Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age Guide: Story, battles and pre-order bonuses

Release dates, platforms, story details and battle info galore for the long-awaited Dragon Quest instalment

Dragon Quest XI Echoes of an Elusive Age Guide Story battles and pre-order bonuses
30th July, 2018 By Sarah Morris

As big fans of pun-tastic, regional-accent-filled, goofy Slime-fighting Japanese role-playing game series Dragon Quest, we can't help feeling like Square Enix have been a right old tease lately. No mainline game has hit the West since 2009's Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies for the humble DS, and handheld remakes of pretty much every entry in the series so far have been the only traditional Dragon Quest role playing fix we've had ever since (not that we're complaining, but still). But with Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age set to be heading West later this year, really, it's about slime.

Dragon Quest XI Echoes of an Elusive Age Screenshot

Obligatory Slime shot.

The all important Dragon Quest XI release dates and platforms!

In both America and Europe, Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age will be launching on the 4th September 2018, on both the Playstation 4 and PC (via Steam). The game is also in development for the Nintendo Switch, but Square Enix haven't released an official release date for the console yet, saying only that it'll be "much later" compared to the other versions. As for players on the Xbox One... well, Microsoft's consoles have never been ones for Japanese role playing games (bar a handful when Microsoft made an effort on the 360).

Whatever happened to the 3DS version of Dragon Quest XI?

While the release may be a way off in the UK, over in it's native Japan, Dragon Quest XI hit the PS4 way back in July 2017 - alongside a really unusual port on the 3DS, of all machines! Using Though it may not have been quite as visually impressive as the PS4 version, it did have a slightly different graphical style, split between regular 3D graphics on the top screen and simpler retro-styled 2D sprites on the bottom screen, with the option to switch between one or the other during the course of the game. Unfortunately, Square Enix have already confirmed the 3DS version won't be coming to the West - which is a bit of a shame really, seeing as almost all of the recent Dragon Quest games/remakes have been for the DS and 3DS consoles, which leaves existing handheld Dragon Quest fans with a choice of either missing out on the new game entirely, or ponying up for a new console.

Who are Dragon Quest XI's developers?

For Dragon Quest XI, the series is good hands, with mainstays like eries creator Yuji Horii, character designer Akira Toriyama (also famous as the Dragon Ball artist) and composer Koichi Sugiyama all on board for the project. The trio have been working together for thirty years now, across various Dragon Quest games, so they certainly know their stuff! Game producer Hokuto Okamoto and assistant producer Hikari Kubota are the comparative newcomers for XI, who appear to have cut their teeth on the likes of Dragon Quest Heroes, Dragon Quest Builders and recent handheld/mobile remakes of the older Dragon Quest games too.

Yuji Horii, posing with the legendary Sword of Erdrick of Dragon Quest lore - which just so happens to be the one Dragon Quest XI's hero wields...

In speaking about the game, Yuji Horii has been very keen to note that Dragon Quest XI won't have any extra paid-for DLC or microtransactions at all (hooray!). You simply buy the game, and that's it - a strangely foreign concept these days, and a decision he put down to tradition, as past Dragon Quest games have never bothered with extras. Personally, we're surprised he managed to sneak that past Square 'Season Pass' Enix, who've been milking their other great role-playing game series, Final Fantasy, for all it's worth recently.

What's the story for Dragon Quest XI?

Dragon Quest XI opens as a young man, and his childhood friend, prepare for a "coming of age ceremony" that'll see them have to climb to a ancient relic known as the Sacred Stone, which sits atop a mountain near the village. Following "a series of unexpected events", our nameless protagonist somehow discovers that he's actually a reincarnation of a legendary hero from a bygone era, who once saved the world from the forces of darkness - forces which are starting to stir once more. To stop the resurrection of a supremely evil being, and to unravel the mystery of his past, the hero sets off on a globe-trotting adventure across the kingdom of Lotozetasia - but unfortunately for him, not everyone welcomes the would-be hero with open arms, with the King himself branding him as 'The Darkspawn', and actually sending an army to hunt the hero down. While fleeing from persecution, the hero assembles a band of endearing adventurers to help him in his quest, as they cross continents and vast oceans to save the world from an ominous bad guy.

Dragon Quest XI Echoes of an Elusive Age Screenshot

Perhaps not the warm welcome he was expecting...

