Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is a turn-based role-playing game. Sticking to its traditional JRPG roots, it features some updated twists for fans of the long-running series as well as the genre itself.
Pro Gorgeous and expansive environments, towns, and cities to explore
Exploring the locations in Dragon Quest XI and discovering new towns and cities are some of the best parts of the game. From how beautiful everything looks, like tiny details in architectural designs and how colorful the maps are, just walking around and adventuring is a ton of fun. Getting to a new area is a lot like seeing an impressive vista for the first time, just from the sheer size of the cities you come across. Running around in the towns and talking to all of the people who live there really lets you see the culture and inspiration behind each of the places. You get a real sense of adventure and awe from the exploration, helping to keep you hooked throughout the long hours of the main story.
Pro Well-implemented turn-based combat for traditional JRPG fans
The combat is by-the-books as far as JRPGs go, with a great turn-based system that stays true to the traditional formula. You have a party of up to four companions taking turns to attack the enemies, with a menu-based system where you pick your spells, abilities, and items to use as strategically as possible. If you love old school JRPG combat systems, this is an excellent one to check out.
The game encourages you to switch up your party members, since everyone has their own specialized abilities and skill tress to help them feel like they truly have their own combat identities. Switching members in and out of battle is a solid way to tackle the challenges that the game throws at you. Everything works well and feels like another good iteration of the tried-and-true turn-based combat formula.
Pro Light-hearted and entertaining story that can take 70+ hours
Dragon Quest XI has an excellent story that spans well over 70 hours. You start off as a supposed harbinger of darkness, demonized by the government as a danger to the people, but things quickly turn around to a much lighter tone. Journeying across the world with your companions to save various places from evil forces helps to show your true and honorable intentions, especially as you befriend like-minded companions who all have their own well-written personalities, from eccentric tricksters to more grounded warriors.
While the larger story looms over your head, you're mostly free to spend time getting to know your party members through plenty of fun interactions. The plot does tread familiar ground by JRPG standards, meaning your mileage may vary on whether it innovates enough or not for your tastes. If you want a lengthy story that feels familiar but isn't too weighed down by dark themes, this is a pretty good fit.
Pro Cool anime art style with detailed cel-shaded graphics
This is a great-looking game that stays true to its original art style from the 1980s. The sharp and colorful art style is a staple of the series that's now an iconic look. The cel-shaded graphics help to keep the game from looking dated in the generations to come. They made sure to update the anime look by using excellent motion capture, realistic lighting effects, and awesome animations for each monster that gives them some extra personality. It's such a nice game to look at that's sure to age well down the line.
Pro Accessible for Dragon Quest newcomers
Dragon Quest XI's story is pretty much standalone and separate from the rest of the games, so you don't have to worry about missing out on any continuity details. You can pick up this one without having played the others, and you won't be lost on important plot points or anything like that. Jumping in at the eleventh title of a long-running series sounds daunting, but this game is quite accessible to new players.
Con Too familiar and formulaic as a JRPG
If you typically stay away from JRPGs that follow the same old formulas with their turn-based combat and linear stories, then Dragon Quest XI probably won't change your mind about that. It's the type of game that stays true to its roots and mostly avoids changing up its formula. It gets a lot of credit for being part of the franchise that created the formula in the first place, but it still won't win over players who are turned off by traditional JRPGs.
Con Some pacing issues with the story
While the story is mostly well-written and easy to follow, there are some hangups here and there. With a 70+ campaign, it's understandable that the plot drags in certain places. Depending on your tolerance levels, it shouldn't be enough to make you put the game down, but it is pretty noticeable when it happens.