Developer: Square Enix
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: Physical Release
Category: Role-Playing, Action
No. of Players: up to 4 players
Release Date: Jul 12, 2019 (NA & EU)
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a sequel from the critically acclaimed Dragon Quest Builders which was released on the Nintendo Switch in 2018. The spin-off series itself, is a mash-up of Minecraft, the Dragon Quest series (duh), and a healthy dose of The Legend of Zelda-like adventuring.
The game draws heavily from the rich history of the Dragon Quest series with many of its occurring enemies making an appearance. Its predecessor (Dragon Quest Builders) was well received by critics and the general public and personally, it is still one I like to play even after beating its main campaign, which is how I feel about Dragon Quest Builders 2.
The game starts you off naming and creating your character by selecting Male or Female and a few select attributes like skin color and eye color. From there you jump right into the main story and learn the basics of building by an unlikely group of wayward pirates hellbent on ridding the world of anyone that builds and creates in the name of the great Hargon.
After a few short introductory gameplay mechanics are taught, your ship runs aground and you wash up on the mysterious Island of Awakening. That story troupe was slightly reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, which ironically is getting a revitalized version on the Switch in September. As you venture around the island you come across Malroth and Lulu, who seem to have been shipwrecked with no memory of their past.
Once you assert yourself as a builder, Lulu begins to give you small tasks to build up a room with beds and a fire to cook food on as you begin your new life on the island. Shortly thereafter you meet a few more residents of the island which will invite you to travel to far off shores to gather items of building and bring back others to help build up the Island of Awakening.
Along the journey, you will embark on a ship to a handful of large and small islands. During your island hopping, you will farm vegetables, build a giant tree, a trio of bars and restaurants, help miners, restore a castle to former glory and much much more.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is one part builder, one part hack and slash combat, and one part adventuring out into the unknown to collect loot, which can be used to aid companions and build up your various bases on the islands you visit, as well as your very own personal island.
If you have played Minecraft or the first Dragon Quest Builders game you will be instantly accustomed to the main building mechanics of the game. Although, if switching from Minecraft to Dragon Quest Builders 2, it will take some getting used to, as button prompts are different enough that your muscle memory may need to be reprogrammed.
Throughout your game sessions, you will be tasked with various quests prompted by individuals in the town which help to progress the main narrative. There are additional side quests within the Island of Awakening like building various room types, laying down a track for a minecart, building a house up high and down low, and so on. There is always someone, somewhere with something for you to do.
One new gameplay element in Dragon Quest Builders 2 is the inclusion of Malroth who will aid you during most of your quest helping to break blocks and collect items that will automatically go into your pocket. He also assist you during battles that can help considerably and makes your 70-80 hour adventure less lonesome, especially when you are off on your own away from your base.
CONTENT & FEATURES:
Dragon Quest Builders 2 has more items to discover and build than the previous game. The variety of items in which you can build is nearly limitless. Some of the blocks in the game also change if placed next to or on top of a matching block which is a nice addition. Along with the miscellaneous blocks you will uncover, there is plenty that you can unlock by gaining gratitude points by building rooms for specific residents and completing additional tasks that are on the notice boards found on the Island of Awakening.
Along with your hub island, there are three main islands in the single-player campaign and a few smaller islands which you can visit that act as a scavenger hunt of sorts where you’ll need to find several items so you unlock an endless supply of a few types of blocks. As I played through the game I kept thinking that each chapter in the campaign was longer than the previous and after spending 80 hours to complete the main story, I still have my personal island to build up as I see fit.
During your quests on the different main islands, you will make a variety of rooms and buildings, some to specific blueprints which you must follow. You do have more creative ability in some of the construction which can extend your playtime as you set out to make each room and building unique. You will also eventually gain the ability to wear different hats, glasses/masks, and outfits that you can change into at certain dressing room style furniture.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 also adds animals into the game which you can find and befriend and take back to your main island. The main campaign has 70-80 hours of adventuring, building, and combat alone, and that isn’t even including the free building you can do on the Island of Awakening.
While most of Dragon Quest Builders 2’s main story text is something you will read, there are bits of character dialogue like grunts and whoops of excitement which accompany the text-heavy story. Blocks drop with various effects mimicking their real-world materials and weights with thuds as you lay down a brick wall or a ‘whoosh’ as you slash through grass and bushes.
The game does boast an eclectic soundtrack which includes music from the past Dragon Quest Builders game. There are also tracks from the Dragon Quest 2 game which is a part of the mainline series.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE:
As a fan of the original Dragon Quest Builders game, I was pleased to see a lot of the visuals return along with some notable quality of life parts that make playing Dragon Quest Builders 2 better than its predecessor. For one, the way in which items are tagged in larger builds for quests is a nice addition making it easier to see and remember which items you need to complete a room or larger structure. There is also the nice minimap up in the top corner that doubles as a bit of nostalgia for past Dragon Quest games on the NES in all of its 8-bit glory.
If there is one place that Dragon Quest Builders takes a hit it is in the performance area. I noticed after long play sessions in a specific map or island that the frame rate would drop drastically and the draw distance would shorten and pop-in was more frequent. There were times where NPCs would just pop in next to me, seemingly materializing from nothingness right beside me. This wasn’t too big of a deal given that the world is made of millions of blocks and I was terraforming and building my own unique world.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is everything you want a sequel to be. The story is better and more humorous. The number of quests and building blocks at your disposal is seemingly doubled from the original. And the island variety and mainline story will take you in places that you won’t see coming.
All of Dragon Quest Builders 2 is better, in my opinion than the original. That isn’t to say that Dragon Quest Builders is a bad game. It is a great game. It’s just that there are just things in Builders 2 that ‘build’ a better experience.
I do lke that Square Enix are supporting the game with a Season Pass to bring extra content packs to the game. I do wish that it wasn’t a pretty penny to purchase it though. While you could argue that $24.99 for a Season pass is the norm these days. It only adds mainly cosmetic items that if you are not too fussed about, are not going to take away from the ‘experience’ of the main game.
If you like building your own world, experiencing a unique adventure and crafting items, Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a must own Nintendo Switch title. The game excels at the sheer amount of creative variety in its building blocks which allow you to build your adventure as you see fit.
THE VERDICT: 9/10
*A Physical Cart was purchased for before a digital code was provided by the publisher.
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