What They Say:
In DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2, players take on the role of a young apprentice builder who finds themselves washed up on the Isle of Awakening alongside Malroth, a mysterious youth suffering from amnesia. Together, the two explore different islands while developing skills to become a “Master Builder” by helping townsfolk, crafting materials and fighting off enemies.
There are fewer things in life that I love more than these two things: a great Square Enix JRPG and Minecraft, the former of which you probably already know if you’ve read any of my reviews on this site in the last several years.
So, what happens when you put those two loves of mine together? You get Dragon Quest Builders 2, a game that is, in nearly every way, a vast improvement and expansion of the original. I only briefly played the first game on Switch before quitting after hearing about all of the changes that the sequel was getting.
Thankfully, I’m happy to let you know that the wait was more than worth it. Dragon Quest Builders 2 does what a sequel should do: take what made the original good, expand upon it, and add in even more great content to make it worth it to everyone.
Whether you’re a newcomer to the main franchise or this spin-off series, or a veteran who spend hundreds of hours with the first game, you’re going to find a lot to like in Dragon Quest Builders 2. The basic premise of the game is that you play as an apprentice builder who washes up on a deserted island.
Alongside you from the start of your island adventures is Malroth, a peculiar character who has amnesia but desires nothing more than to come along with you for the ride. The game itself is a JRPG with leveling, crafting, and more that plays out like a great Minecraft game where you build whatever you want.
What makes this game stand out from others in the building genre is that it has a full-length story campaign that is not unlike a normal JRPG storyline. There are bad guys, people to save, and a collection of islands for you to explore, each with their own set of problems.
In this regard, it can appeal to someone who isn’t normally into games like this since you can just stick to the main story of building a life for you and your villagers on the island. The story is solid enough on its own, with interesting characters you’ll meet, various story arcs, and a few neat but somewhat predictable twists and turns.
Along the way, the story will teach you all about the world of Dragon Quest Builders 2 and how to be the best builder you can be. In addition, you unlock various features like the multiplayer aspect as you complete the story. However, gating the multiplayer and other features behind the story can be frustrating for players who want a pure building experience from the start.
Regardless, though, the addition of online multiplayer is a welcome one that has me questioning why it wasn’t in the original in the first place. Beyond introducing new features, the main campaign is also great about teaching you the various ways to build. From the basics of creating a sustainable village with beds, food, and toilets to gathering materials and using the various tools, it’s there to help you become a building master.
This ensures that the experience of building your own creations and island from scratch will be the smoothest possible. Well, as smooth as the controls will allow it to be. I found that targeting blocks in Dragon Quest Builders 2 is still as annoying as it was in the last game.
It’s easy to accidentally place a block where you didn’t mean to over and over, which can cause some frustration. Thankfully, there is the option to switch to a first-person camera view that alleviates most of the issues with the building. At the same time, though, first-person doesn’t work super well in other features like seeing the entirety of the area, which forced me to switch often.
While that is a minor gripe in the long run, there are still some quality of life features that Dragon Quest Builders 2 could still use like improvements to the combat. The combat is the same one-note affair that is just you mashing the same button to defeat enemies over and over.
Fortunately, the enemies and bosses are varied and have that signature Dragon Quest goofiness to them but you’re still mashing the same button over and over to kill them. The lack of extra attacks, the ability to dodge, or any other combat mechanic would have been appreciated.
One feature that it does have that helps with playing the game, though, is your sidekick Malroth himself. Malroth isn’t just a builder fan and a major part of the story but someone who becomes like your personal assistant and stand-in of sorts for when you aren’t playing online. He will see what you do and copy it. For instance, if you go and attack a couple of slimes, he’ll whip out his club and start walloping all of the poor little slimes in the area.
The same goes for materials that you’re collecting in the area and so on. He’s a valuable companion and the most important addition to the game besides the multiplayer and new recipes and the like.
If you can look past the sometimes frustrating camera controls and combat, you’ll find that Dragon Quest Builders 2 is the best building game to rival Minecraft, mainly because it’s so much more than just a Minecraft clone. This sequel is a full-on JRPG with a decent main story, goofy characters, and interesting locales to visit with that charming Dragon Quest look.
With the addition of your helpful assistant Malroth and online multiplayer, this is a sequel that is leaps and bounds better than the original. Whether you are a building fan or not, veteran or newcomer, Dragon Quest Builders 2 is one game that Minecraft and Square Enix fans alike shouldn’t miss out on.
Developer: Square Enix, Omega Force
Publisher: Nintendo of America, Square Enix
Age Rating: 10+
Release Date: December 10, 2019
Platform: PC (reviewed), PS4, Switch
This review was done with a review copy provided by the publisher. We are grateful for their continued support.