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.
Nintendo quietly updates the original Switch with a beefier battery
Will sell for the same price
Last week, Nintendo announced the Nintendo Switch Lite. Compared to the original Switch, the upcoming Lite version will focus on handheld gaming. It will feature a smaller screen and non-detachable Joy-Con controllers. Sacrificing its home console capabilities, the Switch Lite will hopefully update Nintendo’s on-the-go gaming lineup.
Naturally, the Switch Lite leaves us with a burning question: what will happen to the original Switch? With a docking mode, the original Switch is still Nintendo’s number one choice for a home console. However, the Lite’s hype is leaving the original trailing in the dust. Thankfully, Nintendo is quietly launching an updated version of the beloved original.
In a few weeks, the gaming company will out a revised Switch. The new Switch will come with a beefier battery, reportedly packing around two more hours of battery life. The new battery will last between 4.5 to 9 hours, depending on the game. (For reference, the original battery plays between 2.5 to 6.5 hours.) According to tests, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild can play for up to 5.5 hours on a full battery — up from a paltry three hours.
Much like the Switch Lite, the updated Switch is a huge boost for handheld gaming. Gamers can take their consoles out for longer periods of time. Of course, the update can still feature new hardware on launch. Besides a bigger battery, Nintendo can effectively increase battery life with more efficient chipsets and storage options.
All in all, the new Switch is still a mystery before its launch date. One thing’s for sure: it’s not a completely new Switch. This isn’t a Switch Pro. On launch, the new Switch will cost the same — US$ 300 — as the old Switch.
Besides the revised Switch, Nintendo is also launching the Switch Lite later this year. Also, the company is reportedly working on a gamier Switch Pro for the future. It’s a great time to buy into the Switch ecosystem.
The Nintendo Switch Lite is coming
For on-the-go gaming!
It has long been rumored that Nintendo will launch a more affordable version of the Nintendo Switch and now, the company has more than confirmed that the rumors are true. Enter the Nintendo Switch Lite. It’s a smaller less featured-filled version of the hit console from Nintendo.
The Nintendo Switch Lite is smaller and lighter. It sports a 5.5-inch touch screen display against its big brother’s 6.2-inch display and is projected to last a little longer at three to seven hours of playtime.
The primary difference though is that it is a handheld only console. Which is why it doesn’t support Joy-Con controllers. It also doesn’t come with a Switch Dock. You can essentially play most titles available on the Switch, but there’s no option for you to play on a bigger screen.
Pricing and availability
The Nintendo Switch Lite will launch on September 20 and will retail for US$ 199.99. It will come in three colors: Yellow, Gray, and Turquoise. Are you gonna get one?
A non-Potterhead’s verdict on Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
Use your phone, Harry!
More than a week has passed since the global release of the mobile game Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and we’re ready to give our thoughts. As the title states, I’m not into the franchise that much although I’m a big Pokémon Go player. It basically has the same gameplay as they’re under the same developers — Niantic, Inc.
That being said, I won’t be diving too much on the lore and will instead focus more on gameplay and its overall experience.
For those unfamiliar, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is a location-based AR game that requires you to go out of the house in order to get more experience points, unlock special items, and advance in the game. The same goes for Pokémon Go and the game before that, Ingress. While PoGo, in the real world, has PokéStops that give out PokéBalls, HP:WU has Inns that you get Spell Energy from. This is then required so you can cast spells and return Foundables to their rightful place and time (the game’s version of catching different Pokémon in the wild).
During the first day of release and being curious as to how the game works, I went out and tried to “catch” as much Foundables as I can and just like PoGo, it gets you in the momentum of just wanting to go around and get as much as you can. I initially noticed the wider array of different “species” you can come across with on HP:WU as compared to when PoGo first launched. I remember all I did back then was to catch Pidgey and Rattata because that was pretty much everything that was available. This was also the main reason why most players quit back then.
Back to Wizards Unite, the similarities it has with PoGo made it easy for me to get a grasp of its general gameplay even though I have no idea who most of the characters are. The idea is to basically level up by grinding for experience points in the most efficient way. This means planning where to go and making sure the place is populated by in-game stops and spawns — usually parks and shopping malls are good choices.
While it parallels Niantic’s other games in many levels, Wizards Unite brings its own charm through its visuals. The environment of HP:WU is simply more immersive than PoGo‘s and even the encounters have more detail in them. It could get distracting at times since there are more elements in HP:WU, but is overall nicer to look at.
A unique aspect from the company’s games is that unlike other multiplayer games where you meet your friends online, you actually play with them in real life and this is also the case for Wizards Unite. These games basically build a community that helps each other accomplish in-game tasks that are usually challenging to accomplish alone. What HP:WU did better, though, is to go for a more immersive gameplay by making you trace different patterns on your screen as if waving your wand as compared to the tapping mechanics of PoGo.
Overall, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite could be a more enjoyable game for some players who are not big fans of the Pokémon franchise. I personally enjoy it enough to switch between HP:WU and PoGo whenever I play out. It will keep you walking around drawing on your screen and pretending to wave your make-believe wand.
It’s a game that’s far more complete than Pokémon Go at launch, that’s for sure. Although, it’s still far from reaching its full potential since there are things that could still be added to the game like a dueling system, for example.
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