Games like Minecraft have a certain appeal to those who are inclined to get creative and make something interesting within the game they play, but this can often get repetitive and boring. But if you mix in another element into this, such as the storytelling of the Dragon Quest series, you can end up with a pretty wild result that changes everything. This is what Dragon Quest Builders does in order to make the block building aspects of Minecraft feel more spectacular than initially intended. Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a sequel that continues to “build upon” this formula by giving players a new story and more options to create what is on their mind. While it doesn’t always maintain an exciting momentum throughout its story, there are still plenty of things to do for those who put in a lot of time into this blocky world.
Anybody that has heard of the Dragon Quest series knows of its stories of cheeky characters and stories about saving the world. Dragon Quest Builders 2 has a similar approach with its plot, where the hero (you the player) are a builder who can create many things within the world. Using magical tools, you find throughout the story, your builder powers allow you to build anything from typical furniture and objects, to large scale buildings and monuments of all kinds. What you end up building most of the time ends up tying into the plot in some way, or gives you the ability to progress things further while opening up your pallet of objects to build.
In typical Dragon Quest fashion, you meet up with many other characters, both friend and foe, that expand the scale of the places you visit and the lore of the game. You have a lot of characters that fit the tropes you’d expect to see, as well as the Akira Toriyama style designs translated into a chibi-block form. The story can get somewhat mature at various points, but there’s always an underlying humor to the plot that keeps things lighthearted the majority of the time.
Moving around the world feels good, with the controls being somewhat easy to learn and become second nature later on. From the start, you build objects that help you get through the story and complete quests you discover along the way. Many of the Dragon Quest RPG characteristics are implemented and keep the game from feeling like a copy of Minecraft. You can fight enemies to gain experience and level up, gather or make new weapons and items to use later on, run into characters to pick up new side quests for bonuses, and so much more. This ties into the building of the game rather nicely and never feels like the two styles of gameplay clash too much with each other. You end up building things to help you move forward in the story, rather than just mindlessly building things.
To keep track of everything you build is the Builderpedia, which expands with more items and objects as you progress the story. And while you can’t build things like monsters or creatures you find on your travels, you can still keep a log of everything you interact with, much like in other Dragon Quest games. The difference here is that what you keep track of will show info about the locations and rewards you get for either defeating them or interacting with them.
The bigger parts of this are the blueprints you find, which map out large structures and areas you can build or recreate in certain areas. A lot of these appear alongside key plot points of the game, so you won’t be discovering them often but will get a good session of building things when you finally do. The stuff you will be using more of when you find them are Recipes, which give you details about the materials needed to build certain objects and structures. You’ll need to find as many as you can to really open up your Builderpedia and go crazy making things.
After diving deep into the game, possibly around 10 hours or so, you can explore some of the multiplayer features in Dragon Quest Builders 2. You gain the ability to take snapshots you can share online with other players, as well as team up with up to three other people online in co-op. Getting together with other players allows everyone to build things together, but you can’t progress your story quests. This is a bit disappointing since some Dragon Quest games allow you to bring other players with you to complete story quests, which would’ve opened up a lot more interesting parts to multiplayer in Dragon Quest Builders 2. Even so, you can still share your building creations with others and make some pretty cool things working together with other players online.
If you like the creativity of Minecraft-styled games but want a little more out of it than just mindless gameplay, Dragon Quest Builders 2 has a good blend of both. The RPG characteristics of the series are joined together nicely with building in this blocky world and makes the experience feel like a well-thought complete package. Though it can have a few moments that drag on or get repetitive in the plot, there’s still a ton to do in here. Multiplayer is interesting despite the lack of co-op for the main story quests, but if you like building things in a colorful world with other people, then you’ll have all of what you need in here.
This review is based on a digital review code of Dragon Quest Builders 2 on the PlayStation 4, provided by Square Enix.