Dragon Quest XI Review: Part II

Dragon Quest XI (PC) didn't finish off quite as hot as (I thought) it started, but in short, it's still an very good JRPG and a great entry in the Dragon Quest franchise. Deviating slightly from the format of my first article, I've split my light review into five easy categories:
  • -Aesthetic (look & sound)
  • -Interaction (control & gameplay)
  • -Story Elements (plot, characters, setting, etc.)
  • -Then V. Now (innovation & lasting appeal)
  • -Fun Factor (just a catch-all for everything else)

Aesthetic: 8/10
The game looks great, in classic Akira Toriyama fashion. I have minor gripes about some textures, levels of detail, and some animation, but nothing serious. It sounds fine - well above average - but a lot of the music doesn't appeal to me as much as that of Dragon Quest VIII, my personal favorite OST from the series. Bonus points are awarded for a few throwback sound effects, such as for the Zoom spell, and voice acting that really grew on me over time.

Interaction: 8/10
It plays very well, but I have several minor knocks to the score. I like the visual options added to battle without changing the functions, even though it adds little to the experience. The added jump mechanic is almost completely unnecessary given the action-prompt climbing. The forge is fun but I prefer the instant alchemy pot. Though autosave is present, I'd like to save anywhere, but I sincerely appreciate the very multi-functional campsites dotting the landscape.

Story Elements: 9/10
It doesn't break Dragon Quest/Warrior tropes, but the first half of the story offers a notably different twist than the series norm. The second half boils down to the same-old and doesn't flow quite as well as the first (I want the bad guys to feel more bad, and a little more story urgency in the latter portion). However, I love the hero's supporting cast, the setting feels very series-appropriate but with more things to find in less empty space, the cities are marvelous, and in the end you save the world.

Then V. Now: 7/10
This category is more impactful for retro games, but it makes a point here. This game brings some "new" to the franchise, but it's not especially innovative or technically impressive for a major release in 2018. Some of the added mechanics are a little clunky and/or not helpful, and a lot of its appeal comes from new polish that brings out its old-fashioned charm. A 7/10 is no slouch, but I don't think it will feel as memorable to fans 10 years down the road as, say, III, IV, V or VIII.

Fun Factor: 9/10
This highly subjective category is basically a counterpoint to the previous. It's just my opportunity to say that fans of the series and the genre will most likely really enjoy this game (even more-so if/when it comes out in English for the Switch)! It does everything I want my Dragon Quest games to do well and then some, and I appreciate the attempts at modernization regardless of outcome. It won't turn heads outside the usual audience, but everyone who knows what to expect will have fun.

Overall: 8.2
It's tough to rate Dragon Quest games based on the unique niche, but I'm satisfied with the 8.2 average. It reflects how I would recommend that most of my gamer friends try the title if interested in the franchise or genre. In summary, I think that if it looks interesting to you and you can get it at a discount, you probably won't be disappointed.

My Top Dragon Quest Games
  1. Dragon Quest VIII (3DS or PS2)
  2. Dragon Quest V (DS or Super Famicom translation)
  3. Dragon Quest VII (3DS only)
  4. Dragon Quest III (Super Famicom translation)
  5. Dragon Quest XI (definitely if it comes to the Switch)