by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
I enjoyed Dragon Quest Builders 1, but it had some serious issues that cropped up as I went through the game. Fortunately, Dragon Quest Builders 2 addresses them in ways that made a lot of sense. It also builds upon the dark story set down by DQB1. The first game was based on the Bad Ending of Dragon Quest, where the Hero joins the Dragonlord. Fans of Dragon Quest 2 will be familiar with the major faction stamping out hope and light in this world, the Children of Hargon. Hargon is the primary villain of Dragon Quest/Warrior 2, and his minions are doing everything they can to stop Builders from rebuilding this broken world. That’s where we start for the tutorial – a Builder, trapped on a ship commanded by the Hargon’s minions. Shipwrecked in a strange, foreign land, with a peculiar boy who loves nothing but violence, named Malroth, we have to find a way to start anew and rebuild.
Now, for those of you who have not played Dragon Quest 2, I’m not going to talk anymore about Malroth’s backstory. I’m genuinely curious how that’s going to go because I have not completed DQB2 yet – despite spending weeks on it, I keep getting distracted with side missions, building things, and simply exploring and enjoying this world set out before me. Everywhere the Builder goes, he inspires hope in those around him, bringing people to the ways of Building. Even the Children of Hargon are not safe from his infectious light. Dragon Quest Builders 2 takes place across several islands, with another, the main island, the Isle of Awakening. This is where your main base of operations will be, but you, as the Builder, will travel to several other islands and rebuild their homes and ways of life with them.
When you arrive on a new island, you’ll meet some of the people that live upon it, and explore the territory – be it grasslands, deserts or mountains – and find out about their struggles. Each of these islands is a different adventure and experience, so I won’t spoil it for you. You’ll meet new people here, and some of them may wind up going back with you to the Isle of Awakening, so you can make it a true bastion of joy and light. You’ll have fairly simple objectives to complete in each locale, which will give more Hearts. When you fill the heart meter, you level up your town, which entices more villagers to live there as well as new recipes. Simply having things in your village/base will net you regular hearts, whether it’s people going to the bar, sleeping at the inn, or cooking at the local kitchen. The actual building is standard Voxel Builder fare: break down materials, bring them back to your home, and place the blocks as you need them. You’ll occasionally have a plan/blueprint to use, but for the most part, you’re on your own. This is where one of the first real major downsides comes into play.
It’s not very clear where the borders of your base are. That might not seem like a big deal, but things like private bedrooms cannot be made unless they are within the borders of your hometown. So, since I could not figure out exactly where that border was, I had to completely redo a quest objective three times in one of the towns and wound up placing it in a spot that I hated. Now, once it’s built and you get the credit, you can redo/move it, but that’s really a lot of work, especially with more intricate designs. Another problem I had: some of the quest objectives were frighteningly literal. One mission required you to make a “Mushroom Cookhouse”. That means you need a simple room, with two cookfires, a chest, and a Mushroom. You ultimately have to do a fair amount of experimentation in your building. It’s not difficult, but it can be frustrating.
Now, I read that as it needed Mushrooms on the fire, or in the chest. No, you literally have to pluck a mushroom from the mines, using your Gloves, and walk it back to town. This happened again by planting a flower in someone’s room. I thought I could plant a seed, so I spent so much time farming those dumb seeds, only to have jerk the flower out of the grant with my hands. Most of the game is well explained, but little things like this were very poorly explained. Each Island is set up into what can more or less be defined as chapters. You’ll have overarching goals to complete, and if for any reason you can’t figure out what to build or how to do it, try leveling up your town and your Hero. As your Hero levels, he occasionally learns new recipes. You don’t have to bumble around to learn recipes, the Hero just figures them out when he needs them.
