautiful. Come on, Square Enix in 2004! Let that landscape live!

Dragon Quest VIII was more than a little popular in the United States, but the series went 14 years without another big budget single-player home console adventure. Now, now Dragon Quest XI has arrived, at a time when Akira Toriyama's Dr agon Ball characters are loved by an entire generation of game-moving thousands of years. So Square Enix's way of marketing it is, they included Dragon Quest VIII heroes outfit as a preorder bonus. So they are like: "Hey, remember the hideous outfit of that game from 14 years ago?" Seriously, the only way I wanted this is if you hated me and somehow insinuated yourself to being responsible for my funeral 19659045] Image: Square Enix

Like Dragon Ball and its distinctive art ascension against cultural significance, it made classic mechanical labyrinthic Japanese video games. Many of these games learned each and every one of their good habits from Dragon Quest.

The Pokemon monster collection is from Dragon Quest V . The sublime gambling arithmetic of Shin Megami Tensei and Persona combat systems owes a lot to Dragon Quest III ! And Dark Souls Well, if I mention Dark Souls, people in the comments will make fun of me to try to say something, even if something intelligent about Dark Souls then just trust on me Dark Quests learned a lot from Dragon Quest . Dragon Quest The creator, director, game designer and author Yuji Horii wrote 11/12. by the script for Chrono Trigger . If you love Chrono Trigger and you have not played every Dragon Quest game, you might want to play a Dragon Quest game!

Picture: Square Enix

I like to think of Dragon Quest play as a "hangout" game. Dragon Quest XI is no exception. See, there is yet another option there in the menu to talk to your buds.

The whole game is just chillin 'with your buds. They are all good buds. We'll talk a lot about your buddies later.

You camp out at campsites with buds. As you lean out, you can forge items. Jason Schreier told me some hours in his experience playing the game. He was like, "Can you just throw at campsites?" And I replied, "Yes," and he replied, "That's stupid." I had no retort. Now, I do: the boys do not want to make tavernas and put in all smokers with smithy fire. They are considerate. [ Editor's Note: It's a stupid retort. -Jason Schreier]

Dragon Quest XI has the best cities I've ever hung on in any video game. The game gives the cities to you quickly and loose over a period of a few dozen hours. You continue to think, "This is definitely Main Town for the rest of the game." So a few hours later, oops, it's another monster-big, stupid, beautiful city.

The interior of this game is phenomenal. Each living area has at least one chair per NPC. Restaurant table has sufficient number of room settings. Look at these meals. Look at these cakes. Look at this bread! These cities are perfect artistic 3D level design geometry toy boxes. Some of them have verticality and interior-exterior swiss-cheese pathmaking possibilities for a good Quake map.

It's not just a brave new world, but: there are also such people in it. [19659002] Dragon Quest has always been overflowing with palpable masterclassy person-to-person world-class construction. A soldier looking for a castle can say he misses his mother from home. Later you meet an old lady in a village saying she misses the son who became a soldier. All World Buildings in Every Dragon Quest are always made with such a lightweight feel. Each example of two random characters that know each other is a full micro-textbook on the subject narrative design. All that really requires is a person who says they know another person. Applied carefully, this philosophy becomes a rug that warms up the whole mass of a 100-hour history.

Yuji Horii once called this type of story "a world you can feel." In the large list of design elements Dragon Quest does not change over the years, this is one of the oldest. It is one of the most low-tech. It depends only on the hand's hand with a few words that outline a future memory in the player's mind. When a later text box encourages a memory, but regardless of the large order of the story or player's levels or equipment, a shower of finishing chemicals spreads the brain's brain. A priest, a chemist and a soldier enter a bar and they say, "That's love."

Dragon Quest XI occasionally plays these sensitive world stories by presenting characters that encourage you with the errand that they reward you for. It's like Animal Crossing except you get Hot Loot Rewards to help crush screaming monsters.

Another column Dragon Quest as each game never manages to deliver is art to show the player something they can not do long before they are able to do it. Generally, Dragon Quest will place a mysterious door near the player's starting point, just to inform them that the door is locked. You may be able to open this door maybe a hundred hours later. The sweetest art of all Dragon Quest talents is the inspiring player to remember quiet places to come back to. Just a dozen hours in the game, the smug fingers in your brain will struggle to contain the smooth balls of knowledge. It does this better than any series of games ever, and Dragon Quest XI makes it no less masterful.

