Dragon Quest Builders 2 Review
Dragon Quest and Minecraft--it’s a mix that, frankly, shouldn’t make sense. But 2016's Dragon Quest Builders was a blast. When I played the original game a couple of years ago, I was completely addicted to rebuilding the ruined world of the original Dragon Quest. When Dragon Quest Builders 2 was announced, I was obviously excited but more so intrigued. For all the fun I had with the original title, there was no denying that Dragon Quest Builders was missing important mechanics to make it a more perfect experience. With Dragon Quest Builders 2, Square Enix has listened to criticisms and offers a lot of new quality of life improvements, making this a superior sequel.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 takes place after the events of Dragon Quest II, similar to how the first Dragon Quest Builders followed a ‘what-if’ story of the original Dragon Quest. In Builders 2, the Scions of Erdrick defeated Hargon and the God of Destruction and saved the world. However, sometime later, the Children of Hargon have taken over, destroying the land and conscripting humans to their religion of destruction.
As a builder, you’re their mortal enemy--the Children of Hargon want only to destroy as per the god they serve, and your goal is to create. You’re removed from a miserable death, however, and wash up on an almost abandoned island. From there, you may not be the chosen one, but it’s up to you to revitalize the surrounding islands and bring the joy of creation back to the world.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 actually places a bit more emphasis on the story as expected. Instead of just being the builder that needs to revive the world for the betterment of mankind, characters have their own motivations and objectives, and your character is more there to assist than to fix everyone’s problems.
This spills over into the gameplay as well. No longer do townspeople mainly sit around and occasionally help with cooking or creating an item. The townspeople in Dragon Quest Builders 2 will actively create, grow, and cook. They’ll even help build if you give them direction, or rebuild parts of the town after the battle. It makes the world feel more alive as you work to rebuild towns and people return to your island to make a builder’s paradise.
This, combined with your constant amnesic companion Malroth, definitely makes Dragon Quest Builder 2 a lively game. At times, though, it’s a bit too chatty. For one, there’s an overload of dialogue--sometimes, I just want the banter between Malroth and the other townspeople to stop so I can do a quest. They abundance of townsfolk can also stress the experience in other ways -- when you start getting a bunch of townspeople, I experienced some stretches slowdown on the Switch version in the town, though it wasn’t always present.
More helpful townspeople aside, you’re still the main character, and you’re still there to build new towns and craft all sorts of items. The base game for Builders 2 is almost identical to the first title. You gather basic materials such as dirt or wood and create different items and new blocks to make your villagers’ lives easier and safer. It’s important to build the basics too, as if you’re not properly fed, you’ll starve to death, and if you don’t have a safe place to sleep in the dead of night powerful monsters will come and attack the town.
It’s the core gameplay that borrows the most from the ever-popular Minecraft. Right down to the blocky look, those that have played Mojang’s building title will feel right at home with Dragon Quest Builders 2. Of course, Square Enix’s take on the idea isn’t just a Minecraft reskin, but it’s hard to talk about Dragon Quest Builders without drawing comparisons to one of the most popular games of recent years.
Squares first attempt with the original Dragon Quest Builders did have a few baffling design decisions that could sometimes be frustrating to deal with. For example, each chapter in the original game culminated in a boss battle that threatened your town… and most of the time destroyed a lot of your hard work, forcing you to rebuild. Dragon Quest Builders 2 also has these boss battles, but the townspeople will simply rebuild when the battle is done. You also now have a nearly bottomless bag to hold all of your stuff, making it very easy to have everything you need on you without resorting to a bunch of inventory management. Lastly, important builder items such as your hammer and gloves (to pick up items without breaking them) are given their own dedicated button, and equipment no longer degrades over time.
All of these updates are extremely welcome. Dragon Quest Builders 2 works to improve the missteps of its predecessor, and mostly does a great job of helping you build the buildings and structures of your dreams. There are still some little annoying things that remain--it can still be a bit much to organize all of the resources you have, and the camera tends to get stuck zoomed in more often than it should, but Builders 2 definitely builds on the foundation set by its predecessor.
Once you’ve completed one island’s “chapter”, you can still return to your past creations and visit in between each major event. While you have to give up your items when visiting a new story island and you’re stuck on said island for a while, everything will be there to pick up once you’re back. This is important, as when you finish your adventures on one island, you’ll return to the Isle of Awakening (the island you originally wash up on shore on at the beginning of the game) and use what you learned to revitalize the builder’s island. Some of the characters you meet will also come with you back to the Isle of Awakening, helping to build this new utopia.
On top of that, you’ll also get to visit Explorer’s Islands--small sets of land jam-packed with materials to gather, and fully exploring them offers an unlimited supply of a common building material, which helps a lot to minimize have to stop building to go and find a specific material.
What else can I say? Dragon Quest Builders 2 is in every right a proper sequel. It takes the good from the original Builders title and improves upon its weaknesses. Sure, maybe the characters prattle on a bit too long, and maybe it takes forever to find the torches in the bag that I know I made, but at this point, these are minor complaints with a game so jam-packed with stuff to do and things to create. If you liked the original Dragon Quest Builders, this is a must-play. Otherwise, if you enjoy Dragon Quest and enjoy building, I’d recommend giving Dragon Quest Builders 2 a go.