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Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is the eleventh installment of the Dragon Quest series. It was released in Japan on July 29, 2017 for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo 3DS. An international debut also released for PS4 and PC on September 4, 2018. A Nintendo Switch version was also announced for both regions, but has been delayed due to technical issues; it will be released in 2019 as Dragon Quest XI S and include extra features such as Japanese voice acting, new character-specific stories and the ability to change between HD and retro-inspired 16-bit visuals.

Long ago, the world of Erdrea was beset by a powerful, malicious darkness. This darkness and the monsters it spawned were eventually defeated by a great hero known as the Luminary, who wielded a blade of light. For centuries, peace reigned, but 16 years ago, on the date of the birth of the Luminary's latest reincarnation, the monsters suddenly returned, burning the great kingdom of Dundrassil to the ground and slaughtering its people.

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Since that fateful day, the legend of the Luminary has been split in two. One side claims that the Luminary is a force of righteousness, and will one day rise to cleanse the land once more and restore peace. The other side claims instead that the Luminary's (or "Darkspawn" as they prefer to call him) mere existence beckons the darkness to return with his light, and only by slaying him will the monsters return to whence they came. One such believer of the 'Darkspawn' version of the legend is King Carnelian, ruler of the nation of Heliodor, the most powerful nation in Erdrea (especially following the fall of Dundrassil and another nation to a horde of monsters a decade and a half hence). Under his command, his forces are keeping a sharp eye on the four corners of Erdrea for the emergence of the Luminary, utilizing their otherwise friendly relations with other nations and cities to be ready to spring to action once the "Darkspawn" is located. As the years have gone by, the "Darkspawn" version of the legend has gradually overtaken the original legend, to the point that those who still believe the Luminary to be a hero are often ruthlessly oppressed and persecuted by Heliodor's forces and followers.

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The story begins with a young man, freshly 16, discovering his destiny as the Luminary. Unfortunately, following the advice of his grandfather and mother (who don't seem to know about Carnelian's obsession), he walks right into the Heliodor throne room and discloses who he is to Carnelian, with predictable results. With the unexpected help of a guileful thief, the Luminary successfully escapes from Heliodor's dungeon, and sets out on a grand journey to discover the true source of the darkness, end Carnelian's increasingly mad reign, and discover his destiny as the savior of all Erdrea.

Tropes associated with this game are:

  • Achievement System: There is an in game achievement system independent of the platform the game is on that gives achievements for various things, like collecting items and fighting enemies.
  • After the End: The second part of the game takes place after Mordegon destroyed Yggdrasil and made the world go to the shitter.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Miko, all she wanted to do was to protect the village and her son who has turned into a monster.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: The battle against the True Final Boss takes place in such an area.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: XI offers a plenty of features that smooths out the gameplay.
    • Gallop while riding on the horse and you'll just kick monsters aside (provided your level is higher than theirs). Very useful if you want to just get from Point A to Point B.
    • Added in the English release is the ability to run on foot, greatly increasing the speed by with you explore towns and dungeons.
    • In the map screen, you look up where the material spots in the field are and which item spawns where - including ones that you didn't find yet, marked as "???".
    • You can swap your characters in-and-out of the party on the fly even during battles.
    • For a small fee of 20 gold per point, you can reallocate your skill points at every church or statue, which allows you to try out different character builds or refocus your progress.
    • You can cast Zoom from the map screen; especially useful if you don't have the Luminary in the first spot of your party and don't want to scroll down every time to warp somewhere.
    • You can cast Zoom indoors or even in dungeons without worrying about bonking your head on the ceiling.
    • Several sidequests involve using specific Pep Powers. Characters can simply defend until getting Pepped Up, then swap out of the active party until they're needed again without losing Pep.
  • Anti-Rage Quitting: If you screw up forging or reworking an item, and decide to restart the game to try again, the game will notice. After restarting the game, if you make camp and try to forge items, the Fun Size Forge will be seen overheating, with the game saying to wait a few minutes before you're allowed to forge items again.
  • Appease the Volcano God: When you return to Hotto after the destruction of Yggdrasil, the village is preparing to sacrifice one of their own to the volcano. You can learn that in previous years the sacrifices had always been of food, like grains. Miko said a human sacrifice was necessary this time but kept the reason a secret from the village. That reason is that her son, Ryu, had turned into the dragon which had been attacking the village after it was slain by them. Miko, searching for a cure for him, was willing to do anything to keep him alive.
  • Artificial Brilliance:
    • When you set your allies to be controlled by the computer, they will go between this and Artificial Stupidity. However, the problem is more that the AI will only determine actions based upon their current "tactics" (ie, fight wisely, focus on healing) since that's what they're told.
    • When you have a Guest-Star Party Member assisting you, they're actually pretty smart. They will usually contribute to offence, but when they see your health is in the yellow (roughly 50%) they will either heal you or use an item.
    • This also extends to the enemies too. One reason Dora-In-Grey is considered to be one of the more challenging bosses in the game is that her shtick revolves around crowd controlling your party members to attack one another. Sylvando, who has a Get Ahold Of Yourself Man ability that undoes this (Free of damage even) is almost always targeted.
