Last year, Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age reminded PlayStation 4 players how good an RPG can be. With Dragon Quest XI being limited to PlayStation 4 and PC in the West, fans were hopeful it would appear on other platforms and ideally the Switch so they can take it on the go. Now that the title is released for Switch, it isn’t a simple port as much as the full experience to make any fan happy. With a new way to play, additional content and more, is it a refreshing experience for fans and newcomers alike or just another lackluster port? Here’s our Dragon Quest XI S Review.
Dragon Quest XI S has the same plot as the original game, where it follows the story of a mysterious hero who has a mark indicating that he is the Luminary. It has been said that the Luminary is a reincarnation of the hero who has vanquished the “Dark One”, tasked with bringing an end to this threat again. To become the Luminary of the past, the hero must discover what it means to become one, what, if any, role Yggdrasil has to play and help countless others along the way.
The quest to becoming a Luminary will be a long and tough one. Similar to other Dragon Quest games, it can take you roughly one hundred hours to beat the game, which includes doing all of the sidequests, collecting all recipes, and more. The problem with most JRPGs is that they start off slow and Dragon Quest XI is no exception. There are a wide variety of side stories you need to complete before you can discover what it means to be a Luminary or defeat the Dark One.
While the story remains the same, there are some side-stories that have been added in the Switch version. At a certain point in the game, each of the characters will have some sort of a mini-story that plays out later on. The specific characters that will have a mini-story to play out are Erik, Sylvando, Jade, and Rab. In addition, an additional story plays out after clearing the game.
Probably one of the biggest additions that are worth revisiting the game for those who have finished it on PS4 or PC is the inclusion of the 2D mode. Back when the game was released for the 3DS, the game offers the classic 2D mode. In the Switch version, Square Enix brings it back allowing players to switch between 2D and 3D at any time. For someone who has played the PS4 version like myself, playing it in 2D mode makes a whole difference, as if the game I was playing is new. It does omit certain things in 2D mode like doing quests, but the core gameplay of classic Dragon Quest games is still there.
Other new features that are worth mentioning are that the Switch version also has an orchestrated soundtrack unlike the ones in the original version. It makes a whole difference listening through the game’s soundtrack while playing the game. In addition, players will be able to use different monsters in the game to use a mount such as the Golem, or ride a flying monster to soar through Erdrea.
The rest of changes in the Switch version are minor, but can also be useful to some like the ability to skip cutscenes by holding the Y button, an ability to call your horse at any time, extra conversation while in battle, switching between the Japanese or English voice-overs, and many more.
Porting such a big game like Dragon Quest XI on the Nintendo Switch may seem impossible but somehow Square Enix manages to do it. From the original 30GB+, the game was compressed all the way down to around 13GB, and that’s including dual audio tracks and the two-mode. With compression, there are compromises that need to be done and it’s apparent in the Switch version. From the very detailed, and crispy visuals found on the PS4 version, the Switch version is somewhat blurred and the sharpness has decreased. It’s not a bad thing at all, but going from PS4 to Switch version, the severity of the compression Square Enix did is apparent. Luckily, the game runs very smooth in both handheld and docked mode.
For those who have both the Switch Lite and the original Switch, I prefer playing the game mostly on the Switch Lite as it looks more vibrant and the pixel density is much higher. The color is more precise and it really plays well on handheld mode. As for the docked mode, it runs beautifully but due to compression, the degradation of visuals is apparent, especially for those who have played the original game back on PS4.
As far as the core content, nothing has been changed. As mentioned earlier, the game will take you about one hundred hours at least as it offers a lot of things to do like over 50+ sidequests, forging the ultimate weapons, seeking secret areas for secret items, and more. For someone looking for a meaty JRPG, this is pretty much the game you are looking for.
Aside from doing all sorts of chores in Dragon Quest XI S, you will also most likely spend time maxing out your characters as character progression plays a key role in becoming stronger in the game. For every level you earn, you gain skill points that you can use to unlock skills, passive abilities, and stats to make your characters stronger. With a plethora of types of weapons, each of the character can get, playing around with it is a must as some give specific abilities.
Dragon Quest XI S Review Verdict
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of Elusive Age is without question the definitive experience. The new content gives returning players something to do, with an overwhelming amount of things to do that just makes sense on a portable platform. Similar to the original release, this is a must-have for any JRPG fan and easily one of the best games currently available on the Nintendo Switch.
[Editor’s Note: Our Dragon Quest XI S Review was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch platform. Part of this review comes from the PS4 version we reviewed last year. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]