Dragon Quest XI has been available in the West on PC and PS4 for over two years now. On the Nintendo console side, while the 3DS version has remained exclusive to Japan, the same has not been true for the brand's latest addition. Thanks to the will of the late Satoru Iwata, this eleventh episode of the Square-Enix saga has been adapted for Nintendo Switch. Embellished with additional content, this ultimate edition has been rather well received and it is precisely this last which is landing on the consoles of the moment. No next-gen gap on the horizon but the assurance of finding all the content without suffering (too much) technical concessions. A good pickaxe?
The ultimate edition, really?
We no longer present Dragon Quest. Coming from the mind of Yuji Hori, mastermind of Japanese studio Enix, the first episode was such a phenomenon that it subsequently spawned Squaresoft's response. For years, Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy clashed on the altar of role-playing games until the two once-competing companies came together to form a single entity. Since then, much water has flowed under the bridges and it was in 2017 that Dragon Quest XI was born in Japan, bringing with it that freshness of the old-fashioned RPG and this new feature that we sometimes find in the themes of works of the genre. Unsurprisingly, there is everything that makes Yuji Hori's productions so charming, starting with the story of an endearing hero who discovers the world. Dragon Quest XI chronicles the destiny of a young boy who, after a passing exam, leaves his village to discover the great city of Heliodor. Like the Chosen One, he must thus follow his initiatory quest and brave the horrors of destiny.
As explained a little above, this eleventh episode remains faithful to the narrative and playful lines of the license. The game mechanics are based on a traditional turn-based combat system with skills that are unlocked as you progress. The gameplay of the game does not revolutionize the formula but the developers find, despite everything, a way to grab me thanks to its life-size exploration, its companions to meet and its dungeons to be cleaned of all vermin. It may seem like déjà vu, even more, if you've done the base episode, it's hard to let go of the controller. And now, owners of PCs and consoles other than the Switch can enjoy the additional content.
The Ultimate Edition - coming to PC, PS4, Xbox One (and of course PS5 and Series X / S compatible), mixes elements of the original with the cartridge released on 3DS. I thus benefit from the new chapters - allowing to embody each character of the story - as well as the "post game" echoing the old parts of the saga. Challenge enthusiasts will be delighted to embark on the draconian quest and its multiple challenges reinforcing the resistance of enemies and redefining the rules (no rest in inns, no purchases or sales, etc.). The more nostalgic will probably try 2D mode, which lets you experience the plot in Super Nintendo format, with its big (but beautiful) pixels and the sacred aerial view. Incomparably rich, this ultimate edition, also, does what is necessary to meet expectations. But while one would expect a technique revised upwards, the reverse is true! The game is a port of the Switch version, so it is less beautiful and sophisticated than the original. A shame! It suffices to compare the two versions to notice the visual downgrade (whether in the effects, in the sometimes pronounced aliasing, in the textures, etc.). Admittedly, most of the graphics is more fluid and benefit from a better resolution but all the same. Fortunately, Akira Toriyama's exceptional art direction and characters quickly make these annoyances forget. The same goes for the beautiful musical part, although slightly less inspired than usual.
THE FULL DRAGON QUEST XI TEST
You only need to hear the first powerful notes of the trumpet to be embarked on another world. Dragon Quest has always opted for a happy universe and charismatic characters, with a JRPG coating that is mainly used to tell us stories. The basic pitch, as always with the series, is ultra-classic: A 16-year-old boy discovers he is some sort of messiah called the Enlightened, and heads to the capital to meet the King. I don't intend to tell you anything more, however please be aware that the narration of this installment is no exception to the rule of the series. While constituting a whole (full of little secrets and twists), the idea is to take the player on a journey by making him meet endearing personalities. It's impossible not to smile when playing a Dragon Quest, in front of a prince too cowardly to assume his responsibilities or in front of the resounding class of the so-called acrobat of the gang. Keep the pleasure of discovery, but know that a DQ is played with an open mind, without the fuss.
