Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age E3 Impression 2

Square Enix showcased Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age this year, offering one of two game areas to demo. The first demo takes place very early in the game before a fully formed party. The second is a bit later on, after a full party of characters has joined. I played the latter demo during the short, precisely timed fifteen-minute session.

The game uses the same aesthetic and graphical design as previous iterations and felt immediately familiar, though the cell-shaded style has changed somewhat to appear smoother and somewhat closer to CG. There was also notable texture pop-in and low resolution textures taking a while to be switched out for higher resolution ones when getting close. Hopefully these issues will be resolved, but the game still looked beautiful overall, with quite a bit of variety in both enemy designs and environments. The demo itself was a bit strange in that it was oddly aimless. I was dropped in the world, able to gallop around on my horse, engage in fights, and explore a city, but with no big goal like completing a dungeon or fighting a boss. I spent most of my time aimlessly wandering around, exploring the combat system and the nearby town.

Combat is straightforward and similar to other Dragon Quest games. There are no random battles, but players can engage enemies on the field to enter into a battle. Characters can attack, use spells, or use abilities. At that early stage, my characters only had a few options each, but overall included a good variety of healing, defensive, and offensive attacks. Attack and spell animations were generally understated, as is typical of the series. I could also ride my horse to avoid combat entirely. Outside of combat, the game seems to have a quest-hub type of design, with large central cities that serve as hubs for the main quest, numerous side quests, and special NPCs. As in other games with this design, important NPCs are marked with icons and show up on the mini-map so players can easily identify them. The game also involves jumping to climb different areas of the city to do things like rescue cats from roofs.

Other than that, I didn’t get to see much more, as my time ran out and I didn’t have an overall goal to achieve. But from what I did get to see, Dragon Quest XI is looking like a promising game for fans of the series. The game released for PlayStation 4 and PC on September 4, 2018.

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