Gaming

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age Review

No longer exclusive in Japan

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The way video games have evolved over time is nothing short of impressive. Studios and franchises keep finding ways to improve and adapt to cater to the demand of the modern gamer. Blocky characters became more realistic, gameplay more complex, worlds vastly expanded. But it can get overwhelming and sometimes you just want to come home to something familiar.

Enter Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age, a classic JRPG that will warm your heart and hit you hard with nostalgia.


What a wonderful world

I was welcomed into the bright world of Erdrea with a cinematic that explained how the hero (you get to name him) ended up in the humble town of Cobblestone. It’s later revealed that he’s the Luminary, a legendary hero tasked to save Erdrea from darkness. This catapults our hero into his journey to fulfill his destiny. It’s honestly not a spectacular opening, not even remotely original. But I was glad to find that as the game progressed, the story started to introduce twists to the story. Sooner, much rather than later, I was hooked.

The characters are as wonderfully colorful and diverse as the world they live in. The crazy menagerie of monsters, bumbling NPCs, and quirky members of your party add another level of entertainment. Your party, for example, despite sticking to the classic JRPG classes, have their own distinct personalities that try and stray away from the expected. No big, macho tanks here but you do get a fun, dancing circus performer.

The towns that you visit also have their own identities (and accents!) which make them unique; it’s like visiting a different country each time.

Fun fact: The artist of Dragon Quest is also the artist of Dragon Ball, hence the similarity in character designs.

New but familiar

Dragon Quest XI is an apple that doesn’t fall far from the classic dungeon crawler tree by sticking to turn-based fighting and point-based character building. What’s great this time around is that enemies are visible in the overworld which eliminates the element of random encounters. This may be a good or bad thing depending on what kind of player you are. For me, it was incredibly helpful because I was able to choose my battles. Once I got to a certain level, I started avoiding the weaker enemies so I could save my HP and MP for the ones that that gave higher experience points or just go straight to the boss battles.

Staying true to the formula, it’s a lather-rinse-repeat kind of game. To progress the story and level up, you fight several enemies and bosses, go to towns, accomplish quests and then do it all over again. Dragon Quest attempts to relieve the repetitiveness of this kind of gameplay by giving the option to have your party attack automatically. It worked great in getting past easy monsters without much effort and also for level grinding.

Pep Powers are also introduced in the game. When a member of your party is hit a number of times, they get “Pepped Up” which increases their stats and adds special moves that he/she can perform alone or with another pepped-up party member; different combinations of characters yield different attacks/buffs. If you’re familiar with Limit Breaks, it’s similar to that. I found it hard to manage, though, as only the main hero will attain the ability to get pepped up on command. The rest of your party will do it at random, making it more difficult if you want to execute a certain ability.

Linear but large

As expected, Dragon Quest XI is not an open-world game. And while you are free to roam around the map, you won’t get far without following the main story, as new areas are usually blocked. For each town, there are different story arcs that not only support the main story but add to the rich tapestry of Dragon World XI’s world. It’s surprising how easily each town’s story seamlessly weaves into the next making it quite hard to stop playing.

Moving around is easy with the option to fast travel using a spell given in the early levels of the main character. But unless there’s a specific goal to achieve in these towns, I found going by foot or by horse was much more enjoyable, plus you’ll be able to search for treasure chests and crafting materials hidden throughout the world. The game also rewards you for breaking pots and barrels, as well as looting cabinets and bookshelves in the homes of townspeople.

Dragon Quest makes up for being linear by offering so much content. On average, you’ll need about 70 hours to finish the main game, but with the post-game content, you can easily stretch your play time well above the hundred-hour mark. Thankfully, Erdrea is huge (Mild spoiler: You’ll be needing a boat) and the story is strong enough to support this lengthy game.

