What’s so good about DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition?

New story! 2D modes! Trips to the past! More Sylvando! Here’s how DRAGON QUEST XI S enhances one of the greatest RPGS of all time.
By Duncan Heaney

After spending hundreds of hours immersed in DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition, it’s fair to say I’m a fan. More than a fan - I luuuuurve this game.

Playing through this epic adventure has been an utter joy. The Definitive Edition takes an already amazing RPG and adds new content, new features and more enhancements than you can shake a Cypress Stick at, making it an even more satisfying and uplifting adventure.

But what exactly is it that makes this version such a joy? Here are just a few reasons…

The new story content is superb - and substantial

One of the biggest draws for fans is the addition of new story chapters that focus on the eclectic cast of characters that accompany the hero on his quest.

Rest assured - these are no hastily-added skits or vignettes. They’re lengthy, substantial adventures that form part of the story. They dig deep into the characters, reveal new facets of their personalities, and offer hours of additional gameplay.

What’s particularly great is how different they are - from a voyage into the past that’s as hilarious as it is melancholy, to an exciting trip to the most dangerous city in Erdrea, each new story chapter offers a distinctly different tone and experience.

They are all so enjoyable and unique that we’ve found ourselves having lively discussions about which is our favorite here at Square Enix HQ. Some adore Erik’s adventure, and more than one person has gone to bat for the magnificently mustachioed Rab.

As for me… well, read on and I’m sure you can figure it out.

2D mode is a joy for fans of 16-bit RPGs

DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition lets you play through the entire game in two very different ways: 3D and 2D.

The 3D mode has bright, beautifully expressive visuals - but you’ll know this if you’ve played the demo. Or looked at the trailer. Or seen a screenshot. It really is a lovely-looking game.

But if you fancy a more ‘classic’ look, you can switch to 2D mode. Suddenly, the world and characters are transformed into gorgeous pixel art that evoke the spirt of classic DRAGON QUEST games… and 16-bit RPGs in general.

2D mode doesn’t just affect the visuals though - it also changes how the game plays. Battles now play out like the traditional DRAGON QUEST games of the past, with you assigning commands to your whole team at the start of a turn.

For long-time DRAGON QUEST fans, it’ll feel like coming home again, and for everyone else, it’ll force you to change up your strategies and playstyle in a really interesting way.

Tickington is a nostalgic trip into the past

Speaking of coming home, relatively early in the adventure you’ll unlock access to the village of Tickington.

Tickington is awesome.

This 2D hub hosts books that take you into key scenes from each mainline DRAGON QUEST. These jaunts to the past offer exciting mini-adventures that celebrate the long heritage of the series - from familiar characters to iconic locations, series devotees will revel in the nostalgia.

But what if this is your first DRAGON QUEST? Tickington still has a lot to offer - it serves as a perfect introduction to the adventures of the past. Plus, these side quests are super-fun in their own right!

Photo mode lets you make a gallery of your fondest memories

The world of DRAGON QUEST XI S is uncommonly beautiful, full of varied locations, expressive characters and monsters that are as pleasing to look at as they are likely to savage you.

If only there was a way to capture memories of your epic journey through this evocative landscape. Some kind of… photo mode.

Oh wait - there is! In DRAGON QUEST XI S, you can snap shots with a press of a button. Now you can capture the world of Erdrea in all its vibrant glory. You can pose characters, compose shots, focus on the scenery only… budding shutterbugs will love it.

Faster battles mean more compelling battles

But DRAGON QUEST XI S isn’t just about adding new stuff - it’s also about enhancing what was already there.

Take the battle system, for example. The game already featured a fast and exciting turn-based battle system, and the Definitive Edition cranks it up with a new ultra-fast speed setting.

You can select this at any time in the fight, and it dramatically accelerates the action - fights were already pretty swift, but now they pass in mere seconds. This is great for when you’re returning to areas you’ve previously visited for loot, or you’re just trying to get somewhere in a hurry.

This feature has another interesting, and perhaps unexpected, effect - it’s hard to stop playing. With scraps flying by so quickly, it always feels like there’s time to smash one more slime, or clobber one more Cruelcumber (the DRAGON QUEST series continues to have the best monster names).

If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself happily running across Erdrea, bopping every beastie you encounter… and then actively searching out more to bash. It’s terrific fun.

Enhancements galore!

That’s not the only enhancement present in DRAGON QUEST XI S. The game is full of them, from small tweaks to big changes.

For example, the game now features a fully orchestrated soundtrack as standard, which elevates the original score with a richer, fuller sound. That said, if you prefer the original release’s synthesized soundtrack, you can switch to that traditional DRAGON QUEST sound at any time.

Another big change the ability to use the Fun Size Forge at any time, rather than at campsites. This opens up the crafting system dramatically, giving you access to better gear much faster. Plus the crafting mini-game is brilliant!

That’s just scraping the surface. The fast travel has been improved, you can summon your horse from any field with the Horse Hailer, the game now features full Japanese voiceover… the list goes on. And on.

And on.

These changes work together to make the already acclaimed adventure even faster and more convenient to play.

Draconian Quest ups the challenge… and the laughs

There’s an enormous amount of customization possible in DRAGON QUEST XI S, from character builds right through to the challenge level of the quest itself.

Draconian Quest opens up a range of options that let you tailor the difficulty of the adventure to your liking. For example, you can up the strength of your foes to make every battle a fight for survival. Or turn off shopping, forcing you to rely on what you can scrounge and craft in the field.

But Draconian options don’t just make things harder - they also make things funnier. For example, activating Shypox will make your hero sometimes too shy take actions or talk to people (pretty much describes me at a party), while Townsfolk Talk Tripe means those NPCs will sometimes tell you lies.

They add a bit of chaos into your adventure… if you’re brave enough to activate them.

Sylvando is more uplifting than ever

If this year has taught us anything, it’s the importance of positivity and togetherness in the face of true adversity. Sylvando is a character who lives up those ideals more than any I’ve ever experienced - a brave and kind soul who only wants to spread smiles across the world.

His sunny personality and unstoppable quest to bring happiness make him perhaps the most uplifting character I’ve ever experienced in a game. His new quest in particular is a joy - a hilarious, grin-inducing mini adventure that’s all about finding joy in the darkest of times.

He’s the hero 2020 needs.

DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition is out now for PS4, XBOX ONE, XBOX GAME PASS, and PC (Windows 10, Steam and Epic Games).

If you’d prefer to try before you buy, there’s a massive demo available for free right now. It lets you play through the first chapters of the game (in 3D visual mode only) comprising many hours of gameplay. Your progress even carries over to the full game, so give it a go:

Finally, to stay up to date with news and updates about DRAGON QUEST XI S, and the series as a whole, makes sure you follow the team on social media: