Currently, there are a lot of people who say to wait for the definitive, best, Game of the Year or whatever else you want to call it edition. This can be extremely difficult, especially in the case of Dragon Quest XI. The initial product was pretty awesome, so much so that we were wowed by its experience, so furthering that with faster battling, additional stories, new modes all make for a tempting package. However, as we’ve learned before, just because something is great on paper doesn’t mean it will live up to the hype, so is Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition the edition to buy, or are you better off playing the original?
If you didn’t play the original Dragon Quest XI, it followed a rather bland and generic story. The adventure starts with a group of kings indicating that a special child is born, due to a special mark on the back of its hand, suggesting a number of things for a wide variety of people. In terms of adventure, you’re essentially the chosen one who will rise up to be a hero that ultimately vanquishes evil. So, if you follow Dragon Quest, it’s basically business per usual.
Where Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition furthers this is with new stories for your companions. This makes it easier to relate to their adventures and fills in some gaps in a fun and welcome way that adds a bit of time to the adventure. These are essentially stories that show what your companions did prior to their adventures starting. Some are funny, others interesting, with none of them being completely essential but all of them adding something of value to the adventure.
Gameplay remains relatively unchanged from previous Dragon Quest games and the original. Enemies and obstacles appear on the map for you to either engage or ignore. Choosing to strike first will give you an advantageous bonus, whereas waiting might come with a price. Regardless of how the battle begins, Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition forces places to either put in the time or devise a tactic.
Most RPGs are essentially a lot of options that boil down to nothing. For example, Pokemon has tons of attacks, many of which are useful, though outside of competitive play you really don’t need that attention to detail. The same is not true for Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition. Without building up characters, buying the best supplies, and taking the time to build up your team, fights will eventually become impossible without the right tactic. AI can be told what they need to do and will often decide how successful a battle is. Sometimes keeping everyone alive is the right call, whereas other times the additional damage can spare precious resources from being used.
Whatever choices you ultimately make, it’s a combat system that invokes a certain sense of difficulty not found with newer adventures. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition is not above making someone work for their victory or preventing a grind from being too easy. That being said, the new quick battle system makes it easier to take on peons and increase your team’s power. This also makes it easier to collect valuable resources or complete required tasks.
Outside of combat, there is a rather interesting world to explore. From lush fields with things to see to ruins of a more prosperous time, it makes the world feel lived in. This is furthered by the strong attention to detail and effort put into giving monsters a traditional feel and backgrounds a stylized but interesting look. Perhaps the strongest choice is making the world rather diverse. Sometimes it’s a grass-covered field, a later stage is a desert, another location is essentially on water, giving each region, town, and place its own field. These locations also have secrets to uncover, people to talk to, side quests to complete and feel rather complete as opposed to just being a weird place thrown into the mix for the sake of diversity.
Arguably one of the more interesting choices in Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition is the option to play in 2D mode. This removes a lot of the stunning visuals in favor of a more reminiscent look. This does two important things. It gives long-standing fans a more traditional feel and allows returning fans a new way to experience the story. This mode feels fairly different but won’t appeal to everyone. And, if you find you don’t like it, it can be switched at churches and save spots.
Visually, Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age looks phenomenal compared to the vanilla version that came out a couple of years ago. When played on Xbox Series X – thanks to the backward compatibility, load times were fast, frame rates are stable at 60 frames per second, and visuals are just vibrant. For anyone who owns a PC, buying the game on Xbox will give you access to the PC version via the Microsoft Store, not to mention your saved file can be accessed at either Xbox or PC for players to continue their progress at any platform they use.
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition Review – Verdict
Typically when a definitive edition releases there is a certain sense of disappointment. Either it provides a better value, through included DLC, or small touches that add a lot. But, when it comes to Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition, there is enough there to make most people happy. The 2D mode will appeal to returning fans and those who grew up with the franchise, with new stories and more to add to the already compelling adventure. Quicker battles and commands streamline the core experience to make it easier to complete what needs to be done. This also applies to crafting and other mechanics too. Honestly, in general, Square Enix took an already good base, thought of a welcome way to add content without making fans feel like they missed out, and addressed some concerns to make for a compelling experience. So, whether you loved the original release or are waiting to see what Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition offers, it’s an experience everyone should strongly consider.
[Editor’s Note: Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition was reviewed on Xbox Series X and a review copy was provided to us.]