The GWJ JRPG Club - Q1 2021 - Dragon Quest XI!

blackanchor wrote:
Malkroth wrote:
merphle wrote:

That feeling when the village dog can tank and deal damage better than I can. But hey, at least I can talk! (oh wait, this is a silent protagonist game)

That is my biggest complaint about DQXI honestly. They lock you into being a specific character (you can change your first name, but your character is locked male with a look and backstory), yet they still refuse to give him a voice or even any unvoiced text lines. At least for me personally, outside of Link, I feel the silent protagonist actually detracts from the story these days.

I agree. Not being able to speak while everyone around me have wonderfully acted voices and dialogue is off-putting and kind of silly.

I'm in Octagonia for the Arena battles. The partner selection scene was funny.

I loved those battles! It was especially fun to hear that the battle music is a remix of Dragon Quest IV's arena.

And, I totally agree about the silent protagonist. I actually felt that this undermined my enjoyment of DQ XI in one very specific way ... [spoilers for the endgame follow]

Spoiler:

In the original version, at least, you can only have a relationship with and marry Gemma. Gemma's a perfectly fine character, and I like that she's not a damsel in distress: she's strong-willed and tough, and though she's not a warrior, she's clearly a leader and is able to rally Cobblestone together. But you spend most of the game with these other characters, and the story -- at least in terms of raw time -- provides a deeper connection of them to the Luminary. I think DQ XI S fixed this by letting you marry anyone, though this still feels artificial to me: as a silent protagonist, you never get any agency in building a relationship until the point when you choose who to marry.

That's a minor complaint overall, though. The silent protagonist thing felt much worse in DQ VII, when you have to put up with Maribel, who is downright verbally abusive to the main character. There, the choice to have a silent protagonist, and the inability to remove her for most of the game, made me feel like the game was forcing me to tolerate her behavior.

I am hoping to be able to do this one, but I want to finish up a Chrono Trigger and Tyranny first. I fear if I start this now, I'll be spreading myself too thin. Reading everything here though makes me want to try the new and shiny thing!

Yeah, I finished Chrono Trigger, but I want to tie a ribbon on Cyberpunk 2077 before diving fully into DQXI. I started a save file, at least, and decided that I'd avoid using any of the game modifiers (including the harder-monsters modifier); I don't mind if the game ends up feeling on the easy side as a result. It's already a long game; I don't need to give myself any more incentives to fail to complete it, and I generally enjoy RPGs more for the story than for combat challenge.

Similar thing for me. I'm only working slowly on this one, while I power through Tyranny. This one is supposed to be a beast, so I want to give it proper space when I play. Although I'll probably have Planetfall with the strategy game club as a changeup to avoid burnout.

So, I'm now about 17 hours in and am thoroughly enjoying the game. It's been a few years since I last played a DQ game, and those were on the DS (V and IX, iirc). I must say, I am glad we're back to consoles and not strictly portables as the art style is so much better with higher end graphical capacity.

One thing that I have rediscovered is how un-anime-like the story and scenes are despite this being so Japanese. I just got through the Cryptic Crypt (love the name) in Hotto and the little scene where a certain couple of characters recognize the main as the you-know-what actually got me giddy because of how genuine it came across.

Playing the game in 3D mode first, but I wouldn't put it past me to go fully 2D in the future. Sadly, there is no NG+ feature, which I think is a big ball drop on the devs' part, but I guess I can live with that.

I think they sort of treat Act 3 like the New Game + mode.

astralplaydoh wrote:

I think they sort of treat Act 3 like the New Game + mode.

Interesting... gonna have to read up on that... later.

Also, found how everyone in Hotto speaks in Haiku form rather charming.

I am happy everyone is enjoying this but without being rude - does it ever get exciting? I played 20+hours and kept expecting a reveal or a hook that made the story really exciting but it just felt to me so slow and dull.

The vibe, and the feel of gameplay, is pretty consistent throughout. There are certainly twists and turns in the story, but if you played 20+ hours and found that it didn't appeal to you, I wouldn't expect that to change.

