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Recently Finished Dragon Quest XI (Or Dragon Quest XI, Persona 5, and the Power of Marketing)
Posted: Posted February 27th by Laxan
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I and my best friend finally beat Dragon Quest XI for PS4 this past Monday. Allow me to preface my thoughts by stating it was a good game and I had a good time! However, Dragon Quest XI is by no means a great game, and I honestly spent the majority of our 120+ hours playthrough wishing we were playing Dragon Quest VIII instead. (DQ8 is the only game in the franchise that I consider to be truly great whereas every other DQ game falls short of said greatness.)

The good: DQ11 is a solid game with nice polish for a turn-based combat system.

That said, the game is downright savagely generic with its characters and story. I can forgive a generic plot if the execution is well done. Sadly, Square' s latest foray into the Dragon Quest series never throws any surprises at you. There's no Dark Lord coming out of the Holy Goddess on a sacred holy island that the good people of the world worship. There's no main villain possessing one of your party members like DQ8. Every plot beat is straightforward and easily predictable. Even the death of a main party member felt hollow, and I think that's because almost every character in this game has weak, boring arcs. Even Sylvando, my favorite character, had a straightforward arc that failed to impress me. The side characters were supremely forgettable in almost every facet possible when compared to the excellent and well-written side characters of DQ8.

The writing and dialogue in general is mediocre, too. Again, I know I'm comparing this a lot to DQ8, but Journey of the Cursed King got so much right in terms of writing that it is unacceptable for Square to fail on such a fundamental level. Speaking of writing, what the neck happened to this game's soundtrack? It's horrendously composed and the midi sounds deplorable. There isn't enough new music throughout the 100+ hours of playing...unlike 8.

The art style is okay. Just a tad on the generic side. Gameplay is fine, but I grew pretty bored with it at times and just wanted to get the game over with. (I bought DQ11 at launch and we only just now got done with it...a telltale sign of a game/RPG failing to engross me.) When an RPG game is as long as Dragon Quest XI but doesn't hold my interest for long, that's typically a sign the story and characters were lacking. And frankly, that IS my biggest complaint: boring and generic characters/story. This is always my biggest complaint regarding Western RPGs like Skyrim, so it makes sense. If I don't care about the characters and story in a massive, LONG RPG, I get bored with it. Even if the gameplay is fun. Respect a player's time. And if you can't do that, tell a more compelling story to truly make the journey worth it.

I know the Switch version is superior, and people clearly love DQ11. But the Switch version cannot change the core problems with DQ11, even with an orchestrated soundtrack. I'm glad tons of folks got into Dragon Quest because of this game. Maybe it's because I've played so many JRPGs, but this game really disappointed me where others loved it. I think the real reason for DQ11's success comes down to this: marketing.

Many, many younger gamers have probably been exposed to DQ through DQ11 and it's successful marketing campaign. In a way, I'm happy about that. On the other hand, most of the newcomer fans (mostly in the West, I'll wager) have never played Dragon Quest VIII, the best game in the entire series. The newer fans also probably haven't played a ton of JRPGs, though that'snot true in all cases. For example, Resonant Arc, one of my favorite Youtube channels that reviews RPGs, loves DQ11 and they are HUGE fans of JRPGs like myself. It's also possible they missed out on DQ8 back in the day (many sadly did).

I personally feel like the same thing happened with Persona 5. People LOVE Persona 5! Great! It truly is an excellent game! But...the game is too long and tells a bloated story that lacks focus on its themes. As a consequence, the overall character arcs and story is severely lacking compared to Persona 3 and 4, and that is simply unacceptable in a game as long as P5. For goodness sakes, you help people with their problems by essentially using MAGIC to solve their problems and help them become better people! What a fucking betrayal to P3 and P4's message where you ACTUALLY help people become better as a human being by spending time with them and emotionally helping them through their problems and struggles! It was like the developers were stating you don't need to be an RPG hero to make a difference in people's lives or even your own!

While P5 clearly has the best art style and gameplay in the series, it falls behind in every other category...even music.

But P5 is probably beloved largely because it introduced gamers to the Persona games mostly thanks to its marketing campaign, not because it's actually "better" than P3 or P4 (which it isn't). Most new fans of Persona haven't played any of the other games in the series, so....yeah. That's my point. New fans of Dragon Quest also missed out on the majesty that is DQ8 for the same reason. However, Persona 5 is still a great game. In fact I can see myself playing through it again someday. In regards to Dragon Quest XI, though, I have no desire to play through it again for the rest of my life. Do better, Square Enix.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. I love these games and these series', so I just want better games from them. Rant over. Love you guys. Cherish everyone who matters in your life.