Long ago you will trick you into locked door positions in a physical notebook while playing. Dragon Quest XI retains the essence of this design while providing only utility-modern enough quality of life improvements: the game map automatically marks the location of locked doors for you.

Some players may think this makes the game too easy.

To that I'm sure. The Dragon Quest games are "simple".

However, they are also "hardcore". This dubious duality is at the heart of the series's eternal appeal.

Western critics aim for two common complaints against Dragon Quest games:

That they are "too simple" and that "you must paint too much."

I'm saying why neither? It is clear that someone who performs this type of criticism against Dragon Quest has never experienced the pleasure of playing the game underleveled. Underleveled Dragon Quest is great! It's like playing Persona .

It's good that games are simple. That means that everyone gets to play the whole game without ever knocking a wall they can not climb by grinding. And that means that a guy like me can undoubtedly punish themselves by building untold, unimaginable challenges.

This is the main part I used on my second playthrough of Dragon Quest XI . Uh, you may need to play the first two dozen hours of the game to appreciate this.

For the first time in a new singleplayer entry in the series, you can avoid fighting. I mean, when I say "you" can avoid fighting, "you" literally means someone. " Even the most infantile of game touches can avoid 100% of match encounter in the fields and dungeons of Dragon Quest XI . This makes the game a little easier than Dragon Quest VIII and also a little faster, but avoids enemies even completely cutting out accidental grinding – you know the random levels that happen in transit. With the ability to avoid monsters, you and will come to the bosses who are disgustingly underleveled, while adding to a noob nightmare and a speedrunner's buffet table.

Of course, avoids the matches you miss what my favorite part of the series.

If all critics who write a review of Dragon Quest XI were in the same room as me right now, the sound of crackling would resemble a thunderbolt right now, as they all warm up phalanges to proclaim that the fighting system is "old fashioned."

I live in a brick apartment in Brooklyn. The building was built in 1890. It has survived literal fires and hurricanes. If Dragon Quest XI 's combat system is old fashioned, the old fashioned way my apartment is old-fashioned. It is a brick house. What I'm saying is sometimes surviving old things because it's good and it was done by competent American masons (or Japanese game designers).

It's not to say that the system has not changed over the past three decades. [19659002] It is true that the foundations of Dragon Quest s battle system – and all of its economic economy at large – were set in stone in 1986. If you want a fascinating quick glimpse of this mountain-hard core, look up " Dragon Warrior Formula Guide" on GameFAQs, resulting from the user Ryan8Bit teaches Nintendo's assembly language to break the mathematical formulas into the original Dragon Quest . Poke around a little. You may not need to be a math professor to find the thoughtful cleanliness of Dragon Quest numbers interesting. Still back in 1986, Yuji Horii transformed his fascination with Dungeons & Dragons in a game as simple as a Rubik's Cube.

True to the title of the series, Dragon Quest XI contains many dragons.

Each new entry in the series adds one or more additional teams to the system, although Yuji Hori's team of veteran game designers is remarkable never afraid to peel the clock back to basics before using the new teams. Dragon Quest III introduced the work class system. Dragon Quest IV took it away. Dragon Quest V introduced a system where you capture and train monsters. Dragon Quest VI took it away. (Yes, the DS recovery had a class that allows you to capture monsters, even if it does not count.) Dragon Quest VII implements the job system, even if it does not give you it until approx. 30 hours into the game. Dragon Quest VIII introduced a "charge" mechanic that dramatically multiplies the effect of a drawing's next action in exchange for their passivity in today's swing. Hi, it sounds like Bravely Default . And also Brave Story: New traveler for PSP. Do not even make me start talking about that game.

Dragon Quest XI s combat system is the best of the series yet. As always, it is based on the same hard core as former Dragon Quest where game designers have carefully placed three new layers.

These teams are characters, skills and the pep system.

Characters in Dragon Quest XI do not have job classes. Rather, they have all distinctive personalities and quirkily rigid skill sets. You are meant to mix and match party members according to your taste or situation. The characters are so shockingly full of diverse depths as I will talk about them more in the next section.

