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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Was Hendrik telling the truth to Jasper about always feeling inferior to him, or was he just telling his former friend what he wanted to hear so that Jasper could die happily?
  • Ass Pull: Rab, whose body becomes an emaciated husk after travelling to Angri-La's snowy summit to enter the void and convene with his departed master, returns to his usual rotund self after nothing more than a good breakfast. This is a rather odd incident that's Played for Laughs and never mentioned again, despite the build up to the corpse's identity being rather serious.
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  • Author's Saving Throw: After being in Development Hell for a year and a half, the Switch version was finally announced as a definitive version. Thus, it is the closest the west will have to a 3DS version which means the extras exclusive to the 3DS version finally receive an international release. On top of that, the Switch version also includes the option to use the live orchestral versions of the soundtrack.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Opinions on Veronica tend to vary from badass Little Miss Snarker to an annoying brat who never shuts up. Regardless of the side however, Veronica's Heroic Sacrifice is agreed to be downright heartbreaking.
    • Depending on whom you ask, Sylvando is either downright fabulous and a highlight of the game, or an obnoxious clown whose place in the party should have been taken by Prince Faris instead.
  • Broken Base:
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    • The fact that the 3DS version will not leave Japan. On the one hand, some people feel that the 3DS is getting the shaft (since the versions do have some differences). But on the other, some feel that this is a smarter business choice, due to the fact that the 3DS is in decline outside of Japan, particularly in 2018 (when shelf space in most brick-and-mortar stores for 3DS software is shrinking). It has become less of an issue when the Switch version was announced to have the ability to play the game with 16-bit SNES style graphics, a mode that was available in the 3DS version but not the PS 4 and PC versions.
    • Also, the fact that Square-Enix is publishing. Some who are not fans of the accents used in the Nintendo-published remakes like it, while others think that adds to the charm. This ended up being a bit moot as the game does retain a fair bit of the accent conceit of older titles but pares it down in a lot of cases to not be obnoxious.
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    • The soundtrack. Some people take significant issue with the midi soundtrack, feeling that it's a significant downgrade to the orchestral version that was made, but wasn't included because the composer wanted to maximize music and ticket sales instead of letting players hear it in the game. Others are more accepting, feeling that it suits the classic feel of the game. While PC players got a mod that replaces the music with the orchestral version almost immediately, console owners are currently out of luck.
    • The nature of the post-game undoes a lot of the character development of the crew in exchange for a happier ending. Some argue that this is disingenuous and that removing said character development is a disservice to the story, with Serena in particular reverting back to her old self and making her emotional triumph kind of pointless. Others argue that this is in the nature of Dragon Quest- to always strive for a better conclusion for our heroes, and that because of the defeat of the True Final Boss, the happier ending is worth it for the struggle it takes to get there.
    • The Nintendo Switch version getting announced as the Definitive Edition, getting extra story content, dual audio options, and even having the full Orchestral OST the PS4 and PC versions lacked. This ended up invoking quite a bit of Console Wars sentiment among the community.
  • Cry for the Devil: Jasper gets this in his final moments. The lead-up to the hero and Hendrik's confrontation with him in the ruins of Heliodor castle is also interlaced with flashbacks to his more innocent youth.
    • He’s perhaps the only character whose fate is even worse in the new timeline. He’s betrayed and brutally killed by his master Mordegon, in order for Mordegon to maintain his disguise as the King of Heliodor. Mordegon happens to be so ridiculously evil that his disguise is given up not even 24 hours later.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Jasper might have a sympathetic backstory, but he's a cold and cruel man who betrays his kingdom, his closest friend, and all of humanity to the darkness. Good thing he's very pretty and has a lovely voice.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Gemma, the hero's sweet childhood friend and potential Love Interest; it's been lamented that she wasn't a full-time party member. Prince Faris is very popular as well, another common sentiment being that he'd have made an organic addition to the party after his arc.
    • For the villains, Tyriant is well-liked despite not lasting very long. Krystalinda is popular as well.
