Dragon Quest XI S is the latest installment in the longer-running series of JRPGs, now ported to the Nintendo Switch with some added bells and whistles. The grand journey sees the Hero learn about his destiny as the Luminary to save the kingdom from impending darkness, including forces controlling those in power. Follow the Hero and his party as they travel the kingdom in search of answers and battle monsters and people alike. The game has tons to love, as well as some things to hate.
10 Combat Voices (Hate)
For a game with some really good English voice acting, the combat dialogue gets really old, really fast. The dialogue features very little variety and a pretty high frequency for being played. At the default voice volume in the game, the combat lines are also blasted out very loudly, so they aren't easy to ignore. The volume for voice lines can be decreased but that also decreases the volume during cutscenes as well, which is unfortunate with how much personality shines through during those. For a game that features a large amount of combat, these voices can drive anyone up a wall.
9 Fun-Sized Forge (Love)
Needing to constant travel someplace to upgrade or craft new weapons can get tedious in massive RPGs but Dragon Quest XI S takes that problem away with the Fun-Sized Forge. It's exactly what it sounds like, being a forge you can carry around in your pocket and can be fired up nearly whenever you feel like. Having the ability to upgrade or craft fresh weapons like this really helps the pacing of the game, especially one of this size. Being able to bust it out in between battles whenever you feel underpowered instead of needing to travel back to town is a feature that every RPG from now on needs.
8 Respawning Unclear (Hate)
Sometimes you bite off more than you can chew and get your party wiped. While Dragon Quest XI S isn't necessarily a hard game at base settings, you still will occasionally wipe. When this happens the game prompts you with three choices, most recent city, last save and last auto-save. Unfortunately, it's not very clear which of these options is the most recent save and choosing incorrectly can send you back further than you would prefer. Saving frequently can lessen this issue but it's still frustrating.
7 Avoidable Mobs (Love)
Since the release of Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee, it's become clear that having forced random might not be as fun of a mechanic as once thought. Not having to deal with constantly being stopped, especially in an area where your already over-leveled and just need to get through is a blessing. Being able to avoid fights is such a relief and helps keep the pacing of the game up. While traditionalists might not feel the same about, it feels like a good modernization for the game.
6 Only Being Able To Activate Draconian Quests At The Start (Hate)
Dragon Quest XI S offers some options to make for a more difficult experience if you choose to do so. The unfortunate part though is that Draconian Quests can only be activated at the very start of the game. The option to turn them off later is available but if you start the game and it feels too easy, the only thing you can do is restart the whole game over just to increase the difficulty. Since the option to disable them during the game exists it seems like having the option to enable them should be there but it isn't.
5 2D Mode (Love)
Dragon Quest XI S features a gorgeous 3D open-world to adventure in that is absolutely fantastic. The game also features the option to play that entire game in a 16-bit style 2D mode that harkens back to classic JRPGs. The 2D mode works for the entire game and can be switched on and off without too much difficulty. Of course, if you want to experience the 3D mode all the way through, there is a set of side quests that are played exclusively in 2D Mode, so nobody will miss out on this awesome feature.
4 Repetitive Soundtrack (Hate)
Too much of a good thing is a phrase that doesn't always ring true, but it does for Dragon Quest XI S. The game features a gorgeous orchestral soundtrack that is way too limited for the amount it is played during the game. The default setting for music has it blasting at pretty much all times and it changes infrequently, leading to some mindnumbing repetition. A free downloadable pack on Nintendo Switch features the option to switch to the Dragon Quest VIII soundtrack outside of battle, but even that overstays it's welcome.
3 All Party Members Recieve EXP (Love)
Many level-based RPGs suffer from the same issue of many party members falling too far behind in level to be usable, forcing you to stick with the members you have been using, even if you want to switch. Dragon Quest XI S features a type of EXP-share that gives all party members experience even if they aren't in combat. This allows for flexibility in the battle line-up, so long as you have the equipment to give the party members. Being able to switch party members without worrying about losing fights is wonderful and a solid modernization.
2 No Enemy Or Quest Level (Hate)
Having a level-based JRPG without enemy or quest levels is frustrating in the year 2019. Knowing that an enemy or boss is beating you because you are under-leveled without knowing how much, is an unnecessary obstacle, especially in a game with tons of quality-of-life features. It makes no sense to hide that information. If the intention is to discourage over leveling it certainly achieves the opposite.
1 No Over Bearing Tutorials (Love)
Dragon Quest XI S breaks expectations from being a JRPG by not spending a couple of hours at the start of the game playing through tutorials. The game hits the ground running and bakes learning the systems into the opening scenes pretty seamlessly unlike other JRPGs like Final Fantasy XV. Learning the systems feels very natural with only a couple of obvious tutorials. Dragon Quest XI S does an excellent job of using the game to build players up.