Dragon Quest is a cornerstone franchise for the genre of JRPG games. Since its beginnings in the mid-’80s, the series has been pushing this gaming style forward and bringing it to larger audiences. It’s changed constantly throughout the decade while maintaining its signature style and the turn-based combat fans love. Since there are no continuous stories throughout the main series titles outside of the original trilogy, new fans can jump in anywhere but may be intimidated by the number of games, so knowing the best Dragon Quest titles will hopefully help out.
10. Dragon Quest 1
At the foundation of the series is the inaugural Dragon Quest 1, a pioneering title in the JRPG landscape. Despite its simplicity, it laid the groundwork for the franchise’s future. It has that nostalgic NES-era charm and introduced a number of iconic monsters. However, limited mechanics and a basic narrative hinder its standing compared to everything that came after.
9. Dragon Quest 2
Dragon Quest 2 is an ambitious sequel that experimented with a larger world but struggled with balancing issues and a less engaging narrative. It has a series of interconnected storylines and expanded exploration. However, the story suffers a bit due to the scope the game creates, a sad consequence of being ahead of the curve. Add some challenging balancing issues that were the norm in the genre at the time, but many consider not particularly fun today, and Dragon Quest 2 is somewhat trapped in its era.
8. Dragon Quest 6
Dragon Quest 6 suffers a bit from being “too standard” compared to its peers. On the surface, that’s not the worst thing, but when the games that came immediately before and after it are some of the best in the franchise, and arguably in JRPG history, it just makes Dragon Quest 6 easier to slip out of the spotlight. Its mechanics and story are completely serviceable, just nothing to write home about.
7. Dragon Quest 3
Dragon Quest 3 is a beloved classic, notable for its compelling story and robust character customization options. Of the original series’ trilogy, this game undoubtedly does the best in both mechanics and story and is one of the best NES-era JRPGs. Players who can’t get into JRPGs from this era will likely still have issues with some of the more standard tropes and grinding present here.
6. Dragon Quest 4
Dragon Quest 4 feels like the blueprint for the Octopath Traveler series. Long before those games came around, this title had already played with the idea of introducing each character in their own unique chapters before having everyone meet up to take down a common threat. This unique and innovative story concept makes the game stand out among everything else in the series. Although similar to the Octopath games, this does make the game feel fairly slow-paced.
5. Dragon Quest 9
Dragon Quest 9 is responsible for much of the modernization pressed further forward with Dragon Quest 11 and will likely continue to be built on in the next installment. That makes this game feel like one of the freshest in the series, and it has a solid story to match, although not all of the current JRPG trends added here are well respected by the community. Having a fully customizable party feels like a miss for a well-known series for its poignant characters, which are largely missing from this game. Gameplay-wise, though, this is one of the tightest experiences in the franchise.
4. Dragon Quest 8
Dragon Quest 8 was the series’ introduction to the third dimension, and it did so with flying colors. The game’s presentation makes it one of the most colorful and lively of the PS2 era, with interesting characters, a titillating story, and solid voice acting in another series first. The only con present is the sluggishness in combat and some awkward camera controls, both of which are common ailments of games from its era.
3. Dragon Quest 5
If the first four games in the series feel a bit too dated for some of the newer JRPG fans, Dragon Quest 5 will be the timeless classic that bridges the gap between generations. Not only did the game innovate with its monster recruitment feature, something that’s been sorely missing from many more recent entries, but it enhanced many of the things the series always did best like its story and character interactions.
2. Dragon Quest 11
The most recent addition to the franchise, Dragon Quest 11, quickly solidified its place as one of the best games in the series by leaning heavily into all of the best qualities Dragon Quest is known for. It has powerful characters, fun and strategic combat, and an ambitious story that spans multiple generations. It’s easily set itself up as one of the best JRPGs on the Nintendo Switch and it’s set the bar for Dragon Quest 12 extremely high.
1. Dragon Quest 7
Dragon Quest 7 has mechanical flaws that have since been addressed and expanded in later entries, but this title is one of the best stories told in gaming. It’s more like a series of amazing stories connected by the central narrative and characters. Players travel to these different islands across generations and see multiple stories that are often as tragic as they are beautiful. It’s a brutally long game, but it’s worth it for the touching moments felt across its runtime.