Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age Interview - 11 Questions about Dragon Quest XI
Dragon Quest has always had a bit of a shaky relationship with the west. While the series certainly has western fans, it never quite took off the way Final Fantasy did. Now Square Enix looks to change that with the North American release of Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age. With a new PC port and a slew of English voice adding added to the game, it's clear Square Enix is keen on making sure Dragon Quest XI's overseas version has been worth the wait.
At E3 2018, we had the opportunity to sit down with Dragon Quest XI's Director Takeshi Uchikawa as well as producers Yu Miyake and Hokuto Okamoto to have a chat on their plans for the North American release of the game. We discussed the history of the franchise, the ports of DQXI, and just what it is that makes Dragon Quest special.
RPG Site: So, I've never played a Dragon Quest game before, but I've always been really interested in the series. Do you think Dragon Quest XI is a good starting point for someone like me? If so, why?
Hokuto Okamoto: It’s perfect for that because this has been the 32nd year of making Dragon Quest games and this is basically our best ever. It’s got everything there to appeal to both new and old players, so it’s perfect for either. And I believe it’s the sort of title if you were to play it now, it would make you want to go back and play the earlier games in the series.
RPG Site: The Japanese release of Dragon Quest XI did not contain any voice acting, but this new western release does. What lead to the decision to add English voice acting?
Takeshi Uchikawa: There’s a couple of aspects that lead to this decision. One is the main Dragon Quest games that released in Japan did not have voice acting, and that’s what the Japanese audience is used to. Additionally, Yuji Horii (Dragon Quest XI’s lead writer) often changes the scenario and story up until the very last minute and tries to do all these things to make it better and develop it further. That means that there isn’t a lot of time to do recording and we want to get the game out to Japanese players as quickly as possible. Keeping the voice acting out helps to get the game finished more quickly. However by the time it came to the US, everything with the script was already finalized and there weren’t going to be anymore last-minute story changes. So that was why we decided to go ahead and put the voice acting in the English version.
RPG Site: Dragon Quest X was a MMORPG while Dragon Quest XI is another traditional single player RPG. What lead to the decision to make it a more traditional RPG for the 11th installment?
Takeshi Uchikawa: So as you said, Dragon Quest X and also Dragon Quest IX were multiplayer games, and a lot of games are being played on mobile phones or portable consoles. And part of the reason this game was made the way it was is because Horii wanted to take things back to where you used to sit in front of your TV and play by yourself. That way you could immerse yourself in the world instead of having short little bursts of play. He wanted you to sit down, take time to enjoy the story, and get involved with the world as though you were there yourself.
RPG Site: Dragon Quest XI had a 3DS version in Japan alongside the PS4 version. Why is the PS4/PC version coming to the west but not the 3DS version?
Yu Miyake: So originally the 3DS version that was released in Japan was using the old Dragon Quest visual style. It was meant to appeal to the Japanese fans that had played Dragon Quest for many years. The reason that version is not being released in the US is that Dragon Quest kind of starts with Dragon Quest VIII in the west as far as we’re concerned, and the PS4 version of Dragon Quest XI is more like what fans in the west are used to. Additionally, nobody plays the 3DS anymore. (Note: Uchikawa was joking.)
RPG Site: What lead to the decision to port the game to PC in the west?
Hokuto Okamoto: Generally in the west, there are plenty of people that like to play on computers and so we figured that there was enough people that wanted to play it not just on PS4. That’s why we decided to port it.
Yu Miyake: In Japan, the PC game market is incredibly tiny while in the west, it’s huge. That’s why it was never released for PC in Japan.
RPG Site: Final Fantasy XV had mod tools created specifically for the PC version of that game. Can we expect any sort of official PC specific additions for Dragon Quest XI?
Hokuto Okamoto: We hadn’t really considered doing that.
Takeshi Uchikawa: Originally with XV, the PC version was released later than the console version but with Dragon Quest XI, both the console and PC version will be released at the same time so generally they will have the same content.
RPG Site: What is the status of the Switch version of Dragon Quest XI?
[Okamoto, Uchikawa, and Saito made some random chatter noises the moment they heard the word Switch.]
Hokuto Okamoto: We’re making it! We keep getting asked, but we’re still making it. It’s going well.
RPG Site: Why were some characters names changed in the western release? For example, Camus was changed to Erik in the western version.
Hikari Kubota: Dragon Quest is a game in which even in translation we try to give a different feel to each of the worlds. Kind of a different regional feel, so that’s where changing the names started because obviously in different places and different languages, it’s going to feel differently. In order to keep that, we decided to change some of the names.
Because there’s so many different areas and regions within the game, each one has been given a very strong regional feel to it. Specifically, in the case of Camus to Erik, it’s because we wanted him to seem Scandinavian. To Japanese people, the name Camus comes across as Scandinavian but that’s obviously not going to work for English speakers so we decided on Erik. It wasn’t just off the cuff. We wanted it to seem like his name matched the region he was from.
Yu Miyake: The most important three things about Dragon Quest are: the stories written by Yuji Horii, the music by Koichi Sugiyama, and the character designs by Akira Toriyama. Wherever it goes in the future, we’re going to keep those three separate tenants.
Hokuto Okamoto: Especially geared towards the western markets a bit more this time.
RPG Site: What is it about the Dragon Quest series that makes it unique and special from other RPGs?
Yu Miyake: So something that’s very important about this game is that anybody can play it. You don’t have to be good at games, I myself am not particularly good at things like action games. But with Dragon Quest - if you put the time into it, you will get better. You will level up and be able to complete the game. It might take you longer but anybody can play it! It’s not ‘technically’ difficult - it’s fun in other ways.