It was a day that started like every other Tuesday - ignoring our multiple alarms, throwing things at the cat during our traditional morning battle of the wills as she tries to annoy us into getting out of bed to feed her, before begrudgingly forcing ourselves to leave the warmth of our bed on a rather rainy, and kind of cold, July morning. Making a cup of tea, having a slice of peanut butter on toast - nothing too unusual there. Until we switched on our computer, to discover that, this morning, Square Enix were mid-conference revealing the next installment in one of our favourite role-playing games. The game in question? Dragon Quest.
Revealed this morning, via a rather lengthy Japanese press conference, Dragon Quest XI: In Search of the Departed Time, to give it it's full title, was shown to the world (or at least the Japanese-speaking portion of it) for the first time ever. Coming to the Playstation 4 and the 3DS, as well as the upcoming Wii U successor, the Nintendo NX, the title is due to hit Japan sometime during the series' 30th Anniversary - which means we're looking at a release sometime next year.
Promising to make full use of the Playstation 4's capabilities to make the swishest looking Dragon Quest game to date, a 3DS release of the title may seem like a bit of an unusual decision - after all, the portable console is way less powerful than Sony's home console - but given Japan's preference for on-the-go handheld gaming, it's a move which perhaps does make sense. Apparently the 3DS version will follow the same story as it's console big brother, and will have much of the same team working on it - except rather than the jaw dropping scale of the PS4 version, it'll have a more 'chibi' cutesy graphical style to it on the top screen, and a more old-school pixel-y 16-bit view of the same area on the lower Touch Screen. Which sounds a bit odd in theory, but looks rather cool in practice.
As the event this morning was just an initial look at the upcoming game, there's not really all that much in the way of official details about Dragon Quest XI at the moment - no story details, little in the way of battle systems, and only really caught a glimpse of the main character. The (presumably) Playstation 4 version saw the main guy wondering around a lush green field, littered with mountains, ruins and a bridge over a roaring waterfall - and the first thing you notice is that enemies roam the fields you explore, letting you trigger battles with them by running up to them. Being the next entry in the main series, we're expecting traditional turn-based pick-your-action-from-a-list battling we've come to know and love - and from a quick glimpse we caught of the 3DS version, it looks like XI is set to stick to the tried and tested formula, rather than bow to peer pressure and go the more action-orientated approach we've seen in role-playing games of recent years. As an added bonus, you can also jump now while exploring the game's towns, giving you access to every last nook and cranny - although when it comes to information beyond that, details are few a far between.
However, perhaps most interestingly, in closing the presentation, Square Enix also revealed that Dragon Quest XI is in development for Nintendo's next home console, the NX. That means that not only is Dragon Quest the first confirmed game for the console, but it's also perhaps given us an accidental insight into when Nintendo's next console will hit shelves. Given that the game is to be released to tie in with the series' 30th birthday, it's not unreasonable to assume that that also means the NX will hit stores next year too - the big N have already said we'll get to hear more in 2016, so it's entirely plausible to have the proper reveal in the early part of the year, a closer look at E3 in the summer and a launch in the autumn. Or, we suppose, Dragon Quest could launch in late 2016 and the NX plays catch-up in the early part of 2017.
Unfortunately, there's no word as to whether Dragon Quest XI will be making it's way to the West yet - and with a bit of a patchy past with Europe and the US, we can't exactly count a release as guaranteed, either. While the Playstation 2's Dragon Quest VIII faired pretty well, and the follow-up DS adventure Dragon Quest IX also saw the light of day on these shores, recent remakes of VII and VIII for the 3DS have been noticable by their absence - likewise for the Wii U online MMO, Dragon Quest X. But, with a release of spin-off Dragon Quest Heroes for the Playstation 4 still on the cards for this October, we'll be keeping our fingers crossed that XI doesn't get lost in localisation limbo… In the mean time, why not enjoy the very first blurry shaky-cam footage below: