Dragon Quest XI is bringing the grandpa of JRPGs to PC

Goblin-bothering is a truly international pastime.

There are few games more influential on the JRPG genre than the Dragon Quest series. Classic all-ages tales of swords and sorcery adventure, held together with traditional turn-based combat in a world of charming monster & character designs from Dragon Ball artist Akira Toriyama.

While a pair of spinoffs have made the jump already (Dragon Quest Heroes 1 & 2, which I still insist are two of the best Dynasty Warriors-derivatives), today’s announcement from Square Enix marks the first time in the series’ 32-year history that a core game has come to PC. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of An Elusive Age is due out this September 4th.

On top of a more traditional trailer introducing the cast, Square-Enix have also released the chunk of gameplay footage above, opening in classic Dragon Quest fashion: Wandering around a field, bopping the most adorable slimes you ever will see.

It all looks rather lovely, and there are no random encounters, just visible wandering monster-markers on the overworld. While on horseback you can gallop to knock enemies out of the way, should you not feel up to fighting them. Most interesting, though, is that there are seemingly two different combat engines which you can switch between at will.

The gameplay footage opens using the Classic Combat mode, where you just pick your attacks from a menu and assign targets, but after switching to Free-Form Fighting mode, the player and enemies gain the ability to roam in real-time, although combat actions still seem to be turn-based. I can imagine this looking messy but impressive once a full party has been assembled.

Dragon Quest XI

Dragon Quest’s appeal has always been in its comfortable nature. It’s so straightforward, it’s almost silly, like a big fluffy videogame sweater that you’ve had for donkey’s years. Sure, it may be a bit stretched and faded, but nothing else fits quite right. These aren’t especially intense or demanding games, but they are satisfying.

While the series has evolved over time, even initially strange decisions (such as going with all-British voice casts as of Dragon Quest 8 onwards, including cockney barbarians and a long line of Welsh healers) have become just part of the experience. While Final Fantasy has reinvented itself a half-dozen times over, Dragon Quest remains unmistakably Dragon Quest at a glance, no matter how advanced the technology supporting it becomes.

Dragon Quest XI will be arriving on PC this September 4th, launching alongside the PS4 version. It’s already listed on Steam, and is priced at £40/$60 for preorders.

19 Comments

  1. suibhne says:

    My only foray into the series was DQ8, on PS2, but I found it delightful. Yes, it’s utterly mainstream, but it features such good humor, congeniality, and gameplay flow that I really couldn’t complain. Granted, I shelved it after ~40 hours, recognizing I’d have to at least double that time commitment if I wanted to finish the game, but I never regretted picking it up.

    I’m definitely not in the game’s target audience anymore. My time limitations mean that I go for smaller chunks of gaming (Breath of the Wild notwithstanding). But this still seems like great news to me.

    • LewdPenguin says:

      In much the same boat, my only time with the series being DQ8 on PS2, and holy hell yes the effort involved to beat all the stages of that final optional ‘boss’ at the end was too much for me even back then (I think I got to his 3rd stage, which was just insane), but it’s absolutely up there as one of my favourite games of all time, and certainly of that period.

      This will probably be one of the few ‘big’ games I’ll make the time for, assuming it survives porting without mishap of course.

  2. I Got Pineapples says:

    I actually kind of disagree with the whole ‘comfortable nature’ thing beyond the returning bits and bobs. It has, for the most part, been a series that hasn’t been afraid to experiment, albeit with many of it’s experiments being taken up and made mainstream afterward, making them seem less experimental . Yuji Horii makes a point of significantly screwing with the formula in some way or another with each game has notably cancelled entries a fair way into development because ideas he’s had have shown up in other games.

    Consider for example 4’s episodic structure or 5’s following one character through their entire life arc or the original playstation version of VII’s 12 freaking hours before you even encounter a monster. Or 3’s essentially mapping out the entire structure of JRPG’s (And honestly, a lot of more modern WRPG’s) henceforth.

