'Dragon Quest XI' is the gateway JRPG new players needed

 engadget.com  6/14/2018 4:30:00 PM 

Back when Dragon Quest VIII game out on the PS2, the game was praised for its smart choice of character voices and a translation that was punctuated with humor. Assistant producer Hikari Kubota explained that with Dragon Quest localization, the team makes a big push to "translate rather than transliterate" — the early demo only gave glimpses of the characters and their motivations, but none seemed flat. "The characters and the story ... these are the core of what makes a Dragon Quest game," added Producer Hokuto Okamoto, adding that the team took Dragon Quest XI as another chance to introduce the series to lapsed fans and new ones -- it would also explain why Square Enix is making a bigger push with this title outside of Japan, relative to the last two DQ games.

That said, balancing the Japanese audiences' expectations against western gamers was something that Okamoto "didn't really think about". "If we suddenly decided 'Oh, we need to make it for western audiences!', then we would have to change everything."

For decades, Dragon Quest has fought the tide of increasingly complicated RPGs. While iterations of Final Fantasy (or Pokémon, Persona, Tales etc.) are judged on improved / evolved battle mechanics, the Dragon Quest series has kept things simple. In 2018, that's a little too simple for some of us, but Dragon Quest XI wears its heritage proudly, This might be a game for cutting edge consoles, (with gorgeous environments and Toriyama-penned character design) but battles remain turn-based, simple and, crucially, new player friendly. "Easy to enter, easy to comprehend," nods Okamoto. "We revamped what needs to be revamped."

Okamoto added that DQXI was a chance to shed frustrating elements of the series and made it harder for newer players to progress (thus a redesigned, clearer interface that makes more sense.) I think the addition of dashing on foot is a bigger sign of progress, making traversing large towns and parts of the world map far less laborious. (You could already ride a horse on the Japanese original, but that doesn't work everywhere.)

People that love Dragon Quest are going to appreciate these small evolutionary touches, but the onus is on picking up new gamers -- possibly younger ones. (Square Enix introduced the Minecraft-esque Dragon Quest Builders for a reason, y'know.)

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