The story is a very typical Dragon Quest story. It hangs heavily on you being invested in the world and characters, wanting to push forward to see what happens next, rather than a string of exciting moments. As LastSurprise said, if you are 20 hours in, don't expect much of a change in the story delivery aspect.

farley3k wrote:

I am happy everyone is enjoying this but without being rude - does it ever get exciting? I played 20+hours and kept expecting a reveal or a hook that made the story really exciting but it just felt to me so slow and dull.

I love the game, and I do not find that comment rude. Dragon Quest is comfort food. It is low-key and pleasant, but it is not exciting. The story does take some turns later, but at no point does it become a thrill ride, even by JRPG standards. "Sedate" is another word I would use to describe it.

If that doesn't sound like something you're interested in, I would not blame you for getting out now.

farley3k wrote:

I am happy everyone is enjoying this but without being rude - does it ever get exciting? I played 20+hours and kept expecting a reveal or a hook that made the story really exciting but it just felt to me so slow and dull.

Are you playing with harder monsters? I got bored on regular mode, but that draconian option made it more engaging.

I doubt it matters to farley. He's talking about the lack of excitement in the story, not in battle. Plus, harder monsters increases the need to engage with enemies, thus increasing the grind.

I feel like I am just an easy sell on fantasy story, but only 5 or 6 hours in and I'm invested. I really want to see where this all goes. Maybe it doesn't go anywhere?

I think I'm in for the first time. I started DQ XI back when it came out on the Switch. And, my save says I stopped for some reason in October 2019. So I'm hoping this would be a good motivator to actually finish the game.

I liked what I played back then, but probably got distracted by some other game.

Wembley wrote:

I feel like I am just an easy sell on fantasy story, but only 5 or 6 hours in and I'm invested. I really want to see where this all goes. Maybe it doesn't go anywhere?

Oh, it goes some places. If you're already into it at 5-6 hours, then you're in for a good time.

farley3k wrote:

I am happy everyone is enjoying this but without being rude - does it ever get exciting? I played 20+hours and kept expecting a reveal or a hook that made the story really exciting but it just felt to me so slow and dull.

The story gets more interesting as you learn about character backgrounds, which doesn't truly open up until much later in the game. You get some hints early on but, you don't really get into it until later. DQ still hits too hard on it's fake religion as the bases for almost all the story beats. Always some chosen prophetic person. NPCs act a certain way because the church has taught them to do so, bla bla bla.

I also saw someone say something about status affects - there are a good amount of bosses that are affected by them (i mostly used poison and sleep because one of the characters had attacks that did more damage if one or the other existed) . The real thing to focus on are the buffs/debuffs and anything that can cause turns to be lost or gained. The last character you get can incapacitate most enemies for a turn as soon as you get them and it helps a lot. I found that I took one of the magic users and made them specialize in buffs + healing and that helps down the stretch as enemies get tougher. The last few bosses seem to require buffs/debuffs in order to win. I wasn't even playing on the harder difficulty and I felt like I would have died if I didn't start the match off dropping their attack.

I found buffs and debuffs to be super helpful, too, and used them regularly. Bosses definitely are not immune to debuffs.

When I played, it appeared to me that buffs and debuffs lasted a certain amount of turns, but lasted for less time on bosses. And I think I figured out why: I think each action counts as a turn, so debuffs wear out 2 or 3 times as quickly on bosses who take 2 or 3 actions in a given round.

I believe that to be the case, which caused me to stop debuffing later bosses since they burned through the debuff timers so quickly. I focused more on buffing my own party's stats since they would last so much longer. But I didn't play with Stronger Monsters, so debuffing may be more important with that setting on.

I'm about at the 8 hour mark in my Stronger Monsters run, and I've finally got my third and fourth party members. I was getting tired of the two person setup and how much time I had to spend healing, so I'm looking forward to just moving forward now, and probably doing a bit less grinding to make common encounters more manageable.

