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.
Apple Arcade provides access to over 100 exclusive games
Play wherever, whenever
Apple is taking gaming way more seriously with the introduction of Apple Arcade, the company’s latest subscription service for video games available across its platforms.
In a nutshell, Apple Arcade lets you download and play any game on the service — whenever and wherever. It’s found in a new area with its own tab in the App Store and will offer over 100 exclusive games at launch.
Apple promises new titles launching all the time. Even cooler: They can be played seamlessly between an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and even a Mac computer.
— Michael Josh (@michaeljosh) March 25, 2019
Unlike most online subscriptions, every game is playable offline in case you have no mobile data or Wi-Fi to work with. And because you’re paying for the service, Apple guarantees that you’ll see no ads — something that’s plagued lots of other platforms.
Apple hasn’t revealed pricing details yet, but did confirm that Apple Arcade will come to more than 150 countries and regions in fall 2019.
— Michael Josh (@michaeljosh) March 25, 2019
We also don’t have a list of games yet, but we did see Sonic the Hedgehog prominently featured in the trailer. Check it out:
Nintendo plans to release two Switch models this 2019 — report
A pro and a lite version
If you plan to buy a Nintendo Switch, you might want to hold back for now. Talks about a cheaper and smaller Switch console have been around for more than a year, and it could finally happen. To make things more exciting, we might even have another Switch that’s better than the first one.
The first model is the long-rumored cheaper option. It’s angled to be a successor to the aging 3DS. This makes sense since fans of the popular Nintendo hand-held device need an upgrade. Some also find the Switch to be bigger than they had hoped for, so this is something that might pique the interest of 3DS users.
In order for Nintendo to offer a cheaper Switch, they’ll have to cut features and WSJ cites that this includes the vibration motor in the Joy-Con controllers.
Those who have been asking for a more powerful Switch (like me) will be happy to know that the other new model is reported to “have enhanced features targeted at avid video gamers.” Although, it still won’t be as good as the PS4 or Xbox One X, graphics-wise.
Both new versions are expected to be announced sometime in June at E3 2019 with a possible sale a few months later. It’ll be available in the market in time for the holidays and the release of new games like Pokémon Sword and Shield.
You may not be able to play PUBG for more than 6 hours in a day
Still better than banning the game completely
Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds mobile edition needs no introduction. It has been the most trending multiplayer game for the last year and the trend shows no sign of cooling down. The game has been a hit in countries like India and players are hooked on it for hours.
Though, the game has received intense scrutiny from authorities because of its addictive stance. There have been multiple reports of addiction death and authorities have been scrambling to ban the game. Parents are worried about their children not being able to concentrate on studies and educational institutes have reported lower attendance as well as poor academic performance.
To counter bans and indirectly help players avoid addiction, PUBG is testing a six-hour per day gameplay limit. According to SportsKeeda, the app is sending a health reminder to players after six hours of gameplay and asking them to take a break. The game also has an age verification request now, which asks players if they are over the age of 18.
— Satiz MSD’ian 💛 CSK 💛 (@SatizMSDian) March 22, 2019
The new limit isn’t active for all users right now and is currently in a testing phase. While some users are reporting seeing the message after two to four hours of gaming, some are being locked out after six hours of usage. It seems only players in India are seeing this at the moment and other regions haven’t been affected.
This restriction comes after the game was banned in Gujarat and multiple arrests were made by the police. The Chinese government recently banned PUBG Mobile for players under the age of 13.
There is no official word from PUBG Mobile on this health reminder-based daily gameplay limit yet. The addition may irk some users, but it’s the first step towards ensuring the game isn’t outright banned.
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