    • Dave, Sylvando’s pink-adorned shipmate, is quite popular among players despite him only really existing as a function for players to return to their ship.
  • Expy: A later entry in the series that actually ends up being a Stealth Prequel that acts as the beginning of everything, though it carries lore-wise from an actual original hero who mostly saved the world but failed to seal the deal against the primordial dark force that threatens it, and your guy is the direct reincarnation of him to finish the job and begin the legend that will carry into another entry. The existence of a literal sky whale does nothing to help the allusions to Skyward Sword.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Krystalinda before her Heel–Face Turn, although she loses none of the sexiness afterwards.
    • Jasper as well, who's as evil as he is sexy.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Hero/Jade is a very popular ship. Despite the stated tone of their relationship, many feel their tender moments together edge into amorous territory. Not to mention the prince of Dundrasil and the princess of Heliodor making for a natural match.
    • Hero/Erik is also popular; Erik won a Japanese Twitter poll on "who would you like to marry", beating out even Jade.
  • Game-Breaker: There are suprisingly a few of them, more than one would expect in most Dragon Quest games.
    • Divide. Eric's next move will be multiplied by 3 when used. That means more chances to hit, more chances to crit, and with Critical Claim, three guaranteed critical hits.
    • The Belle's Bow. An accessory for Jade that can be acquired nearly immediately after getting her, in its best form it increases her charm drastically and gives her 6MP Recovery per turn. This eliminates most of her MP concerns and remains useful even in the post game. Broken even more if she is equipped with it when you arrive in Arboria, where it will be duplicated in the post game.
    • Though it takes a bit of work to get and you get it in the middle of the second act, the Sage's Stone is as broken in this game as it is in every other game. It is a literal, infinite use free Multi-heal, and it suits both Hendrik and the Luminary as a means to heal the party cheaply. Particularly good for Hendrick, due to his less than stellar MP pool.
    • It is stupidly easy to break the game using the 200-token roulette tables in the Octagonia Casino: simply walk in with a few thousand tokens to start (although the minimum required is 800, this removes Save Scumming) and bet 200 on all three rows and the treasure square (so that you're guaranteed a win). While this seems like a good way to lose money, it isn't - At worst, you'll only lose 200 coins each time, and eventually, the wheel will absolutely land on the Jackpot, netting you a million tokens. And this is repeatable. All of a sudden, you have the best whip in the main game, amazing armour, great forging materials, and, most importantly, the means for infinite gold: Sage's Elixirs are very cheap in tokens, sell for a decent amount at market, and are damned useful to boot. By winning the jackpot, buying a ludicrous amount of Elixirs, and selling them, you can kiss any worries about gold goodbye.
    • While it's not usable during the story, Veronica's Magic Burst spell is by far the most powerful attack available in the postgame. Enhanced by Channel Anger's 50% damage bonus, it can deal upwards of 4000 damage to all enemies, enough to kill some bosses outright and severely weaken those that can survive it. After it's used, the exhausted Veronica can be swapped out for another party member to finish the job...or you could use an Elfin Elixir you bought from the casino to refill her MP so she can cast Magic Burst again next turn.
  • Goddamned Boss: Dragon Quest bosses traditionally have the ability to attack twice. That's not a problem... however some bosses have the ability to attack three times. Bonus points for when they use an attack that can crowd control you and renew the effect on you.
  • Ho Yay: Loads between Hendrik and Jasper, especially towards the end of the game, although at that point it's Foe Yay between The Lancer and The Dragon.
    • Aside from the pair of clearly infatuated schoolgirls at L'Academie de Notre Maitre les Medailles, Queen Frysabel and Krystalinda have some of this going on. The queen's bikini-clad royal guards will actually mention how inseparable they've become if spoken to after the first Sniflheim arc.
