A Sneak Peek at the Immersive Dragon Quest VR Game
posted on by Kim Morrissy
A Dragon Quest VR game will be launching at the VR Zone Shinjuku on April 27. The game is basically a crash course in Dragon Quest crammed into roughly 15 minutes: you play as a team of four, fighting monsters and saving the kingdom. The party has to include two Warriors, a Priest, and a Mage, each with their different fighting styles. You'll be battling iconic Dragon Quest monsters, including slimes, drackies, and a golem, before facing off against the demon lord in his castle.
I got to play the game early as a member of the press, and can confirm that the game looks absolutely stunning. The game is a sensory experience; there is one point where you hear ominous rumbling behind you, and when you turn around you see a mountain towering over you, crumbling into pieces. This is actually an alarming moment in context, as the rubble looks like it's landing close to you. There is another point where you walk across a magic bridge, which feels precarious even when you know you're walking on concrete in the real world.
In terms of gameplay, the Dragon Quest VR game is similar to the Dragon Quest THE REAL attraction that was offered at Universal Studios Japan during summer last year. You physically swing your sword to take down enemies and hold up your hand to cast spells, and you probably won't win unless your priest is constantly healing you during the battle against the final boss. The big difference is that this is a full virtual reality experience, so you'll be wearing a headset and a backpack PC while traversing a 20x12 meter room. You'll see your weapon in hand and your teammates around you as characters in the game, as well as the lush backgrounds and dynamic monsters. The level of graphical detail is on par with the world of Dragon Quest XI, which puts it a step above even the technically impressive Dragon Quest THE REAL.
This being only a 15-minute attraction, the game doesn't fully capture every major aspect of the Dragon Quest role-playing game experience. You level up after each battle, but it doesn't meaningfully affect stats or anything, so it's just a cosmetic addition. You also can't obtain treasure or go exploring beyond the strictly determined routes. The theme of the VR experience is “adventure”, but the emphasis is definitely on the battling first and foremost. It's also worth noting that the battling is actually a main point of difference between the VR experience and the turn-based combat in the main Dragon Quest games.
Having experienced Dragon Quest battles in VR form, I do have to wonder if a full-length game would work in VR, which many people have been clamoring for. The game involves wearing a heavy backpack PC and waving your arms a lot, no matter which class you've picked. Even kids as young as seven will be playing the game, so 15 minutes feels like just the right length of time before things could start getting fatiguing.
Even outside the attraction itself, the VR Zone is currently in Dragon Quest mode. After you enter the park, you'll walk into a room with a large screen showing all the monsters in the game moving about. This should give you a good idea of how things look inside the VR experience. There will also be a Dragon Quest collaboration cafe at VR Zone's in-store restaurant starting from April 27.
VR Zone Shinjuku first opened last year and offers a range of exclusive VR attractions, including Mario Kart and Evangelion VR: The Throne of Souls. Note that the “one-day four-ticket” pass does not apply to the Dragon Quest VR. The experience costs 3,200 yen (tax included) and must be purchased separately from the 800 yen entry ticket. From April 27 - July 20, Bandai Namco Amusement will offer free access to a virtual resort activity for children with the “one-day two-ticket set”, priced at 2,000 yen (tax included). The team behind the game has hinted that they are currently working on variations of the Dragon Quest VR game involving different monsters and scenarios.