Retro Encounter Final Thoughts

Retro Encounter Final Thoughts – Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

Retro Encounter Final Thoughts - Dragon Quest XI's Jade and Rab smiling

Michael Sollosi

When I played Dragon Quest XI in 2018 I was awestruck. Everything from the game’s expressive monster animations to the snappy turn-based combat to the fairy tale story was pure, distilled Dragon Quest, but in a modern presentation so gorgeous I could scarcely believe it. But would my favorite RPG of the 2010s hold up with over five years of distance between that memory and the present day? I was worried I’d spend most of this podcast apologizing for all the hype I built over the years.

I was overthinking it. Dragon Quest XI is still the moving, beautiful, and satisfying RPG I remembered. The updated S version adds a few additional conveniences like fast-forward, more menu shortcuts, and optional visits to the worlds of the previous ten Dragon Quest games. Plus now you can marry Sylvando! My only hope is that I don’t have to wait another five years before we get The Flames of Fate.

Dragon Quest XI S Echoes of An Elusive Age Definitive Edition ss 032

Gio Castillo

I had expectations going into Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age. How could I not? This game (counting the S version) has three reviews on the site, and its lowest score is a 95. I had those numbers—and the glowing opinions of friends and random forum-goers over the years—swirling in my head when I started DQXI, and I had to remind myself to tune all of that noise out so I could give it a fair shake.

‌Little did I know that the game would do the brainwashing for me. Dragon Quest XI entranced me early on, and it didn’t let go until the “Fin” faded into black at the end. I adored the touching story, the wonderful cast, and the picture-perfect visuals; Yuji Horii and company crafted every last detail to near perfection. Even the music landed for me, though I admit that the composer was washed by that point.

‌Knowing there’s more Dragon Quest XI waiting for me when I eventually play the S version makes me giddy.

A flamboyant man stands in front of the rest of his troupe in Dragon Quest XI.

Tin Manuel

As someone who hasn’t played Dragon Quest XI during launch and has kept it in the backlog pile for so long, I’m glad I managed to push through it at long last. Almost five years after its release, this game still looks more stunning than most modern games out there.

To me, I think the ties and plot development between the characters are Dragon Quest XI‘s strongest points. The story took me to places that resembled distinct locations in real life, and the entire journey showed and taught me different forms of love. Each character equally got their spotlight and felt like everyone was a main character, which to me turned out to be a good thing.

T‌he combat, as traditional as it gets, is very simple to get into. There are many ways to play it if you’re up for a challenge. There’s also the option of bumping it to a lower difficulty if you don’t want to stress too much about it. If it’s your first time, like me, I would recommend playing the Dragon Quest XI S version for the battle speed features and additional content for the side characters.

An older man with a moustache and pack on his back examines a postcard with a bunny girl and hearts.

Wes Iliff

I’ve said it before, but Dragon Quest XI might be the perfect example of the traditional RPG. The turn-based battles are tight, the story is exciting, the characters are absolutely loveable, and the world goes through meaningful change. What caught me by surprise this time is just how much the plot ends up tying into the first three Dragon Quest games. Without going into spoiler territory, the references to past games in the series are strong and present throughout far more of the game than I had noticed before.

‌But really, you don’t need to know anything about the series to love Dragon Quest XI. It might just be the perfect entry point, marrying modern sensibilities to classic design in a way that few games ever manage to replicate. The visuals remain a treat even years after release thanks to a strong sense of style, and the music is… certainly there! Okay, there had to be at least one weakness, but I’m comfortable giving Dragon Quest XI an unconditional recommendation. The joy I felt playing for the third or fourth time has not diminished from the joy the first time.

Michael Sollosi

Michael Sollosi

Sollosi joined RPGFan in 2014 as part of the music section but switched lanes to podcasting a year later, eventually becoming showrunner of the Retro Encounter podcast. Outside of RPGFan, Sollosi works in a government engineering office, enjoys visiting local parks and petting local dogs, and dreams of a second Ys vs Trails fighting game.