Dragon Quest III HD-2D Remake Preview – A Gorgeous and Immersive Reimagining

    Infinitely charming.

    Dragon Quest III is one of the most influential RPGs of all time. Known as Dragon Warrior III at release, DQIII marks the beginning of the Erdrick Trilogy, the story told across the first three Dragon Quest titles. Unlike many RPGs, Dragon Quest III begins with a hero named Ortega, who fails to defeat Baramos, the Archfiend. As the child of Ortega, you are quested to slay Baramos and complete the quest that your father could not. 

    Decades have passed since the game’s release in 1988, with Enix merging with Square into Square Enix in the years since, but the memories and impact have remained. As part of the Dragon Quest 35th Anniversary Livestream, Square Enix announced an HD-2D Remake of this beloved title for modern audiences. After a few years of silence, Square Enix has revealed at today’s Nintendo Direct that the game is officially due out this November across all current platforms.

    Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to preview Dragon Quest III HD-2D Remake. Developed by ARTDINK and Team Asano at Square Enix, this remake aims to bring new players into the world of Dragon Quest for the very first time while offering returning fans new surprises to explore. 

    Dragon Quest III HD-2D Remake is the best-looking game in the HD-2D line yet. Even looking at Team Asano’s latest title, Octopath Traveler II, which looked stunning, new details in this remake are immediately noticeable. Right from the get-go, I noticed an immense amount of details in my preview session, from the lighting to the shadows. A beautiful day and night cycle exists in this remake, which adjusts the lighting across each sprite, enemy, and environment. Exploring caves is also more immersive than ever, with gorgeous lighting effects from lanterns and candles as you creep through corridors. There’s even an incredible depth-of-field effect that looks lovely as you cross through the world map.

    There’s an impressive amount of detail showcased in each of the hand-crafted 3D environments, which are brimming with details and feel primed to be explored. Little details in the world made my time with the game very memorable, with birds flying away as I walked across bridges and small shrubs blowing in the wind across the plains. Each of the pixel art sprites in Dragon Quest III feels more alive than ever in this HD-2D Remake. Hair blows in the wind with every passing step, even sifting side to side as characters stand idle in a town. Each of the characters has a unique sprite for almost every action you can think of. Whether opening a container or using an item, these character sprites maintain the nostalgic appeal, adding tons of personality. There are dozens of new animations to discover.

    While these might seem like minute details, they greatly contribute to the experience. I felt as if I was instantly transported into the world of Alefgard. The world feels alive, with surprises in store at every corner. In the two POIs I visited, I found myself exploring every inch of the town to see what NPCs were up to in their daily lives. Enix aimed to create this in the original Dragon Quest III, but this immersion is now fully realized thanks to the HD-2D environments. 

    Square Enix has made respecting the original game and recreating its experience the highest priority of this release, and that’s seen from the second you jump into combat. The game controls exactly as you remember it with exciting turn-based battles, but many modern features are available to customize your experience to your liking. 

    One of the newest improvements to the Dragon Quest III combat system is auto-battle, which allows you to customize the trends and commands of your party to attack, defend, or cast magic automatically. This is customizable down to the specific character, so you can choose to keep the Hero as a traditional turn-based party member with the others automatically operating. Of course, you can even change the auto-battle settings to have each and every party member operate on their own. The possibilities and strategy are all up to you. There are also now multiple options for battle speed, where you can adjust battles to be faster or slower. This feels like a much more customizable version of the fast battle found in the Final Fantasy re-releases, like Final Fantasy VIII Remastered. I had so much fun experimenting with auto-battle and battle speed settings during my playthrough. At one point, I set the battle speed settings to max and grinded out levels for my party as fast as I could to tackle enemies in a cave area.

    Alongside gameplay, the Square Enix team has placed an emphasis on the story of Dragon Quest III and bringing new players into this world who might have never played a Dragon Quest title before. As a result, Dragon Quest III HD-2D Remake features an expanded story that goes far beyond what was available in the original game. You can expect to discover all sorts of new experiments and learn more about the game as you journey to defeat Baramos.

    The soundtrack for the game has been entirely recorded by one of the most well-respected orchestras in Japan – the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. As you traverse through the world map, a triumphant recording of the Dragon Quest main theme plays. Combined with the incredible day/night cycle, there were moments in my preview where I could not believe what I was playing. This orchestrated soundtrack is going to be absolutely incredible – an instant addition to my playlists.

    One of the neatest ways this remake pays homage to the original release is the inclusion of retro sound effects. Despite the beautiful rerecorded soundtrack, battle effects and other action effects still utilize retro jingles. I loved experiencing this in my playthrough, and I’m curious to see what other areas of this remake may incorporate similar elements.

    Voice acting is also present in the game, though it is hard to gauge in what capacity. During battles, party members will grunt and shout as they deal attacks to enemies and such, but no voice lines occur when walking through the map. Additionally, standard town NPCs had text dialogue, but it was not voiced. I do expect important characters related to the story to be voiced, though, as I did part of the storyline to get an item, and the scene was voiced when I was presented with the item. 

    Alongside the PlayStation 5 version of the game, I also got to test out Dragon Quest III HD-2D Remake on the Nintendo Switch! This was done in handheld mode on a standard model, which allowed me to experience how the performance of the game in handheld is expected to be. The game looks and runs great on Switch, but I did notice some extremely long loading times between points of interest and the world map. With such an expansive world, it is understandable, however.

    Overall, Dragon Quest III HD-2D Remake was by far the title I was most impressed by during my time previewing titles over the last week. With its unbelievable charm, gorgeous visuals, and expanded world, I came away absolutely starstruck by this release. I am so excited to explore how Square Enix and the Dragon Quest team have evolved one of the most important entries in the series into something bigger and better than ever before.

    Dragon Quest III HD-2D Remake will release on November 14 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Steam and Windows.

    Noah Hunter
    Noah Hunter
    Noah is Final Weapon’s Editor-in-Chief. He co-founded the website in June 2019 and has been writing for it ever since. In total, he has over five years of writing experience across many publications, including IGN Entertainment. His favorite series include Xeno and Final Fantasy.

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