Monday, July 1st, 2019

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Quentin H.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 | Boy

You can play as either a male or a female in DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 (Jenae R. showed the female model in the photos above). (Image courtesy of SQUARE ENIX).

My E3 2019 demo took place on the PlayStation 4 past the tutorial section of DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 where I am a builder, which is apparently one step down from ultimate evil in this game. My experience with the DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS franchise prior to this E3 2019 demo consisted of playing the E3 2016 demo for the first game, so I was interested to see what lay in store for me for my twenty-minute demo.

At the start of the demo, I arrived on an island with my partner Malroth, on a boat while armed with a hammer and a bat-like weapon that I could use. After some dialogue that encouraged me to explore the island between Malroth, myself, and the ship captain, I set off to explore. I quickly found that pretty much everything on this island is destructable. I would swing my hammer, destroy the environment, pick it up, and store it away in my handy tool bar at the bottom of the screen. In terms of gameplay, think of it a lot like Minecraft. It was perfectly functional and easy to do. The character models themselves and the environment surrounding them are both vibrantly colored and more than a little cartoony in style. It is clear that DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2, despite all the ‘talk-about-builders-only-in-whispers’ dialogue, is meant to be a happy and cheerful world to be in and explore.

I quickly encountered some enemies as well, so I was able to try out the combat. While in a lot of games, combat in real-time (like here) can constitute dodging and attacking and special moves. I was more than a little disappointed that combat pretty much consisted of swinging my weapon around and walking around the enemy to avoid their attacks. If the full DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 game is anything like my E3 demo, then it is clear that succeeding at combat will not be too difficult, as these were incredibly simple fights.

In the distance, I heard a female scream and I (still whacking away at the environment) went to her aid. I fought off the enemy gorilla-like monsters, and spoke with her. Dialogue between my character, Malroth, and our new friend Rosie (and throughout the demo) was well done and each of the characters had distinct personalities. Malroth is a smart-mouthed straight-shooter, who calls things as they are in a very amusing away. Rosie, who couldn’t be more different from Malroth, clearly was weighing the revelation of me as a builder versus my utility to her as a builder, and you could practically see the gears turning in her head to determine if I am someone she would want to trust to use for her own ends. Finally, as my character is fairly mute, Malroth did an excellent job serving as my mouthpiece with the other characters.

DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 | Malroth and lead

You and Malroth are partners to complete quests in a world that turns out to be pretty destructible whenever you swing your hammer weapon. (Image courtesy of SQUARE ENIX).

Rosie, it turned out, recruited me to build up her once-great farm since I am a builder. The very first thing I do is make a recipe to build a scarecrow to ‘mark’ a nearby convenient field as suitable for farming. I am told to go get cord from local vines and wood from the trees, and to bash them both with my hammer to harvest. I already had all of these items, and so I headed over to a workbench to build one with those items and the dry grass I had previously farmed up. Building this was simple: I just selected the recipe with the needed items in my inventory, and it was built. After I built my scarecrow, I was told that any Earth blocks nearby will be turned into Tilled Soil once the farmers (Rosie in this case) are done with it. As Rosie slowly worked, Gratitude Points (in the form of hearts) came out of her. My DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 demo teased that I should collect as many as possible though I have no idea for what.

My next task was to plant cabbage by depositing seeds into the tilled ground. While I am warned that it takes a ‘steady hand’ to plant seeds, all it consisted of was me highlighting the appropriate block and pushing a button to plant. My final demo task was to irrigate water from a spring on top of a nearby block mountain down to the field. My character drew a blueprint outline of an irrigation station out on the field and a screen popped up for what blocks I needed to use (spoiled soil), what I needed to remove (blockage) and where they all needed to go.


My demo was surprisingly focused on building a farm, planting crops, and making sure they can be watered. In a way, this building game is also a farming sim. (Image courtesy of SQUARE ENIX).

This was really interesting, as I more or less demolished the mountain that the spring existed on and remade it into something more modern, while being sure to remove the blockage. As I started to place the spoiled soil, I noticed that block placement is finicky. I would often place a block in the wrong place, despite trying to highlight the right spot, and that led to me more than once having to destroy parts of my structure in order to build it exactly to blueprint specifications (outside of my mountain reshape). I know that if I went slower than the obvious pace, I would be able to nail it each time…but it surprised me at how careful I had to be to match the design up. After the structure was built and I sloooooowly watched Rosie water the field and tell me that plants take awhile to grow. It was at this point that my DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 demo ended.

As a newcomer to the franchise, I must say that this is a fairly simplistic title mechanically, and it will not revolutionize the action-RPG genre as we know it. But frankly, DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 doesn’t need to or want to. This game absolutely succeeds on its dialogue, especially with its show-stopper Malroth’s mouth, and its goal of building things (even if the block placement is not exactly how I would like it). I found myself wanting the combat to have more depth to it, though it is pretty darn obvious that combat is not the main goal of this game. Even though my demo was only twenty minutes and I am a newcomer to the series, I did not feel like I was missing out on anything by not having previously played the first DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS game. Overall, I genuinely feel like I got a pretty good grasp of this game and I think it can be fun. If you like building with a somewhat dark plot to it, you’ll probably love DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2.

You can preorder DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 now for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.
You can also download now the PlayStation 4 demo here, or the Nintendo Switch demo through the console’s online store.

What do you want to build in DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2? Are you excited for its upcoming release in just a couple weeks?

Let us know in the comments below!

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