That said, I'm enjoying the ride so far. The whole "classic JRPG, but with bigger world and much better production values" is something I'm down for. It's not trying to be huge like Xenoblade, or throw in new battle systems. Just something that just works, but take the old and blow it up to modern standards. That said, DQ8 boasts something similar, but I got bored with it around the 20 hour mark (on the 3DS), so I guess we'll see where things stand in 10 hours. Sometimes there's just something about that 20 hour mark for big JRPGs, as mentioned upthread.

I've now made it up to the desert area, and even with a bit of grinding, I got my butt absolutely handed to me by the scorpion boss there. I thought I was clever by dropping his defense and nailing him with absolutely devastating sword abilities with my hero (over 300 damage in 3 turns with just him alone), but at any time he could dial up a critical hit and one shot anyone in the party. Probably going to need to grind a bit more to get over the top.

And that's kind of the thing I'm really noticing about this game on Stronger Monsters; a lot of grinding. It's not tedious grinding yet, since every battle is a bit of a challenge (and requires healing), but it's not as tightly paced as say Chrono Trigger was.

I've also found myself chipping away piece by piece at the game so far. I still love the production value, but since there's a lot of grind, I'll maybe play like 30 minutes, maybe an hour a day, but it's not something I'm going to sit down and sink a lot of uninterrupted time into, either. I don't know what to make of that, yet. The campsites scattered throughout the world really make this pretty manageable.

EDIT: Well, I guess I lied. I played for maybe 2 hours tonight, which I think is the longest session yet.

Tonight I finished Act II, and credits rolled. While the overall story was OK, I felt that many of the individual stories were great. I enjoyed the last dungeon, and playing on the regular difficulty I felt it was just challenging enough. Regular fights were mostly fine, but some enemies were a pain, and while most of the bosses were manageable some were more challenging, including the final boss. Since I have other games to play, I'm not feeling the urge to so Act III, although I imagine it could answer some lingering questions and tie up the main story. Overall, I enjoyed my time, and it was a fun relaxing game to play these last two weeks.

Some other random thoughts:

Spoiler:

I really enjoyed the mermaid story.

I felt that the overall story left Jade down. Her side story forces her to wear a bunny costume and while she leads a group to rebel, they just end up being captured and transformed by the big baddie. The story explains why she is a boss you need to fight, but it doesn't offer her much agency. Otherwise, there wasn't much character development in the main story.

Serena ends up having some great character development after she finds that Veronica has died. Not having a side story for her and Veronica was a good piece of misdirection, and the fact that their skill tress merge is a nice way for the mechanics to mirror that transformation.

I’ve passed the all important 20 hour mark now.

I think my earlier impressions still hold; the production values are really keeping me around, but I still find myself only playing for around an hour, usually getting through some story beats and up to the next save point in one go, or grinding for a bit to set myself up for next boss before going off to do something else. The battles themselves aren’t really grabbing me for the most part, although I'm getting good at optimizing how to take out groups now between my hero and Veronica's group spells. That has made some stretches of the game a bit tedious, though. When grinding for a boss last night, I found myself putting on a podcast for the first time.

The story is pretty fun. There’s some good traveling, and I like getting to ride some random monsters in some of the dungeons. I just got through a tournament arc, which I never expected to see in a game, but with the Dragonball lineage, I guess I should be too surprised it happened at some point.

Since I’ve harped on the difficulty a few time, I want to bring it up again. It really was pretty severe early on, but it seems to have leveled off after the desert boss; that really was a difficulty spike, and after that things are now on a much more regular difficulty curve. Bosses are a bit tougher, and I tend to lose to them once before beating them on the next go around, but things are otherwise much more manageable. I think that has a lot to do with having a dedicated healer with midheal. I still have to heal a lot since enemies do so much damage, but now the main healer has enough MP to go for awhile and keep people patched up, and Sylvano’s Hustle Dance is the first multi heal and is absolutely worth rushing for, and was invaluable for the last boss I faced.