When you sign up, you earn skill points that you can use to unlock skills in a "character builder" menu. This works much like Final Fantasy X s Sphere Grid or Final Fantasy XII license management, but in true Dragon Quest fashion, the game keeps the game all-round small, forcing decisions to to be crushingly crucial.

You must choose quite early if you want your hero to specialize in single or two-handed swords, even if you can do it again when you want to go to a priest and pay a small fee. For all, you have to choose between developing physical qualities or abilities. Sylvando can learn sword, dagger or whip. There are more weapons than anyone else.

You might want to make a beeline for Eriks 'Dual-Wielding' skill. Forge him now +3 broadswords. One of his hands is weaker than the other because he is a person, but having two swords at once can be quite useful early.

What skills you have locked up for a character, decide who you want in your party and when. You can swap party members during battle, but only when it's your turn and any replaced characters are not confused or sleeping. Or dance.

The latest team of Dragon Quest XI 's combat experience is the most mysterious "pep" system. One of Dragon Quest 's oldest traditions is what game designers call "hidden information." You may also have heard this sentence if you hang out with board players. Dragon Quest Game and Japanese Role Play generally breaks into seams with visible integers, even though it's the hidden floating numbers that most tantalize my game clicks. The Pep system is a motherlove of hidden mat.

As characters in the Dragon Quest XI match, they earn points against an invisible "pep" value. When the pep value reaches its unknown quota, the grade enters the "pep" state. I think it's interesting to point out that the Japanese version is called "Pep" "The Zone." In the Japanese version, instead of saying "The Hero is pepped up!" Saying "The Hero Went Into The Zone!"

This is useful to point out because it makes me remember a Japanese friend of mine who played pachinko professionally. He often had to explain to unbelievable friends of friends. He once said, "It's just like any other job. You have some coffee, you sit down and maybe an hour later you enter the zone." I obviously remember him using the English phrase "The Zone "Custom Japanese.

Dragon Quest XI & # 39; s "zone" is most likely a reference to the gambler's flow mode. This is beautifully suited according to Dragon Quest & # 39; s Series & # 39; abundant historical allusions to the casino culture. Heck, it's a casino in every Dragon Quest game. (Oh God, let's not talk about the casino in Dragon Quest XI . I spent literally 40 hours in there.)

This is just the first page of the five pages with instructions for just one of the casino game. I love it so much.

Many things can happen when a sign is in the zone.

When in the zone, a handful of character qualities go up. Which attributes depend on the character. The hero's attacking power goes up. Serena has healing spells: her healing magic power goes up. Veronica has attack game: her attack magic power goes up. How long does the son last? You never know. You can do what I did and try counting the number of turns until the zone goes away, although it varies. The game is to choose a hidden random number from an artistically designed swinging area.

You know that the son will end the next trip when you see the sonic icon at the portrait of the character flashing.

The son becomes incredibly more fascinating when considering "zone link" attacks. (The English version calls them "pep powers." I'm sorry: I keep trying to type "pep" and I end up typing "zone." This is the first Dragon Quest I've played in English since Dragon Warrior IV on NES in 1992.)

Zone connections are available when you have two or three characters in the zone at the same time. You unlock zone connections by unlocking skills on character characteristics. The characters then perform a super-special movement that always has some kind of bonkers animation. Some of the animations are incredible. (I've just included some of the most elementary in my video. They will be completely wild when the game continues.)

The relationship is that the sonic links remove all of the involved member's zone statuses. You will think that you may want to expel your son to the last possible turn before paying. Although sometimes you get to the last turn of a cartoon zone, and the game will have turned to a situation where a sign has to cure or renew a spell or die, thus losing the chance to perform the powerful attack.

Furthermore, some of the links of the zones are not attacked. Some of them are complex cocktails of buffs. The decision tree branches everywhere. Considering passive son bonuses while flailing against predictions of four in the future, a brain-chemical friction does not completely differ from that found in the No Limit Team. It's amazing what the game can do with so few small numbers.

(Except: Jason Schreier commented, on the above point, that he never found any of the bosses challenging. Here I have to clarify that I only hit a boss is not enough. I'm an impossible standard. I have to beat one boss wickedly, with the weakest party possible.)

