E3 Hands On: Does Dragon Quest Builders Stand Out?

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

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Dragon Quest Builders | oprainfall

By: Quentin H.

One of the titles I played at Square Enix’s E3 2016 booth was Dragon Quest Builders. In the game, you play as a hero who is informed via a female spiritual voice that he the only person left who can still build things, since the people have all lost the ability to create, and it is your job to rebuild the kingdom of Alefgard.

Dragon Quest Builders | oprainfall

The Legendary Builder, who is the only one left who can create and build in the kingdom.

The gameplay in Dragon Quest Builders is directly taken from Mojang’s Minecraft in a lot of ways, and so it was instantly familiar to me. You swing a weapon to turn dirt blocks into cubes that you then collect and re-stack in other places. You use a crafting table to combine items that you find into other items. You use torches to scare creatures away at night. While there is always a certain thrill to seeing blue slimes in the field, combat is very basic, as well: You swing at the monster with your weapon until either you run away or one of you dies. There was very little innovation to the Minecraft formula included in the demo I played.

During the remainder of the demo, an NPC named Pippa appeared and guided me through the tasks that I needed to do. She helped me learn how to craft, she had me build a room for her and me to share (complete with beds!), and then for a final test; she had me build a whole other room in accordance with a blueprint she had laying around, but that she couldn’t build herself because… the people of the kingdom… do not know how to build anything themselves, even if its just stacking two blocks on each other… Yeah, it got to be a bit ridiculous during the demo.

Dragon Quest Builders | oprainfall

Slimes and blocks to build with are everywhere.

Pippa’s blueprint showed what blocks and items I needed to place and where they needed to go. I was able to project the blueprint onto the ground and then build accordingly on top of it as I went. Pippa’s blueprint required me to craft several items (which required me to farm enemies for drops), chop down grass, and grab over 40 dirt blocks. This was all easily accomplished within just a few minutes, and once the room was built, the demo ended.

A few more points about the Dragon Quest Builders demo: It was incredibly easy to build in this game, and the crafting recipes I was able to use all made sense within the context of the world. The third-person camera controls worked extremely well, and I had zero problems constructing according to a blueprint or to my own imagination up to a certain point. It is very easy to see that Square Enix took pains to make the game’s controls as simple as possible, and that is a great thing.

However… overall, this title played like a simpler Dragon Quest edition of Minecraft with a heavy focus on the storyline, and it did not so much as escape the latter’s shadow as make me want to play both the Dragon Quest series and Minecraft separately afterwards. If you are a fan of both series and want to play them at once, then Dragon Quest Builders is well worth a look when it comes out in October.

All images are courtesy of Square Enix.

Are you looking forward to Dragon Quest Builders? What do you want to build? Tell us in the comments below!