By Jenae R / August 15th, 2018
Opinions stated are my own and do not reflect upon oprainfall as a whole.
I recently finished Dragon Quest Builders and I have a lot to say about it. Now, this isn’t a full on review, we have one of those for the game right over here. But I do want to discuss what I personally thought of it, as well as my hopes for the future of this spin-off series. I actually am not a long-time Dragon Quest fan. Only a year and a half ago I had my first experience when I played through a portion of Dragon Quest VIII (the PS2 original). All of my thoughts on this new spin-off series are based only on that short experience and the 90 hours I’ve put into Builders. Anyways, let’s get on with it.
I fell in love with Dragon Quest Builders from the moment I started the demo on Switch. And thus, not long after completing the Builders demo, I purchased a digital copy for myself. It was a breath of fresh air. Finally a new game to spend hours on which I’d actually enjoy, seeing as I was trying to stave off a bout of gaming burnout. Even without being a hardcore Dragon Quest fan, from the moment I delved into the game I was in love with its charm. Even more surprising, as I got further in, it was addictive and fun. At the start, I thought the building could potentially become a tedious pain in the neck but as I figured out some of the control features that sped up your building process, I was completely in love. I’m not the most creative person. Nonetheless, I figured out how to build stuff in a way that wasn’t as tedious as I initially thought. And then I got to doing quests for townspeople and I realized not only could I build stuff smoothly, I was also given goals to complete and reasons to build things.
To be honest, I was a tad shocked that this spin-off was as exciting as it was. From my previous knowledge of the series and what I had played of Dragon Quest VIII, I knew the mainline games were more your basic, traditional JRPG style. At times things got slow and it wasn’t always super exciting. Builders on the other hand, was wonderful. It felt open-ended, but only just enough. You had a reason to go forward and get lost in the world. The music made a fitting atmosphere and it had all the little quirks and charms of Dragon Quest, yet in a much more exciting spin-off game.
My love for the game aside, there were also issues that made me step away from it for a while. For example, it became significantly more stressful once I got into the real meat of the game around the middle of chapter 1, the survival tower defense aspects started to rear their ugly head. I am usually not a fan of tower-defense. It was extremely frustrating when enemies constantly showed up to interrupt the rebuilding of my base, post destruction by story mobs. By the beginning of chapter 2, my struggles included the absolute starvation slowly sucking my character’s life, while everything around poisoned her. At that point, I felt like I was merely trudging through to unlock stuff to build in Terra Incognita (despite the fact that with no goals, I’d get bored quickly in Incognita).
Eventually I crept further into the new chapter, the point where you have much better equipment, more stuff to build and less trouble with enemies. I also figured out I could sleep away invading enemies as well and once again, I was in love. I guess this experience led to me having somewhat of a love-hate relationship with Dragon Quest Builders. I love the goals, the charm and the exploring. I enjoyed decorating and building my bases mostly how I wanted. And yet, I hated tower-defense in addition to the impending doom of the upcoming bosses, the ones NPCs would incessantly remind you of. It really got stressful at times. Which brings me to my next thoughts. What are my hopes for where this Dragon Quest spin-off series goes?
Seeing as JRPGs are my favorite game genre, I don’t think the challenge of Dragon Quest Builders should at all be lowered or changed. Such a change could very well make it boring and I wouldn’t want it to be a complete breeze. Though I do think the future entries could be set-up differently. They should try a variety of different things with Builders. One thing they could do that would be pretty awesome is instead of all the totally stand alone chapters, slow the pace down a little and let you gradually build up one huge town. Have all the different lands and variety still, but only a solo home base you slowly build up throughout the game. Perhaps they could even add a way to sleep and fly back to certain checkpoints throughout the land when you get into trouble. Another interesting option could be giving the player more reasons or motivation to get you to build other things, give you blueprints for more creative structures and not just base building. And the further you get in the story, the game should let you unlock new NPCs and new materials. Plus, maybe they could change it so enemies don’t invade your town. It’d be possible to get rid of the tower defense and instead make you go out to find them. You’d actually have to go search out the boss. There could also potentially be varied dungeons where the bosses reside. There are so many different things they could do with this series.
Regardless, in the end I have found a wonderful new series to enjoy. I’ve completely fallen in love with Dragon Quest Builders and I only hope this spin-off series gets many entries to come in the future. They could very well keep going with it how they are now, making each new entry a companion “what if” title to the subsequent mainline games. I’ve gotten loads of joy from Builders and again, even though this isn’t a review, I do highly recommend the game to other JRPG lovers. I can’t wait for Dragon Quest Builders 2 to release and I truly hope it heads West very soon. Dragon Quest Builders is the best game I’ve played in a while.
Dragon Quest Buildersnintendo switchPS4Square Enix