As is so often the case with heroes in epic lands, you wake groggy and disoriented, mute and orphaned, cut off from your past but with a mission to complete. It's a good entry point for one of the gaming world's most beloved series. DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is the latest game in a 32 year heritage. This is a series that stretches almost to the dawn of videogames and takes pride in its history and traditions. This is the first mainline entry to the series to hit the west in a decade, though, so a hero unburdened with lineage is a good jumping-on point for those who will be encountering this beloved franchise for the first time.
Indeed, Square Enix seems to be clear on the fact that DRAGON QUEST XI is going to be many players' first time. It lays out much of what has the series an RPG mainstay in a way that's accessible for new players while hitting the notes that longtime fans love. The tale of evil kings, whip-smart mages, bewildered princes and sharp-tongued thieves delivers the charm that fans love without bogging you down in arcane law. Combat is very traditional turn-based combat, but it's a little stripped back and you can even set up your party to handle it themselves. The story is linear, but it presents endless sub-quests and side missions as well as the opportunity for dalliances in gambling and horse racing. And, of course, the charmingly English voiceovers will make sure everyone's on the right page.
The biggest treat, however, is seeing the endless summertime adventures of Dragon Quest brought into high definition (and even 4K, if you're playing on a PlayStation 4 Pro). The horizon races into forever, and the rich blues, greens and yellows that fans will recognise so well practically shimmer. The scale of the world perfectly matches the happy, chilled out pace of a game you can sink into. Yes, Echoes of an Elusive Age will challenge you, but more importantly it will offer you a joyful escape into an old world made new again.
This definitive edition of the game packs in not only the base game, but also new character-specific stories, fully orchestrated battle and field music, extra monsters to ride, side-quests that will take you into past Dragon Quest worlds and the ability to from HD to retro-inspired 16-bit graphics.