DRAGON QUEST XI S: Inside the side stories - Rab and Jade

SPOILER WARNING: In the second part of our conversation with DRAGON QUEST XI S Development Director Masato Yagi, we discuss the Definitive Edition’s new stories for Rab and Jade.
By Duncan Heaney

In case you missed it (and if so, you can catch up here), we’ve been talking to Masato Yagi, Development Director for DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition, about some of the new content in the expanded RPG.

Previously, we talked about the two new story chapters that focus on Erik and Sylvando respectively, and today we’re talking about two more: Rab and Jade.

These two characters share a close bond with each other and the Hero of the game, and their stories explore their personalities in very different ways.

We start with a wistful trip into the past…

NOTE: The following discussion contains SPOILERS for both the original game and the new companion stories. If you haven’t played them yet, and you want to go in blind, close this page and come back to us later. We won’t be offended.

For those of you who have played the new content (or just don’t care about spoilers), then scroll past the spoiler-slimes to read on. I hope you enjoy the discussion!

Rab’s story

Rab’s story has a strong element of time travel in it. Was exploring his past - and the history of DRAGON QUEST XI’s world - important to you?

Yes and no. Rab has a particularly close relationship with the Hero - he’s his grandfather.

When we were planning out his story, the important thing wasn’t specifically to delve into the past, but to explore that familial bond between the characters. Heading into the past just allowed us to do that in an interesting and moving way.

We wanted players to be able to experience happy moments from Rab’s perspective, with Dundrasil Castle, and the birth of his grandson, as the backdrop.

How did you get started with this one? Was it difficult to find the story?

It was actually relatively easy to come up with a lot of event ideas for this section because Rab’s quite a big, bold character.

However, there were discussions about how to portray Dundrasil Castle in a way that is full of humor and kindness.

That comes through quite strongly, I think. In fact, Rab’s tale balances humor and sadness in a way that I found really compelling. How did you manage to strike that balance?

The key was to focus on Rab’s true feelings - that’s what brought this section together.

Everything is joyous at Dundrasil Castle with the birth of the Prince - the hope of the people. However, in the end Rab chooses to say farewell to his cherished past, leave this fantasy, and return to a harsh reality so he can embark on a treacherous path to defeat the Lord of Shadows.

The more we depicted the special, irreplaceable moments between Rab and his family, the more impactful - and emotional - Rab’s decisions became. It enabled is to more strongly convey his determination to go down a dangerous path and risk it all.

Now that it’s completed, how do you look back on this companion’s story?

As I mentioned, this was actually one of the easiest sections to make. The theme and Rab’s personality were a perfect fit, so we didn’t have much trouble.

It was also one of the most enjoyable to work on because Rab’s so much fun. He brightened up our day (laughs).

Jade’s Story

Let’s move onto Jade then. Her arc during this dark period of the story is firmly established in the main story. How did that impact your approach to this additional tale?

As you say, what Jade was doing in Octagonia was already mentioned during DRAGON QUEST XI’s story.

We initially thought about expanding that section, adding in all kinds of new scenarios and events, but we realized that it would end up becoming incredibly lengthy. Unfortunately we had to abandon the idea.

Instead, we approached Jade’s story from a different angle - what sort of scenes could not have been depicted in the main story, and how could we add detail to Jade’s established adventures Octagonia?

How did work get started? What was the first things you did?

The first step was to really nail down the story. We know that in DRAGON QUEST XI, Jade goes to help people in the town of Octagonia, which has been overrun by monsters.

If you explore the town, you can meet townsfolk who will tell you what Jade is doing and where she is, so we looked carefully at what they said and adjusted the story to make sure there would be no contradictions.

Once the basic plot was written, we shared it with the rest of the team to get their opinions on it, and then refined it further. I remember talking for a long time with other members of the team about what Jane would be doing, and how she would be feeling at a time when all seems lost.

Once we had agreed on the story and fleshed out the details, we started work on the gameplay aspects, such as the event sequences and battles - and making both of them fun.

This definitely felt the most action-packed companion chapters - certainly one of the most exciting…

Jade is a martial artist, so it was imperative that she had the most stunning action scenes. But more than her strength in combat, we wanted to show her inner strength too.

Jade has a strong heart and will never give up - even in such a hopeless time, with the world in true peril. To emphasise those qualities, we put her in a scenario where she has to fight alone against a huge number of enemies.

Considering this section connects very directly with the game’s main story, and the Octagonia setting, was it a challenge to make it feel unique?

Considering its place in the wider DRAGON QUEST XI story, Octagonia was the natural setting for Jade’s chapter. That meant we had to find a way to bring out the fun and freshness of the story in a way that was different from the original game.

So alongside Octagonia, we made a different area called Limboo and this became the main stage for Jade’s additional chapter. This allowed us to create a story that had a different look and feel to the Hero’s visit.

We also introduced a new character - Boodica. She only appears in Jade’s story, and I personally like her a lot (laughs).

She definitely makes the events of the chapter feel new and exciting.

Some final thoughts

Before we wrap this up, I’d like to ask some general questions. Which companion’s story was the first to be completed?

It was Sylvando’s - what he was doing during that time period was firmly established in the original game.

That doesn’t mean that it was easy to finish his story though. For example, we were really worried about how much we should go into his party’s adventures, and how the party members would fit into the game itself.

Which story was the most challenging to create?

It was Erik’s - the reason’s a bit too much of a spoiler, so I can’t say much more than that (laughs). However, I will say that the effort we put into it was worth it - his story’s so striking and some famous lines have come out of it.

Finally, what would you like to say to players who have just experienced these stories for the first time?

Well firstly, thank you for playing!

The story of DRAGON QUEST XI was already finished to a high standard, but these new chapters make it even deeper. They’re tales about characters who never give up, right up to the last moment - I hope you’re inspired by them.

Many thanks once again to Mr Yagi for talking to us about the new content in DRAGON QUEST XI S : Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition.

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