I’ve always wanted to play Dragon Quest X since it’s initial release in 2012. However, I didn’t want to go through the trouble of having to get a Japanese Wii or mod my Wii (I eventually modded my Wii for other purposes) and using 2012 VPN technology. As the years have gone by since DQX’s release, it always bothered me that it’s been the only entry in the main numbered series that hasn’t come out in English. I self taught myself some Japanese in the year 2000 during the height of the Dragon Ball Z craze, so I at least know enough of the language to navigate around, but I’m nowhere near fluent. I did finish the original Japanese version of Final Fantasy VIII in the summer of 1999 even before I knew *any* Japanese, so the language barrier wasn’t going to be a big problem for me as I’m persistent in menu memorization and knowing where things are.
In 2019, after listening to the Slime Time Podcast interview with Nawaria and hearing that every expansion to DQX was a full length Dragon Quest game (and she’s right!), my interest in playing started to peak even more. On New Years Day 2020, I decided to finally set up a Japanese Square-Enix Account thanks to the Dragons Den and spent over 2 hours downloading the PC version. I initially told myself that I’d only play for an hour or so and that would be it….
That one hour has now turned into over 300 hours and at the time of this writing, I’ve just started Version 5 (the 4th expansion).
Despite the language barrier, what kept me playing for over 300 hours?!
First of all, the USA IP-ban that was set in place preventing US players from playing was finally lifted a while back, making it far easier to play (although other countries like Europe still have the ban). I got a lifetime VPN subscription only to realize that I actually didn’t need one, but I at least have a VPN just in case the IP-ban is reinstated and to check out other things like Japanese only shows on Netflix. I assume Square-Enix realized that US players were spending the money to play, so they finally decided not to throw away free money.
My only experience with MMORPGs was “Guild Wars” back in 2006 since it was free to play and I was a poor college student. Most of the game I spent doing the story and joined my friend’s Guild of 2 people (just me and him). I was literally called a “nooblet” when I tried to play PvP (lol..). I made it to the end part of Guild Wars, but stopped playing since it got too difficult to proceed without other human players (hey, I’m a lone wolf). I never bothered playing other MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, Phantasy Star Online, etc. I mean, just look how complicated the interface is in these games! It’s like trying to figure out plans to a nuclear reactor!
However, DQX isn’t like that.
One thing that made me keep playing DQX was that it’s *simple*. While the game is an MMORPG, it still *feels* like a Dragon Quest game at it’s core with it’s simple menu system when you’re in towns and on the world map. The simple menu system from the series still continues to be used in the battles of DQX without resorting to a billion buttons and icons on screen. I can easily navigate the menus to equip items, fight monsters, cast spells all through simple menu memorization even without having to translate the Japanese text every time. It honestly feels like a core Dragon Quest game that you can play with friends rather than a standard MMORPG.
The good thing about DQX is that you can download the trial on the PC, Switch, PS4 and you immediately get the full base game (Rise of the Five Tribes Online) and chapters 1-3 of Version 2, the first expansion (The Sleeping Hero and the Guided Allies) completely for free (with limitations). That’s almost *2* full length DQ games you get for free! Well, more like 1 and 3/5ths of 2 games.
What made me want to get a subscription was within a week of playing, my friend Ali invited me to play with her. She drove me around in her *car* (Yes, DQX has actual vehicles you can use for travel) around the world, showed me her house, helped me get some items, and fight some monsters. I was kind of discouraged from playing games online with other people because of Guild Wars, Halo, and other games where 10 year olds with high pitched voices yell every curse word at you. Everyone says playing MMORPGs is a thousand times better when you play with friends and they’re exactly right. I was initially reluctant to get a subscription and purchase the full game, but within 2 weeks of starting, I figured out how to buy Japanese webmoney to exchange for Square-Enix Crysta and got a 90 day subscription. I also immediately bought the DQX Versions 1-4 All in One Package for both the PC and Switch off Amazon Japan and the standalone Version 5 (the 4th expansion).
I initially started playing on the PC version, but after 20 hours, I moved onto the switch thanks to the ease of just logging in with my Japanese Square-Enix account. If you have a Square-Enix account, then DQX constantly saves your data to the cloud (as indicated by the green rotating icon on the upper left) so you don’t need to go to a priest every time you need to save. I’ve had the game crash on me multiple times and would still start in the same exact place I left off, not losing any progress at all. I know MMORPGs have cloud saving in order to prevent players from losing their progress just in case their connection crashes. I know there’s a method to play on the switch version without a Square-Enix account, but I highly recommend against it since it only saves the game to your console and you’ll lose your data if you delete the game in the future.
