Axe of the Blood God Reviews Dragon Quest XI!

AXE OF THE BLOOD GOD | Nadia and Kat dive into Dragon Quest XI. Don't worry, no spoilers!

Article by Kat Bailey, .

Axe of the Blood God is our weekly RPG podcast hosted by Kat Bailey and Nadia Oxford. You can find the previous episodes here.

In all the excitement around PAX West, we weren't able to get around to reviewing Dragon Quest XI on the podcast. Now here are all of our spoiler-free thoughts in their full glory [download link here]!

Nadia talk about the monster design, the crafting, its relationship to the rest of the series, and its quiet strength as a bedrock JRPG. Because it is a strength! We spend so much time talking about Dragon Quest as a "retro" or "throwback" experience that we often forget the elements that are timeless. We talk about those here, and why it shouldn't be allowed to slip through the cracks.

Also in this episode: Earthbound! The oddity of PAX resulted in us going slightly out of order in our Top 25 RPG countdown. Everything will be back in place next week. In the meantime, though, Bob Mackey returns to talk about why Earthbound is still such a joy after more than 20 years.

Where to find us (Subscribe, rate, and review!)

Show Description

Kat and Nadia are here to offer their spoiler-less review of Dragon Quest XI! Is it really just "more Dragon Quest VIII?" How does the cast stack up? And what about that music? The pair have plenty of thoughts on the latest entry in the series. Plus: Bob Mackey returns to add Earthbound to our Top 25 RPG list!

Music from Axe of the Blood God is courtesy of Lena Chappelle, who has also contributed the themes to Active Time Babble and Roleplayers' Realm. I also use music from the RPG Music Pack over at Check it out!

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  • Avatar for mattcom26 #1 mattcom26 2 months ago
    I’ve been pumped for DQ11 for a very long time, but the comments about battling Sabre cubs sent some unexpected chills. Let’s get a mod on that ASAP please...
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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #2 cldmstrsn 2 months ago
    I cant believe how good DQ XI is. Saved last night before I went to bed and already had 36 hours on it which is unheard of for me these days. I am already jonesing to get back home to play it.
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  • Avatar for GreatLordAbsu #3 GreatLordAbsu 2 months ago
    He's great in battle and is enjoyably written, but I would like Sylvando a lot more if he had a better voice actor. The guy who plays him has a few decent moments here and there, but more often than not he defaults to an unconvincing imitation of Fez from "That 70's Show", but with (shall we say) lispier stereotypically gay mannerisms.
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  • Avatar for No-Phantom-Pain-No-P #4 No-Phantom-Pain-No-P 2 months ago
    Just want to say I've been subscribed for years and love the existence of a hardcore game podcast hosted by women. Of course, by saying that, I specifically mean that I appreciate these two erudite humans, Kat "To Be Perfectly Honest" Bailey and "The Lovely" Nadia Oxford. Keep leveling up. (Crap, just registered an account, and see that my username was cut off. It was supposed to be "No Phantom Pain, No Phantom Gain." Oh, well.) Also, never trust a knife tree. When standing under it, you never know when they'll start falling off the branches.Edited 3 times. Last edited September 2018 by No-Phantom-Pain-No-P
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  • Avatar for riderkicker #5 riderkicker 2 months ago
    I usually opt for the dub because I tend not to pay attention to written dialogue, especially when later in the tree I get caught up. I also like to understand what people are shouting at me.
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  • Avatar for camchow #6 camchow 2 months ago
    I'm loving Dragon Quest 11 so far. The music isn't great but honestly an orchestra isn't going to save the soundtrack, the real problem is the lack of variety. That overworld music might honestly be the worst piece of Japanese game music I've heard in a long time. Though I might not hate it so much if it wasn't the song I'm hear being played most of the time. Forest, desert, swamp, island, cursed farmland, doesn't matter, it's all that same damn song. It's such a baffling design choice. I guess it's because it's just old school style overworld music but it just doesn't feel right in a game like this where there really isn't that old style overworld map and everything is zoomed in and detailed. Idk man... if there could be only one change I would want just some more music.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #7 NiceGuyNeon 2 months ago
    Dragon Quest XI is my first in the series and I just want to say it's not even fair how good this game is compared to other JRPGs. One issue I've noticed with a lot of games (not all!) in the genre is that your characters grow in a specific way, but there's a lot of freedom for character customization here where I can see myself replaying it and having my squad do completely different things and I absolutely love that.

