An Extensively Exhaustive Analysis of Dragon Quest XI’s Encounter Mechanics with an Emphasis on Efficiency

~ intro ~ I ~ II ~ III ~ IV ~
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This one will probably be perpetually unfinished even when it's "finished," because god are there so many mechanics and formulas and skills and how each character's synergizes with everyone else's and enemies and the entire progression of it all across a 50-to-130-hour-game to cover. The notes I have only really deal with the main cast and their toolkits, and even with perfect clarification that conveys exactly what I want to say, I wouldn't ever be able to truly convey a sense of how it all meshes together in text. Go play the game for yourself and come back, I guess.

"It's Tolkien through a glass darkly and, God, if that weren't bad enough, Tolkien through a glass darkly written by computer science nerds for whom English is a third language. After Basic and C++."
"That's very funny," I say. "But, that's precisely what makes them culturally endearing or, at very least, interesting. It's art. Made by mathematicians."
She ignores me. "Not only that, but you're in constant fear of these random battles. It's like there's someone sitting behind you while you're playing, whacking you round the head every 30 seconds or so. You can't see it coming, so you're continuously on edge. Even despite the fact the battles rarely hold any sort of challenge. You hit the same set of buttons a hundred times over, and the machine spits out small change for the effort.
"You say videogames are beautiful, expansive puzzles. I say: bullshit. You may as well be working on a factory assembly line; the challenge is exactly the same: one of perseverance, not intelligence."
"Right, but there's more to it than repetitious combat," I say.
"What, like talking to townsfolk? Jab the talking doll in the stomach with the X button and have it spit out its solitary line of dialogue about the earth's lifeforce or some other hotchpotch pseudo-philosophical twaddle? 'Hey! Would it be OK if you fetched me my lost straw doll from a town on the OTHER SIDE OF THE OCEAN?!' Or: 'Oh-God-Have-You-Heard-The-Rumours-About-This-Evil-Wizard-Who's-Stealing-All-The-Crystals-In-The-World-And-Who-Will-Save-Us?' Yeah, super enriching, Simon."
"No. I mean. Yes. You're sort of exactly right. But you're also sort of missing the point. Yes, games are power fantasies. But more than that, they show us the way things are supposed to be..."
"What?" She puts down the controller and, for the first time in the conversation, listens.
"I mean, deep down they function how we want the real world to function, right? There's a set of rules and, if I follow them and do the right things in the right order, success is kind of guaranteed. That's true of all videogames, but in JRPGs there's the story too. They have a set trajectory that leads me out of the bastard confusion of adolescence towards an endgame of maturity and identity and, er, status I guess. And all you need to do to experience that is follow the breadcrumb trail and keep turning the cogs..."
"You're mixing your metaphors," she says, smiling. "You definitely play too many of these things. The bad writing's rubbing off on you."
It's my turn to ignore her. "Because, while the battles may be random, the war's outcome is always predestined," I continue. "You're predestined to succeed. Just so long as you keep going. And jeez, that may be escapism or a gross oversimplification of the reality we live in, but isn't that sense of... of justice the yearning of every human being? Are not JRPGs maps of perfect worlds where everything behaves how you expect it to."
"Because, when your life turns to shit and people let you down, or when you study hard but still flunk your exams regardless, or when you work your ass off and your boss doesn't notice.... Or, or even if he does but is too preoccupied with his own quests to congratulate you... I mean, that's sort of a broken system. It certainly feels that way. That's just not how things should be. JRPGs counter all that disappointment and unfairness with dependable justice. They reward you for your efforts with empirical, unflinching fairness. Work hard and you level up. Take the path that's opened to you and persevere with it and you can save the world. You can fix the things that break...
"No, wait. They give you that power, sure. But more than that, they give you consistency. This world, and the people in it, do not. JRPGs are, well, er, I guess they're sort of like heaven in that regard. Except with, like, improbably large swords and nuclear-grade hair gel."

—Simon Parkin, “Maps”

every strength bonus that can be unlocked in every skill tree they're available in, along with Hendrik's filled out Heroism section.

Sylvando (good support, okay damage)
Hendrik (good damage, okay support)

[wtf did I mean here??? both of these characters can practically carry the party with their support]

~ intro ~ I ~ II ~ III ~ IV ~
~ return ~