    • Artea says:

      “Or 3’s essentially mapping out the entire structure of JRPG’s (And honestly, a lot of more modern WRPG’s) henceforth.”

      What structure? You do realize the Dragon Quest series itself started out as an attempt to simplify and streamline WRPG’s for a Japanese audience?

      • I Got Pineapples says:

        Yeah. They started like that but they didn’t end like that. DQ3 essentially codified the JRPG and a lot of it’s DNA filtered back into WRPG’s.

        The last act is also notably something kind of bizarrely daring by the standards of the time.

  3. Kamestos says:

    About DQHeroes being the best Musou-like, allow me to respectfully disagree. Musou games deliver the fantasy of destroying hundreds of peons with one strike, and the RPG side of DQH made the enemy have far too many HP. So the flow of the action was really different, and imo less fun.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      I guess I always considered them interesting counterparts to One Piece Warriors 3, which is the ultimate example of just dropping you into a map with thousands of expendable baddies and letting you cut loose.

      DQ Heroes feels like a proper hybrid of Warriors style combat and classic Dragon Quest mechanics, at least to me.

    • Kitsunin says:

      I like Dragon Quest Heroes best of the Warriors games because the high HP means you actually need to think about which combos to use based on where/what your enemies are, since you actually care about hitting them (while in other games it’s gotten to the point where infantry literally only exists to up your KO counter). Also the summoning aspect adds some strategy lacking in almost all Warriors games.

      For a more traditional experience I think Fire Emblem Warriors is actually pretty sweet (sadly and obviously Switch/3DS exclusive). You can order competent AI units around the map and certain weapons are substantially more/less effective against others, which adds a layer of strategy which adds so much to an otherwise sorta boring experience. DQH are still better though.

  4. Jokerme says:

    Wasn’t this game released last year in Japan? Am I remembering another game?

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      Last summer, yes. Dragon Quest games are seldom localized, and the process tends to take forever.

  5. ramshackabooba says:

    Excellent! I don’t play handhelds so I haven’t played DQ since DQ8 in the PS2 so long ago (and I loved it).

  6. Dr. Why says:

    YES
    YEEEEEESSSSS
    YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSS
    YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS
    No playstation Now.
    No crappy emulators.
    No fan translations.
    This honestly made my day :)

  7. Chaoslord AJ says:

    That shall be good. Also a good developement for PC gaming having all those ports recently.

  8. digital_sneeze says:

    My only real foray into the series was 8 on the PS2. I don’t think it was quite the masterpiece it was touted to be. I liked it, and nearly got to the end but I can’t think of a JRPG that had more offensively frequent random battles than that game. I can still to this day remember what the opening music of the combat was and it makes me never want to play it again. Glad to see this one won’t have random battles but I hope it has a more compelling story than 8 too. They went for “well done” rather than interesting to the point of it being hyper generic.

    • Kitsunin says:

      Completely agree. All Dragon Quest games are extremely tedious due to an absolutely ludicrous number of battles which are mind-numbingly rote. And if you try avoiding random encounters you’ll find yourself forced to grind in order to defeat a boss (even though the random enemies are still piss easy).

      And honestly, I still liked the games. Until I tried playing 8 after Persona 5 and Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I no longer have any patience for games which more than sparingly force me to endure tedious and utterly unthoughtful fights.

  9. MikoSquiz says:

    The Dragon Quest games are like someone made a poor knockoff of early Spectrum/C64 RPGs and then completely ignored all development and progress in the genre, never learning or changing anything except for shinier graphics. I wonder why?

  10. Merus says:

    Man, Dragon Quest is really… particular. I mean it has its charms – one thing I find fascinating is how they make early enemies less intimidating by allowing them to faff around and get distracted and generally burst with personality instead of actually fighting you – but it is literally the farthest thing from a PC RPG I can imagine and I don’t know how the poor thing will cope.