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

Month one check-in has me just coming to the end of Octagonia.

At this point, my one word review would be "charming". So far the game has been a lovely, light romp. Fun characters and monster design, OK dialogue with pitch-perfect voice acting, interesting settings.

There is nothing groundbreaking here but it is just such a nicely delivered game that it never feels like a grind to be playing.

At right around the 41 hour mark, I hit Act 2. That may be a bit on the higher side since I did most of the sidequests and did a bit of grinding, but I think that's a reasonable time to get there. And now I'm very interested to see where things go from here.

Spoiler:

I just took control of Slyvando, and assuming we're now going to go around and find everyone else, well, I'm getting some serious FF6 vibes.

I'm at about 20 hours now, just about to begin the first Octagonia battle (I presume; I'm registered and paired with someone). I've done a fair bit of grinding, side-questing, and crafting.

On that note, I'm really impressed with crafting in DQXI -- it might be the first time I've seen crafting in a game done well. Well-crafted things can have significantly better bonuses than the vanilla versions, which means even reworking items that are found or bought can be worthwhile. The crafting minigame itself also presents a bit of fun challenge.

Yeah, the minigame's really good, and remains interesting throughout the game.

Sundown wrote:

At right around the 41 hour mark, I hit Act 2. That may be a bit on the higher side since I did most of the sidequests and did a bit of grinding, but I think that's a reasonable time to get there. And now I'm very interested to see where things go from here.

Spoiler:

I just took control of Slyvando, and assuming we're now going to go around and find everyone else, well, I'm getting some serious FF6 vibes.

I think I was at about 60 when I hit Act 2, but I'm confident my number was very high. 40 seems about right. It's also how long Act 2 and the postgame (each) took me.

33 hours, and I just got the Magic Key and cleared out all (I think) of the red doors I've seen up until this point. I continue to be impressed by all of the punny nomenclature in this game.

Sundown wrote:

At right around the 41 hour mark, I hit Act 2. That may be a bit on the higher side since I did most of the sidequests and did a bit of grinding, but I think that's a reasonable time to get there. And now I'm very interested to see where things go from here.

Spoiler:

I just took control of Slyvando, and assuming we're now going to go around and find everyone else, well, I'm getting some serious FF6 vibes.

I hit Act 2 at the 42-43 hour mark last night, so I think you're winning this race.

If it's a race, it's one of the slower ones I've been in.

I've hit the 54 hour mark, and making good progress in Act 2. I just finished a good fight during the return trip to Octogonia, which is general enough without giving away any of the plot beats leading up to this point.

And I think there’s stuff actually worth spoiling now. I feel like Act 2 is the much more story heavy portion of the game, and I actually really like how the game is now not only providing backstories for many characters, but is also able to tie many of them into the larger narrative. From Act 1, I wasn’t necessarily expecting much in the way of story beats or emotionally resonant moments (which is why the mermaid sequence was so surprising). Act 2 definitely has more of that. And I actually kind of liked the interlude after Act 1.

And a this point, I think having Stronger Monsters on is a good call. I haven’t wiped since back in Act 1, but all the boss fights are careful and tense affairs. I still feel like the main strategy still holds, where all boss fights are 3/4 of the party supporting the main character with heals or buffs or debuffs, with only the MC doing real and consistent damage. Jade is maybe the only exception to this, since I mentioned earlier that Erik's ability to put bosses to sleep to drop his big attack just wasn't panning out often enough to be useful.

My strategy was always buff the main hero and let him attack. I think I used Oomph and the speed buff mostly.

For me, it was always a combination of the main character and Jade or Eight as attackers, buffed with Oomph. I had some combination of Serena, Rab, or Sylvando in for the rest of my party -- sometimes all three, if I really needed the healing power.

Sundown wrote:

And I think there’s stuff actually worth spoiling now. I feel like Act 2 is the much more story heavy portion of the game, and I actually really like how the game is now not only providing backstories for many characters, but is also able to tie many of them into the larger narrative.

