When it comes to legendary RPG series, Dragon Quest stands as a towering monument in the landscape of gaming, beloved for its rich storytelling, charming characters, and classic gameplay.

The eleventh main installment, Dragon Quest XI, initially captured the hearts of players worldwide with its release. But it’s the Dragon Quest XI: Definitive Edition S that has recently made its way onto PC, promising an even richer experience than ever before.

This review explores why this definitive edition is not just a treat for newcomers but a heartfelt ode to fans who’ve journeyed through the Dragon Quest universe for years.

Dragon Quest XI: Definitive Edition S brings together all the magic of the original while adding layers of new content, tweaks, and enhancements that make the adventure feel fresh yet familiar.

Whether you’re a veteran of the series or a curious newcomer intrigued by its reputation, this game has something special to offer. The definitive edition encapsulates everything that has made the series a staple in the RPG genre, enhanced by modern technology and new features that enrich the gameplay experience.

This review will delve into what makes Dragon Quest XI: Definitive Edition S a must-play on PC, from its nostalgic callbacks to past entries to its enhanced features and visuals—modded or not.

Join me as we unpack the treasures of this celebrated title and see why it remains a jewel in the crown of the RPG realm.

We’ll dive deep into the specifics of what’s new and improved, and why despite some graphical trade-offs, Dragon Quest XI: Definitive Edition S still shines brightly on the modern stage of gaming.

 

exploring Heliodor at night

Dragon Quest XI: A Modern Classic with Timeless Appeal

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age initially launched with the promise of delivering a classic yet modern RPG experience, and it did so with resounding success.

The game follows the compelling journey of a young hero, known to his companions as the Luminary, destined to battle a looming dark force threatening the world.

As players navigate this beautifully crafted world, they encounter a rich tapestry of characters, each adding depth and humor to the epic narrative.

The gameplay of Dragon Quest XI remains true to its roots with turn-based combat, which has been polished to near perfection.

Players can strategize and battle monsters using a variety of attacks, spells, and abilities.

The game also incorporates several modern enhancements such as more dynamic camera movements during battles and an option to speed up combat, making the experience more fluid and engaging than ever.

Exploration is a core element of the game, encouraging players to traverse sprawling cities, quaint villages, and mysterious dungeons.

Each location is brimming with secrets, side quests, and mini-games that promise rewards and rich lore, adding layers of depth to the already immersive world.

As a standalone title, Dragon Quest XI has enough charm and challenge to satisfy the hungriest of RPG aficionados.

However, it’s in the Definitive Edition where the game truly shines, as it introduces a host of enhancements and additional content that enrich the original game without overshadowing its fundamental appeal.

 

Dragon Quest XI characters

What’s New in the Awkwardly Named Definitive Edition

Dragon Quest XI: Definitive Edition S elevates the original game to new heights with a suite of enhancements and additional content that cater to both new players and seasoned veterans.

Here’s what sets the Definitive Edition apart from the original release:

Additional Story Content

One of the most significant additions is the series of character-focused story arcs.

These new chapters provide deeper insight into your beloved companions’ backstories, offering new adventures and emotional depth that were not present in the original version.

This extra content helps flesh out the world and its characters, making the overall narrative even more engaging.

Fully Orchestrated Soundtrack

While the original game featured a mix of synthesized tracks, the Definitive Edition boasts a fully orchestrated soundtrack throughout the entire game.

This enhancement enriches the auditory experience, adding a grand, cinematic quality that perfectly complements the epic journey.

Japanese Voice Acting Option

For the first time, players can experience the game with Japanese voiceovers, adding an authentic flair that many fans appreciate. This option is a nod to the series’ roots and provides players with the choice to experience the game in a way that suits their preference.

2D Mode and Retro Features

Perhaps the most nostalgic addition is the ability to switch between the modern 3D view and a retro-inspired 2D mode that harks back to the classic Dragon Quest games.

This mode isn’t just a visual change; entire areas and scenarios are reimagined to fit the 2D gameplay, offering a fresh yet familiar way to experience the game’s expansive world.

Quality of Life Improvements

The Definitive Edition includes numerous tweaks that enhance the gameplay experience, such as faster battle speeds and streamlined menus.

These improvements make the game more accessible and enjoyable, especially for players who value efficiency and smoother gameplay.

Photo Mode

Adding a fun, modern touch, the Definitive Edition introduces a Photo Mode, allowing players to capture and share memorable moments from their adventure.

This feature is perfect for players who love to document their journey and share their favorite game scenes with friends or the gaming community.

Each of these enhancements ensures that Dragon Quest XI: Definitive Edition S is not just a replay of the original but a richer, more immersive experience.

Whether you’re revisiting the game or stepping into the Luminary’s shoes for the first time, the Definitive Edition offers something new and delightful at every turn.

With a clear understanding of what the Definitive Edition brings to the table, let’s next explore the elements that evoke a strong sense of nostalgia, making long-time series fans feel right at home.

