[A quick note before we begin: Going forward you’ll be able to find all of these Dragon Quest X diary posts under the new ~Dragon Quest X Play Diary~ tag]
At a bit of a loose end and with my brain turned to mush after writing an unreasonably enormous review on brand new Taiwanese RPG Sword & Fairy 7, I thought this would be the perfect time to play a little more Dragon Quest X. So I sit down, briefly appreciate that the game’s dogged commitment to classic console-like controls mean I don’t have to get up and fetch my accurately-named HUGE trackball from the other side of the room, and log i-
And wait for the launcher to update. Dammit. You know what launcher updates mean? They mean there’s going to be a game update waiting for me too – and it’s probably going to be a big one. For me, on my free VPN connection (European Dragon Quest X players are still IP-blocked, unlike American fans), this is a disaster – I’m going to be stuck for hours watching that little bar make snail-like progress across the screen, listening to a pleasant plucked violin version of a musical piece I’m sure I know but can’t name on loop until it’s done.
It turns out the update takes about five minutes – and ends with me smiling: Not because it had finished and finally freed me from its bandwidth-hogging grip, but because once it’s done the launcher plays a happy little remix of the Dragon Quest level up fanfare, as if the game itself had gained some XP. I’d forgotten it did that and in a funny way I’m glad I did; that was a nice surprise.
I’m finally in – and immediately made to read a lengthy albeit cheery system message about a two-part welcome campaign accompanied by an image of some of the fantastic things I can get from it, including the gift card I’ve just received but have no time to dwell on because somebody else is here, another newbie in the same starter set of Weddie clothes and wearing the distinctive pink angel slime hat that grants anyone below level 89 triple the usual amount of experience points we all wear (mine’s on but hidden from sight – I like my hair!). What if they… talk to me?! I try to make a polite but quick exit only to realise with horror I’m walking rather than running away, this person’s maintaining a respectful distance but clearly following me, and I’ve completely forgotten which button toggles auto-walk off.
We end up saying “Hi!” outside the church via the game’s handy pre-built phrase/emote menu (there’s a standard set tying useful terms – “Thanks!” “OK!” “Do you want to form a party?” and similar – to appropriate visual emotes, although you can add your own as well) and… that’s it. Feeling like even more of an idiot than I did a few seconds before, I amble over to the closest important NPC in a futile attempt to style it out and look like I’ve actually got something to do, and as I make my painfully slow journey I remember the walk toggle is… somewhere around the bottom-left of my keyboard, I think? Ah! It’s the Z key. Thank goodness for that. I briefly consider sticking a “This key you moron” post-it note to my keyboard before realising tattooing “Z=RUN” onto the back of my hand would probably be more effective.
Now I should… Oh! Letters! How come I’ve got letters? I pop on over to the local mailperson – it turns out these are beautifully decorative mails sent from NPCs, inviting me to expired fishing contests and fresh spooky Halloween fun – from what I’ve seen (and what I can remember from last time I cleared the game) Dragon Quest X is pretty good about making sure events are in accessible locations but I’m not quite at the point where I can hop on over to join in, so I’ll just enjoy the cute messages and get on with some proper questing instead.
Which is why I’m back running across the stunning landscape that is the Korutt region (in the absence of any official English translations for just about everything I’m, um, just going with whatever my eyes and ears happen to like). A nearby Slime runs away from me in fright, my mighty six levels of accumulated power just too much for the smiley blue blob to handle. And then…
And then I realise I’ve forgotten what it is I’m supposed to be doing, and I can’t see a helpful marker on the map either. So I head off to consult my screenshot folder for clues and records of earlier conversations (I’m sure there’s a menu somewhere in the game that calls up quest-related text, but I’ve again forgotten where to look in the overly-compact list… and I like looking at the screenshots anyway) – and find what I’m looking for. By now the bright blues of Korutt’s skies have begun to fade into hazy pinks as the virtual day wears on , and I realise I really don’t mind what I’m doing or how much progress I’m making, so long as I’m out here in this beautiful place.
I’m mildly frustrated to discover that I can’t seem to take a decent photo of my character in their cool battle pose no matter how hard I try: I always seem to get a shot that’s either nothing but sticky-out backside or there’s some limb in the way, obscuring her face. It’s an odd “problem” to consider – does a pose still look cool if the player can’t view it from an angle that highlights its inherent cool-ness? Answers on a postcard please. Anyway! Quest done, Hyuza irritated (he’s the 2COOL4U bandanna-wearing sorta-rival Weddie that keeps popping up in the main storyline – think… think Shadow the Hedgehog, but not, I suppose?), Zoom Stone given, and one cute little loading screen adver-message wishing me a Happy Halloween later (while also reminding me of the matching themed event) and those hazy pinks overhead have given way to starry skies. I find myself looking up at them a lot as I run off to clear another quest, just in case I catch sight of a shooting star. I’m not even sure Dragon Quest X has shooting stars (please don’t tell me) but I like the idea of checking, just in case.
And while I’m busy staring at the sky instead of where I’m going I run into a Slime and trigger a battle, swiftly dispatching them with a single blow and feeling extremely guilty for doing so. Sorry Slime.
By now I’ve moved on to Lenam Fields, another lush and beautiful area… with BUBBLE SLIMES SCOOTING THROUGH THE LONG GRASS! I love Bubble Slimes, they always look a bit cheeky to me for some reason – I think it’s the way their slightly goopy body slides around that does it. I hit level seven thanks to my first Bubble Slime fight just as the night rain starts to lazily fall and the wooden church in this area I was aiming for comes into view.
Once inside I realise again I might have to talk to an actual human being (even if they are pretending to be another Weddie, just like me) but the only other real person in the building decides to cheer me on instead, and again I feel like an idiot for ever thinking that scenario could have played out differently. Suitably told off by myself for fretting over a little casual chat in an online game I know for a fact I can solo to the end, I continue the story, hand over one very shiny shell to a beautiful bride and…
I think I’ll save that messy problem for next time.
FASHIONABLE PERSON OF THE DAY:
This person’s colourful clothing made me smile. I think it was the umbrella that did it – that shows a special sort of commitment to being as bright and thoroughly rainbow’d as they could possibly be, and I felt lucky to have bumped into them.