  • Awesome, yet Impractical: Zig-zagged with the Infinity +1 Sword. You can make it be Awesome, yet Impractical or a complete aversion depending on when you obtain it. Since the postgame has no set order on what you need to do once you defeat Alt-timeline Mordegon, if you know how to accomplish it and get it "early", you will be rewarded for your efforts.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: The Hero and Sir Hendrik when defending the Last Bastion.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • The game opens with a flashback to the fateful night that set the plot into motion. An ominous council of old men discuss the grave implications of the Luminary being reborn into the world, and then the Luminary's kingdom of birth is destroyed by monsters, our infant hero only narrowly escaping its fate with the help of his mother and a protective older child. The obvious takeaway from this is that the shady council orchestrated the massacre, which couldn't be further from the truth. The council is a gathering of kings, all of whom are heroic characters (and one of whom is your grandfather and becomes a party member), and King Carnelian — possessed later that night by the Big Bad, the real mastermind behind the kingdom's fall — was the most fierce believer in the Luminary's righteousness, only presenting himself as sinister to give the boy's father a Secret Test of Character.
    • When returning to Cobblestone after escaping Heliodor near the beginning of the game, none of the residents recognize you making it seem like their memories of you have been erased. It turns out that you're actually in the past due to the root of Yggdrasil in the middle of town, and when you return to the present you see that the village was completely wiped out with seemingly no survivors.
    • The Puff Puff Running Gag return and run on this. Every instance, while it looks like the Luminary is about to receive some R-rated service, it turns out the results are.. not exactly as you imagined it. Gallopolis? It was the dad who did it. Snifleheim? Makeup. Octagonia? Trumpet. Hotto and Gondolia? Possibly played straight, for once.
  • Big Bad: The demon lord Mordegon in the main game. The demon god Calasmos in the extra scenario.
  • Big Good: Queen Marina of Nautica and High Priest Benedectus are the largest and most authoritative supporters of the Luminary. After he's released from Mordegon's control, King Carnelian joins them.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: The citizens of Nautica consist of female mermaids and male Fish People, no in-between.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Dual Wielding makes Attacking much more practical over skills, especially for Erik. Averted with bosses though, who will destroy you with ease if you do not fight smart.
    • Healing spells. You will not make it far without reliable healing spells.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The Brollympian, the golden version of the Brollygagger, can render your entire team unable to attack for a turn and has a ton of HP, letting it wear down your team so bad that you will likely have a death or two before you defeat it.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Booga, one of Mordegon's demon generals, does this to Jade, forcing the party to fight her before facing him.
  • Broken Bridge: Many are featured in the game from landslides to the traditional broken bridges. Though most are there to prevent you from reaching certain areas too early. After Yggdrasil falls most of these paths are opened to allow you to reach areas that are otherwise inaccessible without a boat.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: The trials of Drustan and Angri-La's Wheel of Hama challenges.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: In the Ruins of Dundrasil, when Rab and the Luminary send the souls of Dundrasil's people off to Yggdrasil, they take the form of countless glowing butterflies.
  • But Thou Must!: Almost, if not all, yes/no choices are rigged so that not being a stereotypical Hero sees either people berating your desire to NOT be a hero, or choosing to refuse being an illogical option; i.e. you WILL do what the plot wants you to do whether ya like it or not. Sometimes, choosing the non-heroic option results in a character reprimanding you for your attitude, then the game continues on irrelevant of your choice.
  • Caged Inside a Monster: A new class of monsters was introduced in this entry which appear as porcelain dolls with a birdcage where their legs would be. These monsters can trap allies inside their cages rendering them immobile until freed.
  • Camera Screw: The game will place the camera directly behind party members when it's their turn. Regardless of whether or not something or someone is in the way. Relatively benign, but sometimes comedic.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: That black yocchi (the little ghosty thing) in the opening of the game? It's the soul of the True Final Boss.
  • Chest Monster: A new variant was introduced in this entry with slot machine mimics. In a few areas slot machines which act similarly to treasure chests but filled with casino tokens appear. The first few of these are legitimate slot machines but the mimic form is mixed in soon after.
  • City of Canals: Gondolia fits the bill for this with canals running its length. Some of the residents even recommend taking the gondolas saying the roads are confusing.
  • Convection Schmonvection: After the End, much of the landscape of the world is covered with burning patches, yet the game doesn't even so much as ding you for getting close to them, or in some cases even running right over them. Also, the Mount Huji portion involves you going inside a volcano, with no particular effects whatsoever on the party. They don't even seem to get hot.
  • Cool Crown: Numerous, both on NPCs and ones that your party can wear. On the latter part, the Crown of Dundrasil (equippable, naturally, only by former king Rab) is impressive, and on the former, King Carnelian's probably takes the cake—it resembles a cross between the crown of the Holy Roman Empire and an Ottoman emperor's turban, with a peacock plume to boot.
