Great RPGs have several key components, as they require a delicate mix of story, action, and of course characters, characters which have a vital role to play in ensuring any RPG stays in the mind of the player long after the quest is over. Dragon Quest is a series with a big reputation considering past successes, particularly in this regard, and now Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is here to bring us back to the trademark Toriyama style and give us some new heroes to become acquainted with.
In a tale that will last for many hours, our young hero will be joined by several friends along the journey. Without those companions, it's impossible to either enjoy or survive the odyssey Square Enix delivers, and for you to get to know them better, we have something very special, as we're introducing you to all six characters in detail, along with a series of never-before-seen screenshots and artwork pieces. The words themselves come from series creator Yuji Horii, and we even have a comparison with references to familiar faces from previous entries.
Canonically referred to as Eleven, as it's the eleventh main entry of the series, the protagonist is a young lad with a fate marked by his past. He is a Luminary - someone who, among their ancestors, has a hero who saved the world, and who has to follow in their footsteps to prevent Lotozetasia from destruction.
This is a figure created with the intention of getting back to the series' roots. "I wanted the main character to be a classic kind of 'hero'," confirms Horii, and even though the design could make "the most attractive main character from the series," he's conceived to be a mere representation of the player. "To make sure the player can identify with the hero, we intentionally make him quite normal, or quite orthodox, so he doesn't act in a way that the player definitely wouldn't," Horii explained. The player must feel like the protagonist, after all, as has been the goal with every DQ game.
A rogue and a thief, Erik sets off on a redemptive journey due to the harm he's caused in the past, as he realises his true purpose is to meet the hero and to help him on his mission; that's the only way to redeem him from his sins. A lucky encounter at Delcadar's prison sparks a friendship that will last for the rest of the adventure.
He's also pretty handsome, and the first main character you'll meet on your journey. Nihilistic and sarcastic, as described by Horii, he's in obvious conflict with the churches that show up during your travels. He's a loyal brother in arms though, who can soon be trusted as he realises the important role he plays.
One is tiny but brave, the other is taller but calm - Veronica and Serena are two sisters who provide a touch of magic to the party, and with a background much more important than meets the eye. Veronica, the shorter of the two, is known for her strong personality and her use of attacking spells, whereas Serena masters the harp and the healing arts.
Both were designed together, as Horii "wanted to include a strong female duo in the game". They're the absolute antithesis in terms of looks and character, so the contrast is their key to captivate players. While the younger one has a straightforward attitude and never minces her words, the older sister is prone to making silly mistakes and is very naive. Both have a lot to say though and share an element of surprise which is being kept a secret for now...
A travelling artist whose main goal is to make everyone in the world smile, Sylvando is one of the most interesting characters as he never shies away when it comes to performing and he's a constant joker, but he also has a sense of chivalry that might end up being way more striking than his appearance. He's a strong support for the main party for this very reason.
He's also all about contrasts. His original design was thinner, taller, but it was redrawn to better fit the idea he has to convey with his look. For Yuji Horii, he's much stronger than it seems, "muscular, but with a beautiful form," in his own words. That quirkiness defines both his personality and his look.
Jade is not someone you mess around with. A warrior who stumbles upon the protagonists in a battle coliseum, Jade is a fully-fledged fighter, and rivals fear her kicks as much as her spear. Soon enough she feels like the protagonist's older sister, however, and as such she does everything possible to protect him. However, not everything is tough about her.
Jade's final goal is to become a powerful martial artist. Fearsome and brave, one of the ways her creators tried to convey her spirit was via her haircut. According to Horii, "having her hair gathered in a high ponytail reflects her strong will and determination". She's the most responsible of the bunch and, above all else, very protective of the protagonist.
Rab takes one of the most traditional roles in Dragon Quest. He's an old man, he's strict, and he's got a touch of mystery about him, but he's actually pretty funny and capable of making both the party and the player smile. However, he hides a couple of surprises up his sleeve...
For Horii's team, this role is mandatory. In the Japanese creator's words, "rather than depict him as a gentle type, I asked for a design that adds a touch of the mischievous old grandpa vibe. He has a side that feigns ignorance, which makes him feel a bit more approachable". In spite of this, there's a permanent question mark flying over who he really is.