If you want to throw something up in a spoiler tag, feel free! There's definitely plenty to discuss in Act 2. I totally agree with you, by the way. I think that Act 2, and then also the post-game, both really built on a foundation laid throughout Act 1. Both of those sections felt cohesive to me, and had great payoff.

Sundown wrote:

And a this point, I think having Stronger Monsters on is a good call. I haven’t wiped since back in Act 1, but all the boss fights are careful and tense affairs. I still feel like the main strategy still holds, where all boss fights are 3/4 of the party supporting the main character with heals or buffs or debuffs, with only the MC doing real and consistent damage. Jade is maybe the only exception to this, since I mentioned earlier that Erik's ability to put bosses to sleep to drop his big attack just wasn't panning out often enough to be useful.

That was pretty much the same for me. Dora-in-Grey, during Act 1, was very tough -- probably the biggest difficulty spike I faced. But thereafter, although I was able to beat many bosses on my first attempt, those battles demanded total focus, and a willingness to use many different abilities & consumables. The final boss at the end of Act 2, in particular, really felt like a capstone fight.

I definitely saw Erik as super useful at the beginning of the game, then barely used him as I came to rely more on Jade and Eight. His Divide + Critical Claim combo is extremely potent, when he gains access to it, but it costs an enormous amount of MP. When I was attempting the Wheel of Harma, though, and had to look up hints, I found that his boomerang skills were more useful than I ever imagined. Dual-wielded boomerangs + the Twomerang skill, or + Starburst Throw, are amazing.

I made a terrible mistake, which was to attempt to divide my JRPG time between this (since it's the club pick and what I voted for) and Final Fantasy 8, to attempt to keep up with the latest season of the NOCKAT podcast.

Such comparisons are, shall we say, not flattering to FF8.

Anyway, I just reached the first casino and dutifully engaged in enough grinding to snag the Platinum Powersword. That'll take the edge off of them Stronger Monsters for a while. For as hard as I pushed people to try Stronger Monsters, I must admit I'd forgotten how punishing it is in the early game. I've persevered, though, and getting a full party of four feels really freeing.

Got Sylvando now too, and it's nice being able to engage with the line-up swapping mechanics.

LastSurprise wrote:

If you want to throw something up in a spoiler tag, feel free! There's definitely plenty to discuss in Act 2. I totally agree with you, by the way. I think that Act 2, and then also the post-game, both really built on a foundation laid throughout Act 1. Both of those sections felt cohesive to me, and had great payoff.

Well, don’t mind if I do, then. I haven't been taking notes, so this is just by memory. Spoilers up through the end of the trip to Octogonia in Act 2

Spoiler:

-So right off the top, Act 1 ends with the end of the world, and the party split, and now we have to go around and collect the party again. Got some serious FF6 vibes, but also I don’t know how much of a surprise this was supposed to be. Like, the light world/dark world thing was literally on the box art for some versions of the game, and is the icon for the game on the Switch. I don’t know what they were thinking there, unless it’s been out long enough that they don’t feel like it’s too important to not spoil.

-I like Sylvando more as a character now. From his motivation to make others happy in a world gone bad, to his backstory and his history with his dad, he suddenly seems to be the character with the most depth. I also liked how they were able his history with his dad into the narrative, as well as his relationship to Eight.

-I also love Eight as a straight man to the zaniness of the party, like being forced in a clown suit (I hope we get that as an alternate costume later), or when he found out who Sylvando was (and later learning that he got whupped by Sylvando in a tournament from one of the books), or getting toyed with by Jinxed Jade. A lot of room for comedy gold with the comically serious type.

-The whole return trip to Dundrasil and saving MC’s dad was super resonant. And they seriously pulled a fast one on me with the two kings saying MC had to be killed as a baby to test King Irwin; I thought he might have gone bad before that point, but it was actually after.

-Rab is actually a character now, and was actuality darn impressive for going to the top of a freezing mountain and meditating to reach the Shadow Realm or whatever, just to do monstrous training to learn a new spell help defeat Mordegon. Like, for the old joke character and the token horn dog, he’s got something in his bag. And we actually got to see him as a king, and it wasn’t just for show.