  • Cozy Catastrophe: During the part of the game that takes place After the End, some areas (namely the academy or Puerto valor) took it pretty well. Some of the NPCs actually acknowledge that they're better off.
  • Crutch Character: Sometimes, you'll get a guest character (more often than not a soon-to-be party member later) who is (essentially) immortal, and helpful in some fashion. Despite taking more damage than they will later have HP for, they do not (seem to) die from it. Excellent are the healers who render you otherwise immortal.
    • You yourself are one in the beginning of the post-game scenario. Because you're still in your mid to late 50s, everyone else is mid to late 30s.
  • Cursed Item: This entry features a cursed item as part of the story, a magic necklace that allows its wearer to turn whatever they touch to gold. However after wearing for some time the wearer becomes a gold statue them self.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to the last two Dragon Quest games we got, this is easily the darkest one next to Dragon Quest VII.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • Even after being freed from Booga's control, Jade is able to access her demonic playboy bunny form willingly and uses it to fight alongside the heroes.
    • In spite of being corrupted by Mordegon, the Sword of Shadows isn't actually evil. In fact, it plays an instrumental part in defeating Jasper upon returning to the past, as it can cut clean through the shadows he summons.
    • Rab uses the "Zam" spell family, which inflicts dark damage.
  • De-Power: At the midpoint of the game Mordegon takes the power of the Luminary from The Hero. In an instance of Gameplay and Story Integration when this happens that portion of the skill tree is removed.
  • Demonic Possession: King Carnelian is possessed by the sorcerer Mordegon.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • It's possible to do a few events out of order, such as getting Sylvando back before re-recruiting Rab. The game will thus not include those characters in the scenes, and sometimes have lines for others.
    • The post-game essentially drops the player back to a save-state made around the midpoint of the game, which means that the game not only remembers the equipment state of your characters but also whether or not you consumed any seeds or had any hard-to-obtain items equipped at the time.
  • Distant Epilogue: Long, long after this game; a woman finished reading about the Luminary in a book. She puts it away; and goes to wake up her child. It's his 16th birthday, and he has to go meet the King. After all, "Erdrick" was a title given to Heroes even before their victory over Zoma.
  • Doomed Hometown:
    • The hero's hometown gets burned down at the beginning of the game. The hero can choose to help rebuild it in the extra scenario.
    • This technically happens twice - the opening scene has the hero's birthplace sacked by monsters.
  • Dragon Rider: It is possible to ride dragons - as well as a whole heap of other critters - in this game.
  • Dramatic Chase Opening: The story begins with monsters attacking the kingdom of Dundrasil and the queen running away with The Hero and a young girl, while being chased by monsters.
  • Dub Name Change: As is standard for a DQ localization.
    • Erik was originally "Camus"; this was likely changed because Camus is a (famous) surname in its native France. Actually, it's probably because he's originally from the Viking clan.
    • Serena was originally "Seña"; this was probably changed because while a fair few Anglophones are probably familiar with the enye letter, it strictly speaking isn't part of the English alphabet. (This does get marginally more dubious when there's a big fat enye right there in the character naming screen at the start of the game, and you can use all kinds of "non-standard" letters for your main character.)
    • "Sylvia" was changed to Sylvando, since the character, while flamboyant, still very much identifies as male.
    • Jade was originally "Martina" (or "Marutina" for the overly literal). This change was made so that her family would have gem-based Theme Naming.
    • "Graig" became Hendrik, likely because his name in Japanese was a made-up variant of a very common nickname.
    • The demon villains once again get sweeping name changes because their names, which would sound a bit threatening to a child in Japanese, are completely meaningless in English and were changed to have links to sinister Anglophone words; "Urnoga" became Mordegon, and "Nizzelpha" became Calasmos.
  • Early Game Hell: The "hard monsters" setting of the Dragovian Trials in the English version can very much be this up to when you fight the Slayer of the Sands. Early enemies do quite a bit more damage, and even once Veronica and Serena join, bad RNG can result in one or more party members being killed before you can even act against even-level monsters. The Slayer is especially bad - it has as much health as Baramos from Dragon Quest III (just without silent regeneration) and can easily deal 40-50 damage to the party in one turn if it combos its multi-hit and sand breath. And if the RNG is especially bad, it'll act at the end of one "turn", and the start of the next, meaning it gets four actions before you can do anything to respond. The average level you're likely to fight it at? Around 15 or so. The mode more or less demands familiarity with older DQ mechanics and a very quick acclimation to XI's new elements. The difficulty does begin to smooth out once you get past Gallopolis, however, since you now have at least one backup party member and your party members' skill kits and trees begin to flesh out.
  • Easter Egg: Though one that is exclusive to the japanese version (see also Old Save Bonus below). One of the pictures shown during the credits is a screenshot of Dragon Quest I showing a Spell of Restoration. If you actually enter that code into XI itself, the game will start up a retro CRT TV Screen showing the first screen of the original game (that is, the throne room of Tantegel Castle), fully playable. Once you leave the screen the Game opens up your system's online store, letting you download the actual DQ 1 for free
  • Evil Costume Switch: Jasper once he reveals his true colors and joins Mordegon's demon army. Also, at one point in the game, Jade due to being brainwashed by Boogie.