If you're like me (according to my mother you're probably not) If you're like me, keep a notebook open in your lap in an attempt to extrapolate formulas for how zones work. You count the turns that tend to last. You count the turns that tend to fluctuate between leaving a zone and entering another. You have theories like: "I think that Eric's largest zone entry status value increase happens when the hero takes physical injury" or "I think Serena approaches her son faster when she throws her spell cures on her sister." Finally, be merciful to a random speech generator whose architect has literally had clear glass indoors forty years.

You can paint if you want to. You can save money to buy equipment. Or you can find recipes in bookshelves or treasures, scavenge for materials, and create better gear, but given the delicacy of Dragon Quest s economics and the subtle built characters, "better" is always difficult to define.

Tip: Dragon Quest pioneers automatic battle. It gives you a handful of thoughtful designed behaviors paradigms to swap between on purpose. You will use automatic combat most of the time. That's why the very first menu you see in a match gives you the choice between "match" and "tactics."

So now we have to talk about the signs.

I love them. They are my best friends.

Each Dragon Quest is basically a canvas for charismatic characters. Some of these games use the popular work class system performed by Dragon Quest III and merciless burglary of Final Fantasy III . Dragon Quest VII combined charismatic characters with a job system.

Dragon Quest XI focuses on the characters. Each of them is a person first and a set of attributes others.

No sign is just a stomach or a hunter. They all fight, well, about how you expect the character to fight based on the way they speak in the cutscenes. This is a sublime element that is difficult to capture in simple examples. You only need to feel it over a couple of dozen hours.

Dragon Quest XI starts you with just one character – the hero – and lets you search for a short while to check out Dragon Quest I the homage box [ Dragon Quest I ] it was only with only one character you see).

You get your first companion, and rarely alone after that. Finally, you have seven characters, of which you can only use four at a time.

I love Erik, no matter how much his English voice actor makes him sound like an Australian who undoubtedly emigrated to Brooklyn about 1844. [19659043] The traits are structured intriguingly around the term pair. Hell and thief Erik is a best friend duo. The next two signs you meet are the magic sisters Veronica and Serena, who obviously are their own duo: Veronica is more an attacker and Serena is more a healer.

Later you meet two martial artists, Jade and Rab, who have a form of grandfather-grandchildren style.

The only character without a built-in friend is Sylvando, and this is obviously intended: Sylvando is an entertainer and is able to get along with someone and thus form a separate intricate, mechanically critical battle dynamic with each other character .

Let me just stop for a second and say I love Sylvando. His intro chapter devotes several hours to his totally queer-eyeing the toxic masculinity right clean out of this cowardly prince of a horse-worshipping desert kingdom. Sylvando is incredibly thoughtful, empathic, and loving, and also coincidentally complex, capable, competent, and confident. He is also your strongest physical fighter! He can use both swords (the stereotypically "manly" Dragon Quest weapons) and whips (the stereotypically "girly" Dragon Quest weapons). Girls love him. Guys want to be him. What else can I say? He is a beautiful man, and I love him.

What a classic dude.

Dragon Quest XI’s story is about loyalty—these six people of various walks of life, compelled by some reason or fate to adhere themselves to the prophesied legendary hero (“The Luminary”) and to never let him go, nor ever let him down. Subtly, a commentary on the nature of true loyalty—and thus, love—bubbles into even the most mundane grind sessions: each of these characters forms a subtly different mechanical bond with the hero, and with each other character, while simultaneously possessing a stronger bond with just one other character.

Gently, the overarching theme of self-sacrifice exerts itself even in the coldest mechanical moments. For example, Sylvando has excellent attack strength and speed, and is thus a more-than-capable fighter on his own. However, he is also the only character to start out equipped with both attack and speed buff spells. In other words, Sylvando can attack, or he can use his turn to elevate a weaker party member up to his physical level. In plainer terms: a strong fighter is the one with the strength buff. In other RPGs, a strength buff would be for a support-class character. Here the “hangoutitude” comes back into focus: when considering which of the 35 possible constructions of your party to use, what you’re really doing is thinking about what you and buds are gonna do when you hang out later.

The hero is less bombastically remarkable than any of his companions. He can use one-handed or two-handed swords. He can use various healing and attack magics.

Thematically, he is a man surrounded by loyalty, and by love. One of the first spells he learns is heal. Your first companion can only perform physical attacks. You play as a man surrounded by love right from the beginning of the experience, and the most useful thing you can do is nurture that love by healing it while it attacks stinky monsters with its pointy daggers.