But yeah, the game’s ability to tie so many characters to the main plot (especially around when Dundrasil fell), has actually sort of impressed me. In particular, it gives everyone clear stakes for why they are in the party and are not just along for the ride, which can happen in some RPGs. Pretty soon we have to find out what Erik’s deal is, since that’s a big one that’s left outstanding. We’ve met the Seer at this point, but we have no further indication what her role is in this, or why she sent Erik to look for the Luminary in the first place.

I've been a little distracted - I ran off and completed both Yakuza Kawami and The Medium - but I'm making slow progress.

Spoiler:

I just got the boat.

I know I'll need to play a bunch more to get anywhere near finishing in the club's 3 month window (very unlikely) or 6 month window (possible). As a result, my slow and slightly steady playing probably means I'll probably just continue along with this one as the next club game comes about.

I'm enjoying the game but it is very, very straightforward. I don't know if that is a criticism but it might be.

Hi everybody! I’ve always skipped by these threads because I don’t really try many JRPGs any more and unless I’m misremembering haven’t completed one since Enchanted Arms during the early days of the 360. Anyway, I finished up the Medium about two weeks ago and jumped into the Dragon Quest XI S release on GamePass. Today, I saw this thread and figured I’d jump in with my feelings on the game so far.

For background on my limited JRPG experience, I received Dragon Warrior with my NES for Christmas and finished it about two weeks after finishing Super Mario Bros,. I never found copies to buy, but I also played through hours of Dragon Warrior 2 and 3 during a few weekend rentals but wasn’t able to get through them during the rental period. I went on to play and finish NES Final Fantasy, SNES FF2 (FF4), SNES FF3 (FF6), as well as FF7, FF9, Chrono Cross and a FF5 rerelease on the PS. On the GameCube Gameboy player I played through the GBC rerelease of Dragon Quest 1 and 2. Also on the GameCube, I played through Paper Mario: the Thousand-Year Door. Then I finished Phantasy Star Universe and Enchanted Arms on the 360. Over the years, I’ve also purchased and sampled a lot of other JRPG titles, but either didn’t have the time or the desire to finish any others. (Not counting the Souls games which are Japanese games and definitely have a lot of RPG elements, but aren’t games that I’d really classify as JRPGs)

I’m roughly 50 hours in, and I’m loving Dragon Quest XI so far. The art and presentation are both very inviting. The game just brings a smile to my face, especially in contrast to the depressing experience that was the Medium. The characters are likable and fun, especially Sylvando. I also enjoy the combat system after setting everyone to manual control. It is a little on the basic side, but at least they didn’t screw it up. I do wish that I’d seen this thread before I started so I would have known to select the “stronger monsters” option as a bit more difficulty would be welcome. The “story reminder” text when you load up your save game is a very welcome touch and something it would be nice to have in a lot of other games. I also like how your inactive heroes continue to gain experience so you don’t have to roll with characters you din’t like just to keep them from falling too far behind.

As far as the story itself, I’m enjoying it even if it is a little on the simplistic side, The last few hours it has picked up significantly after a certain major world event. This portion of the game has really helped fill out the characterizations of some of the heroes and may be my favorite part yet.

The only thing so far that hasn’t been incredibly compelling is the TikTockington side stuff. The general conceit of traveling into other times and using “16-bit” graphics for these excursions was neat when it first was introduced and it was cool seeing a few references to locations/names from the very old Dragon Warrior/Quest games I played so long ago. However, in practice marching through locations with random battles and very slow old battle mechanics really drags especially with how speedy everything moves in the more modern battle system present in the rest of the game.

I just hit act 2 at 30 hours in. I loved the story in the transition between the acts and I'm excited to hear people say it gets a bit more character-driven here.