There are 6 Replies

Haven't played a DQ game yet but I wanted to respond to this bit regarding Persona 5:

For goodness sakes, you help people with their problems by essentially using MAGIC to solve their problems and help them become better people! What a fucking betrayal to P3 and P4's message where you ACTUALLY help people become better as a human being by spending time with them and emotionally helping them through their problems and struggles! It was like the developers were stating you don't need to be an RPG hero to make a difference in people's lives or even your own!


Now I personally love Persona 5 to the point where it's my favourite video game now, but I felt the same way about that point and it's been one of my main criticisms of the game. I guess I see both sides: on one hand, Atlus has found a way to make battles and events in the "other world" have more relevance to the social link system, and I can appreciate how it ties everything together rather than making it feel like you're playing two separate games in parallel. On the other hand, from a narrative perspective it is far more powerful the way P3 and P4 handle it, that your powers have nothing to do with the impact you're having on the lives of others.

With that being said, I think P5 overall still has stronger social links than P3. P3 had a few great ones (the terminally ill kid in particular), but I felt a lot of them were... a little lacking... "Oui oui! Thanks for sewing with me!" *Bebe seems truly grateful. Your relationship is stronger now!* P4 was a huge step up from that.

And I guess as a counterpoint to your statement on P5 and marketing, I actually did play 3 and 4 first and I went into 5 expecting to like it but not as much as 4. I could go on and explain why 5 ended up becoming my favourite but it's a bit too long-winded for the purpose of this thread; suffice to say it wasn't due to the marketing, but I'll posit that your statement probably holds true for a large portion of new Persona fans.

Edited March 1st by Jo Nathan
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Bought dq11 on Amazon the other day for $41. Will arrive in 3 weeks. Not going to play it right away though. I only played an hour of the demo and it wasn't exactly mind blowing

Posted March 1st by ShadowFox08
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Don't get me wrong, Jo Nathan. I really enjoyed P5 and might play through the Royal version someday. My gripes about marketing IS mostly regarding new fans. After all, I played P3 and P4 first too. I still hold fast that the story and characters don't compare to P3 and P4. Example: Akechi. When his true intentions are revealed, he becomes cartoonish and way too over-the-top. It was ridiculous and felt very cheesy--and killing him off-screen felt like I was cheated. Compared to Adachi or Takaya--and yes I realize Adachi is a tad over-the-top but you're also supposed to think of him as loony, unlike Akechi who had no real reason to be so cartoony--there is more subtlety, especially with Takaya who NEVER goes full Nicholas Cage.

Otherwise, P5 has better gameplay and art style. But everything else is weaker to me, like Persona Team lost focus.

By the way Jo Nathan, I was wondering, since you play games like I do (mad respect for ACTUALLY playing through Persona games!), if you would be interested in testing out the second tester's demo of the game I'm working on, along with Pirate Ninja and Jet Presto and others. My best friend is quitting his job and working full time on the game, and we need new opinions/feedback when it's ready in the coming months. Let me know!

@ShadowFox: My sentiments exactly from the start. I like it, but it's not the greatest.

Posted March 2nd by Laxan
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Laxan
 

As odd as it may sound, I probably have more gripes about Persona 5 than I do about 4, but the things I like about 5 are things that I REALLY like. Like if you took one or two of my favourite characters out, Persona 4 may have stayed in the lead.

Also I would love to help test your game and I feel honoured that you'd ask me. I'll pm you my info.

Edit: Oh, weird, I tried sending you a message and it says you don't exist. Ah well. My email is froyton at gmail dot com, or find me on discord (if you use that). I think I'm the only froyton on it, but you can identify me by the Hobbes avatar. XD

Edited March 4th by Jo Nathan
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Oh, haha! I don't have a registered account on Gametalk! Old habits! I'll email or contact you on Discord in the coming months. We need all the feedback and support we can get before the Kickstarter!

Posted March 4th by Laxan
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Laxan
 

I don't have the patience to read all these wall of texts... But I'll say this... My copy of dq11 came from Amazon today. I will play it eventually after I beat Link's Awakening and final fantasy x/x-2

Posted March 8th by ShadowFox08
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