The biggest problem that prevents people from playing is the language barrier. Looking at all the Japanese text is incredibly overwhelming, but since I’ve been an anime fan for a long time and have tons of Japanese only merchandise from series like Dragon Ball, Naruto, JoJo, etc, I’m used to seeing Japanese text and don’t feel as overwhelmed as I did over 20 years ago. After the year 2000, I kinda stopped learning Japanese since I got lazy, but DQX has inspired me to start learning the language once again. We also have a *ton* of resources like Google Translate for your phone, various Japanese DQX Guides that are extremely Google Translate friendly, and a great English speaking DQX community on the Dragon’s Den that’s willing to help people play the game. If I started playing this game in 2012 without google translate and the Japanese guides, I’d be incredibly lost. There’s never been a better time than *now* to start playing 8 years later. Also, the scene direction in the cutscenes is so masterfully done that you can easily get the gist of what’s going on based on the expression of the character’s faces, the music, and the camera angles which really sets the tone for the scenes. I absolutely guarantee you that there are a ton of experienced players from the USA playing DQX who don’t know a lick of Japanese, but have all the top weapons, armor, and accessories who get by on menu memorization alone and using all the tools we have today. My pal Austin from Dragon Quest FM doesn’t even know any Japanese and is playing the game just fine. He’s even made notes of the entire menu and what each option does! If there’s a will, there’s a way!
Unlike Guild Wars where so many of the quests were so difficult that you were literally *required* to have human players to beat them (Sanctum Cay..), DQX’s quests are fully completeable single player and you can go through the entire main story without ever teaming up with another player. The computer controlled AI you can hire as your party is incredibly smart and has no problems healing you and casting buffs in your time of need. In all honesty, the game is so much more fun with friends and other people, but it also has a fantastic story that single players can enjoy. While I feel DQV and DQXI have stronger stories, DQX has a ton of parts that will tug at your heartstrings, cheer for the characters, and leave you with a good feeling inside once you’ve helped someone out. Like I mentioned above, the scene direction for the story and cutscenes is so well done that even without Japanese knowledge, you’ll at least be able to feel the mood and emotions through the characters, camera, and music. For both multi and single players alike, this game has something for everyone.
Aside from spending over 300 hours in the game, I have a nice Japanese style 3 story house by the beach which is decked to the brim with furniture and decorations (I’ll be doing a separate post about housing in DQX in the future) along with a car of my own I use for travel. I have a wonderful group of friends that I always play with, totally negating the negative experiences I had with Guild Wars and other online games. I’ve also joined the Dragon’s Den Team and met so many great people (and visited our awesome Team House!). All of the random Japanese players that I’ve met through DQX have been nothing but kind to me and one even revived me when I died in a tower once! Even though I’m at Version 5, I’ve *barely* begun to scratch the surface of the full scope of everything you can do in this game. There’s also a ton of awesome seasonal events like the 30th Dragon Quest Anniversary where players got to explore a fully 3D rendered Charlock Castle and fight a full 3D rendition of the Dragonlord! The 6th Anniversary of the game had a special event where players got to fight Zoma from Dragon Quest III and also obtain the Erdrick/Loto suit! There’s also been the Easter Event, the White Day event, and the Astoltia Voting Events that keeps people constantly playing, so there’s always something aside from the main story to do in DQX with tons of replay value!
Dragon Quest 30th Anniversary Dragonlord Event. Video by SaiganCat.
Dragon Quest X 6th Anniversary Zoma Event. Video by Project COE.
Current DQX Collection:
Dragon Quest X (Wii)
Dragon Quest X (Wii U)
Dragon Quest X All in One Package Versions 1-4 (PC)
Dragon Quest X All in One Package Versions 1-3 (PS4)
Dragon Quest X All in One Package Versions 1-4 (Switch)
Dragon Quest X (Switch)
Dragon Quest X Brave Princess Anlucia Figure
Dragon Quest X Artworks: The Art of Astoltia
Dragon Quest X Arukikata (Here’s Dragon Quest X!) Vol. 2
Dragon Quest X 6th Anniversary Showtime
Dragon Quest X Original Soundtracks 1-3
This is my current DQX collection as of April 2020 and a lot more is on the way. I bought a copy of the game for each console to see how each version plays (I know you can’t play the Wii one anymore, but I had to have it since it was the first release of the game). All of the DQX books and soundtracks have tons of great information and redeemable codes for in-game items (like the Zoma statue!). I plan on doing separate blog entries on the books and I’m currently planning an in-depth review/retrospective series of videos for my “Awesome Video Game Memories” series on YouTube, so keep an eye on this blog for more updates!
I can’t even begin to fathom how much I’ve been enjoying DQX and the massive impact it’s had on my life. After over 300 hours of playtime, I now understand why we should *really* get this game in the west, but I do know MMORPGs are a hard sell here (especially after the Final Fantasy XIV debacle regarding it’s first version) and DQ’s popularity in the West isn’t as prominent as Japan’s. Regardless, Yuji Horii and his team have done such a great job still keeping DQX as a core DQ game first with MMORPG elements rather than a full on different MMORPG experience. Never say never as Square-Enix has been considering bringing an offline version to the West (still hasn’t happened as of this writing) and Phantasy Star Online 2 which also came out in 2012 was just finally localized.
Dragon Quest X has been such an amazing experience regardless of the language barrier and if you have the patience, I *highly* recommend playing it to experience one of the best DQ experiences we still haven’t gotten in English yet.
Stay tuned for my next post as I list *all* of the resources that I use to help me play DQX with ease! Let’s go on a Dragon Quest in X together!