 

Dragon Quest XI battle screenshot

Nostalgic Elements for Long-Time Fans

For veterans of the Dragon Quest series, Dragon Quest XI: Definitive Edition S offers more than just new content—it’s a lovingly crafted homage to the franchise’s storied past.

The game is sprinkled with numerous elements designed to evoke nostalgia, making it a delightful experience for long-time fans. Here’s how the Definitive Edition connects with its roots and celebrates the series’ legacy:

Familiar Faces and Places

Throughout the adventure, players will encounter characters and visit locations that reference earlier games in the series.

These encounters are not just mere cameos; they are woven into the story and side quests in meaningful ways that both honor the past and enrich the current narrative.

Classic Monsters

The Definitive Edition continues the tradition of featuring a roster of classic monsters that have appeared throughout the series.

From the adorable Slime to the fearsome Dragonlord, these familiar foes bring a sense of continuity and tradition that fans appreciate.

Music and Themes

The fully orchestrated soundtrack not only enhances the game’s atmosphere but also includes reimagined versions of classic themes from previous entries.

These melodies stir up memories for long-time players, connecting the new journey with the adventures they cherished in the past.

Easter Eggs and References

The game is replete with subtle nods and explicit references to past games. These range from items and dialogues to entire quest lines that mimic or callback to classic Dragon Quest scenarios.

Such details reward knowledgeable fans with a rich layer of additional enjoyment.

Retro Mode Integration

The inclusion of a 2D mode is perhaps the most direct nod to the series’ origins.

This mode doesn’t just change the visual presentation; it transforms the game into a retro-style RPG, complete with traditional tile-based movement and random encounters.

This feature allows players to experience the game as if it were a classic Dragon Quest title from the era of 16-bit RPGs.

Hero’s Journey

The central narrative of Dragon Quest XI remains true to the themes of heroism, light versus darkness, and camaraderie that have been central to the series since its inception. The timeless story structure provides a comforting familiarity that is the hallmark of Dragon Quest games.

By blending these nostalgic elements with new content and modern gameplay enhancements, Dragon Quest XI: Definitive Edition S offers a unique experience that respects its roots while providing an exciting adventure for today’s gaming audience.

 

Dragon Quest XI tournament screenshot

Graphical Aspects, Enhancements, and Downgrades

In transitioning from the original Dragon Quest XI to the Definitive Edition S on PC, there has been much discussion around the graphical aspects, particularly concerning the perceived downgrade in visual fidelity.

Despite these concerns, the game continues to offer a visually appealing experience, and with the advent of modding, particularly the Project Rebuild, players can take the graphics to a whole new level.

Graphical Downgrade in the Definitive Edition

The Definitive Edition was initially developed for the Nintendo Switch, which meant certain graphical compromises were necessary to accommodate the hardware limitations of the console.

When this version was ported to more powerful platforms like the PC, these limitations remained apparent:

Texture Quality: Some players have noted that the textures in the Definitive Edition are less detailed compared to the original PC version.

Environmental Details: Elements like foliage, water effects, and shadows may appear simpler or less refined.

Character Models: There is a slight reduction in the complexity of character models and animations.

While these changes might be noticeable, especially for those who played the original on PC, they do not significantly detract from the overall gaming experience.

The artistic design, led by Akira Toriyama, remains vibrant and engaging, ensuring that the game’s visual appeal is preserved.

Enhancing Graphics with Project Rebuild

For players who wish to enhance their visual experience, the PC community offers a solution in the form of mods, notably the Project Rebuild for Dragon Quest XI.

This collection of mods aims to address many of the visual downgrades by enhancing the game in several key areas:

Texture Improvements: Project Rebuild includes higher resolution textures that bring the game closer to modern graphical standards.

Lighting and Shadows: The mod enhances lighting effects and shadow detail, adding depth and realism to the game environments.

Additional Graphical Features: It also introduces other visual enhancements like improved particle effects, character models, and ambient occlusion, which contribute to a more immersive experience.

Installing mods like Project Rebuild is straightforward for the PC version, allowing players to customize their experience according to their preferences.

These modifications not only improve the game’s aesthetics but also show the vibrant and active community’s dedication to enhancing the Dragon Quest experience for everyone.

Despite the graphical downgrades, Dragon Quest XI: Definitive Edition S remains a visually stunning game with its unique art style and engaging world.

With the addition of community-driven mods, players can enjoy both the classic charm and modern enhancements that suit their taste.

 

Veronica, a character designed by Akira Toriyama casting magic

Honoring Akira Toriyama: The Artistic Vision Behind Dragon Quest

Akira Toriyama, a name synonymous with iconic manga and anime like Dragon Ball, brought his distinctive artistic flair to the Dragon Quest series from its inception.

With the recent passing of this legendary artist, Dragon Quest XI: Definitive Edition S stands not only as a testament to his incredible talent but also as a tribute to his enduring legacy.

Toriyama’s Unique Art Style

Toriyama’s art style is immediately recognizable and has become integral to the identity of the Dragon Quest series.

