Last week, Square Enix announced that Dragon Quest XI, the latest in the 30 year-old RPG series, would be coming to the west in September on PlayStation 4 and Steam. The company said the Switch version of the game would come “much later” and the 3DS version would not be coming to the west at all alongside these and we got the opportunity to ask them why.
In a conversation with Dragon Quest XI producer Hokuto Okamoto at PAX East, he explained that Switch compatibility with the Unreal Engine 4 engine had yet to reach a point where they could start porting the game when they first made the announcement.
“As we were working on Dragon Quest XI on Unreal Engine 4, we were also wanting to work on the Switch version, as well,” Okamoto said. “Unfortunately, the engine was not compatible at first, though Nintendo and Epic were working on it together. When the engine revision released making porting to the Switch possible, we started working out our plans for the release.”
The Switch version was announced in 2015 alongside the game’s reveal, back when the Switch was still called by its code name NX. Little was said about it beyond that it was coming and Square Enix has long insisted it was still in the works despite never showing it.
When we asked Okamoto if the team knew it would be a problem when they first announced the NX version, he went into a bit more detail. “We first announced the game before the Switch was even named the Switch, because we wanted fans to know we were working on that version. As the console started to come into focus, we found out that the engine and the console did not work together yet. Throughout development of the game, we worked with Epic and Nintendo to make progress to get the game on the Switch.”
The Switch is not the only Nintendo system missing from Dragon Quest XI’s western release plans this year. In Japan, a separate 3DS version was released with the same scenario, gameplay, and script, but an option for 3D or classic 2D sprite-based graphics. Square Enix currently has no plans to bring this version to the west.
“When we started talking about Dragon Quest XI in the west, we wanted to really give the series a fresh start with western audiences” Okamoto told us. “We were able to make a lot of improvements and changes for the localization. Because of that, we felt like the best approach was to present the PlayStation 4 and Steam version of the game as the main one.”
We spoke to Square Enix who confirmed that the company elected not to localize the 3DS game to present a stronger western push for Dragon Quest XI.
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age will be releasing in America on PlayStation 4 and PC on September 4. The team says that the English localization includes a number of engine and gameplay improvements, such as voice acting and the addition of a dash button for the main character.
I’m definitely a little bummed that the 3DS version isn’t coming over, as the west has a lot of classic Dragon Quest fans as well. The two games are functionally identical, so it’s not a significant loss, but it’s definitely a loss all the same.