Horse and monster riding
Animal transport is a feature introduced to the series in the first 3D title, Dragon Quest VIII. Traveling via horseback or by being carried by a monster allows the player to traverse terrain much more quickly than on foot, but typically does not grant access to new areas of the world map that standard vehicles do.
The Hero can ride on the back of a mighty Great sabrecat on all major continents whenever he rings Baumren's bell. The chime is the reward for completing the Chateau Felix sidequest, and the only places a sabrecat cannot be summoned are Empycchu and the Dark Ruins. due to both being plot-restricted islands.
Horseback riding is a main feature of the game, with a steed being summoned from any horse bell the Luminary rings. A horse can gallop at a steady pace or sprint at full speed, bowling over small-to-medium sized monsters that would be repelled by the Holy Protection spell and vials of Holy water. Additionally, the city of Gallopolis holds an annual equestrian competition that the player may compete in to win prizes. In the Nintendo Switch version of the game, running over a monster gives the party 30% of the experience they would have gained had they defeated the monster normally. Gold and treasure cannot be obtained through this method, however.
There is a variety of monsters that will give the party a lift once they've been defeated as well, and each one has a different ability that can be used to solve puzzles or reach new areas. In addition to those listed below, each pallet swap of a monster will perform the same functions.
- Eggsoskeleton, allows the Luminary to leap to new heights. Found in several areas, the King's Barrow being the first the player can reach.
- Skullrider's skeletal steed, which can climb marked surfaces like a spider. Found in the Cryptic Crypt.
- Midnight Horknight, which can hover in the air and coast over water. Found in Laguna di Gondolia.
- Face Invader, which can charge at full speed to break down glaciers. Found in the frozen wastes of the Snaerfelt.
- Dragon Rider mount, which has fuller flight capabilities than other monsters. Found in Mount Pang Lai.
- Headless Horseman's spectral steed, which functions the same as a normal horse. Found throughout the second act.
The Nintendo Switch version includes the following additional monsters:
- Slime Knight, which can scatter low level monsters for a hassle-free ride. Found around the Costa Valor.
- Iron Maiden, which dash to avoid enemies. Found at the Costa Valor.
- Golem, which can scare off small and medium monsters and also break down barriers. Found in The Champs Sauvage.
- Spitzfire, which require the Luminary to wear the Wolf Dragon Armour before they will allow him on their backs. These beasts can fly like the dragon rider's can, but will also scare off any monster regardless of its size. Found all around Gallopolis.
Several tamable monsters can be used for mounts, such as the Great sabrecub, and many have additional abilities such as double-jumping or being able to ascend to a great height for the Builder to then glide from with the Windbreaker cape.