Apparently, Dragon Quest XI will be a game packed full of little references and nods to the original Dragon Quest trilogy. For starters, the protagonist wields the legendary Sword of Erdrick, named after the hero of Dragon Quest III (which is itself a prequel to Dragon Quest I and II). Given the Dragon Quest XI hero's strange beginnings, we also can't help wondering if he's meant to be a reincarnation of Erdrick, come to save the world from the nefarious Dragonlord once more. Series Creator Yuji Horii, who has been photographed brandishing the aforementioned sword, has also hinted that they wanted to go back to basics, and return to the origins of the series for Dragon Quest XI, so we wouldn't write it off. In fact, the game's logo is very similar to that of the original Dragon Quest, with the same dragon in the background, just on the opposite side.

Note the similarities between the dragons in the background (original Dragon Quest logo taken from the recent android remake).

What will Dragon Quest XI's battles be like? Turn based?

From the sounds of it, Dragon Quest XI's battles will be the traditional turn-based affairs we've come to know and love - long-standing Dragon Quest fans. breathe a sigh of relief. With none of the disappointing button mashing guff from things like Final Fantasy XV, we're looking a system of proper RPG battles, where you'll take it in turn to attack, defend and sling magic spells, giving you plenty of time to think about your moves, and react when things are going wrong - making it a great system for newcomers. These battles are a direct contrast to those found in all the other Playstation 4 Dragon Quest (spin-off) games that have come before it, as Dragon Quest Heroes I, Dragon Quest Heroes II and Dragon Quest Builders all went for a much more button mashy real-time approach, so it's nice to see the main series has stayed true to its roots instead.

However, there have been a couple of changes. Instead of being attacked randomly by unseen enemies as you explore, monsters now roam the fields (as per Dragon Quest IX and the recent 3DS Dragon Quest VIII remake). Attacking a monster out in the wilderness will trigger a battle and give you an advantage - and likewise, being caught off-guard by an enemy will give them the upper hand instead. Being able to see your enemies lets you more easily avoid battles if you're injured, in a hurry, or otherwise cba getting into a fight - while ploughing through enemies on horseback will get you out of having to battle, too.

Dragon Quest XI Echoes of an Elusive Age Screenshot

Of course, all the familiar Dragon Quest monsters will be back too.

Dragon Quest XI will also feature a somewhat mysterious 'Pep Points' system, where, as you land attacks and take damage in battle, your party will start to amass 'Pep', which can then be unleashed via big group attacks to help you turn the tide of battle - with the flip-side being that enemies can also make use of Pep too. It all sounds very much like the Tension system found in some of the other Dragon Quest games to be honest, just under a slightly different name, as party members could take a turn or two to 'Psyche Up', boosting the power of their next attack, for potentially massive damage if you could string enough of them together. We're guessing that the 'Pep Points' system is simply that, but spread that across your whole party, with some gnarly team moves thrown in for good measure.

How will Dragon Quest XI play - side-quests, mini-games, skills and more!

According to the official website, Dragon Quest XI will feature a "ton of side-quests and mini-games" to keep you playing for "well over 100 hours". However, unlike past games where you basically had to talk to every single person in the entire game to find said side quests, townsfolk now have handily coloured bubbles above their heads to point you in the right direction. Basic folks with nothing important to say have white bubbles; anyone with main mission-critical information gets a pink bubble; while purple bubbles denote side quests. It's a nice touch for those who want a bit more of a streamlined game, but we're still going to chat to all and sundry for the oft pun-tastic or otherwise daft conversations that have become a Dragon Quest staple.

Dragon Quest XI Echoes of an Elusive Age Screenshot

Regional English accents are now a staple for Dragon Quest towns, whether it be Scottish, regal English or Somerset.

In most of the previous Dragon Quest games, as you fought monsters, gained experience points and levelled up, you'd earn a number of Skill Points to spend on your characters. Piling points into your various stats, certain milestones would then reward you with new skills and spells for use in battle, or a nice chunk of extra health or magic points. For Dragon Quest XI, they've altered this system slightly by giving you a new Skill Grid - a screen of abilities, some visible, some hidden, that you can work your way through instead. Skills on the Skill Grid are all linked together, and purchasing one ability will open up the next one along to buy, once you've got enough skill points together. It sounds a lot like Final Fantasy X's Sphere Grid system, except a lot less complicated (thank God!).

Will Dragon Quest XI have voice acting?

