Culture

Dragon Quest Walk: Square Enix Challenges Pokémon Go with New AR Mobile Game

Here's a sneak preview of the game everyone's talking about. Plus the answer to that all-important question: Will it need microtransactions to play?

By 4 min read

No mobile game has garnered an international player base as large as Niantic’s smash-hit Pokémon Go which allows players to walk around the real world and catch pokémon with the swipe of a finger.

But what franchise has been alive and kicking even longer than Pokémon? You guessed it: Dragon Quest.

Renamed as Dragon Warrior for the North American release, Dragon Quest debuted on the original Famicom in Japan in 1986. One of the longest-running JRPG series of all time, new Dragon Quest titles have steadily been released every four to five years resulting in a total of 11 main titles in the franchise.

So if there’s any title capable of challenging Pokémon Go in the augmented reality game market, it’s the new Dragon Quest Walk. Feast your eyes on this.

Built by leading Japanese game developer and publisher Square Enix, Dragon Quest Walk will be released on both Android and iOS this year. Beta testing began Tuesday this week, with 10,000 iOS and 10,000 Android users being lucky enough to try it out. However, there’s still no word of an official release date in Japan or overseas. 

What to expect from the Dragon Quest Walk gameplay

Essentially: Battles. These can be initiated by walking around in the real world and tapping on monsters once you get close enough to their location on the in-game map. Players have the option of simply walking around to battle monsters that pop up on the map or accepting quests to advance the story.

A preview of what Dragon Quest Walk will look like.

Like in most Dragon Quest games and JRPGs in general, players have the option to attack, use skills/magic, use items, or defend, as well as an auto-battle option. After defeating monsters, they will appear in the monster index, much like the pokédex in Pokémon games. Players also gain experience by defeating monsters which levels-up their character and expands their character’s attributes.

In terms of party size, the revealed gameplay video in a press conference hosted by Square Enix on June 3 showed parties of up to four warriors. While the exact details weren’t explained, it seems that the game can be played by yourself or with a friend.

The in-game map overlay includes a quests button that displays the player’s current chapter in the game. Going further into the quests menu shows the player’s available quests, the quest information, and the quest rewards, as well as the crystal cost to accept the quest.

Does Dragon Quest Walk require microtransactions to play?

Each quest will have a crystal fee to accept it, but instead of sleazily forcing the player to cough up real-world cash in the form of microtransactions (typically used to add cosmetic items or to level-up your characters faster), Dragon Quest Walk employs a cost-free and healthy way of gaining more crystals: Walking.

Quests begin with a short dialogue scene where a non-player character explains the story behind the quest. Upon accepting the quest, you must choose a real-world landmark where the battle will take place. This could be a nearby grocery store, convenience store, park, or other buildings and public areas. The further away the landmark is, the higher the crystal reward becomes. In other words, the more you walk, the more crystals you will receive in the end.

There hasn’t been definitive information revealed about the inclusion or absence of microtransactions. However, based on the press conference and gameplay footage revealed in Japan so far, Dragon Quest Walk will not require microtransactions to enjoy the core gameplay elements — a big plus.

Take down monsters in Dragon Quest Walk.

Once you’ve accepted the quest and begun your journey, items and monsters will appear along your path which you can choose to bypass or interact with. Arriving at the quest landmark, another dialogue cutscene will play before a boss battle begins. The boss battle is of course significantly more difficult than random battles, but once completed you receive the item rewards for completing the quest, experience points to level-up your character and more crystals which can be used to accept more quests. The game will also include staple JRPG dungeon crawling quests, where players must explore a dungeon and clear multiple enemies within it.

Will Dragon Quest Walk achieve the same wild success as Pokémon Go?

With over 100 million downloads, Pokémon Go has remained the most-played augmented reality mobile game for a number of years now. However, Dragon Quest Walk has all the elements it needs to give Pokémon Go a run for its money.

One important element that Pokémon Go is missing is a progressive story. Collecting and leveling-up your pokémon can be fun for a while, and daily quests can give you something to work toward, but nothing hooks players more than a good story and fun gameplay.

With the monster index, classic Dragon Quest JRPG battle mechanics, an ingenious landmark plotting system, AND a story to complete, Dragon Quest Walk has the potential to be one of the best augmented reality games on the market.

Read more about Dragon Quest Walk on the official website.

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