One of the great things about Dragon Quest Builders 2 is the absolutely massive amount of stuff you can build. Want a minecart track? You can do that. Huge pool? No problem! Weight lifting/massage room? Also doable. Sprawling towers, castles, and churches/temples? No problem! This is going to be an incredibly fun game in multiplayer too. Farming is more than just sticking seeds into the ground too. Tomatoes, Sugar Cane, and other crops need specific ways to plot out the land, and creativity is going to be your friend without a doubt. On the topic of your village though, the people there do things! And they’re useful! If you have a restaurant/cooking set up, you can leave ingredients in the chest, and the villagers will make food. If you set up showers, they’ll go bathe at the end of the day. If you set up places for them to eat, they will after they’ve done their work! They will help you tend the fields, mine for minerals, but most importantly – if you have a blueprint down, and a community chest with the items you need, they will help you build. There are some pretty major structures you wind up building, and through the course of the story, it was revealed that once these people can, they are more than happy to help. They don’t just idle and do nothing, they are living, breathing parts of your community, and honestly? It’s very refreshing.
Each time you head to one of these new islands, you don’t take any of the building supplies you unlocked and farmed with you; that stuff stays behind on the other island. However, there are opportunities to unlock unlimited amounts of certain supplies like wood. As you progress, you’ll have optional side-islands to explore and farm up supplies for the Island of Awakening. These cost Hearts, which you gain from building, completing objectives, and making your friends happy. On these optional islands, you’ll have a checklist of materials to see. Finding them all will give you a reward such as Unlimited Wood, which will be a godsend the further into the game you go. But no matter where you go, I want to talk about the best feature of this game so far: Armor and Weapons do not break.
I repeat: you no longer need to carry six hammers, four swords, and two shields every time you adventure somewhere. They don’t break! This was my biggest complaint about DQB1, and seeing this fixed made me happier than I can possibly express. Especially since you can give weapons and armor to your villagers (some of them anyway), and if I had to constantly recraft that stuff, I would scream. Not to mention, your allies are also fairly useful in a fight and stand beside you, so it is wise to gear up those that can be equipped. Now occasionally, you will have to fight the Children of Hargon, but not in major, overwhelming numbers. The required battles will be tough, but you can jump into them whenever you’re ready. This world is vast, and you’re constantly getting into fights, across a ton of different terrain, so not having to constantly go back and start again is wonderful. The Teleportals from DQB1 are also gone forever – except as access to Multiplayer. Now, there are globes in various points on the map, and once you’ve activated them, you can teleport anywhere on an island. To reach other major islands you’ve visited, you just go to the docks and sail there.
The story for Dragon Quest Builders 2 is structured sensibly. It’s set up in nice, easy to digest chapters, and you start anew on each island, bringing with you only your equipment, your friend Malroth, and the recipes you’ve unlocked so far. It’s a gorgeous game, and despite being a voxel title, the enemies still look like Dragon Quest monsters, and the style of landscape is faithfully recreated, much like in the previous game. There are new styles of areas to explore, plenty of new monsters, and you can even ride around on bigger beasts/golems once you’ve unlocked the power. There are adorable dogs and chickens to befriend, friends to meet, and an overarching goal of bringing light and building back to this hopeless land. It’s always nice to see a style I normally do not find visually appealing do something magnificent. Square-Enix definitely did it again here. Now sadly, I did not spend any time in Multiplayer, I’m saving that for when it is live and I have friends to build with, but you can work together to design your work, and visit your friends’ islands, so that’s certainly a positive.
Art Thou the Descendant of Erdrick? 4/5 (Great)
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a step in the right direction in every single way from its predecessor. It’s easy to get into, the story doesn’t punish people who don’t know the game, and you don’t have to constantly recreate stuff that’s damaged. The story is a pleasantly woven tale of woe, redemption, and finding the positives in tragedy. You can build absolutely tons of things, as well as unlock bonus stuff to craft through the Hearts you build upon the Isle of Awakening. There are optional missions, optional puzzles to complete, secrets to find, and Metal Slimes to fight. Yes, even Metal Slimes make an appearance! Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a brilliant game with a few minor flaws that, while they frustrated me, did not make me want to stop playing.
The characters are interesting, combat is fun, and you unlock new things to build and new ways to do things in a way that makes sense, and doesn’t slow you down. However, roofs in smaller buildings are still a miserable experience. If the building isn’t tall enough and you build a roof for it, walking inside can absolutely wreck your camera until you leave the building and rotate around until you zoom out. Plus it has online multiplayer, so you and your friends can build in this adorable world together! This should keep me occupied until Dragon Quest XI S drops later in the year. But if you love building, and love Dragon Quest, you definitely need this game in your life.
A key was provided for purposes of this review.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 Screenshots