Dragon Quest 11: Echoes of an Elusive Age Pre-E3 2018 Preview: A Dashing Hero

Prior to E3 2018, Shacknews had a chance to take a look at the first new Dragon Age to hit North American consoles in over a decade.

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It hasn't been easy being a Dragon Quest fan in North America. While there have been various spin-offs and re-releases in recent years, there haven't been many all-new entries in the series released to North America. That's about to change with Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age. This will mark the first new entry in the series to reach North America since the Nintendo DS' Dragon Quest IX in 2011 and the first to release on home console since Dragon Quest VIII hit PlayStation 2 in 2005.

Dragon Quest XI is a standalone tale of an unnamed protagonist, who learns that he is the reincarnation of an ancient hero. And as a legendary hero, he ventures out to save the world from an ominous, unknown threat. While Square Enix has previously revealed footage of Dragon Quest XI at PAX East, showing off early footage of Cobblestone, Shacknews recently had the opportunity to check out something a little more recent.

But before venturing off, it's a good time to introduce the party members present during this demo:

  • Unnamed Protagonist: The hero can be named by the player and is the only character who does not have any kind of voiceover. He's a mute.
  • Erik: A rogue thief who fully believes in the ancient legends, which makes him more than eager to tag along. He fights with his knives.
  • Veronica: A diminutive, yet powerful fire mage, sworn to protect the hero. She's able to attack with fire magic.
  • Serena: Veronica's companion, who a bit flighty. Nonetheless, she's the healer of the group and will more often than not keep the party standing.

The mysterious hero and his party began the demo in the fields of Gallopolis, a trail filled with danger, just outside a nearby castle town. After avoiding most of the monsters, it was time to explore the town, filled with shops, inns, and stables full of horses. But while it's easy to get distracted by the horses, there is a purpose for visiting the town and that's to have a chat with the Sultan about a vital item for the main quest. That leads into the other part of this main quest branch, as the hero gets dragged into helping the Sultan's hapless son, who is looking to trick his father into believing him a worthy prince. While that segues into a horse racing side activity, it quickly escalates into a hunt for the demo's big boss.

This demo becomes noteworthy because it offers up the first introduction to Sylvando. Sylvando is a traveling performer, in town to dazzle denizens with feats of magic and trickery. He quickly tags along with the party, not so much to help the hero fill his destiny, but more because he comes across as a guy looking for a lark. Sylvando is a charismatic fellow who eventually starts to fit in with the party, despite inviting himself into the group, and is helpful on the battlefield with his blades and his agility. Sylvando enters as a fifth member of the party, but it's implied that following his initial quest, he'll eventually need to be swapped in and out to keep the party at an even four members. Having a fifth wheel in Sylvando is immensely helpful against the demo's boss, the Slayer of the Sands, which asserts itself with heavy area-of-effect attacks and hard-hitting direct attacks.

Those who have played the Japanese version of Dragon Quest XI will find that this version is no mere port. The developers at Square Enix have worked to add several quality of life improvements to the North American version of the game. One thing to note is that the art is said to be enhanced and it's hard to argue with that. Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama's characters look bright and gorgeously rendered, both in cutscenes and on the battlefield.

While graphical enhancements and UI overhauls are noticeable, the biggest change is the addition of the Dash button. The ability to dash is incredibly helpful for anyone looking to get from objective to objective in a shorter time, but also for anyone looking to avoid combat. The fields of Gallopolis are filled with monsters and will look to initiate a battle on sight, but many of them won't be able to catch a dashing player. It should be noted that the dash function does cut out a lot of the unnecessary filler that JRPGs are known for, but there's still a lot to do here. Even as I skipped a lot of the side content, due to time constraints, this demo still took well over an hour, between cutscenes, combat, and main quest tasks. There's a lot for fans to be excited about and plenty to keep players busy.

It won't be long before North America gets its hands on a new Dragon Age. Dragon Age XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is set to release September 4 on PC and PlayStation 4, with PS4 getting a physical retail release.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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