Dragon Quest: Builders is the latest Dragon Quest game that puts a bit of a twist on the series. This title focuses on building, collecting, cooking and crafting so this will be of interest to people that enjoyed such titles as Terraria and Minecraft.
DQ:B includes game modes such as :
- Free Build Mode
- Story Mode
- Home Area
- Cleared Continents Area
- Battle Island Area
If you are interesting in giving the game a try before purchase, the demo is currently available on the PSN store for both the PS Vita and the PS4.
The comparison between Minecraft and Dragon Quest Builders is an easy one to make. But what makes Dragon Quest Builders stand out is its direction. Unlike Minecraft where you are thrown into a world to do whatever you want, Builders directs you and gives you a purpose. The goal is to banish the darkness and restore light to the land. As the Builder you are the only human left with the knowledge to build. Your task begins by finding an abandoned settlement and claiming it for yourself. As you begin to build your settlement, other humans will be drawn to it and request to stay and help you rebuild.
Your settlement and the safety of its residence depends on you and your ability to build its defenses and equip the town with the tools it needs to survive. Creating the perfect town is the big draw to Builders, and in order to do this you must take on requests from your townspeople. These requests range from simply creating a bedroom for them to more epic quests like stealing fire breathing statues from a cult to use in your towns defenses. These requests will help you unlock new items to craft and some will even give you blueprints, so you know exactly how to built a specific structure or room.
Players will need to acquire building pieces by mining trees, rocks, plants, etc. much like you would in Minecraft. Once the item is collected they will be added to your inventory, ready to be crafted at a workstation. In the beginning of the campaign, the list of craftable things is rather short with just a few necessities such as a straw bed, straw door, and mallet. This list grows larger as you continue the story and take on quests.
Missions are given out by the townspeople that slowly begin to populate your town. Sometimes you can stumble into these folk out in the world. These missions usually ask you to build things or find certain items. If it’s a quest on the open world it’s marked with a ‘Q’ on your compass. I never felt lost when going about these tasks; if anything I wanted to get lost more often because every time I did I found caverns with secret loot.
Like other similar games, it’s more relaxing than anything, but I typically found myself jumping back into each chapter to build up the fortresses and communities I had already fostered (and tackling the challenges, which only make themselves known after finishing up each level). Terra Incognita has one really nice bonus though — like Animal Crossing, new citizens will occasionally come and settle down randomly.
If there’s one thing that’s really on my wishlist for the (inevitable) sequel, it’s true multiplayer. Split-screen would be hard to pull off but most definitely possible, and exploring the open world in a creation-centric game is one of my favorite pastimes with my wife. For now, you’ll have to deal with online-only leaderboard-type features, where you can share creations with each other in a limited play space. It’s a bummer, and although there is some sort of excuse for it (this entire project is kind of a gamble), the attempt to salvage this lack of a feature is halfhearted at best.
One of the more surprising aspects of Dragon Quest Builders is how much it feels like a traditional Dragon Quest game. The construction aspect combined with the blocky and destructible environments will naturally attract comparisons to Minecraft and these comparisons are valid. Unlike Minecraft progression through this title is story driven, and the way the story unfolds is done in a way that feels how the original Dragon Quest would if it were released today. There is some direction, such as travel to some location here to retrieve this item, but there is no GPS function and the bird’s eye view map has a limited range. Main quest destinations are shown on the minimap and compass, but some of the side quests the player really needs to be on the look out if they want to complete them. Each chapter will take a few hours to complete the main objective and even more if the player wants to complete everything, but with so many small objectives it feels like progress is constantly being made. There can be some frustration in exploring these huge worlds because where one is supposed to go to complete is not always completely clear, but the fun of exploration and finding everything hidden in the world greatly outweighs the occasional moment of frustration.
The problem with restoring civilization to a world the Dragonlord destroyed is when progress is made in the city, monsters occasionally attack it. Fortunately for the player, unlike traditional Dragon Quest games the townspeople actually take on an active role in fighting off the attackers. Sometimes these are just random monsters wandering into the base but other times they are more dramatic scheduled battles. Each chapter has a boss battle, and this is an area where combat gets creative. Without giving anything away, charging at the boss swinging wildly is a guaranteed way to lose. Each boss requires their own strategy that will be somehow related to the construction process for that particular stage. The townspeople assist the player in ways beyond battle, if the player constructs workshops or kitchens the players will create food and other items for the player to pick up later.
One of the most interesting things about Builders is its structure. Once you build up your community and take on the boss, you end the chapter and move on – a process that can take several hours. From there, you resurrect in a new land, with new biomes, threats, and people. You also start from scratch, and your character forgets many of the recipes and formulas learned in the previous land. I was stunned the first time it happened, but fortunately the crafting branches into different directions each time. While you have some overlap in each chapter, Square Enix has done a great job of ensuring each chapter has a unique feel and new gameplay elements, such as the ability to lead allies into battle or drive a vehicle around.
Even after beating the game, you have plenty to do. A freeform mode lets you build and share your creations with other players (though, curiously, it doesn’t generate randomized worlds). Recipes and items are unlocked as you complete each chapter in the campaign, which lessens the sting of having to start from scratch in that mode. I’m eager to see what people create and share in Dragon Quest Builders, though I suspect the scope will be significantly less broad than what Minecrafters have built within that game’s borders. It’s possible to create huge castles, intricate homes, and other impressive structures, but the tools are more tailored toward domestic living than freeform construction and creating working -in-game -computers.
So all in all it sounds like a very solid title and I can see this being a very successful game in the Dragon Quest lineup.