It Makes A Village
HIGH Expanded scope leans into building communities than structures.
LOW Combat’s worse, new focus may not satisfy involved builders.
WTF DQB2 feels like a spoiler minefield for 1987’s Dragon Quest 2.
2016 feels like a lifetime ago, but one memorable release from that period was the surprise hit Dragon Quest Builders — a title proving that the Dragon Quest brand is not only more than a nostalgia hook for old gamers, but that it was indeed possible to make a better Minecraft.
Such a comparison, of course, is a little unfair. Though Dragon Quest Builders – and now, Dragon Quest Builders 2 – both use the block-based worlds and crafting mechanics pioneered by Mojang’s landmark title, their respective approaches are very, very different. Whereas Minecraft is a pure sandbox for creativity, Dragon Quest Builders is a JRPG that uses Minecraft-like crafting and gathering as a central conceit.
Like its predecessor, Dragon Quest Builders 2 is nestled firmly into the series canon, this time taking place in the aftermath of the original Dragon Quest 2. The Children of Hargon, a cult worshipping the antagonists of that game, have taken over the land and declared all building and creation a heretical sin, forcing citizens to leave their villages and cities to crumble.
The player’s character, an apprentice Builder, is rounded up and placed on a ship headed for a gruesome fate, only to be marooned on a barren island after a storm. There they find a young amnesiac named Malroth, and undertake a quest to bring life back to their little island. To do that, they’ll need to build, build, build! They’ll also visit nearby islands to accomplish quests, gather resources, and learn new techniques.
It’s fitting that Dragon Quest Builders 2 is set in the same world and timeline as Dragon Quest 2. That entry from 1987 was the first in the franchise to introduce the concept of an adventuring party, and likewise, Builders 2 makes sure the player never builds alone.
A new emphasis on community is a big change from DQB as villagers help with building and busywork. Once settled into the area, they’ll till fields, gather food, cook dishes, build structures and alter the landscape once players lay down blueprints. This increase in the labor force means that sizable, repetitive tasks can be automated, freeing the player to concentrate on quests, combat, and constructing the elaborate structures that turn their island lead from barren waste to vibrant utopia.
Apart from the new helpers, Dragon Quest Builders 2 features a huge increase in things to do over the previous installment. Individual islands again have their own narratives and quests, but players can now use a special cape to glide around the world and build advanced vehicles to make travel simple. They can bring villagers along to fight, and there’s even multiplayer co-op, though I was unable to test it during the pre-release review period.
Though largely improved in most areas, Dragon Quest Builders 2 isn’t flawless. Combat is simple, but also feels chaotic and hard to read due to the addition of automated assistance from the NPCs. Players without a lot of time may also find themselves tiring of the sheer sprawl of it all — the game doesn’t feel needlessly padded, but the expanded scope of the campaign might intimidate those who’d balk at spending dozens (or even hundreds) of hours on a single title.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 takes what was great about the first game and expands on it meaningfully, focusing on community development and large-scale building. While the combat is less-than-stellar, the overall result is a more unique experience that offers much to work with on the Isle of Awakening.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Square Enix . It is currently available on PS4 and Nintendo Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 46 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode. The multiplayer was unavailable to test during the review period. The game was completed.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E10+ and contains descriptors for Alcohol Reference, Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Mild Language, and Suggestive Themes. The official ESRB description is as follows: This is an action role-playing game in which players assume the role of a “builder” helping island inhabitants defeat evil forces. From a pulled back perspective, players mine materials, build structures, craft items, and battle monsters/boss creatures. Players use axes and magic attacks to defeat enemies in melee combat. Cutscenes also depict instances of violence: a skeleton using a sword to strike a kneeling man—the camera cuts away. One enemy creature (“bloody hand”) is depicted as a hand covered in red slime. The game contains some suggestive text (e.g., “Racy red swimwear for those who like to show some skin”; “I’m going to have a bath…I hope you don’t try to peep on me!”); a handful of female dancers wear slightly revealing bunny costumes. A baboon boss can also be seen slapping his buttocks towards the camera. In front of a bar/tavern, a beer mug sign is depicted. The words “damn” and “hell” appear in dialogue.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: All dialogue is reflected in text and visual interface elements. there are no audio cues needed for gameplay. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: This game’s button controls are not remappable.
Today he continues to write for a living while trying to turn his fledgling knowledge of Japanese into a marketable skill. He is Managing Editor of Japanese culture site Japanator and is a Contributing Editor for Destructoid. He has written for The Escapist, The California Literary Review, Esquire Magazine, and proudly holds the badge as the premier apologist for Star Trek Online.