I went with the normal difficulty and so far I think it's working OK for me, although the combat is one of the weaker parts of the game thus far. In Chrono Trigger I enjoyed that even in random encounters there is normally a specific enemy that should be killed first to prevent a combo or a particular attack that will disable/instakill enemies. The combat system here, particularly with tactics options, feels like it's trying to get out of your way as quickly as possible so you can get your xp and money and get back on with the story, which given the excellent job that did with the characters, world and monster design is OK with me.

Jasonofindy wrote:

The only thing so far that hasn’t been incredibly compelling is the TikTockington side stuff. The general conceit of traveling into other times and using “16-bit” graphics for these excursions was neat when it first was introduced and it was cool seeing a few references to locations/names from the very old Dragon Warrior/Quest games I played so long ago. However, in practice marching through locations with random battles and very slow old battle mechanics really drags especially with how speedy everything moves in the more modern battle system present in the rest of the game.

I did the first one of these and as somebody who hasn't put more than a few hours into previous dragon quest game, I quickly realized it wasn't for me.

Am I missing much by not doing the other missions?

Probably not. TikTockington is only in the S version; it wasn't in the original release. So, it's probably superfluous to the story.

I started a little late so I'm about 20 or so hours into the game and recently got the boat . I am playing on the vanilla "Day 1 Edition" of the game and haven't found a way to switch the difficulty so am just playing on normal.

This game is both boring and soothing at the same time. I have a stressful work project going on and I feel like I am accomplishing something in DQ 11 by leveling up or running around finding the sparkly spots--basically checking the boxes and pressing buttons in battles. In normal difficulty, none of my characters have even come close to dying except for a rare random encounter out in the field and the bosses are a cinch. The story so far is pretty simple but there is enough charm and puns to keep things interesting. The best thing that I can say for it is that my children (7 and 10) are both playing it as well so it makes for a decent entry game as it really isn't too hard if you whack a few monsters between towns. I'm hoping to finish this up before the end of the quarter.

Welcome to the club, Jasonofindy!

It hasn't been a long time after my last update, but I just cleared 60 hours, which is it's own landmark, and finished up with my second visit to Arboria where I got our next objective. And with it, I think I can finally see the end coming. I don't think it's necessarily close yet, but I can see it.

And something has been bugging me a bit about the villain. I'll put it in spoilers, and let the people who have played the game already laugh.

Spoiler:

So the villain is Mordegon, and one of Erdrick's allies was Mordecant. The name was mentioned once or twice offhandedly, so they didn't make a big deal of it. It occurred to me like 20 hours ago or so, but I think there's going to be a twist there where the ally turned into the villain. And this game isn't shy about using name changes to show things, like Serena + Veronica = Serenica, so the similarity probably has to mean something. Just something I'm keeping an eye on.

Well, I rolled the credits today. The final dungeon before the credits was very satisfying, as were the last few boss encounters. The save game timer says 78 hours, but there were a few times early on where I inadvertently left the game suspended and for some reason the game clock was counting that suspended time. So I would guess that the actual time was somewhere between 72-75 hours. I did all but a few of the purple dot sidequests before entering the final dungeon, but I haven’t done any more of the Tockington side quests and have left them for later.

I found the individual character stories more interesting than the overall story, but thought that the overall story did a pretty good job of bringing in elements of each individual character’s story. I’m a little bummed that they didn’t do more regarding Jade’s backstory with both the last character you acquire and with an important NPC from her background. It seems odd that we get to see some of that NPC’s past, get to see the character change and explanation’s of the character’s past actions, but she never has any real story or subplot regarding reuniting with the NPC besides an image in the credits.

As far as playing the game, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I mostly used the last playable addition and Jade for damage while using the main character for healing and supplemental damage and swapped between Rab and Syl as my fourth for buffs and debuffs. My characters all ended at right around level 50. I’m sure there is still much to do, and I intend to continue playing. However, where I was more or less playing only Dragon Quest since I started, I’ll probably dip back and forth between it and a shorter more action-oriented game for the foreseeable future. (Probably Dirt 5 or Control)

As I said in my previous post, I haven’t really played JRPGs much in a very long time, but I found this one very enjoyable and charming so I’ll probably keep an eye out and dabble more, especially when I see that you’re playing another game I’ve had my eye on or that I already own on a platform. I know that there were some complaints that this game was too simplistic or had characters that were too vanilla, but I found the game’s charm, upbeat nature, and likable characters a needed breath of fresh air after a year of dreariness in real life.