    • Queen Frysabel of Snifleheim gets very close to the Ice Witch Krystalinda while she was captured by her. Such that she begs the heroes to not put Krystalinda back into the sealed book she was in; and immediately makes the witch her advisor afterwards. Queen Frysabel's loading screen states that meeting Krystalinda was "the best thing that ever happened to her"; and Frysabel's Bikini'd Personal Guard (no other natives dress in the Ice Kingdom like this) says the two are partners who must never be separated. And yet, in keeping to the trope, it's never precisely said. However, talking to the duo at night in the tavern reveals that Queen Frysabel has crush on one of the male guards so she may be bisexual.
  • Internet Backdraft: Shortly before the game's western release, it was discovered that the series' main composer, Koichi Sugiyama, was an open homophobe and ultranationist who openly glorifies the Japan-Korea War and bragged about using the money he makes from his music to fund nationalist and fascist organizations in Japan. Quite a few western fans were immediately soured to the game from this, especially when Square Enix actively refused to so much as comment on Sugiyama's actions. This also ties into the controversy about the MIDI soundtrack, due to Sugiyama's stated belief that in-game music should be MIDI and that fans should buy albums or concert tickets if they want to hear it orchestrated, which many fans see as a naked attempt to make more money for himself that he would use to fund the aforementioned unworthy causes.
    • The fact that only the 3DS version isn't getting an official English release caused a Vocal Minority of English 3DS fans to immediately get upset, wondering why they're the only platform not getting a translation. The revelation that it's because translating it to the 3DS hardware wouldn't see significant return of investment only increased the vitrol.
  • Iron Woobie: Hendrik. The Sole Survivor of Zwaardsrust's destruction, made an Unwitting Pawn against the heroes, betrayed by his best friend, betrayed and nearly killed by his demon-possessed king, and only seeing the light after the world has been literally covered in darkness. He soldiers through all of this with nary a word of complaint; he always rises to the challenge.
  • It Was His Sled: As is the Dragon Quest norm, the plot has a very classic fantasy feel and thus several big plot twists can be spoiled very casually, but Hendrik pulling a Heel–Face Turn and joining the party is probably the easiest to stumble across, as you literally can't watch anything from the game's second half without seeing it.
  • Most Annoying Sound: This is how a lot of western players viewed the MIDI soundtrack. Especially since some songs have very repetitive beats or shrill trumpets.
  • Narm: Can be invoked by the player through the choice of aesthetic items. Some items will change your characters' appearance, much like Dragon Quest VIII.
    • Can also be forced by the player through running around in combat. This doesn't actually mean anything, just where your character is. Cue players doing things like making every character get as spread out as possible, making people turn their backs to enemies, putting the Squishy Wizard party members right in front of enemies while the melee fighters are distanced... the possibilities are endless. Further adding to the comedy is the fact that the enemies don't react to this - meaning they will literally run around party members to get at the hero in the back (and party members literally stepping to the side to let enemies attack someone right behind them), and enemies will attack party members without even facing them or throw Area of Effect Attacks away from them yet still hit them. The only reason this is forced by the player is the fact it's an entirely optional feature.
    • Kainui's voice is quite monotone, which can make his Dull Surprise take seem almost funny. However, this becomes a bit of Fridge Horror when you realise he could actually be monotone due to living with depression (see Tear Jerker).
  • Narm Charm: The ridiculousness of some of the regional dialects is taken Up to Eleven compared to other localized titles, most especially with the residents of Hotto speaking (mostly) in Haiku while everyone from Nautica Rhymes on a Dime, even during sad and dramatic scenes. But, the crazy thing is, it all still works!
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Daggers/knives were a Scrappy Weapon in previous Dragon Quest games due to low attack power, crapshoot Useless Useful Spell abilities, and characters who can use them often either not being very well equipped to do so or have better weapons available. This game however makes the daggers much better by allowing characters to wield two, enabling the weapons' low base damage to keep up and double the chance to inflict status ailments, which daggers tend to be richer in than other weapons... and the general dagger tree now includes a backstab-style attack patterned on similar mechanics in other games, wherein you can attack a monster disabled by a debuff for absolutely stupendous damage with your "main hand" dagger.
  • That One Attack: Alt-timeline Mordegon's black mist that reverses healing and buffs on you.
