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Lttp - Dragon Quest XI - Humbly submitted opinions on the first 20 hours

Aigis

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
5,773
#1


Some background first of all, this was my first Dragon Quest game ever, never really was fond of the art style personally, but I won't begrudge anyone who does because that is really just a conversation on pure opinion and I think it works well for certain "cuter" things like slimes.

Now why did I play this then? The reason is twofold, the first being a friend wanted me to get it, insisting I would love the game which is what happened to me with Xenoblade Chronicles 2 which I was not originally fond of. The second was the great reception it seemed to garner, usually being compared to Persona 5 and XC2 which was high praise as those are now some of my favorite games.

So now I have played the game through for about 20 hours where I am now on a quest to gather crystals and I have to say... I really find this game to have no redeeming qualities.

Music

Going to start off with the least controversial aspect, the music. For a game with such a large scale, the music is so repetitive and even worse, it's not that good. The town theme follows you in every city and lingers on the same note in one section. It is an incredibly poor effort when JRPGs have been cranking out great music as of late. I think this was a common complaint in any case, with some saying the orchestral music tracks would fix this, but really it doesn't fix the repetition and what really are bad tracks.



Combat

Now going into probably more contentious territory here, the battle system feels like it was really from the 16 bit era. It feels frustrating for a variety of reason, the major one being the general lack of information it gives you when fighting.


Turn orders are the most frustrating part to me, Persona will let you peek at who is taking the next turn, even throwback JRPGs like Octopath gives you the full turn order *and* the next turn order. It becomes very hard to strategize in at any meaningful level because in most cases it will punish any kind of aggressive or creative play. Instead of casting that buff to get an upper hand, it is always in your best interest to heal in case that boss gets 3 turns in a row and focuses one character specifically on what often seems like the game's whim.

The battle system's best aspect, Pep, is really a joy to have pair your teammates up to unleash a cinematic attack, but again, there is no planning for these occurrences. It is never known when Pep will show up and since it is a timing to have all your relevant members Pepped, it feels completely random as to what moves you can pull off ever. Should you wait to see if someone else gets pepped up or use that move that you can make now and get the ball rolling on the next pep? It's almost like playing Final Fantasy 7 where you can't see the limit break meter, it is drastically slowed down, you need other party members to have their limit breaks up to perform a cross slash, and if you don't use it when you have it, it will go away. It always feels like you are stumbling into something rather than having a earned strategy.

Even when the game has the smallest appearance of strategy (and while I do concede this to be an early game issue to my understanding), cpu controlled allies (guest allies) will constantly be messing with your strategy. Why they would hard lock you into an uncontrollable ally is just nonsense when these battles are meant to play out as regular battles.

Perhaps it is because I am not familiar with how DQ normally works, but enemy weaknesses are incredibly hard to pin down, if constantly feels like you are fumbling around. I realize this is supposed to be a more "classic" design, but I don't think that it makes it inherently okay as you get little feedback as to what thing works better on certain enemies unless youre keeping some chart.

Battle initiation is also another part of the game that gives the player next to no feedback. Similar to games where the enemies are in the overworld, the game lets you get a hit off or the enemies can run into you. It feels completely pointless though because the game seemingly has no regard for how you start the battle, even if you start the battle, even if you land the hit, the enemy can still get first attack. It is less of a surprise attack and more of a filler to make the game seem more modern than it actually is, just like the moving around during battle that serves literally no purpose.

Characters/Story

While the battle system may be an antiquated mess, I would mind trudging through it if that meant spending time with an interesting cast of characters with an interesting story. This does not happen though. Outside of Veronica and on occasion Sylvando, most the party members have the personality of a beige wall.

What I attribute this calamity to is the game's terrible pacing. It is very concise in its information which can be good, but it gives you way too little information to understand these characters outside of their singular defining character trait. Why does Erik join? Oh the Seer told to. Well who is the Seer? Who cares! Look! Veronica and Serina are pledging themselves to you for... reasons?