  • Evil Overlooker: In the reveal trailer, King Carnelian, Henrik and Jasper can be seen looking down at the party from Heliodor castle. Ultimately subverted in the game itself, as only Jasper is evil; Carnelian is Brainwashed and Crazy and Henrik is an Anti-Villain who pulls a Heel–Face Turn halfway through the game.
  • Floating Continent: Yggdrasil rest on top of one... or more accurately, it pretty much makes most of the landscape of one. There is also the Battleground and Havens Above, though the latter gets almost completely decimated by Mordegon.
  • Free Sample Plot Coupon: When the party learns that they need to collect the six Orbs to reach Yggdrasil, two of them are already in their possession.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Erik's accent is fairly odd. Someone with a keen ear can figure out that it's vaguely Scandinavian sounding. When you finally reach Snifilheim, the characters have Scandinavian sounding accents.
    • Sylvando seems to know a lot about knighthood to tell Faris off, and is hiding behind the hero at Puerto Valor. Interesting... why would he seem to do that?
    • When you start the Post-Game proper and go out on the world map, the music on the overworld changes to the overwold from Dragon Quest III. This ends up making sense after the final scene of the game when it turns out Erdrea is actually the world from DQIII, but in the past. Another foreshadowing musical hint of this game's connection to DQIII is the music in the town of Hotto; It's all but identical to the music in Jipang in DQIII.
    • Just before the end of Act I, Serena and Veronica have a late night chat about their nature as twins. Serena wonders if, since the leaves representing their lives bloomed on Yggdrasil at the same time, they will fall (die) at the same time too. Veronica doesn't know the answer, but she hopes so. That's heartwarming...and weirdly ominous.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • Storyline-wise, Serena and Veronica are both the reincarnation of Serenica - thus her powers are split between two people. In gameplay, this is reflected both in their stat gains and their skill trees. They are almost too specialised - as Veronica can only cast magic decently (and debuff with whips), while Serena can only really heal and support (and sometimes smack with spears). Their talent trees are both evenly spread out with very few hidden talents. Serena stops gaining skill points as quickly. What's more, when Veronica is Killed Off for Real, Serena becomes Purposely Overpowered, gaining a boatload of overpowered skills and gains skill points by the dozens upon leveling up.
      • And when you go to the post-game scenario, Both Serena and Veronica gain entirely new hidden skill points.
    • Traditionally, whips in this series have been used mostly by female characters. That Sylvando can equip them fits with him being either Camp Straight, or more likely Camp Gay.
    • At the very beginning of the Post-game scenario, you go back in time to the point before Veronica died. You essentially jump into a save-state - which means that your party members are as strong as they were at that point in the game - and will still have their equipment and not be able to access their hidden skills.
    • When the The Hero loses the power of the Luminary that part of his skill tree is removed until he regains the power.
    • In a similar fashion when Erik loses their memory their entire skill tree is empty.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • A monster can notice you on the world map and crash right into you to start a fight but still be 'caught by surprised' for the first round. The inverse is true as well - the party can be caught by surprise despite hitting the enemy with a preemptive strike.
    • The subplot about Heliodor tearing Erdrea apart in their hunt for the hero is initially treated as a big deal, but in the end you really only have to deal with them twice before the country as a whole does a Heel–Face Turn, and even then, in only one of those instances do you actually fight them in gameplay. You're initially prevented from Zooming back to Heliodor prior to getting Sylvando's ship and you can't go back through the Door of Departure, but that's the extent of how your mobility is limited.
    • But even then, once you have the ship and can dock it at the Emerald Coast, it gets to such an extent that, despite being the most wanted man in the world, you and your merry band can just walk back into Heliodor, though the front gate, and the guards will barely bat an eyelash and aren't competent enough to realize you're the man they're looking for. If you activate party chat during this time, your party will say that this is a stupid idea, but at no point are you in danger of capture. The only thing your party will stop you from doing is walking into Heliodor Castle, as that's just too brazen.
    • The first boss fought in the post-game is Mordegon who manages to be much harder than the previous battle despite him not obtaining the world tree's power this time.
    • When the hero loses the power of the luminary the skill tree removes those skills and the mark on his hand goes away in a nice bit of Gameplay and Story Integration. However, he can still somehow learn Erdwin's master luminary spell.
  • Glass Cannon: It is possible to invoke this with the Draconian option to eliminate the ability to wear armor, until you get a chance to subvert this with Defense Seeds. With enough seeds, this trope is averted, though that's an exercise in RNG grinding from hell.
  • Glowing Eyes: Later in the game enemies gain vicious and malicious variants which are significantly stronger. These enemies can be identified by their glowing red or green eyes, respectively.
  • Got Volunteered: Prince Faris of Gallopolis is instructed by his father, the Sultan, to go face the Slayer of the Sands. Afterwards, he begs the hero to aid him, as he actually has no knightly skills. Following this, many NPCs you speak to talk of how Faris "bravely volunteered" to undertake such a mission.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The guards never check Erik's cell to see the massive hole that he dug. This is because his ex-partner Derk was bribing them.