  • That One Boss:
    • The Slayer of the Sands is where shit gets real for many players (especially Draconian quest players). The previous bosses were basically an Elite Mook if anything. This is the first real "Boss battle" in Dragon Quest XI - the game was going very easy on you prior to this fight. However, this isn't as much of a Wake-Up Call Boss as...
    • The Arachtagon - it's possible to bumble your way to this without even being prepared. He can tangle up any number of party members for a turn or can attempt to confuse them all. And he loves to spam both attacks. It's common to have half your party invalid every turn literally for the entire fight. Oh and what's more you can't swap party members out if they're immobilized.
    • Dora-in-Grey is one of the most infamous bosses in the game especially on the higher difficulties. Her main gimmick is charming/confusing/sealing you and using her additional turn to deal out hefty damage, leading to an experience that comes closer to Luck-Based Mission than anything else. Oh, and what's more, she often goes for Sylvando, who has an ability that removes charm or confusion with no damage.
    • Booga comes straight on the heels of another tough boss fight, meaning you have no chance to heal up or adjust your equipment. On top of that, he absolutely spams the ever-loving hell out of beguilement and charm moves as well as a move which drains a fair amount of MP from your entire party. And depending on when you fight him, you may be missing several members of your party - including your healer, Rab.
    • In the postgame, Mordegon. Think just because the hero is mid to late 50s in terms of level, your allies are carrying gear that they used against the Final Boss, and you have an immortal Guest-Star Party Member with forbearance that this will be a cakewalk? Think again. The boss will throw out a mist that reverses your healing and buffs for several rounds, forcing you to just eat his attacks. Bonus points since he's a Flunky Boss - and he will also remove your buffs with the disruptive wave attack when he's not reversing them.
    • The Malicious Grey Gordon in the post-game seems easy enough. Most Malicious monsters are simply powered up versions of regular monsters. This guy however, has tons of abilities to immobilize the party, calls an infinite supply of allies that deal roughly as much damage as himself (many of whom can also heal him), uses hustle dance, which heals and instantly peps up all enemies including himself, and casts high level spells. And he moves 3 times a turn so he can do just about everything every turn. And of course he has a ridiculous amount of health.
  • That One Sidequest:
    • A sidequest around one area requires you to find monsters and get an item drop from them... they only appear when it's raining. Two things make it a bit easier: So long as the quest is active, the item drop is guaranteed, and speaking to a nearby cow makes it much easier to learn when it will rain again.
    • A mid-game one involves winning the Jackpot at roulette. Even though a nearby casino bunny can say if someone's about to win, it's still entirely a Luck-Based Mission.
    • Two sidequests in the Post Game involve searching for specific books. All of one are in a single dungeon, but the other requires searching across the whole world!
    • One Guide Dang It! sidequest tasks you with tracking down a hide-and-seek master, but the only thing you're told is that he's "somewhere in Champs Sauvage", one of the larger regions in the game, holding an expansive overworld area, a dungeon, and two full towns, all of which have a lot of hidden alcoves, twists, and turns. Good luck finding the guy!
      • for those that can't be bothered, he is hiding in the minimedal academies magic key door room.
    • Players have discovered that, for whatever reason, betting 12 and 14 in the 200 token roulette game is a sure fire way to hit the jackpot, making it much easier to win the quest that requires said jackpot.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • Using Zoom indoors no longer resulting in hitting the ceiling was met with disappointment from fans. While one can't argue that it allows for far more fluid exploration of Erdrea, many veteran Dragon Quest players felt that it robbed XI of a mechanic that for many became something of a personal Running Gag and added a bit of realism to the setting.
      • Not to mention it leaves Evac pretty much obsolete, as escaping a dungeon is not particularly useful now that you can simply zoom away for 0 MP whenever you want. Which is a shame because the visual effect for Evac is really cool this time.
