Dragon Quest XI is the latest game in the long-running acclaimed Dragon Quest series. Dragon Quest XI isn’t a 2018 game as it came out last year in Japan. I do wonder why it took over a year for the game to be localised, but I guess it’s a big game which took time to localise and the localisation was pretty fantastic too, so it was worth the wait. Dragon Quest XI is a strong game and is one that will be liked by hardcore JRPG fans. With that being said if you don’t like JRPGs then this game definitely will not convince you as it’s a bit too traditional at times even for me.
The character models are brilliant, and the environments are grand, explorable and wonderfully designed. This game isn’t an open world game, but it’s so big and open to the point where you might be confused and think it is an open world game. If anything Dragon Quest XI is probably the best looking traditional JRPG ever made. Square Enix managed to blend present day with the past, and it’s impressive. Of course, the old school traditional gameplay still shows in this game, and it can be jarring sometimes even for me, a big fan of old school JRPGS.
Dragon Quest rocks the Toriyama art style. Some of you may know what I’m talking about if you’ve played Chrono Trigger or a fan of Dragon Ball. People often mistake Dragon Quest for Dragon Ball, and I don’t blame.
The cutscenes were exceptional, and this game got the big-budget Square Enix treatment as seen in other Square Enix games like Final Fantasy XV and the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3, and it’s nice to see a Dragon Quest game with a budget like this. Overall the visuals are excellent
There is also a significant amount of content in Dragon Quest XI. The game isn’t open world, but the world is enormous which means there is a lot to do. The story alone will take you hours upon hours to finish. It’s probably Square Enix biggest game of this generation
An Appalling Soundtrack
Unfortunately, the soundtrack in this game brings down the overall score by a significant amount, and it’s a shame if anything I would say that 2018 is the year of disappointing soundtracks as a lot of games this year had disappointing soundtracks. Examples include Mega Man 11 and Life is Strange 2 episode 1.
The thing is, and this might be a “hot take”, but Dragon Quest has never really had great music. I came into this game expecting the music to be disappointing and I was correct. It was disappointing. The only Dragon Quest games to rock a solid soundtrack are the ones with an orchestral soundtrack, and I was really hoping the western release of Dragon Quest XI would have an orchestral soundtrack, but unfortunately, in the end, Square Enix decided against it which is a disappointment.
The soundtrack just does not work in this game and does not mesh in well with the gorgeous visuals and character models. It just doesn’t. The music was actually an annoyance. The battle theme was infuriating, and a lot of tracks were reused. I’m not going to say Dragon Quest needs to switch to an orchestral soundtrack from now on since some people prefer the typical Dragon Quest music, but I do definitely think that future Dragon Quest games should at least make it able so that we can switch between the original soundtrack and the orchestral soundtrack.
Too Traditional and Old School
At first, it was a nitpick. At the start everything was fine. Battles were slow but fun, and I was enjoying myself, but as I got deeper into the game, the old school traditional gameplay started to become an annoyance. First of all the gameplay in Dragon Quest XI isn’t great. It’s not mediocre either but decent. There is absolutely nothing wrong with turn-based gameplay, but for personally I think for a turn-based game to be great it needs to be spiced up and made fun. We’ve already seen turn-based gameplay done right in games like Persona 5. Square Enix also released Octopath Travelers this year (which I’ll review soon) and that game also had a really dull and repetitive battle system. The same problem also applies to Lost Sphear released earlier this year. It’s great that Square Enix hasn’t forgotten about turn-based gameplay, but they just aren’t making it fun and adding their own spices to it.
The gameplay in this game becomes a slog after 20hrs or so and becomes extremely repetitive. The battles were slow, dreary and dull and even the names of the skills weren’t impressive. There is absolutely nothing special about the battle system in this game, and it doesn’t even try to differentiate itself from other JRPGs. The battle system is just too traditional. I’m not saying they should go the Final Fantasy XV route and ditch the turn-based battle system, but they definitely need to find a way to make it more fun and appealing.
The story in Dragon Quest XI wasn’t extraordinary but it was still great and fascinating. The characters were pretty good, but at times I felt like there was no connection between party members.
Overall I enjoyed my time with Dragon Quest XI. It’s definitely a good game, but I would like to see a few things changed in the next instalment.