  • Heroic Mime: The main character is very much one, though not much is made about it during the game. It is lampshaded however in the short character bios that appear in the loading screens. Cole a young boy who idolizes the main character is said to have attempted the strong silent type act and managed an impressive three days before he had to stop. Also, if you use Party Talk with Veronica, she'll sometimes comment "You want to talk? That's not like you."
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Veronica does this in order to save the party from getting killed by Mordegon. The hero travels back in time to prevent this from happening in the extra scenario.
    • Miko also does this so that she can save Hotto from Tatsunaga.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Jade defeated Booga by using the dark power he gave her.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Two of these exist in the game.
    • The first is the Black Dragon in the sewers of Heliodor from which you must Run or Die as it chases you. With some level grinding it is beatable and there is a different cutscene for if you do beat it. It will still be there as a Degraded Boss regardless of if you kill it or not when you return later in the game.
    • The second is the fight with Jasper in Yggdrasil. He is invulnerable to all of your attacks due to a magic barrier and is also fairly powerful. You must lose this fight and doing so kicks off the second act of the game.
      • In the post game you come back in time to shortly before this fight, and because you wield the sword of shadows are able to win this fight officially switching the timeline to something different.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: An usually practical variation. Make a second Sword of Light even though you have the original in the new timeline. Sell some orichalcum to the Ultimate Blacksmith who will make the Sword Of Kings. Yes, Erdrick's Sword. Now beat a single Bonus Boss in the Bonus Dungeon and you'll get a recipe to combine them into the "Supreme Sword of Light." If this is your first wish then you still have quite a bit of game left.
    • The Brilliant Blade from beating the final trial of the Wheel of Harma in 30 turns or less and the ultimate weapon recipes from beating EVERY Bonus Boss in the Bonus Dungeon are much less practical examples.
  • Informed Equipment: Played straight when it comes to most armors. It is averted with weapons which always appear on your character with unique models and with certain combinations of armor changing the wearer's full appearance.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Despite majorly changing the world in the Post Game; many events still happen despite their cause in the original timeline no longer existing, with varying justifications.
  • Interface Spoiler: In the weapon list, there is a category for axes, which none of the main cast can equip nor is even available for a good while. There is also the trophy "Knight Exemplar", which is rewarded for completing the ability panels of a character... but no one in your party is a knight. It all points to a Secret Character that joins your party at a later date. It's Hendrik.
    • Also late into the game after gathering the rest of your party members again, does it seem odd that the equipment status page still displays what Veronica can equip despite being dead? Turns out much later in the post-game you go back in time where Veronica is alive and well.
    • Doesn't it also seem weird that Serena and Verronica don't have any obviously hidden panels, like Erik and Sylvando do?
  • Interspecies Romance: Deconstructed in a very sad way with Kai and Michelle. Since merpeople live to be over 500 years old, Michelle's old lover Kai whom she saved died long ago and Michelle kept waiting for him, completely unaware of his passing. Both died after living the rest of their lives in isolation and depression.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: There is a day and night cycle in the game; depending on time of day, different monsters will appear on the field. Also, in town, certain events and NPCs may only be available depending on what time of day it is.
  • Item Crafting: One of the things you can do while camping is use the "Fun-size Forge" to create new weapons, armor, and accessories, or improve store-bought or treasure equipment.
  • Karma Houdini: The hero is encouraged more than once to forgive his enemies and not hold revenge in his heart. This leads to a few fairly morally ambiguous characters getting off pretty lightly.
    • Vince is probably the worst offender. True, his motivation is sympathetic, and true, he sees the error of his ways, but joining forces with an evil monster and feeding his fellow fighters to it for the means to continue his Fake Ultimate Hero act is pretty damn evil. He gets off scot-free for this and the truth never even comes out.
    • A somewhat less jarring example in Krystalinda, who at least owns up to her villainy in the end and surrenders herself to Queen Frysabel's judgement; it turns out the queen had grown to like her enough to give her a royal pardon. To her credit, you'll be glad things played out this way in the post-game, where Krystalinda becomes a very useful NPC.
  • Kick the Dog: Jasper burns down the hero's hometown and attempts to execute its inhabitants. Thankfully, Hendrik steps in to prevent the latter.
  • Late Character Syndrome: The game takes steps to avert this. You get your final party member after a significant mid-game plot event that scatters the group all across the world, and a lot of time is spent on just the two of you travelling as a pair and getting to know one another. Combat-wise, he's also one of the best characters in the game, and can be quickly turned into a killing machine.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: This is the first game in the series to change up the turn structure of battles. While still turn-based, you give commands to each party member when they can act, rather than giving the whole party commands before everyone acts.
  • Lazy Backup: Averted for this entry. You can switch party members even dead ones out any at any time on your turns, though those who are switched in must wait until the next round to act. Should your entire active party be wiped reserve party members will hop into the fray.