    • Having party members not following you around the map. While VIII lacked this feature as well, it's a shame that such a classic element was removed, again after it return in IX. And to rub salt in the wound, multiple guest characters DO follow at certain points, which puts the kibosh on arguments that it somehow was unfeasible due to the camera angle or due to technical limitations. This will be addressed in the Switch version of the game, where up to three party members will follow after you.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Some felt that Faris would have been a better addition to the party in place of Sylvando or in addition to Sylvando, owing mostly to the fact that the arc preceding to Sylvando joining the party is centered around Faris. On top of that, Faris himself has a story arc about him becoming a knight and better fighter, which some felt it would have been for a story arc that doesn't get revealed until later in the case of Sylvando.
    • Gemma is the hero's implied Love Interest. On one hand, some feel it's nice that the game has No Hugging, No Kissing and no real Ship Tease between the hero and Serena or Jade (who sees the hero as more of a little brother). While Gemma does sit back and do nothing during fights, this gives great opportunity for Character Development since her arc could be about being more than the hero's childhood romance.
    • While the post-game scenario is generally seen as interesting enough to keep fans at the game, many have complained that this comes at the cost of a lot of the development that the cast underwent during the second act of the game. In particular, Serena loses a lot of what makes her arc special after Veronica's death thanks to the Reset Button.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy:
    • While the game mostly averts it, Magic-heavy characters like Veronica and Rab tend to lean into this owing mostly to the fact that Dragon Quest inverts the Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards trope. Magic is very useful for dealing with groups of enemies, but is of situational usage against bosses. Only Flunky bosses (Which are decently common in Dragon Quest games, but less so in this particular game) being where they will likely see the most action. Thankfully, they have valuable buffs and debuffs that make them somewhat useful against bosses. Adding onto this are also abilities which increase the power of magic damage - a major welcome.
      • Offensive spells are also significantly more useful under the Stronger Enemies Draconian Challenge, as the increased stats for foes includes a significant defense boost that greatly hinders your team's physical attackers, but since magic-resistance isn't a natural stat (only really granted by equipment or status buffs), magic spells will do just as much damage as ever. Or failing that, Veronica and Rab can cast the defense-debuffing Sap/Kasap spells to bring your melee attacks back up to prominence.
    • Serena goes in and out. She's the best healer in the game (And not useful for much else) until her plot-related powerup. When this happens, she becomes Purposely Overpowered and practically forces Rab into the bench. However, after the postgame in which you get Veronica back, she goes back to Crippling Overspecialization, but still preferred due to her healing abilities.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Arachtagon. Before him, most bosses were hilariously weak mini-bosses and even Jasper and the Slayer of the Sand, the first two proper bosses, were not excessively hard. (Though the Slayer of the Sand can be a real Wake-Up Call Boss) Then, you meet this guy who can immobilize party members with spider thread and has also a very powerful area attack that can be devastating for Squishy Wizard characters like Veronica. Later, when he Turns Red, he will start using another area attack that can confuse your characters that can potentially doom you if he is lucky. If you did not spend time to level up, forge equipment, rework existing equipment, and learn skills because you thought that the game was too easy, Arachtagon will be your first major roadblock.
    • Avarith as well. While she isn't a dangerous boss per se, her shtick is that she repeatedly debuffs your characters while buffing herself. Thus, the difference between making the fight last a couple minutes and over ten is whether or not you have remembered this, as you cannot beat the fight by just going focusing on burning her down with physical attacks. (Especially if you went there before Angri-La and thus not having Rab, who has access to Sap and other useful buff spells.)
    • Mordegon in the post-game. This battle is somehow harder than the main game equivalent, despite that in-story, Mordegon has not powered up. It sets the tone for the fact that the post-game bosses are not easy.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Badass?: One of the reasons Gemma being the sole Love Interest is divisive.
  • Woolseyism: "Shirubia" being localized into "Sylvando", rather than "Sylvia". Despite the fact that Sylvando is very flamboyant, it's generally agreed that Sylvando is a wiser choice of name for the character, because he still very much identifies and presents as male. "Sylvia" in Japanese was a sign of just how far he had tried to distance himself from his old name and life as Goliath/Norberto, but in English, especially in 2018, it could be construed as the character being transgender, which he simply isn't in any language. It also sounds more Spanish.
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