Dragon Quest is 33-years-old. Some of you have been there since the very beginning. BJ, for instance, played the Nintendo Power Giveaway version of Dragon Warrior all the way back in 1989. And others like Austin became mega-fans after being exposed in 2016 or so. No matter when you come to DQ, what matters is what you’re here.
Or almost here.
We get asked a lot about which Dragon Quest game to play first. Should you start with DQXI because it’s the newest one? What about DQVIII because it’s one of the most well-known and well-beloved? Or should you, like many suggest, start all the way back at the beginning and play Dragon Quest I-III before moving into the more modern games.
While there’s no right or wrong answer to that, we take the time to sit down and talk about how we came to the series, what made us love it so much, and what titles we think are good places to start in the series. More important than that, we talk about why you should start there. Because we can see merit in a lot of different places for a lot of different reasons. We love the series, and we don’t think there is any bad place to dig in.
But we do think there are better choices for some people over others.
- Dragon Quest XI might be the best for people who have little to no experience with JRPGs. Earlier DQ games might be a little grindy and obtuse for them. In terms of polish and quality of life, XI is the best of the Dragon Quest games and the most accessible.
- Dragon Quest I would be a great place to start for people who don’t like going backward in terms of features and quality of life. Experiencing the series in numerical order will give players a chance to see the evolution of game systems, monsters, and storytelling mechanics. Starting with a later installment may make going back harder without quality-of-life improvements from later in the series.
- Dragon Quest VIII is often cited as the best place to start because of it being one of the more revolutionary titles in the series. It is essentially the Final Fantasy VII of the series, and if that’s the game that got you into FF games, VIII may be the best Dragon Quest game to play first.
- Dragon Quest V is often cited as the best Dragon Quest game to start with because, well, it is considered by many fans to be the best Dragon Quest game period. If you put stock in that and want to start at the top, DQV is a good choice. It was also the basis of the Dragon Quest: Your Story animated movie, and if you enjoyed that one, you should check out Dragon Quest V for sure.
- Dragon Quest Monsters may even be a series you could look into if you’re a Pokemon fan. While the series is definitely different than everyone’s favorite monster-catching franchise, the core premise is similar enough that if you want to catch and grow your collection and get introduced to the DQ series’ conventions at the same time, you can’t go wrong with any of the DQM games. The only catch here is that the most recent ones released in English are for the Nintendo DS (DQ Monsters Joker and Joker 2). Well worth checking out, though.
Regardless of where you fall about which Dragon Quest to play first, I think we can all agree on one thing: people should play Dragon Quest. No matter where you start, we think you’ll fall in love.
And we know you have opinions on this, too! So send us a voice message at https://anchor.fm/dragonquest/message and tell us which one and why, and maybe you’ll get featured in an upcoming episode!
Which Dragon Quest game do you think is best to play first?
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We are on Twitter as @dragonquaustin and @professorbeej individually, and the show’s account is full of DQ goo-dness at @DragonQuestFM.
Austin is in the middle of playing through each and every DQ game over at DragonQuestAustin.com, and Beej can be heard podcasting on the Geek to Geek Podcast every single week.