As the plot progresses and your companions proclaim and prove their loyalty again and again, the hero’s physical strength ascends incredibly, yet you’ll often find yourself commanding the hero to support his allies rather than attack on his own. The entire point of the story sleeps somewhere in here.

If it sounds like I’m reaching here, I promise I am not. I have been obsessing over these games for thirty years. The streak of thematic pulp running deep through the battle system is definitely and poetically intentional.

Veronica and Serena team up in a sisterly fashion for a complex heal + buff spell.

As we’ve said about a hundred times so far, Dragon Quest games are never nearly the cultural phenomenon in the west that they are in Japan. One can cynically diagnose quote-unquote western audiences as being quote-unquote “too unsophisticated” to appreciate the charms of subtle thematic reinforcement undercurrent running beneath battle mechanics, though that’s only half-true. You see, I think that the fabric of the plot alone is too subtle a selling point for ANY audience.

Dragon Quest succeeded in Japan because the series was born at a time when Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball was hotter than hot. Det er det. That’s the reason.

In my estimation, the series’ success endured because of the miraculous mechanics-plot chemistry. It endured because of the wonderful depth of the battles and the fairy-tale themes of the story. It endured because the games never don’t feel like personal experiences, like friendly letters from an uncle who knows the best curry restaurant at every train station in Tokyo.

And that’s hard to sell to a culture that hasn’t already been subjected to the massive marketing machine of a comics magazine like Shonen Jump.

The first Dragon Quest succeeded because its makers were smart. The rest of them succeed because its makers make good stuff.

Also, the makers are generous. This, too, is something you can’t simply sell.

Dragon Quest games overflow with generosity, though to go into detail about this in a television commercial or a game review would be to spoil the plot.

Dragon Quests present themselves as cutesy western-style fairy tales with art by Dragon Ball’s Akira Toriyama, and to play them is to while away painless hours in childish reverie. Anyone with an IQ in double digits can see nine out of ten Dragon Quest plot twists eleven miles away.

Then that tenth plot twist comes. That’s why I love these games. The irregular rhythm of the darkness of a Dragon Quest game is a heck of a drug. I mean, I absolutely am not the sort of guy who would ever seriously tell somebody, “Just give it twelve hours, man, and it gets real good,” and I realize that what I’m about to do is sort of like saying, “Just give it forty hours, man, and it gets real good,” though holy lord I love the second half of this game so much.

(The first half is great, too.)

I’m gonna be as vague as I can: Dragon Quest games tend to take about a hundred hours to finish. Don’t think of that as one game, though. The generosity of a Dragon Quest game is such that the games tend to contain their own sequels. You’re not watching a movie: you’re watching four whole seasons of a TV show. This makes the games hecka hard to advertise without spraying spoilers.

You’ll see what I mean.

Yes, Veronica is an adult woman cursed so that she appears to be a child. I assure anyone rolling their eyes at this description that she is never even slightly sexualized and her character is frequently hilarious. I’ll admit: I thought she was funnier in the Japanese version, where I didn’t have to hear her voice.

Dragon Quest plots always hinge on a cute little structural gimmick. Here we have to remember that Dragon Quest creator, director, designer, and writer Yuji Horii wrote, like, 11/12ths of Chrono Trigger.

Ask anyone’s dog and they’ll tell you Chrono Trigger is the Best RPG Ever. Sure, Chrono Trigger is great, and okay, sure, maybe it IS the Best RPG Ever. It’s great because its plot hinges on the perfect bite-size gimmick of “time travel.” It’s like Dragon Ball Z stuck in an elevator with Doctor Who. If you dive deeper than the two words “time travel” and really pick Chrono Trigger apart, you see that its true glorious achievement is structure.

On the other hand, Dragon Quest VDragon Quest VIIDragon Quest IIIDragon Quest IVDragon Quest VIIIand Dragon Quest XI are all just as good as Chrono Trigger. Yeah, I said it.

Each of those Dragon Quests has a single bite-sized structural gimmick that unfurls, ripples, and billows as the game grows long, until eventually, you look down and admire the gorgeousness of its tapestry. You’re like, “I was having such a good time hanging out with my buds that I almost didn’t even see Yuji Horii weaving this gorgeous tapestry!”