20 hours in and I feel like I know next to nothing about the majority of the party and the ones I do know are the flimsiest of reasons. Nobody actually has any semblance of depth to their character and that probably gets better in the rest of the game *I would pray*, but if your game is just throwing characters at me and I know nothing by 20 hours with them, you failed game.

Even the protagonist manages to be the worst iteration of a silent protagonist I have seen. I really dont mind a silent protagonist if it leads to interesting decisions and characterization options, but DQXI offers nothing. He has the personality of air and any decisions you make are not decisions, either do the quest or get the same line asking you to reconsider not wanting to help the annoying person. At that point, don't give me a choice. There are no dialogue options or interesting mannerisms to the character. He is just bland incarnate.

The writing feels incredibly hammy, which can be fine for some people, but it never once breaks into anything interesting. Everything plays out exactly how you would think it would go, the characters you meet along the way are incredibly hit or miss. When they hit it, it is just tolerable, when they miss you get the prince of Gallopalos.



It feels like the game is afraid to break from convention ever, it gives you short and simple arcs with no surprises. Even these are effected by the game's frantic pace, never giving you a moment to take everything in before the next "wacky" thing takes place.

The main storyline feels like it is trying to be this interesting take on "the chosen one", but ultimately feels formulaic and contrived. I was ultimately lost for a long time until perhaps 16 hours into the game when I figured out why everything was going down which ultimately could have been given a lot more focus when that stuff was actually relevant to my situation, even then it really doesn't make any reasonable sense. Ultimately it just feels rushed and half hazard, the most generic story they could muster up. Even the voice acting is pretty awful for a lot of the side characters mostly as they give everyone the most annoying voice they could muster. It is way too over the top to be taken seriously and as you shamble from one uninspired event to the next, it just never feels like it gets better.

Overall

Now I feel like the main takeaway for a lot of people on this one is going to be "well it gets better when you hit x" which I've seen a couple of people say it does in fact start worse than it ends. But ultimately it doesn't matter if getting there is such a joyless slog through an uninteresting adventure. I hear people say that it gets better, but I dont believe the core issues will be fixed, I dont have any faith that they could turn it around at this point.

I feel like 20 hours of my life was a fair shake to give it time to hook me in on something, I really do not need everything to be perfect, but I need one thing to hold on to. I need an interesting story, interesting combat, or interesting characters to help push me through. I got none of that. I struggle to find anything nice to say about the game and usually those aspects are immediately ruined by some mechanic or ham fisted writing.

It feels like this game should have stayed in the past, it lacks any sort of cleverness or uniqueness, it's one of the worst experiences I have had with a game this generation. It is a joyless mess and I regret spending money on it.
 
Last edited:
Oct 27, 2017
88
#9
It's the best Dragon Quest game in ages (since V) and one of the best classic JRPG's ever. The midi music is shit though, on this I can agree with you.

EDIT: Regarding story: you play DQ games for the vignettes and interaction with random people, it's what I love about DQ games.
 
Oct 25, 2017
25,651
#12
Personally I disagree on almost every front (except for the music). I greatly enjoyed the battle system, loved the characters, found the story very satisfying (though mostly predictable until Act 3), loved the world, the art, the writing, dialog, voice acting, just about everything. Except for the music, I actually struggle to find any shortcoming with the experience at all.
 
Oct 28, 2017
1,111
#15
User Warned: Low effort, drive by trolling.
It feels like this game should have stayed in the past, it lacks any sort of cleverness or uniqueness, it's one of the worst experiences I have had with a game this generation. It is a joyless mess and I regret spending money on it.
hahahahahah
 
Oct 27, 2017
86
#19
For someone who lambasted the combat system, it really seems like you didn't dig very deep into it considering you think other party members are AI controlled all the time.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,866
#20
Currently on my first playthrough myself. I am about 10-12 hours in and I love it. It's charming and full of character.

If you're a fan of JRPGs you definitely shouldn't miss this game.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,773
O-H-I-O
#21
I can't take anyone that doesn't like DQ11 but clearly likes Persona seriously. I just can't.

I do agree on the music, which thankfully didn't sway me away from playing but is pretty ass.
 
