Dragon Quest. When a new entry in the franchise comes out in Japan, it's practically a national holiday. After a few recent entries where the Dragon Quest series took a bit of a departure with a Minecraft-style game, and a couple of musou "Heroes" games, Dragon Quest XI comes out as a return to form, but not without adopting some of the modern conveniences that those other games introduced.
You play as the silent protagonist, often referred to as the Luminary. On the day of your birth, demons attacked your kingdom. You escaped as a babe in a basket, carried by a young woman, and are set adrift in a river until you are found and raised by a kindly old man and his family. Fast forward to your town's adulthood ceremony, where you and a young woman named Gemma are asked to climb to the top of a mountain and return to town as fully-recognized adults. When you return, your adopted mother explains that it's best to tell you now, but you are the fabled reincarnation of the Luminary, a legendary hero whose destiny it is to fight the forces of Darkness and maintain the peace and prosperity the world has known! It is time to leave your hometown and begin your adventure!
A powerful sorceress, and twin sister to Serena, despite her diminutive size. She's a loudmouth, brash, and bossy. She's not as precocious as Maribel from DQVII, but she has her moments. She's your best magical damage dealer with a wide range of spells and abilities to back it all up.
A cynical rogue, a bit of a realist, and has something about his past that he doesn't reveal to the party. He's your quintessential thief, and in a game where crafting reagents often are hard to find, or come at a premium, his skills will help, especially if you're doing the No Shopping Draconian Quest.
Twin sister to Veronica, and a powerful healer. She's quiet, and a bit slow on the uptake. She also seems to have the least amount of face time or things to say throughout the game, with Veronica often speaking for the both of them. If you ever need support or healing, she's your go-to.
Fighter/monk extraordinaire. Think Alena from DQIV, without the perky Russian accent. She's a little bit cold and serious, but she has good intentions in everything she does. She also has Jessica-level charm and allure, so you can compliment her claw or spear fighting with a few abilities that will daze the enemies.
A unique mix of fighter and caster, able to use claws and heavy wands, so you can build him as a powerful physical fighter or a heavy magic caster. He's also an equally accomplished healer, and gets a 100% revive skill as an ability as opposed to a spell. He does a little bit of everything, and is great at it.
Entertainer/dancer and all-around good guy. He's characterized as flamboyant, but has moments of being a badass so it doesn't come off as a total joke. He has the largest selection of skills to put points into, being a full support unit with Hustle Dance and Oomphle, but also capable of good damage with access to knives, swords and whips.
Hendrik: A late game character, available only after the game's first act. Up until the point he joins, he's a thorn in your side, and one of your two main villains dogging you, but has a change of heart after the events that lead to him seeing the Luminary as the true hero he is. He's a chivalrous knight through and through, with skills like Forbearance to protect the party, and access to powerful sword, greatsword and axe skills.
Dragon Quest is traditional, but it's less-so than their earlier franchise entries. It's still turn based, however, you no longer select commands for all fighters on the party and then let the combat round unfold. There's a bit of a hidden ATB system in the background. Generally speaking, a full round of your four fighters may go in a row, and then the monster will attack, but the monster might get another attack before one or two your party members get their second turn in.
Since Dragon Quest VIII, gone are completely random combats. You see a monster on the field, and you want to fight? Hit that fool with your sword and enter combat. You want to avoid fights and just get to the next objective, you can do that, too! Be careful as this can make encountering some bosses a bit tough if you're too underleveled, but the game's difficulty curve seems very lenient, so it's actually easy to out-level general areas and boss fights aren't too troublesome. As a means of adding a challenge back into the game, the North American release got Draconian Quests.
Also since Dragon Quest VIII, you earn skill points when you level that you can allocate to various skill trees. The skills are laid out like a grid, and each section on the grid requires a certain amount of points to unlock. Some skills are locked behind requiring you to unlock 4 adjacent skills, and are usually a bridge between two skill trees so you can't just focus in one area to earn it. Unlocking skills also gives those characters new Pep Powers
. Sometimes the skill itself will be the Pep Power, but more often times, it will be a component towards a group Pep Power, like a Dual or Triple Tech from Chrono Trigger.
is this game's version of DQVIII's tension system. You don't need to sit there and spam a command to build it up any more. Instead, you usually enter Pep mode every 25-30 commands, and it lasts for about 5-6 turns. Some of the game's sidequests will involve requiring you to perform a specific Pep Power to meet the objective, and it can be hard to line-up getting the two or three characters required in Pep state at the same time. You can always move a character who enters Pep into the off-party, then bring them in when the characters needed to perform the move are set up.
are a way of adding more challenge to the game. You can enable all of them at once, or only deal with one or two at a time, and if the challenge is too much, you can disable them at the Church, but doing so means you can not re-enable them again for the remainder of the game. It's ironman or nothing!
No Fleeing From Battle
- Fleeing is never 100% guaranteed anyway, and you can never run from a boss fight. This one isn't really added challenge, and you can enable it without detracting from your game experience much, especially since it's so easy to quick heal after every fight.
- Just as it says! Since you can craft weapons and armor easily about 4 hours into the game, this isn't too bad either. It'll be felt in the mid-late game when you need more monster materials or can't be bothered to farm crafting materials from shiny spots when the helpful item vendor is right there
and sells a bunch of those materials in the camp.
- This actually would make a difference. You're stuck with the starting armour each character comes with, and no way to swap it out. Considering a lot of armour in the game comes with resistances, or auto-heal/MP regen perks, and you'll always take a hard hit from any monster attack, you'll be using your healing skills a lot more. You'll also remove about half of the need for the Fun-Sized Forge.
Reduced Experience from Easy Fights
- What the game considers "easy" is tough to figure out. If an enemy spots you and runs away from you, you'll be getting 50% exp from that fight, and eventually that will drop down to 0%.
All Enemies Are Super Strong
- Enemies deal more damage, but don't take less damage. When they hit you, you'll feel it. Not recommended if you're enabling No Armour, unless you're a masochist.
- You randomly freeze up in battle, wasting a turn. It's not the worst modifier in the game, except when it is because it happens during a boss fight, and you just got crit and are one hit from dying.
The game is huge, and one of the best entries to date. I've been playing for 50+ hours, and I think I'm only halfway through the game? A lot of fun mini-games and sidequests are in, although I don't think the gameboard is, and that one's probably my favourite, even if chance is a cruel damn mistress.
If anyone can think of anything else to add to the OP, let me know and I'll add it. I think I covered the basics, and will update when other games like Dragon Quest Builders 2 or any other DQ related thing comes up.