Square Enix finally unveiled the oft-delayed next entry into their mega popular Dragon Quest series today, Dragon Quest X. The series has been famous for being fiercely traditional and slow to implement any changes to it’s simple but successful formula; that changed with 2010’s Dragon Quest IX on the DS, which changed the focus of the usually single-player series into multiplayer dungeon crawler. Now, DQX is taking that even further by expanding the series into a full-blown online MMO.
The game (seemingly, details are scarce this early,) takes the traditional DQ formula and adds online multiplayer to it; while Square is labeling the game as an MMO, there are no details on whether it truly is a full-blown MMO with thousands of simultaneous players inhabiting the same world, or if it’s simply more similar to previous console “MMO’s” like Phantasy Star Online or Monster Hunter in which players are grouped into instanced rooms. The brief footage shown tonight at Square’s conference seems to suggest the game combines DQ8’s exploration and massive world with DQ9’s focus on multiplayer and character customization, while retaining the turn based combat that is a staple of the series.
Unlike Dragon Quest VIII and IX, DQX is being developed internally at Square Enix rather than at the independent Japanese development studio Level 5, and the graphics for the Wii version look about as good as you can expect from a Wii game; Square Enix is promising that the Wii U version will have improved graphics to take advantage of that system’s more powerful hardware. More over, the original Wii version will apparently ship with a special USB attachement that will be required for play; it is currently unknown if the USB drive contains extra hardware or simply exists to store data for a game install or downloadable content.
Despite being announced for the Wii back in 2008, DQX has had an extended development schedule (as do most Dragon Quest games,) and Square Enix would only commit to a tentative “sometime around 2012” release date, which would probably put DQX as the final major Wii release. No details regarding a Western release were announced, but considering Nintendo and Square Enix’s co-publishing deal on Dragon Quest IX resulted in the best sales the series has ever seen in both Western territories and Japan, it seems likely that both parties will be eager to see this game released in as many territories as soon as possible.