My main boss strategy is now build around the Hero; buff his attack with Oomph, cut the boss’ defense with Sap, and just unload with big attacks while keeping everyone healed. Bonus points if I can go into the battle with the hero Pepped up as well. It’s pretty basic, but it’s also highly effective. Putting bosses to sleep to hit them with Persecutter (great name, btw) just isn’t reliable enough for me at this point, so I’m not trying that as much any more.

Sundown wrote:

I still find myself only playing for around an hour, usually getting through some story beats and up to the next save point in one go, or grinding for a bit to set myself up for next boss before going off to do something else.

I think that's a very good way to enjoy the game. Generally speaking, Dragons Quest are designed to be picked up and played for an hour after work or school or what have you, not necessarily binged hardcore.

hbi2k wrote:
Sundown wrote:

I still find myself only playing for around an hour, usually getting through some story beats and up to the next save point in one go, or grinding for a bit to set myself up for next boss before going off to do something else.

I think that's a very good way to enjoy the game. Generally speaking, Dragons Quest are designed to be picked up and played for an hour after work or school or what have you, not necessarily binged hardcore.

If so, then I think it's kind of funny I might have stumbled into a great way to play it. I normally view big RPGs as something to sit down and get absorbed into for multi-hour stretches (when I have time), and was kind of bummed that I wasn't getting that pull from this one. It's still plenty of fun for those short bursts, but I think that bit of reframing will help. As does having it on the Switch.

Thanks for the comments about the game pace and style. I'll be passing on the game knowing it's so long and keeps up the way it is going.

Sundown wrote:
hbi2k wrote:
Sundown wrote:

I still find myself only playing for around an hour, usually getting through some story beats and up to the next save point in one go, or grinding for a bit to set myself up for next boss before going off to do something else.

I think that's a very good way to enjoy the game. Generally speaking, Dragons Quest are designed to be picked up and played for an hour after work or school or what have you, not necessarily binged hardcore.

If so, then I think it's kind of funny I might have stumbled into a great way to play it. I normally view big RPGs as something to sit down and get absorbed into for multi-hour stretches (when I have time), and was kind of bummed that I wasn't getting that pull from this one. It's still plenty of fun for those short bursts, but I think that bit of reframing will help. As does having it on the Switch.

I'm about 15 hours in currently and am starting to find a bit of a groove with the same, play for an hour or so then move onto something else style.

It's not that the game is boring, but more that is it just light and entertaining, rather than something that really trying to pull you through a complex story, or requiring a lot of focus gameplay wise.

Here's my 30 hour check in, and I just finished up in the Eerie Eyrie, which is a fantastic name. Honestly, the pun (and rhyme) game here is fantastic. Also, all prior thoughts about the game being good in bursts stand.

I feel like, storywise, the game really picked up when you get the boat. And once you get to the ocean, there are some solid and even surprisingly emotionally resonant story beats. I've also reached the point where the game has given the party something to do rather than just be on the run, and I'm glad for the narrative direction.

We've been playing this for about a month now, and I'm curious where people stand. How far along are everyone, how are you enjoying it, etc.

I definitely agree about getting the boat! At that point, the game felt a bit more like a world-spanning adventure, and it felt like there were so many places to explore. The mermaid story is kind of touching, and a bit melancholy, and does have some interesting payoff way down the line.

The DQ series has an amazing pun game, that's for sure!

Alright, I finished Cyberpunk 2077 a few weeks ago, and then "accidentally" powered through a quick play-through of Star Wars Battlefront 2 (which was extremely gorgeous and cinematic, though meh on gameplay).

Now I'm back into DQ11. I had played for a while on Switch a couple of years ago, but I've restarted on Xbox Game Pass for PC. I just got to Hotto last night; I think my Switch save file is from just after completing Hotto & the dungeon associated with it, so I'm still retreading old ground, but I'm loving it. I've been going out of my way to identify all of the sparkly spots on the maps, and even actively seeking out more fights than I normally would prefer, not only for the delicious XP, but also because the monster design and artwork is just so darned nice!

Also, I completely forgot until last night that all of the Hotto residents speak entirely in haiku - and I don't think it's ever specifically called out as such in the game; it just is. I love that.