His character designs are known for their vibrant, expressive features and a certain whimsical quality that captures the essence of adventure and fantasy.

In Dragon Quest XI, this style shines through every character, monster, and landscape. Each design carries his signature blend of charm and depth, making the game’s world deeply immersive and visually engaging.

Toriyama’s artistic vision elevates the game, making it a visual feast.

The characters are not just visually appealing but also embody a depth that enhances the storytelling.

His designs for the game’s various monsters, from the adorable slimes to the menacing bosses, add a layer of fun and continuity that links this installment to its predecessors.

Legacy and Influence

The influence of Akira Toriyama on the gaming industry, particularly within the Dragon Quest series, is profound.

His ability to blend humor with heroic seriousness has allowed Dragon Quest to carve out a unique niche in the RPG genre. His work has inspired countless artists and designers in the gaming world, underscoring the power of art in video game development.

As we continue to celebrate his contributions through games like Dragon Quest XI, we also reflect on his broader impact on both gaming and pop culture.

His legacy is woven into the very fabric of the series, ensuring that each installment not only serves as an adventure for players but also as a homage to his visionary work.

In memory of Akira Toriyama, playing Dragon Quest XI: Definitive Edition S becomes not just an act of gaming but one of appreciation for one of the most influential artists in the history of video games.

 

exploring Heliodor during the day

Additional Gameplay Features of Dragon Quest XI: Definitive Edition S

Dragon Quest XI: Definitive Edition S is not just a visual and narrative treat; it’s a comprehensive package that refines and enhances the gameplay to create an even more engaging experience.

Here’s a closer look at the gameplay mechanics and distinctive features that set this edition apart from its predecessors.

Immersive Quests and Side Missions

The game features an array of quests and side missions that are rich in storytelling and variety.

These missions are woven seamlessly into the main narrative or exist as standalone adventures, offering valuable rewards and insights into the game’s expansive lore.

The Definitive Edition includes new missions and enhancements to existing ones, ensuring that there’s always something meaningful to engage with beyond the primary storyline.

Quality of Life Improvements

Several quality of life improvements in the Definitive Edition make the game more accessible and enjoyable.

These include more intuitive menus, streamlined crafting systems, and a more manageable inventory. Such tweaks ensure that gameplay remains a pleasure, not a chore, allowing players to focus on the adventure and story.

Echoes of an Elusive Age

The title, Echoes of an Elusive Age, hints at the game’s deep narrative connections to both the past and future of the Dragon Quest series.

This edition deepens those echoes with additional cutscenes and dialogues that enrich the world’s mythology and tie loose narrative threads, providing a rewarding experience for those familiar with the lore and an intriguing mystery for newcomers.

Photo Mode

Finally, the inclusion of Photo Mode allows players to capture and share moments from their journey.

Whether it’s a stunning landscape, a unique character interaction, or a victorious moment in battle, this feature lets players document and showcase their favorite aspects of the game.

 

Dragon Quest XI campfire scene

Final Thoughts and Recommendations: Why Dragon Quest XI: Definitive Edition S Shines on PC

Having journeyed through the lush landscapes and deep narratives of Dragon Quest XI: Definitive Edition S, it’s clear that this title is more than just an RPG—it’s a lovingly crafted experience that appeals to both long-time fans and newcomers alike.

Here’s why this edition of the game is a must-play on PC.

A Rich, Layered Experience

The Definitive Edition enhances the already deep and engaging base game with additional content, including new character arcs, fully orchestrated music, and the nostalgic 2D mode.

These additions, alongside the enhanced gameplay mechanics and quality of life improvements, create a rich, layered experience that keeps players invested from start to finish.

Respect for the Series’ Legacy

For fans of the series, the game offers a multitude of nostalgic elements and easter eggs that pay homage to the Dragon Quest legacy.

Yet, it does so without alienating newcomers, who will find the game accessible and intriguing in its own right. The balance of old and new makes it a standout entry in the series.

Enhanced by the Community

The graphical aspects of the game, while downgraded in some areas from the original PC release, can be significantly enhanced with mods like Project Rebuild.

The active community surrounding the game ensures that it continues to evolve, enhancing the visual experience and keeping the game fresh for all players.

An Ode to Akira Toriyama

Playing Dragon Quest XI: Definitive Edition S also serves as a tribute to the late Akira Toriyama, whose art style defines much of the game’s charm. The game encapsulates his vision, making it a poignant experience for fans of his work.

In Conclusion

Dragon Quest XI: Definitive Edition S exemplifies how modern RPGs can skillfully intertwine compelling narratives with enjoyable gameplay.

It stands as a jewel in the genre, offering something for everyone—whether you’re looking to relive the nostalgic days of classic RPGs or dive into a modern epic.

For anyone considering what RPG to pick up next on PC, Dragon Quest XI: Definitive Edition S should be at the top of your list. Its mix of classic charm and modern polish makes it an essential play and a worthy addition to any gamer’s library.

Images are from dragonquest.square-enix-games.com used under Fair Use.