Oct 25, 2017
25,651
#24
I mean sure, but I don’t see how they could mess up strategies at that point
Most memorably, when taking on the monster in the desert, and trying to use Persecuter with Erik, when I put the monster to sleep, Sylvando struck it the next turn and woke it up. It's rare but it can happen.
 
Oct 27, 2017
4,296
Seattle WA
#26
Felt very similar with Octopath. 15 hours. Bad writing. Bad characters. Annoying grindy shallow gameplay. JRPG companies need to start hiring real deal writers. They have a terrible habit of allowing producers, who almost always came from a heavy coding background, write stories, and the stories are complete trash. Sure occaisionally there is a decent one, but they are few and far between. Start hiring writers. I didn't buy DQ11 after watching some videos and cringing at the words on the screen.
 
Jan 22, 2019
82
#27
Well OP, I can hardly agree with most of what you wrote.. but I'm 100% with you in the following:

Even the protagonist manages to be the worst iteration of a silent protagonist I have seen. I really dont mind a silent protagonist if it leads to interesting decisions and characterization options, but DQXI offers nothing. He has the personality of air and any decisions you make are not decisions, either do the quest or get the same line asking you to reconsider not wanting to help the annoying person. At that point, don't give me a choice. There are no dialogue options or interesting mannerisms to the character. He is just bland incarnate.
Bland silent protags and fake options are extremely annoying, hope they get rid of them in the next mainline entry.
 
Nov 30, 2017
926
#30
20 hours?

I got Naruto Shinobi Striker yesterday and determined it was garbage within minutes. Not once did I consider "maybe if I play for 20 hours, I'll really get this game." I'm always baffled when I read things like this. And you already knew that you disliked old school JRPGs...
 
Oct 29, 2017
680
#31
The purpose of DQ games is to be stuck in the past. That's the whole point, as far as the japanese market is concerned.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,053
#33
The combat was great in the game, especially since you should have set party members to player controlled instead of AI, opps big mistake there. My only complaint for combat is that there needed to be a 3rd difficulty harder than normal (aka easy mode) but not so difficult as draconian.

The midi music was absolutely horrendous, midi music doesn't have to sound so bad as seen in the PSX era FF games. The orchestrated mod makes it so I didn't have to put music at sound level 2 while everything else was level 10. But the crap quality of the midi music was unacceptable and too repetitive. The nazi, war crime denier, homophobic music composer was too old and lazy, needed allot more music for different towns and combat.
 
Oct 25, 2017
8,527
Houston, TX
#34
I do agree on a few points. The game would have been much better without the silent protagonist, and the music was god awful (thank jesus for the PC orchestral mod), but everything else I absolutely adored about the game.
 
Oct 25, 2017
393
#35
I agree with the OP on most things at a personal level, but the point of these games IS to be stuck in the past. Its a callback to the series/genre as a whole and meant to celebrate it.

That's fairly boring to me, but I get why people enjoy the game.
 
Oct 28, 2017
12,370
#36
You made an essay after playing 20 hours ? You didn't even get the full party yet...


Even when the game has the smallest appearance of strategy (and while I do concede this to be an early game issue to my understanding), cpu controlled allies will constantly be messing with your strategy. Why they would hard lock you into an uncontrollable ally is just nonsense when these battles are meant to play out as regular battles.
But;;;you can control all your teammates manually, check the tactics option

What I attribute this calamity to is the game's terrible pacing. It is very concise in its information which can be good, but it gives you way too little information to understand these characters outside of their singular defining character trait. Why does Erik join? Oh the Seer told to. Well who is the Seer? Who cares! Look! Veronica and Serina are pledging themselves to you for... reasons?
You have the party chat that gives a lot of information. They're not going to give away everything when you have 60 hours to go through. You know that Erik is an infamous thief and he deals with his own stuff with the red orb and believing that his friend betrayed him.

Even the protagonist manages to be the worst iteration of a silent protagonist I have seen. I really dont mind a silent protagonist if it leads to interesting decisions and characterization options, but DQXI offers nothing. He has the personality of air and any decisions you make are not decisions, either do the quest or get the same line asking you to reconsider not wanting to help the annoying person. At that point, don't give me a choice. There are no dialogue options or interesting mannerisms to the character. He is just bland incarnate.