  • Lethal Joke Item: One of the rewards for beating Duruda's challenges is a discipline stick used by Priestess Niima. Although it has a measly attack power of 5 and the only character who can wield it is Serena, it has a critical rate of 50% when fully upgraded, making it useful for hunting those metal slimes.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: True to Dragon Quest, this is inverted. Magic is the preferred method for dealing with groups of enemies, while physical damage is the go-to method for dealing with single enemies. This means against single bulky enemies (IE, most bosses), mages lag behind while your oomphled fighters are dealing triple digit damage.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Some sidequests require that the party use a certain pep power against a certain monster. This, by extension, requires that a certain combination of party members be in a pep state at the same time, which is not something the player can control. The player can keep the pepped up members in the reserve, where they will retain it, but for the early side quests where you don't have enough party members. Later on, there also items that can induce the pep up, but they are in short supply. There is also the hidden Luminary skill "Pep Up", which allows him to pep up himself at will.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The demon lord Mordegon behind King Carnelian.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Deconstructed horribly. It ends with Michelle completely forgetting that she lives for five hundred years and that the time without her beloved made her unaware of so much time in human years passing since the last time she saw her beloved. She has to come to terms with his death, and commits suicide so she can be with him in death.
  • Mini-Mecha: The Eggoskeleton and Kaiser type rideable monsters work this way.
  • Monster Compendium: The Defeated Monster List in the Info menu. It includes drops, locations, some Flavor Text, and a model viewer.
  • Monster Town: The Medal King is a Posthumous Character in this; however he had a daughter; and he turned his palace into the L'Academie de Notre Maitre les Medailles; an Academy where young girls (human and monster) can learn how to find medals elegantly. Being an established Truce Zone between human and monster even after Yggdrasil's Fall; they are aware they have it a lot better than most of Erdrea.
  • Moses in the Bulrushes: After the fall of Dundrasil, the infant Luminary's basket fell into a river while the survivors were escaping from monsters. He's found later by an old gentleman known as Chalky, who would adopt him as his own grandson.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Jade, especially with some Battle Bikinis. Just like Jessica, one of her skill panels is Sex-Appeal. Serena also gets the classic Dancer's Outfit in Gallopolis, well before Jade can be recruited. And of course, there are Sexy Bikini drops.
  • Mythology Gag: A book detailing the origins of Cantlin's guardian Golem from Dragon Quest I can be found in the Sniflheim Royal Library. This is especially confusing since the game explicitly takes place before Dragon Quest III, which places it before I as well.
  • Nice Day, Deadly Night: Stronger enemies can be found on the world map areas during the night, often times they are the undead.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In the extra scenario, the hero's traveling back in time to save Veronica has an unfortunate side-effect of allowing the soul of the demon god Calasmos to prevent the destruction of his own body by Mordegon and successfully resurrect himself.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Most enemies have separate animations for being killed; and being overkilled by a lot of damage.
  • Now, Where Was I Going Again?: Pink circles on the map are usually characters who tell you what is important in an area; or where you should go next.
  • NPC Roadblock: Quite a few are used early on in the game to constrain your movement, or force you along certain paths. The first one you encounter is a horse.
  • Off Screen Villainy: With the exception of Gondolia and the Ruins of Dundrassil, the crimes committed by Heliodor's forces in their hunt for the Luminary are all entirely offscreen, though according to Hendrik in Act 2, they were quite extensive.
  • Old Save Bonus: Very old. The Spell of Restoration is used as a password system for transferring data between the 3DS and PS4. You can also use the Spell of Restoration with passwords from the Japanese versions of Dragon Quest I and II, from over 30 years ago, to start a new game with some extra money or items. Sadly, because America didn't get the 3DS version of the game or versions of DQ 1 or 2 with passwords, the feature was removed from the English version.
  • Ominous Floating Castle: Serves as the final dungeon of the main game.
  • One-Gender School: L’Academie De Notre Maitre Des Medailles is an all girls school, meant to cultivate fine young ladies. It also serves as the location you can bring all of your mini medals to. The Hero despite not being a young lady is made an honorary member.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The characters in Gondolia sound quite fake to a native Italian speaker. The Scandinavian accents in Snifilheim also sound... a little too subtle to the point where people didn't even realise what they were supposed to sound like.
  • Playboy Bunny: Jade can dress as one in battle with the right gear, just like other games in the series.
  • Port Town: There are three port towns in the game, each acting as a gate to the next portion of the game. The first port grants you your boat, the second port opens the rest of the sea to you, and the last port lies near the end point of the first act.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: In the second act of the game, at one of the inns, everyone who spends the night has the same dream of a man in armor.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: Part of your mission after Mordegon destroys Yggdrasil and the Hero is separated from the rest of the party for months is to find them all again.
  • Reformulated Game: They were concurrently developed with one another, but the PS4 and 3DS versions of the game are highly different from each other.note 
    • The PS4 version was co-developed by Orca, and is built on Unreal Engine 4. The characters have full body proportions, and the game uses a controllable third-person camera. It is most similar visually to the Dragon Quest Heroes games.