Despite the fact the Japanese release wasn't voice acted, Square Enix have confirmed that the Western versions will have English voice acting, complete with all the regional accents we know and love from previous Dragon Quest games. Yay!

Other enhancements for the Western release, supposedly to make up for the delay compared to Japan, include a first-person camera option, a faster dash move to speed up your journey across the map, and a slightly overhauled menu. There's also an optional harder difficulty mode (yay?) - the 'Draconic Quest' feature - which lets you tweak various difficulty settings to make your quest more tortuous, whether it's making enemies much harder, limiting the armour and weapons you can buy from shops or giving your party members a mysterious, permanent ailment known as the 'Shypox', which makes characters randomly falter, get embarrassed and miss their turns in battle.

Are there going to be any Dragon Quest XI pre-order bonuses and special/collector's editions?

For the USA, several retailers have revealed your options for pre-order bonuses already, as follows:

  • GameStop, $59.99
    Includes 8 exclusive collectible button badges featuring the main cast, plus a pair of in-game bonus items - the Elevating Vest, a piece of armour which boosts a character's experience points after battle and a three pack of Seeds of Skill, consumables which net a character an extra skill point.

A physical set of badges would be our pick, personally.

  • Amazon, $59.99
    Amazon have a slightly different set of bonuses - the aforementioned three Seeds of Skill, as well as the Arriviste's Vest armour, a 'glitzy gold waistcoat' that earns you extra money after a battle.
  • Steam, $59.99, digital only
    An exclusive wallpaper set featuring a range of Dragon Quest artwork, plus the Seeds of Skill (x15) and Wings of Serendipity (makes rare forms of monsters more likely to appear) items.
  • Playstation Store, $59.99, digital only
    An exclusive PS4 theme, plus another slightly different bundle of in-game items - the Vest for Success, 15x Seeds of Skill and 3x Uber Agate of Evolution. Seeds of Skill give characters extra skill points, but the other items are a bit of a mystery, really.

In good old Blighty however, retailers have stayed a bit more schtum - only a couple of digital retailers, namely the Playstation Store and Steam marketplaces, have posted any kind of pre-order bonuses, as follows:

  • Playstation Store, £44.99, digital only
    Includes an exclusive PS4 theme and selection of in-game DLC extras, including the Vest for Success, Seed of Skill (x15) and Uber Agate of Evolution (x3) items. While we know that the Seeds of Skill give characters an extra skill point, the purpose of the other items is a bit of a mystery. Vest for Success is presumably some armour that does… something good, perhaps boosting money or experience earned in battle, while the Uber Agate of Evolution shares its name with a (rather rare) alchemy ingredient from past Dragon Quest games, although it never really had much of a purpose beyond crafting.
  • Steam, £39.99, digital only
    An exclusive wallpaper set featuring a range of Dragon Quest artwork, plus the Seeds of Skill (x15) and Wings of Serendipity (makes rare forms of monsters more likely to appear) items.

Dragon Quest XI Limited Edition

With Dragon Quest XI being such a big release for Square Enix, it should come as no surprise that they want to celebrate in the right way, with Dragon Quest XI coming with its very own - and incredibly pricey - collector's edition.

DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Edition of Lost Time

Available exclusively from the Square Enix store, and setting you back some $150/£119.99, there may be no plushes here, but it does come with a range of very nice extras.

On the physical side of things, along with the game, you get:

  • Companion Compendium - A "large format" (presumably meaning a bit bigger than A4?) 128 page hardback art book with concept & production art, including Akira Toriyama's early designs.
  • Symphonic Suite - The bit we're most interested in - a 2-disc CD soundtrack set featuring orchestrated versions of in-game music.
  • Map of Erdrea - a 20"x15" cloth map.
  • Dragon Quest XI in a steelbook case.

While on the DLC side of things, you'll bag:

  • Supplicant - A clairvoyant's card imbued with the power to restore MP.
  • Healer - A clairvoyant's card imbued with the power to restore HP.
  • 3 x Seeds of Skill - A nifty nut that confers an extra skill point upon anyone who eats it. Consumed upon use.
  • Pep Pop - A fantastic fizzy drink that immediately peps up all active allies. Consumed upon use.
  • 15 x Seeds of Skill

In Conclusion

We don't know about you, but we're rather excited about the prospect of a 'proper' new Dragon Quest adventure, and Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is shaping up to be one heck of an quest! We'll keep you posted on any interesting developments as and when they crop up too, so make sure you keep checking back!

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