Finally started playing this for real (after getting sidetracked a few times). I'm about 8 hours in (I just recruited Veronica and Serena).

And I've just googled how to unpack the game's files because I find the music boring and uninteresting and I want to replace it with Final Fantasy music. I don't think I'll do it, but I would love to.

I just sailed out of Gondolia a couple of days ago and plan to do more story content today. So far, I'm really enjoying every single character. The lighthearted nature of DQ in general is sitting so very well with me this season, and it makes me wishful about getting a DQVIII HD release on any existing console.

Two things I've noticed, completely unrelated, is that I keep having to correct myself when writing "Dragon Quest XI", because I naturally write the Roman numeral as IX and immediately catch myself more often than not. Wonder if it's just some kind of dyslexia or if it has anything to do with the fact that X was never released outside Japan. Even stranger because I did play IX on the DS...

The other is about Sylvando. A friend contends that Sylvando is the best character of any DQ, whereas I am a faithful Yangus fan. Was wondering where you all stand on this or if you have another character you think is worthy of the title.

I'm partial to Kung Fu Waifu Jade, but there's an obvious reason for that. Two big reasons, specifically.

I got the boat today!

For favorite DQ character, I think I'm with you on Yangus. Honestly, of all the Dragon Quest characters, it's pretty much the only one I remember fondly (despite the fact that I think I played DQ VIII in 2008 or something like that). I played VII less than 2 years ago, and the only characters I remember are Maribel and prince Kiefer, the rest has gone down the drain of my memory. (To be fair, the only DQ games I've played are I, IV, VII, VIII and IX so far, V and VI are still in the backlog).

bobbywatson wrote:

And I've just googled how to unpack the game's files because I find the music boring and uninteresting and I want to replace it with Final Fantasy music. I don't think I'll do it, but I would love to.

I mean, the music is good, but considering there are only about 6 songs you hear during normal gameplay, I can see why one would get tired of it.

brokenclavicle wrote:

The other is about Sylvando. A friend contends that Sylvando is the best character of any DQ, whereas I am a faithful Yangus fan. Was wondering where you all stand on this or if you have another character you think is worthy of the title.

I haven't played all the DQ games enough to have an opinion (and I dropped DQ8 around the 20 hour mark so no opinion on Yangus), but Sylvando is a pretty darn good character, although you won't see some of his depth until much later in the game.

Just got a new character after battling through a Masked Martial Arts (MMA, get it?) tournament. That boss fight after the tourney was enjoyable. I like the animations in this game soooo much.

Jasonofindy, welcome to the club and congrats on your finish! I'll make a note in the main thread.

I loved Sylvando; he's definitely up there for me. Serena and Veronica are also very surprisingly deep characters, although you don't see it for a while.

My feelings toward Sylvando really evolved over the course of the game. For quite a while, I was worried that he was just going to be treated like a gay male stereotype, and his effeminate nature would be played for laughs. I was thrilled to see that never happened. In fact, the game seemed to treat his past and his relationship with his dad in a very thoughtful way:

Spoiler:

Despite being portrayed as effeminate in his demeanor, Sylvando was very clearly the best knight-in-training, beating out Hendrik and Jasper, both of whom display much more stereotypically masculine traits. Hendrik recognizes Sylvando's skill and takes him seriously. Plus, the code of chivalry is a very stereotypically masculine thing. The whole thing, to me, reads as reclaiming the ideal of chivalry from toxic male behavior.

