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Dragon Quest Builders 2

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: July 12, 2019


Switch/PS4 Preview - 'Dragon Quest Builders 2'

by Thomas Wilde on July 1, 2019 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a Minecraft-like, open-world action/RPG that features new characters, an expansive world, unlimited building combinations, and a storyline that’s sure to satisfy longtime fans and newcomers alike!

Pre-order Dragon Quest Builders 2

I have done the math, and by this rate, every video game at E3 will somehow have Akira Toriyama involved by about 2024. Between the new Smash Brothers DLC, Bandai Namco's Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, the larger Dragon Quest series, and the ongoing Dragon Ball FighterZ scene, Toriyama is responsible for multiple major franchises at several different studios.

I'm assuming that's part of why Dragon Quest Builders took off the way it did — I wouldn't have guessed there was a lot of crossover between JRPG die-hards and Minecraft-style building game fans, but Dragon Quest is still big business in Japan — so now we're getting a sequel.

As with the original game, Builders 2 is set in the world of Alefgard, the setting for the first three Dragon Quest games (AKA Dragon Warrior if you were a kid in the '80s), albeit in an alternate continuity. Builders 2 takes place shortly after the events of Dragon Quest II, so it's roughly 100 years after the original Builders. A new group, the Children of Hargon, has arisen to avenge the death of Hargon at the hands of Erdrick's descendant in DQII, and the new group serves as this game's antagonists.

The playable demo on the E3 2019 show floor was set early in the game, as the player character, a new builder, came to a new island with his/her sidekick, an amnesiac swordsman named Malroth, in tow. The goal was originally to explore in search of materials to rebuild your own island, but instead, you end up meeting a girl named Rosie who asks for your help to clean up her family farm. This new island is infested by explosive, slimy "spoilspores," which have ruined most of the soil and blown up a lot of what's left over.

The big mechanical change in Builders 2 is that tools and weapons are now separate. Your tools, like your hammer, do very little damage to monsters on their own, so you'll need to switch equipment in order to expediently win fights. On the plus side, in the E3 demo, you have Malroth with you at all times, who's basically a little anime lawnmower. In the time it took me to beat up one or two Slimes, he'd already swept the field clean of whatever enemies were left over.

Other big changes in Builders 2 include the ability to switch to a first-person perspective, both on- and offline multiplayer for up to four teammates to collaborate, underwater exploration, and in a really nice touch, a retro-inspired overhead map. When you pull it up, you zoom out to an omniscient view that uses exactly the same overworld and dungeon tiles from the original NES Dragon Quest games.

The thrust of the demo at E3 was to begin the rehabilitation of Rosie's farm by building a scarecrow, which when planted, passively acts to clean up the soil around it. That required me to go out and find wood and cord, which was easier said than done at first. The island was full of trees for me to chop down and turn into usable resources, but the area surrounding Rosie's farm was also lousy with trademark Dragon Quest monsters like Slimes and those big white baboon things. They were good for providing a few more different resources, but it made exploring difficult. Finally, though, I managed to find some vines to cut down and weave into cord.

At the time of writing, Dragon Quest Builders 2 has been out in Japan for six months, received decent reviews, and sold respectably, although it took a strong hit on launch week due to coming out opposite Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It's entirely possible we're seeing the start of another new spin-off franchise for Dragon Quest.

Builders 2 struck me, at E3, as surprisingly hardcore about its combat for a building/farming game, with a ton of nostalgia appeal. The controls are responsive, although you're juggling a lot of functions at once, and the graphics were nicely animated. The biggest problem I had was that the demo was really short, and it felt like it ended the moment it got going. Hell, I didn't even run into the apocalyptic death cult, and I got the feeling that was going to end up being sort of a big deal.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 is due out on July 12 for the PS4 and Nintendo Switch.

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