    With how much I'm enjoying Dragon Quest XI I'm probably going to play a lot of the older games very quickly. This is good stuff and I'm glad I was able to fill in this glaring omission from my RPG bucket list.Edited September 2018 by NiceGuyNeon
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  • Avatar for riderkicker #8 riderkicker 2 months ago
    You gals are giving me intense FOMO in regards to Dragon Quest XI because I don't hand the funds to buy it at the moment. Dragon Quest VIII was a masterpiece of a game, and Level-5 managed to keep me hooked onto the PS2 for more than two hours at a time, especially compared to the other entries in the series, which I did beat but only because they were portable. If both of you say it expands on the concept of 8 and does so much more, :crying:
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #9 SatelliteOfLove 2 months ago
    Sylvando is but a taste of the GLORY that is Olivier. *bishie sparkles*

    Earthbound's run-over lowbie enemies thing is one of those things that got lost in Gen 5 and the rush for *loading...loading...slow pan...intro animations...* CINEMATIC BATTLES.
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #10 chaoticBeat 2 months ago
    I would like to play DQ XI at some point. I'm still going strong on Octopath though and I really want to play RDR2 when it comes out. :(
    The Shadow Hearts series really nailed those comedy to horror transitions well... damn, I miss those games.
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  • Avatar for tvsadam #11 tvsadam 2 months ago
    @chaoticBeat 'member in the first Shadow Hearts how there's a cutscene where the antagonist gets hit in the head with a rock right as he finishes his evil monologue and he literally yells "D'OH!" and also how it's the best thing to happen in any cutscene in any video game ever

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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #12 chaoticBeat 2 months ago
    @tvsadam That was great moment, thank you for posting that! XD
    I 'member
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  • Avatar for The-Challenger #13 The-Challenger 2 months ago
    Funny, I was just talking to my sister about how rpg's start off difficult and then get progressively easier the further you make it into the story. I came to the conclusion that I like the old school difficulty scaling; however, it doesn't hurt to change it up, or throw out an established norm, every once in a while. Change is necessary, too.

    Contrast that with something like RE4, where the whole difficulty curve is flipped.
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  • Avatar for Gamer-Law #14 Gamer-Law 2 months ago
    @chaoticBeat - I am in the same boat—75 hours into Octopath with most Ch 3 and all Ch 4 stories still ahead of me.

    While I know that I will love DQ XI, I also know that I will love it more when it is available in handheld format on the Switch. For that reason, I fall squarely into the first narrative that Kat mentioned at the beginning of the show.

    With Valkyria Chronicles 4, Mega Man 11 and The World Ends With You Final Remix all launching in the next few weeks, I have plenty to enjoy while waiting for DQ XI to make its debut on Switch.
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #15 chaoticBeat 2 months ago
    @Gamer-Law Yeah I feel the same way. I am much more likely to buy a game, especially an rpg, for the switch than I am for the ps4. I hope that the switch version makes it here and makes it in nice shape. The ps4 version looks so beautiful (and graphically taxing) that it makes me wonder what sorts of concessions they'd have to make for the switch version. I feel like I'll end up getting it on ps4 when it gets a little bit cheaper if there's still no word on the switch version.

    I'm getting to the end game of Octopath and man that game is so fun! I have to admit that Bob Mackey's point about the self-serious stories is so true though that doesn't take away from the combat and exploration. I have about half of the chapter 4's and two of the optional bosses/jobs left and I don't want it to end. I got Xenoblade Chronicles 2 on release, never played it, and I'm hoping it enthralls me similarly to how Octopath has.
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  • Avatar for Jonnyboy407 #16 Jonnyboy407 2 months ago
    @Gamer-Law oh my 75 hours?!? Credits rolled for me after 50 hours. I admire your thoroughness
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #17 chaoticBeat 2 months ago
    @Jonnyboy407 I'm at 90. I've been really chilling and exploring but pretty much going into the stories as my next step.
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  • Avatar for Jonnyboy407 #18 Jonnyboy407 2 months ago
    @chaoticBeat wow... That's some dedication! There's a bunch of side areas I haven't gotten to yet that I want to go back and do, but I probably won't get to it until after valkyria chronicles 4 and the Xenoblade 2 Torna expansion.

    So much good stuff!
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  • Avatar for Gamer-Law #19 Gamer-Law 2 months ago
    @Jonnyboy407 - I suspect I will be at 150+ by the time I am done with Octopath. Spent a lot of time exploring, trying different combos, stealing, etc. and consider it a worthwhile investment. Like@chaoticBeat, I don’t want the game to end, but I know that VC 4, The World Ends With You, etc. are incoming and I will want to give those a try at some point. As you said, so much great stuff!
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  • Avatar for Gamer-Law #20 Gamer-Law 2 months ago
    @chaoticBeat - DQ 11 looks amazing on PS4 and I am hoping that the extra development time spent with the Switch version will be worth it. My initial preference was for the 3DS version to find its way West because I preferred the retro graphics, but at this point I will be happy if we get anything close to the PS4 version on Switch.
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  • Avatar for Jonnyboy407 #21 Jonnyboy407 2 months ago
    I like Earthbound but I'm not "in like" with it.

    Ditto to all the points made in the podcast about how battles work in the world and how there's no big world map, just a lot if interconnected areas like Pokemon.

    I also appreciated the HP counter in so much that you could save a character from dying if you could heal them after a lethal blow before their HP ran out.

    It had a bunch of interting ideas that you didn't see in very many of it's contemporaries or predecessors.

    No love for Poo? I'm actually curious if Kat or Nadia ever went through the grind fest to get his Sword of Kings.
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #22 nadiaoxford 2 months ago
    @Jonnyboy407 1) No. 2) Hell no.
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  • Avatar for Jonnyboy407 #23 Jonnyboy407 2 months ago
    @nadiaoxford took me 6 hours (cumulative) the first time to got it...
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