Here I will refrain from spoiling what Dragon Quest XI’s tiny little gimmick is. It doesn’t openly present it until it’s way too late for you to think it doesn’t sound clever enough on paper.

Dragon Quest XI’s English version is more than just a localization.

They made the UI background brown instead of gray.

Some of the graphics are better! Seriously, I spent a lot of time with the Japanese version and a lot of time with the English version. The English version has a better frame rate. I don’t know what they did. I expect Digital Foundry will have a good breakdown on YouTube.

They added a first-person camera look mode, so you can ogle all the cakes, and bread!

They added a dash option, so now the hero runs way, way, way too fast on the overworld. The Japanese version didn’t have this. I love it.

Some NPCs speak words in Spanish, or Italian. Everybody talks with an accent. If accents are your favorite thing, Dragon Quest XI is gonna kill you with kindness.

The twin sisters Veronica and Serena are British, where I had totally imagined them as Russian. though I’m not nearly as mad about that as I am made that they spelled Veronica with a C and not a K. Like, they spelled “Erik” with a K. In Japanese, his name was “Kamyu.” I guess they didn’t want to give them both Ks. Wow, I am bad at nitpicking this game.

Also, yes, there are voices. I asked you all on Twitter to ask me questions about the game, and most of you just wanted me to talk smack about the voices. I’m sorry. I can’t do that.

I can’t compare the English voices to the Japanese voices, because the Japanese version didn’t have voices. I can say, however, that as I captured footage for this review, I made sure to let the characters read their entire lines. The performances are great and full of character.

If you want to squeeze a complaint out of me, here it is: the delivery is almost universally too slow. There’s not a single character or voice actor I don’t wish would hurry up and read the line already. I am sure this is tied to the mouth animations. Though occasionally it interferes with the cinematic pacing of a cutscene.

You can skip the lines if you want, by pressing the confirm button, though that causes a jarring tempo disruption.

(The cutscenes, by the way, are always incredibly well staged and composed. Someone working on this game could have had a career in editing major motion pictures.)

My favorite voice performance is probably Jade. The performance is understated and exudes the confidence that the character can’t stop visually presenting every time she is on screen. I still can’t stop referring to her by her Japanese name, “Martina.”

Rab’s Japanese name was Law, which makes him sound Asian, which, uh, he is. Though in English he’s about as Scottish as a Scrooge McDuck who ate a Scrooge McDuck.

Sometimes the voice acting really hits upon, like, some 1995 Funimation Dragon Ball dub vibes. Sometimes I feel like I’m watching a television show for toddlers. I’ve been in the same room as a toddler watching Teen Titans Go on an iPad, and this game has me flashbacking pretty hard at times—usually when a boss monster is introducing himself.

With the Japanese version, someone stepping into my living room would be like, “Wow, do you read Japanese?” And I’d be like, “What? Oh, you must be referring to The Superior Nihongo.”

With Dragon Quest XI in English, they’re like, “lol what is this?”

And I’m like, oh no. Am I…am I a child? I’m 39 years old. 39 divided by 3 is 13. Am I three 13-year-olds in a trenchcoat? Do I even own a trenchcoat? (I don’t own a trenchcoat.)

Animations often present Veronica’s attack magic like Dragon Ball projectiles, which is not something the series has ever leaned on before. I can’t imagine why not, and I’m not complaining.

In conclusion, everything I have said about Dragon Quest XI being one of the best games of all time is definitely correct, because I played the game in Japanese for 300 hours. I wouldn’t have done that if it weren’t a masterpiece.

Heck, I played the game so much that in my very first moments playing the English version, I instinctively pressed the circle button, which canceled me back to the title screen. I am such a hard core player of Dragon Quest in Japanese that I continued to forget the game had changed confirm to the X button for the next 30 hours of my experience. This lead to some kooky goofs during battles.

Hey Square-Enix! Next time you’re meticulously localizing and adding a bunch of UI polish to a Japanese RPG, maybe add a controller remapping menu in there! Because I sure am never gonna feel right pressing X to confirm. I have been alive for 39 years and while I may have learned a lot of stuff, I am never gonna learn that.

Because I was born stupid.


I will not die hungry.

Video Games Forever.

Kotaku Dot Com.

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