Having said that, I would like to add a slight caveat, which can potentially be overwhelming during the adventure. Given the importance of storytelling in a Dragon Quest, staging is meant to be of utmost importance. Yet it is one of the few elements that sometimes shows the weight of age. By constantly wanting to bring the tale back to the JRPG dynamic, the title regularly breaks its rhythm with very short gameplay passages punctuated by micro-loads. This is without counting the few fades to black and slow passages due to an archaic structure and animations which are no longer so suited to a compelling narrative dimension. Dragon Quest XI reminds me a little too often that it's an old-fashioned JRPG, at times when it wasn't really necessary.
"Old-fashioned" is the term that best characterizes Yuji Horii's work, which is found especially in turn-based combat. Attack, magic, skill, defense, and item are all kept simple and very accessible, which doesn't mean there isn't finesse at times. Like the previous parts, Dragon Quest XI relies mainly on the management of buffs and state ailments in terms of strategy, although the possibility of changing equipment or fighters in the middle of a fight makes it very permissive. The real and only new asset of the system depends on the existence of the hypertonic state, a kind of "limit break" which boosts the stats of the characters and gives access to combined attacks that depend not only on the team members present but also on the players. skills unlocked. The combinations are many and diverse, some causing impressive damage while others will drastically increase the characteristics of one or more characters. A concept reminiscent of a certain Chrono Trigger, which is more evolved.
In terms of difficulty, Dragon Quest XI, fortunately, takes advantage of its international release to accentuate the challenge thanks to the dragon quest. We have more options to complicate things, such as making the monsters stronger, not staying overnight at the inn, and even the possibility of purchasing items and equipment. If I appreciate a more difficult challenge, having to go through a handicap system still makes the difficulty somewhat artificial. Let’s be clear that you won’t play this album for the purpose of suffering, but just for the adventure, it provides. Note, however, that the dungeons have the merit of offering some interesting ideas that I will let you discover. Don't expect complex Zelda-style puzzles, however, it helps to avoid making them into simple monster lanes.
Exploration remains an important part of Dragon Quest XI, and it’s all the better as the game is at times magnificent! The large environments are colorful and vivid, and despite a certain impression of emptiness at times, they offer enchanting panoramas. As the fights are not random, you can see the monsters frolic gently and it brings the whole thing to life. Nevertheless, it is the cities that win the prize for beauty, with an inspired construction supported by the timeless artistic direction of the series.
Finally, still without a spoiler, let's not forget that Dragon Quest XI is full of side activities. The main one is the Forge, which allows you to craft equipment with dexterity. In practice, this is a mini-game in which you hit different areas of the object to be created in order to get to the correct part of a gauge. By gaining levels, you gain concentration to give more hammer blows, but you also gain access to skills that allow you to be much more precise or to hit several areas at the same time. Interesting and comprehensive, the forge helps bring a little excitement to an element that in other games often involves bringing items to an NPC. DQXI also offers horse races whose gameplay is far too poor to be of any interest, as well as other surprises (there is a casino, don't worry, but we'll let you see that for yourself. - even, otherwise they are no longer surprises).
Dragon Quest XI S: Ultimate Edition Review, the conclusion
Faithful to its origins, Dragon Quest XI S is a success. I find the themes that are dear to Yuji Hori as well as the artistic direction that makes the charm of the series. Unassailable in its content, this ultimate edition does not revolutionize the formula but relies on solid mechanics. Purposely old-school but unmistakably fresh, this episode will convince fans of the genre and all those who like to revel in touching stories. However, it is totally incomprehensible that this version does not take advantage of the graphics of the original version. Based on the Switch episode, the publisher imposes a visual downgrade that could have been easily erased on the platforms hosting the game. A quirk that does not, however, prevent Dragon Quest XI S from carrying the mark of the greats. Please visit the Dragon Quest XI S: Ultimate Edition official website for more details, or leave your comment down below and tell us about your experience about that game. Have a great day!