I’ve been playing Dragon Quest XI for like, two years now. September 2018 was exciting for me, a grown-ass man with a literal shrine to Dragon Quest nailed to my wall (this is not a joke). Not only being around for, but also working in the industry for a new main series Dragon Quest was bucket list material. The original release was amazing, but not without some issues here and there. Then Dragon Quest XI S: Definitive Edition came to the Switch, and I thought it couldn’t get any better than that! But I was wrong, more wrong than I expected. Dragon Quest XI on Xbox One is the peak of the mountain, baby!
Crazy, right? How could a series like Dragon Quest benefit from being on the Xbox, a brand that’s infamously dead on arrival in Japan? Hell it’s bizarre to see any Dragon Quest game come to the Xbox, and I didn’t even blink when Kingdom Hearts did the same thing! It just feels unreal, like something that never would have happened before the chaos of 2020 changed everything we knew. Yet, here I am with a hot take: Xbox is the best way to play Dragon Quest XI. There, I said it.
Dragon Quest XI S on Xbox is Amazing
There is some fine print. This take relies on a few factors. The brilliance here with Dragon Quest XI and Xbox is about the Xbox as a platform, an ecosystem that has grown and already flourished with the arrival of Xbox Series X. To make the most of that ecosystem, you have to have access to the whole thing. I understand this is an extremely privileged position to be in, and if your only way to access this game is on a base PlayStation 4 then damn it, I endorse that just as well! Being able to play this masterpiece of classic JRPG game philosophy on as many platforms as you can now is special too.
So here’s what I’m talking about. See, I’ve followed this game this whole time, playing the original version on PS4, then replaying it on the Switch with all the additional content. The new story segments really shine up the storytelling, and the quality of life changes just make Dragon Quest XI a better game. The 16-bit mode is some gorgeous icing on an already delicious cake. Where exactly can we go from here? What could Microsoft possibly add to a game like this?
I was asking myself the same question, sitting in front of this new version of the game. I already gave the original a 9.5, and frankly the Switch version brought it to a 10/10 in my book. Re-reviewing the game seemed pointless and self-indulgent. But when I went outside the box a bit, or rather the game, I realized not what I was playing, but how.
I’m lucky enough to have a Series X as well as a One X. I have great internet and a dope controller for my iPhone. I owe the federal government thousands of dollars for my college degree but hey, I have some cool stuff. As I was playing Dragon Quest XI, I used all of these avenues to play without even thinking about it. That’s amazing! That shouldn’t be real! Yet here I am rambling about it.
I played Dragon Quest XI on my Series X, in my living room, and it was wonderful. The full shebang was there, one of my favorite games ever upgraded from the rickety old PS4 and the underpowered Switch now a eye-watering 4K/60. But I can’t monopolize that space because I think slimes look like little gooey gods at those specs. Gotta be a family man. I just hopped over to my work desk, where the One X lives. I only have a 1080p monitor but hey, it’s enough to still be enthralled when playing Dragon Quest. And all I had to do was download it again, and my save moved over with literally zero effort on my part.
But I’m not always happy to play games at my desk. After all it’s where I work, and you gotta move around sometimes even when gaming is part of the job. Handheld gaming is my fav, and I actually enjoy streaming games to my phone; a controversial statement, I know. And now that the Xbox app supports remote play (and streaming soon!) on iOS for both consoles, it’s a wrap! I can simply snap my Backbone controller on, and play Dragon Quest with almost perfect latency and still get that frame rate to boot. And boy howdy does that 16-bit mode look great on a phone screen.
When I directed my brain cells in that direction, or at least as many as I could, it dawned on me how incredible that is as someone who has grown up with gaming over nearly three decades. It didn’t matter where I was in my home; I could access this game. And it’s the best of both worlds: portability similar to the Switch’s, but with the fidelity of a brand new console generation. And depending on what I’m doing that’s a totally modular experience. And it’s all because of how effortless utilizing the Xbox ecosystem is. Even without one or more of those variables in place, Dragon Quest XI is a must-play for JRPG fans. But with all of that in place it’s a new kind of experience that’s only possible in 2020. And that kinda rules.