The writing feels incredibly hammy, which can be fine for some people, but it never once breaks into anything interesting. Everything plays out exactly how you would think it would go, the characters you meet along the way are incredibly hit or miss. When they hit it, it is just tolerable, when they miss you get the prince of Gallopalos.
But;;;you have only played 20 hours ? The prince of Gallopolis expands as a character as you play, every character constantly evolves throughout the game. Even the MC evolves through his backstory.

Asking yes/no questions is classic DQ humour because you get funny stuff when you answer no and they played it up to 11 in this DQ. Why would you want to remove the personality of this game ?

20 hours isn't a fair shake, Gallopolis is 10 hours of gameplay at most, you don't even have any idea of what's going on at this point. The game is 80 hours long, there's so much left. You don't want to play more of it, fine, 20 hours is your limit, but you don't know anything about the game at this stage.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,608
#39
Wow people are dismissive. Op gave a long explanation and multiple responses are just lol. Anyway, thanks for the write-up op. I've considered getting this on sale but sounds like it's not for me.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,914
#40
Trying to think of the last time I disagreed with someone’s opinion of a video game more strongly.

The only game I ever platinumed and one of my favorite games ever. As classic as classic gets.
 
Nov 7, 2018
179
#44
I can understand complaints about the music, and some of the complaints in combat. I think you're dead wrong on the characters & pacing though. The characters are fun & engaging, each with their own personal arcs. Yeah it's a generic story premise, but there's actually a few interesting twists throughout (although some are foreshadowed), and the 40-50 hours to beat the main story felt like a breeze to me.

Either way, sad you didn't enjoy it OP. At least you hopefully got it on sale.
 
Oct 27, 2017
429
#45
It feels like the game is afraid to break from convention ever, it gives you short and simple arcs with no surprises. Even these are effected by the game's frantic pace, never giving you a moment to take everything in before the next "wacky" thing takes place.
Well if they did that there would be a legion of fans ready to get in their ass... it is what it is. You honestly have to learn to take the game's praises with a pitcher of salt when it comes to JRPGs.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,706
PA, USA
#46
Only halfway through the game's story, but I have spent a lot of time with it and I've enjoyed every minute of it. Reminds me of something I'd play on the PS2 or Dreamcast in terms of JRPG quality.
 
Oct 25, 2017
25,651
#49
20 hours isn't a fair shake, Gallopolis is 10 hours of gameplay at most, you don't even have any idea of what's going on at this point. The game is 80 hours long, there's so much left. You don't want to play more of it, fine, 20 hours is your limit, but you don't know anything about the game at this stage.
What? 20 hours is absolutely a fair shake. It's not OP's fault the game hasn't managed to do anything to get their attention after 20 hours of them playing it.
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,331
Tuscaloosa, AL
#50
What I attribute this calamity to is the game's terrible pacing. It is very concise in its information which can be good, but it gives you way too little information to understand these characters outside of their singular defining character trait. Why does Erik join? Oh the Seer told to. Well who is the Seer? Who cares! Look! Veronica and Serina are pledging themselves to you for... reasons?

20 hours in and I feel like I know next to nothing about the majority of the party and the ones I do know are the flimsiest of reasons. Nobody actually has any semblance of depth to their character and that probably gets better in the rest of the game *I would pray*, but if your game is just throwing characters at me and I know nothing by 20 hours with them, you failed game.
Ok here is where I really disagree. I guess you could argue it takes to long to contextualize the characters but the game absolutely explains all of this.

DQXI is my first DQ and I loved it because of how traditional it is. There’s not many JRPGs like this anymore. Most of them go for this over the top, experimental and complex battle system and hard to follow narratives. DQXI doesn’t. It’s just an extremely well executed take on the classic hero’s journey and it being as traditional as it is is what makes it so refreshing.

I do agree that the silent protagonist is a bummer in the game. It’s probably my biggest issue with it outside of the padding very late into the end-game. It sucks the air out of a lot of important moments.