Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition PS4 Review: Meet Me In Erdrea

2020 has been a year in which I’ve expanded my gaming experiences outside of my comfort zone, taking peeks at titles in genres I’m not very familiar with or generally tend to outright avoid. This has led to a wealth of riches in titles ranging in everything from tactical strategy to FMV interactive titles to JRPGs. 2020 has also been a year where I’ve FINALLY had opportunities to check out long-standing titles that have been available for a while, but I’ve never had the time or willingness to try.

Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition is the latest addition to my list - a title that I’ve been wanting to play since the Nintendo Switch version of the game launched last year. I recently had the chance to check out the PlayStation 4 version of the game that launches alongside PC and Xbox One on December 4, and to be quite honest, there isn’t a lot that I feel like I can add from a player experience that wasn’t already covered in . What I can speak to is just how welcoming the game is for brand-new players to the franchise. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition offers up a beautiful and expansive world to be explored with hours upon hours of in-depth content that can be enjoyed by new players and franchise veterans alike.

One of the biggest draws to the game, for me, is Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age’s ridiculously picturesque world full of whimsy and wonder. The sprawling countrysides filled with quirky creatures, the cavernous cliff sides, the grandiose cities filled with street vendors and towering, detailed buildings … it’s all absolutely breathtaking - made even better by the addition of the game’s photo mode, a mode which features plenty of flexibility itself. I could genuinely spend hours doing nothing in areas like Hotto or the regions of Zwaardrust and Heliodor. Funny enough, the amount of grinding for XP and crafting resources allows me to spend plenty of time in each area.

Full disclosure, I’m not the type of player who has the time, energy, or patience to grind out character and item progression (probably a big reason why I’ve never had a max-level toon by the time a new World of Warcraft expansion drops). In addition, although I’m coming around to the mechanic within the JRPG genre, I’m also not big on turn-based combat. So, you can imagine my surprise and genuine excitement with the way Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age handles its combat. Having the ability to significantly speed up each encounter is incredible - an option that all games of this nature should have. Of course, I don’t utilize this option during the more heavy-hitting and narratively important encounters, but it’s a godsend to have available while grinding away against mobs while leveling.

On that note, progression in Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age is better than anything I could have ever expected. I love the fact that my entire party levels at the same rate, regardless of whether or not they are actually in my active party. Of course, the need still arises to switch out party members for certain battles that another character might be better equipped to handle, which allows for plenty of experimentation. The same goes for the variety of weapons I need to feature in my party, since effectiveness depends on the enemy I’m facing.

In addition to level progression and enhanced combat, there seems to be a common theme in Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age, which hones in on quality-of-life features. Simple things like streamlined open-world traveling and crafting abilities (hooray, Fun-Size Forge!) are welcomed in an expansive game like this. It’s these quality-of-life features that not only make the game that much more enjoyable, but accessible as well. This isn’t your typical hardcore JRPG experience, offering up shortcuts and other features that succeed in improving the overall flow of the gameplay. Of course, the ability to challenge yourself is still fully available to you, should you so choose.

The beauty of Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age is accentuated by the game’s narrative, taking you through various twists and turns as the Hero. You are able to play the game in either 3D and 2D mode, the latter of which features 16-bit graphics. I gave 2D a shot, but couldn’t help but go back to the stunning 3D world. The same can be said with the game’s soundtrack and audio design. While the synthesized music from the original game is fun for a bit, there’s nothing quite like the fully-orchestrated soundtrack to round out the gameplay experience in an epic manner. There are plenty of subtle synthesized sounds while playing in the 3D version to keep things fun anyway. Finally, I found the Japanese voiceover dialogue to be far more enjoyable and immersive than the English dialogue. As with the majority of the other in-game options, though, this choice can be switched back and forth on the fly.

If you’re anything like me, your first (and only) experience with the Hero comes from playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. If the Hero has appealed to you in any way in that game as a Fighter, you owe it to yourself to play Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition. I can’t help but feel like the Switch version of the game would be my preferred choice of platform, simply due to the fact that I could play the game anywhere, even if for just a few minutes at a time. However, the PlayStation 4 version comes highly recommended if you’re looking to take in the incredible visuals awaiting you in the world of Erdrea.

A PlayStation 4 copy of Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition was provided to TheGamer for this review. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition will be available on December 4 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, and is available now on Nintendo Switch.

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