    • The 3DS version was co-developed by Toylogic, and has the option to either play the game in full 3D, with Super-Deformed characters and an art style similar to Dragon Quest IX, or with 2D sprites that closely resemble the Super NES games in the series. The opening uses both styles on separate screens, before having you choose which you want to stick with.
  • Relax-o-Vision: The signature Puff-Puff attack. In this game, Jade is the one who uses this.
  • Reincarnation: A major theme of the game. Yggdrasil governs reincarnation; the Hero is the reincarnation of the original Luminary and the twins are the reincarnation of the original Luminary's companion; Serenica.
    • Even Kai is revealed to be the reincarnation of his grandfather who fell in the love with a mermaid; in the post game content.
  • Remixed Level:
    • After Mordegon takes the Sword of Light and sends Yggdrasil crashing to the ground, a few new pathways open up on the overworld, the landscape in many areas is devastated by flames, and tougher enemies start popping up. When Calasmos regains its full power, said pathways open up again and even stronger enemies spawn - both on the overworld and in certain dungeons, this time.
    • Drustan's Labyrinth is entirely built out of dungeons and areas that the party has previously explored, albeit with its own unique array of enemies, crafting items, and treasure.
  • Retraux: The 3DS version has a map that looks like a Dragon Quest game on the Super Nintendo. It was later brought over to the Nintendo Switch version.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: When you first meet Michelle, do not think anything amiss. For, as you will soon learn, everyone in Nautica talks just like this. (The mermaids, more specifically, speak in heptameter couplets, while the mermen speak primarily in prose but find time for rhymes within those lines.) The people of Hotto speak in Haiku.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Jade, Rab, and the hero turn out to be members of royalty.
  • Running Gag: People complementing and, subsequently, being jealous of Luminary's perfect hair.
  • School Girl Lesbians: Two girls in L'Academie de Notre Maitre les Medailles. In the first half of the game; one takes it seriously while the other plans on moving on after they graduate. In the second half of the game, this is reversed; the first girl panicking over the state of the world; and the second feels they can't do anything about it; so they may as well stay in L'Academie and continue being a couple.
    • After the Lord of Shadows is defeated, though, they both decide to be together after graduation.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The star Erdwin's Lantern is revealed to be the sealed body of the demon god Calasmos.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: The Draconian Quest serves this role - it's a set of limitations that the player can turn on when starting a new game. This includes harder enemies, no escaping from battles, no shopping, lesser to no experience points from weaker monsters, not being able to get any hints from NPCs and not being able to equip any armors. Needless to say, turning more than two of those will make the game Nintendo Hard. You can turn them off at any church or statues, but you can't turn them back on on this particular playthrough.
  • Sequence Breaking: While the narrative of Act 2 seems to have a clear order in reuniting with your party (namely Rab, Sylvando, Jade, Erik and finally Serena), its actually quite possible to do each character's segment and rerecruitment in virtually any order you want, though this will make certain boss fights either easier or harder, most notably Jinxed Jade and Bogga.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The main crux of the post-game scenario. Your team is not simply going to let Veronica die, so long as there's something they can do about it. Even if it involves a Timey-Wimey Ball that would make Crono and gang blush. Going further from their wishes to get Veronica back, the Luminary and his team also prevent many other tragedies from happening again in the new timeline, several characters who had previously died can be saved this time around.
  • The Shangri-La: The very aptly named Angri-La. A temple on top of a snowy mountain inhabited by bald orange robed monks. They have an agreement with Dundrasil to train their princes for a time when they come of age.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The game's original Japanese subtitle translates to "in search of lost time."
    • A bard in Sniflheim sings something that's very close to "Immigrant Song", by Led Zeppelin.
    • In Nautica, a quest given to you by a mermaid to seek a particular human singer is titled "Up Where they Walk." This would seem to be a reference to the song "Part Of Your World" from The Little Mermaid, which features the line "Up where they walk / Up where they run / Up where they play all day in the sun..."
    • There's a fighter in the Masked Martial Arts tournament called "The Underdigger".
    • Bring the cannon to the tentacular fight and Sylvando will declare "Say hello to my enormous friend!" before opening fire with it.
    • The Trophy for obtaining all the appearance-altering equipment is called "Dedicated Follower of Fashion", which is also the name of a song by The Kinks.
    • After the Gold Fever curse is lifted from Sniflheim, the scholar Snorri considers writing a chronicle of the events, with possible titles related to plague-related stories: "The Masque of the Gold Death", "The Sniflheim Strain", and "World War G."
    • Veronica and Serena are twins whom wear similar clothes, but the younger twin is taller and wears green, while the elder twin is shorter and wears red. Kinda like a certain pair of Italian plumbers.
    • Tyriant, an armored skeleton tyrant who favors purple and has a dark sense of humor, has a voice resembling another famous skeleton ruler.
  • Sssssnaketalk: The Auroral Serpent, all the way. "You shall have the pleasssure of being the Auroral Ssserpent'sss sssupper!"