His whole backstory with his Dad was also great. Teen leaves home, turns away from his parent's expectations, feels called to follow a different path through life, and worries about a lack of acceptance. Lives in fear of confronting his Dad again, because maybe Dad will be disappointed in who he is. But when the party finally meets Dad, there is none of that. Sure, there's a bit of friction, but there's no sense that Sylvando is less deserving of respect, no sense that his new path is less than his dad's -- just an expectation that Sylvando will be the best version of himself that he can be.

Sylvando is definitely wonderful and the way he's developed is pretty tactful. Funny how a game like DQ, which isn't known for it's narrative nuances, has one of the best portrayals of a person who may or may not be LGBTQ+.

I've gotten very close to the end of Act 2, so hopefully I'll be able to claim completion sometime this week. I've found that the final dungeon does have a good number of metal king slimes, which give something crazy like 100k experience, so I've shot up in levels. I think I started the dungeon like level 49 or 50, and am now around level 55. Hopefully that will mean an easier time with the boss.

And speaking of metal slime hunting, for the last 15 hours or so I've relied heavily on a Pep Power that (usually) turns enemies into metal slimes for useful power leveling. I'll put the name and combo in spoilers in case anyone wants to figure it out themselves.

Spoiler:

It's Electro Ball, and you need MC, Jade, and Sylvando all pepped up.

These people are staples of my normal party anyway, so when one gets pepped up, I shuffle them off to the bench to keep the pepped up status. Once the other two get pepped up, I'll go heal up and save, and then use the ability on the first group of enemies I see. If the ability fails, or several of the slimes run away, I'll reset and try again. I also have several people now with either critical hit abilities, or at a minimum Metal Slash for guaranteed damage against metal slimes or their equivalent. This has saved me a lot of grinding time throughout Act 2.

I actually had originally (and even up through the Octagonia Arena) thought that Sylvando was going to undergo a massive heel-turn and become a Super Bad Guy, just because they were really hamming his character up a lot for being so gosh-darn cheerful and helpful. As of the beginning of Act 2, I'm delighted to realize that I was completely wrong about him, and he's just fantastic.

There is actually a trick for farming metal slimes for easy exp. It requires several characters to be pepped up in advanced and Erik to have his Critical Claim skill for best results.

Spoilered for length and those not interested in "metal slime farming"

Spoiler:

You'll need one Pep Pip per battle from casino, quest rewards, crossbow completion, or mini medal exchange, put them on Sylvando

Main Abilites: Hero - Pep Up (Luminary), Erik - Critical Claim (Guile)
Two of these: Jade- Lightning Thrust (Spears), Serena - Thunder Thrust (Spears), Eight - Hatchet Man (Axes)

1. Get Rab Erik Sylvando Jade and into pep and swap them out. Have the Hero use Pep Up when done. ( about 10 minutes spamming defend)
2. Save your game!
3. Start a random battle anywhere with a party of Hero, Erik, Jade, Sylvando
4. Hero, Jade, Erik use Haulellujah for guaranteed drop + exp bonus (Jade is usually fastest)
5. Swap Erik to Rab, Hero Pep Up, Sylvando uses a Pep Pip on Jade.
6. Wait for the enemy Moves to conclude
7. Hero, Jade, Sylvando use Electro Light to change the battle into a fight with 3 Metals (flee and reload if this fails)
8. Swap Sylvando for Erik
9. Rab uses Pep to force sleep the Metals
10. Begin killing with critical abilities only

Every 10 levels the encounter changes
50: 3x Vicious Metal Slime: About 300k exp, Seed of Life from each
60: 2x Vicious Metal Slime, 1x Liquid Metal, About 350k exp, Happy Hat from the Liquid
70: 1x Vicious Metal King, 2x Liquid Metal, About 800k exp, Pep Pip from Metal King

At 70+ the Metal King returns the Pep Pip you use. Before 70 you'll need to rely on any Pep Pips you have from quest rewards or 125000 tokens.

Gain 4-5 levels per from 50-70, and like 7-8 from 70-99. Reasonable to go from 50 to 99 with Pep Pip rewards from quest/crossbow completion