Dragon Quest XI is by no means new, but absolutely was astounding when it released three years ago. That title brought about smooth combat and opened up a world and franchise like never before, finally delivering fans a taste of Dragon Quest in a fully realized experience. Three years later, and a year after the Switch saw the same, the Xbox One and Playstation 4 are getting their upgrade of the game with Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition, adding several key features. How does it play out all over again? Let’s find out.
I don’t really know if everyone has played this title the first time around, but regardless, we already covered the story for this title once before, so it would be best to speak on what the Definitive Edition actually brings to the table, as it is actually quite a lot. Of course, our silent protagonist is the Luminary and the hero for this adventure, but there are several other team members who you met along the journey who now have a lot more to say. Players will be able to participate in flashback sequences, and even obtain new party members based on a solo experience with each character, fleshing out the narrative immensely this time around as we learn of motives that actually make sense and help define this lovely cast who already felt realized enough the first go. I loved the first title for its story, and it was such a happy feeling to get these little character arcs peppered in this time around.
So, what can you add to such a deep and rewarding role-playing game? For starters, how about the full 3DS version of the game (which was a traditional 2D Dragon Quest featuring almost everything, just in a different perspective), and the ability to switch back and forth with the 3D version at the start of each chapter? At first, I was a bit taken back that you had to basically restart a chapter or play it completely to progress in this fashion, as you have to go to a church, save, and then go back if you are not in the right portion of a chapter, but honestly, this adds replay value as the 2D mode moves a lot quicker, so if you have beat the game recently, this may just be your favorite way to play. There is something really satisfying about seeing these locales yet again, but in a new way that truly make it feel like a new experience, and that alone is easily worth the lower price-tag. The full original title is also here, which I would recommend to those new to this entry as it was and still is a very special little game.
Instead of seeing enemies in the 2D mode, battles happen at random, which mimics the same mechanics of the classic fare. The game also incorporates older menu styles and a different HUD, where the fights should feel much slower, yet nostalgic to longtime fans. I also feel like the game is much easier at not getting lost, as there are now NPCs to guide you when they believe you are too weak to move on this time around, so you don’t grind unnecessarily or waste time moving forward too early. It is a far more optimized and thought-out edition that seems to have listened to real feedback of the players, as almost every complaint has been addressed.
I am just speaking about the new features, but honestly, the original 3D game is still very much at the core here, with all of the discovery, exploration, and little nods to the long-time franchise that warrants interest of fans new and old. I do feel that the Definitive Edition brings out reason to play a game you might have sunk in over 80 hours into all over again, which I personally think is rare for this genre as a whole.
Visuals & Audio
The graphics for the 3D mode have been enhanced just a tad, so textures are just a little more detailed and the original environments and character models look sharper this time around in beautiful 4K resolution. The 2D mode is what we really need to talk about, as even though some may feel that since this game was already released in Japan for a portable, it would be a bit of a bland offering. Instead, this allows you to get more of an authentic take on nearly every inch of the original, but with the more condensed overworld and more simplistic animations and menus. It is absolutely a two in one offering of Dragon Quest XI, where the player can now simply explore comparisons, on top of taking in that is already in front of them.
The audio also has a lot to offer, as players now can be granted an orchestral soundtrack this time around, and while optional, you definitely can hear the difference in a major way. Those who choose can also be treated to the Japanese voices through dialogue sequences, and while I still prefer the already on point English voice tracks due to the quality, I was more than happy with this addition as well as it just adds yet another layer to take this new take home.
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition is actually what it says it is, definitive. It isn’t some DLC stapled to an original release, but a more optimized, fluid, and fully realized experience that players new or old will be able to get something from, and feel absolutely giddy as they get to take in new changes that make sense without harming what was delivered over three years ago. I know that may sound a bit much in terms of praise, but it in an age where we get these same subtitles put on second releases that maybe have a new skin or that suddenly include pre-order content for the same price as the original title, it is lovely to see a studio put so much love into making this entry matter at the end of a generation.
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