  • Sole Entertainment Option: Averted for the most part. While there's still only two casino halls as it usually was in previous DQ titles, there is also a Racing Minigame in Gallopolis. There's the martial art tournament in Octagonia and Signore Universe contest in Gondolia, but the former plot-relevant and so the player can't participate again, while the latter is unavailable to you.
  • Sound-Only Death: We never see Jade's ruthless beatdown of Bogga, but we hear it, and the party is not so fortunate as we are. Multiple critical and heavy blow sounds in quick succession.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: A few appear in the game, though aside from getting into combat, the game does not punish you for failing them.
    • Near the beginning of the game you need to sneak out of the city through the sewers, avoiding the guards. Though it is possible to brute force your way through.
    • Later in Gondolia you have to sneak past guards in the city to rescue one of your companions.
  • Stealth Prequel: To Dragon Quest III, as revealed in The Stinger, which is itself this to the original Dragon Quest.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: You can always tell when a boss is right in the next area as you will find a chest just outside with four ManaPotions.
  • Tamer and Chaster: The first new mainline entry in the series to solidify the decision of making some classic female wear be a tad little bit less revealing, after the re-release of Dragon Quest VIII, to accommodate the stricter CERO rating board guidelines on what a game accessible for children is allowed to have. One can notice more layers of fabric on classic Female Soldier designs and the popular Divine Bustier costume right away, among other costumes following the same path. About the ever present churches in the series, the use of cross imagery was replaced by a more abstract symbol to distance itself a little bit from the very obvious catholic church inspiration.
  • Tournament Arc: It would hardly be Dragon Quest without one, and with the DQ4 combat music and several Expies to cap it off, no less. It happens in Octagonia, it's one of the final legs of the quest for the Rainbough, and at the end of it, you recruit Jade and Rab after having fought them in the tournament itself.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Several trailers show the hero fighting alongside Heliodorian soldiers against an army of monsters, showing that the country and its forces eventually undergo a Heel–Face Turn. This scene is even shown in the opening montage sequence that plays when you load the game or if you let the title screen sit too long.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Sure, Miko, protecting your town and your son is a good idea, but lying to the town about what really happened, and setting up a Human Sacrifice to appease your monster-son's hunger isn't the best way to do it...
  • Unholy Holy Sword: The Lord of Shadows corrupts the Sword of Light into the Sword of Shadows; forcing the hero to eventually have to make a new Sword of Light. The corrupted version is a drop from the Final Boss; usable in Post-End Game Content.
  • Unholy Matrimony: A secret boss in the Nintendo 3DS version of the game is the formerly unknown wife of Zoma, the final boss from Dragon Quest III.
  • Updated Re-release: The Switch version of the game, called "Dragon Quest XI S", will feature voice acting in the Japanese release, to the contrary of the PS4 and PC versions, which went undubbed. There are also additional scenarios involving the individual party members, the ability to use a live orchestral version of the soundtrack, and to play it as 16-bit style console game like in the 3DS version. The international release will also have the ability to change between the current dub work and the new Japanese voices.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Evac, a spell that lets you warp back to the entrance of the dungeon, becomes this in the face of how Zoom is overpowered in this game, as noted above. Does gain limited use as it can transport you to the beginning of large dungeons when you zoom to them as the zoom points are often in the middle or at the end of the dungeon.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Several sidequests and events in the postgame are made up of this:
    • A faculty member will ask you to recruit any new students who lost their family. Sure enough, there's one fitting that very category in the Last Bastion - and if you visit the academy after talking to her, you'll see her sitting in a classroom, smiling.
    • The postgame's gist is to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. You don't have to do things such as save Tatsunaga (and by extension Miko), rescue Mia, defeat the Gloomivore, and the monsters terrorising the Snærfelt or the seas.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: In Porta Valor's casino, there is a man who sleeps at the bar. The bartender says that the snoozing patron spends his waking hours building a house of cards, which gets ruined by someone every time he dozes off. You can interact with it and cause it to fall. Even the bartender calls you on it!
    • While galloping on the world map, you don't need to run into every single enemy and knock them off like bowling pins... but gosh darn it if it isn't so satisfying to blow away several beasties in a row!
  • Wham Line: When you return to Hotto, Miko, the villain of the week, changes things entirely:
    "Stop! Stay your weapons!
    Though this may seem a dragon,
    it is but a boy!"
  • World-Healing Wave: Mordegon steals the heart of the world tree, Yggdrasil, setting the second half of the game After the End and causing much of the world to end up as a charred wasteland. Once you defeat him, Yggdrasil is restored and emits one of these, restoring life and beauty to the land.
  • World of Pun: As is befitting the franchise, puns are everywhere in the game.
  • Wrecked Weapon: The Sword of Light that the hero makes gets wrecked when he uses it to shatter the Sphere of Time to Time Travel. The Sword of Shadows then shatters after defeating Jasper and his Orb of Shadow.
  • Young and in Charge: The high lama of Angri-La is a young boy. It was noted that many protested this choice initially but he has proven himself very capable.
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