Look, this is not a new trend, but more and more people are interested in block-centered games nowadays, and that's why it's becoming a popular subgenre. While we have a few pixelated sandboxes like Minecraft and Pixark, or a more aesthetically-polished game like Pokémon Quest, it's Dragon Quest Builders the franchise that's revolutionizing the JRPG world. In fact, with the first game (back in 2016) we discovered how beautiful and haunting a modern DQ spin-off can be, but this sequel is nothing but a confirmation that Dragon Quest Builders is more than a cash-grabbing move.
If you like softcore RPGs with interesting quests but an easy-to-follow plot, and if you also love building towns and crafting lots of decorations to make it all look beautiful, then Dragon Quest Builders 2 is the game for you. It's bigger and better than the first one!
What to Expect
We'll be talking about how a lot of mechanics have improved from one game to the other, but Dragon Quest Builders 2 does an excellent job on showing off how its devs handle the fans' feedback. All of DQB2 stories and quests are better integrated, and taking the time to build the perfect town is more inviting now that, as long as you build in the Awakening Island, you won't lose everything after every new chapter.
Even if enemies/missions are not as hard as in other JRPGs, and even if the main Dragon Quest series is more robust, Dragon Quest Builders 2 is more than just a game for little kids. Many pleasant surprises are waiting for you here!
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is visually stunning, so other than how fun it is to build and craft, we think that's the main reason to play it. Just like the main series, all characters in DQB2 follow Akira Toriyama's designs, and everything around you is incredibly colorful and full of life. It's fine if you are one of those who think modern games should be all about photorealistic graphics, but as long as blocky games go, this is the most gorgeous one you will find in the market. Menus are easier to navigate and some items and housing elements have better models now, which is also a plus. All in all, Dragon Quest Builders 2 is, just like the first game, one of the most graphically appealing options for the Switch.
The soundtrack to Dragon Quest Builders 2 is another thing to highlight, especially since it has the same appeal that hooked us when playing the first Dragon Quest Builders. There's heroic music when you need to feel pumped up, but you'll probably spend more time with the music that plays when you're building or exploring all the islands. The lack of voice acting is not new to the genre either, but at least we have some grunts here and there to help construct every character's personality. That's almost like what happens with sound effects, which are so good that most times you won't even notice how important and well created they are.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a sequel to the first game, but the connection is not linear so you won't miss that much if this is your first time visiting the franchise. In fact, the premise is pretty simple just like in the first Dragon Quest Builders: you play as the Builder, the legendary hero/heroine destined to rebuild the world with his/her skillful hands, bringing peace to its inhabitants.
After a short but necessary tutorial, you end up in the Isle of Awakening, where your friend Lulu wants to build her dream kingdom Lulutopia. Since you're OK with that, you and your other friend Malroth (the name rings a bell for longtime Dragon Quest fans, huh?) decide to explore new islands, helping people so they can join your cause and move to Lulutopia. Another thing to mention about Malroth is that he follows you and acts as a companion adventurer, helping you fight those annoying monsters and gather resources after killing them. As you can imagine, there's more than building a bunch of rooms and planting some crops to keep your friends happy, and sooner than later you'll be facing a lot of evil faces in the form of a cult known as the Children of Hargon.
Once you visit the first island, all quests will feel kinda similar. You need to build enough rooms to accommodate your new friends, you need to go look for new items that will help you continue your building demises, and you need to fulfill the needs of a central character/element to the current island. In the first game, at the end of each chapter, you'd be fighting a boss and then moving on to a new island, losing all your progress and starting from scratch. In this case, once you complete all your quests on a certain island you go back to the Isle of Awakening, so we can consider it as the Free Building mode. You can not only go back to the other islands but also gather resources there and bring them back to Lulutopia, something that not only makes more sense but also feels more rewarding. After all, who would spend too much time building a nice town once you realize everything will be lost in a few hours?
If you're feeling adventurous, you can also visit the Explorer's Shores, a set of islands that work as some kind of treasure hunt. Once you find and claim all your objectives, a new crafting material will become infinite, something that is actually far less game-breaking than it sounds. In these islands, you can also recruit more people and even animals, in case you fancy having some lovable pets around you!
In terms of new features, a lot of mechanics have been revised and vastly improved, while some brand new gameplay elements are the cherry on top of the blocky cake. Now we can glide, dash, fast-travel within an island... and even swim, dive, or build underwater! With the help of your friend Wiggly the worm, farming is easier now too. Look, we know this may discourage you, but all these changes don't mean that everything is incredibly unchallenging or plain boring; all these new things make you spend more time doing fun stuff like exploring, questing or building. Oh, and remember you can now play online with up to 3 other people!
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
If you have the chance, grab Dragon Quest Builders 2 and find the time to play it asap. It's definitely one of the best titles for the Nintendo Switch, and the possibility of playing online with some friends or building on the go as you kill some time, that's pretty much the selling point. With so many islands to visit and a whole lot of quests to discover, this will be one of the best games of the year!
There’s sooooo much stuff to do!
Free Build mode is perfectly integrated into the game’s story now, so you can keep your progress after every chapter.
Building with the help of other people is not only fun but really wholesome.
Having Malroth follow you is rather annoying sometimes, even if he can help you kill monsters.
Just like the first one, Dragon Quest Builders 2 could use a little more difficulty.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is perfect for those who like building but, at the same time, feel kinda lost when playing a sandbox game. At least you have some hints at what to do and what to build, so you can also go from building to exploring or killing whenever you feel like it. And remember, this is still a Dragon Quest experience, so there's a fair share of secret content for you to discover!
If you don't own a copy of Dragon Quest Builders 2, this is a very good moment to buy the game and maybe the new DLC content too! New content is always welcome, and you can keep building and playing as long as you want, while also sharing your artistic creations with the world.
Author: Rod Locksley
Hey! I'm Rod, and when I'm not watching anime or playing video games I'm probably writing about them, but I'm also a graphic and web designer, and I even published a comic book and worked like 4 years for a well-known MMORPG. Curiously, my favorite series are quite different from each other, so I'm still trying to understand what I really like in an anime...