Overall, Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is a wonderful testament to the JRPG genre and a great example of how a classic formula can be successfully brought into the modern age of video games. It’s a familiar and comfortable game that still offers quite a challenge. It lives up to its name, surely pleasing fans of the series and the genre but also creating a welcome atmosphere for new players. Despite the slow start, you’ll soon find yourself lost in the beautiful world of Erdrea and heavily invested in the story and its characters.

From scouring corners of the world for crafting materials to spending time on each character’s skill tree or even playing some of the town’s mini-games, Dragon Quest XI offers a multitude of things to accomplish that will leave you playing for hours. If you find yourself wanting to play a new game but also yearning for a touch of the classic dungeon crawlers of before, Echoes of an Elusive Age is definitely a game to consider

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age was released worldwide on September 4, 2018 and is available on PS4 and Steam. This article was based on a digital copy for the PS4.

Gaming

Playdate is a handheld gaming system with a crank

Yes, an actual crank

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If you’re bored of the current gaming console landscape or are simply waiting for the next-gen PlayStation to come out, there’s this new handheld system that might keep you a little busy.

From a company named Panic, which is known for developing the popular game Firewatch, comes the Playdate. It may seem like a simple gaming system at first, but look to its right and you’ll see its defining feature: a crank.


The developer says that some titles will use this analog controller exclusively, while some won’t at all (which, to me, sorta defeats the purpose of placing that game on this console). Everything will be played on its monochrome screen with no backlighting.

You can see it in action here:

The spin here is that the Playdate will come with a subscription of 12 games — delivered to you once a week for 12 weeks. It’s part of the initial cost of US$ 149, but there’s no word yet if there’ll be subscriptions after that and how much they’ll cost.

Each game will be a surprise, which may or not be a good thing. Spending this much on an unproven console — and possibly more for succeeding subscriptions — could end up becoming a costly risk.

Orders will be accepted later this year, while actual shipping will happen in early 2020. For now, you can sign up through the official website to receive updates on its progress.

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Gaming

Here’s an early look at the Sony PS5’s raw performance

Spoiler: It’s fast!

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Even though Sony dished out some early info on the upcoming PlayStation 5 (should they choose to stick to the numbered naming scheme) and revealed that it’s more than just a mere upgrade, we don’t have any tangible data on what exactly to expect.

Fortunately, Wall Street Journal tech reporter Takashi Mochizuki was present at Sony’s most recent gaming presentation and had this video to show us:


What you see here is a comparison between the loading times of the PS5 and PS4 Pro. Make no mistake here: The next-generation console is incredibly fast! A lot of credit must be given to the built-in SSD the PS5 will ship with.

This should be taken with a grain of salt, however. Tech demos are often fixed to make the newer (and more expensive) product seem superior. To the next-gen console’s credit, it’ll come with the latest eight-core Ryzen chip and a custom GPU from AMD’s Radeon Navi, which are capable of 8K gaming and ray tracing when put together.

Sadly, we still don’t have a release date and Sony won’t announce anything at E3 next month. For now, savor your PS4 and its growing library of classics.

Via: Kotaku

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Apps

Minecraft Earth is like Pokémon Go but with building blocks

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In a move that makes loads of sense, Minecraft is coming to mobile though an augmented reality app similar to Pokémon Go.

It’s called Minecraft Earth and it’s arriving later this year with a beta phase happening during summer. The developers offered this trailer, but it does little to explain how the system would work.


Check it out:

The official website’s FAQ section, however, delves into more of the info we actually care about.

For one, it’ll be free to play and will include several of Minecraft‘s traditional features including world building and discovering/fighting mobs.

Concerning regional availability, the developers aren’t confirming these details just yet. If it’s anything like the issues Niantic experienced with Pokémon Go before, chances are this rollout will be gradual, too.

Finally, for the “Will Minecraft Earth have loot boxes?” question, the website has a definite “No” to answer that.

Minecraft Earth will be available on both Android and iOS. Fingers crossed that there’ll be no delays. 🤞

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