Feature

Here’s Why Dragon Quest XI Might (Not) Make It To North America

by Kimberley Wallace on Jul 29, 2015 at 10:27 AM

The next entry in the famed and long-running Dragon Quest series has finally been announced. At a recent press conference, Square Enix unveiled footage of Dragon Quest XI, confirming its existence. Right now, the game has only been confirmed for Japan, raising the question of whether it will see a release in North America.

North American fans have seen their share of disappointments regarding which recent Dragon Quest games reach our shores - so much so I wrote an editorial last year, voicing my concern about the series' future stateside. Since then, Square Enix has continued to launch older entries on mobile, and even surprised me by announcing Dragon Quest Heroes PS4. Now the burning question on fans' minds is: Will Dragon Quest XI see the light of day in North America? I tapped editor and longtime fan Dan Tack to discuss the probability that Square Enix takes the plunge.

Kim: It's no secret that Dragon Quest fans in North America have felt a little left in the dust. I didn't expect us to receive Dragon Quest X, being that it's an MMO, and that's a hard market to tap in North America. However, I was disappointed to see Square Enix stop localizing the remakes and spinoffs, making Nintendo step in to finish the job, only to stop short of Dragon Quest VII. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King was announced for 3DS in Japan, but we haven't heard anything on that front. Thankfully, Dragon Quest Heroes is on the way. Knowing all this, what do you think is the likelihood that Square Enix brings Dragon Quest XI to North America?

Dan: It has been announced for NX, right? To me, that announcement alone makes it more of a likely candidate to come over here as a niche title to bring some more attention to that... whatever that turns out to be.

Kim: Well, Square backpedaled a bit on it being for NX, only confirming PS4 and 3DS at this time, but I think it's likely it ends up there. I could definitely see it coming over for PS4 here. Square's press conference at this year's E3 made me confident that the company is ready to tackle the JRPG console market again. I think Square is still testing the waters, though. Dragon Quest Heroes for PS4 coming to North America surprised me, so maybe Square wants to see how that does. Also, right now the company can watch and see if North American gamers have interest in it based on the Japanese announcement. What do you think?

Dan: Square's press conference definitely inspired some confidence that we might actually get some JRPG love again over here, and that includes Dragon Quest - but given the franchise's lack of fanfare over here in recent years, I think it still might be a stretch to expect it. Dragon Quest Heroes does seem like an interesting experiment to see if there's still interest in the series over here, even if it is packaged in a different format. I'm OK with Dragon Quest offshoots; there's more to the franchise than clicking ATTACK over and over. In fact, some of my favorites from the franchise are offshoots, like Dragon Quest Monsters or Dragon Quest Swords. Yeah, that's right, I liked that game.

Kim: Really? I wasn't a fan. Rocket Slime, FTW! I wish more of those got brought over. That being said, Dragon Quest X is the only recent mainline entry we didn't receive. I understand why, as I said earlier with the MMO factor. I feel like Dragon Quest XI is make or break for whether or not this series lives on in North America. If it doesn't come, it'd be a huge blow to its future here.

Dragon Quest games are a lot of work to localize and they'll never sell like they do in Japan, but I think a lot of Japanese companies are seeing the value in bringing these niche experiences to our market. These aren't the oversaturated PS2 days, so RPG fans don't have many options. Plus, Dragon Quest just has that legacy. It's nearing its 30th year anniversary, and was a pioneer in early console RPG development. That series has had so much influence for the genre itself; the games were a lot of people's first experience with RPGs. I'd hate to see it go away. I'm calling it - I honestly think Square will give the series one more try and localize Dragon Quest XI, but a lot will be riding on it. I don't think it will come to all platforms though. Which way do you sway? C'mon, Dan Tack! Take a stand.

Dan: Given the fact that we've seen a ton of the older titles resurrected on mobile platforms and things like Dragon Quest Heroes coming stateside, I think we're going to see it. Maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part, but if I had to pick a side here, my money is on it coming over - especially if it is in fact being built for NX. Almost a sure thing, I'd say.

Kim: Not to mention Square Enix is also bringing over new Star Ocean and Nier titles. If it's gambling on those, it would seem odd for them not to gamble on a product with more name recognition like Dragon Quest. I'm also glad this is coming to console. Dragon Quest IX was the first mainline entry on handheld, and as much as I love playing games on the go, there's something about the Dragon Quest worlds that just demand to be on the big screen. I adored Dragon Quest VIII so much for its world, so I can't wait to see what's in store for Dragon Quest XI.

Dan: As long as we get like, more King Slimes.

Kim: You can't have Dragon Quest without them! Now we'll just have to wait and see if the gameplay of Dragon Quest XI stays close to what we've seen in the past. The series has remained largely unchanged since its inception, staying close to its traditional roots. Some people would say RPGs have evolved significantly and turn-based battle systems are a thing of the past. I don't believe that. Series like Persona and Etrian Odyssey have proven that there's still depth and fun there. I don't think people who play Dragon Quest are demanding a change either. Honestly, I'd just love more done with the world and sense of discovery. I'd throw my money at an open-world Dragon Quest game in a heartbeat.