Don't Let Dragon Quest XI Slip Through the Cracks

If this lovely JRPG doesn't make its mark on Western audiences, not even the Rescue Rangers will be able to save my broken heart.

New entries in long-lived JRPG series—think Final Fantasy, Persona, and Dragon Quest—are the Halley's Comet of video games. They enter our line of vision, cause a big ruckus for a while, then fly away from us until the cycle repeats years later.

Now it's Dragon Quest's turn to enter our atmosphere again. Finally. The last mainline entry English-speakers received in the series was 2009's Dragon Quest IX for the Nintendo DS. Dragon Quest X, an MMO, missed us. In fact, it's been 14 years since the last mainline console Dragon Quest game, Dragon Quest VIII for the PlayStation 2, visited us.

This is my long-winded way of reminding you Dragon Quest games are rarities on our shores, so it'd be a darn shame if you let Dragon Quest XI for the PlayStation 4 and Steam pass you by. Not that the infrequency of Dragon Quest releases is a good enough reason by itself to invest in the eleventh chapter: It's also a deep, surprisingly story-driven quest that revisits the best traits of Dragon Quest VIII while adding plenty of its own flavor to the pot (a big story twist that happens midway through the game helps Dragon Quest XI go far beyond "Dragon Quest VIII Redux").

Plus, much how Halley's Comet always returns to find a different civilization than the one it left behind, Dragon Quest XI arrives in a market that's much friendlier to JRPGs than it was even five years ago. The financial success of Persona 5, Nier: Automata, and most recently, Octopath Traveler demonstrates people are more open-minded about JRPGs than ever. What better time to get acquainted with a new heir in a series that may well be considered the King of JRPGs?

There's a sales pitch for you: No other series does JRPGs as well as Dragon Quest, and even though Dragon Quest XI's utilizes a (clean, easy-to-use) menu-based battle system, its incredible monster designs and imaginative world demonstrates series creator Yuji Horii is as good at his craft as he ever was. Dragon Quest V is probably still my favorite entry in the franchise, but Dragon Quest XI strikes a close second. It takes some time to settle in with your party and truly get on your way, yes, but the same can also be said about Dragon Quest V (where you're expected to explore a haunted castle as an under-leveled child—grinding, hooo). But like Dragon Quest V, once XI hooks you, you're hooked for good. Even the 80+ hour playtime shouldn't intimidate you, as the adventure is well-suited for play sessions that last one or two hours at a time.

Consider this, too: You have a horse.

I admit there's only so much evangelizing I can do about Dragon Quest XI. Square Enix's decision not to bring the Nintendo 3DS version of the game to the West is a big downer. Worse is having no word on the Nintendo Switch release that's supposedly coming out sometime before the stars fall from the sky. The world's understandably gone Switch-crazy, and I've heard from a number of people who are passing over the PlayStation 4 / PC release in favor of waiting for the Nintendo Switch port—regardless of however long it takes to arrive. As someone who has to divide up her TV time with a husband who watches a mighty butt-load of WWE every week, I understand the compulsion to wait for Dragon Quest XI to go handheld (though, hey, if you have a GPD Win 2, you can start now!).

That said, there's a chance the delayed Switch release will work out in Dragon Quest XI's favor in the long-term. Dead Cells and Hollow Knight recently re-entered gaming discussion thanks to their re-release on the Switch. Ys VIII is another game that received a new shot of life when it came to the Switch (let's just hope Square Enix has an easier time with Dragon Quest XI's port than NIS America).

Whichever way you decide to play Dragon Quest XI, I have only one instruction for you: Do it, son.

Tagged with Nintendo Switch, Opinions, PC, PlayStation 4, Square Enix.

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