We’re currently in the midst of a Minecraft-terrain generation overhaul—where developers are coding away to create the “Caves and Cliffs” update—which has caused me, an avid player of the game, to cease playing until the full update is released. This, we have been told, won’t be complete until late this year. So, what’s a girl to do to satiate the desire for crafting and building games? Well, I decided to take a look at Dragon Quest Builders 2 on the PlayStation, as I came across a bargain-bin copy at my local brick-and-mortar store. Prior to this, I had minimal experience with Dragon Quest Builders, the first game released in the series by Square Enix. I recall playing it on the Switch during my commutes to work, but as I no longer commute, I defaulted to playing more games on PC and PS5—so that went neglected. Let’s get stuck into what I think of the game, already at forty hours in.
Similarly to the first iteration, there is minimal character customisation, which did not bother me and was to be expected. The game begins with what is clearly a tutorial, as you find yourself on a ship following instructions in order to keep it afloat. Things devolve into madness, and you eventually find yourself ship wrecked, ready to start your life alongside your companion Malroth,—who was also on the ship and has a penchant for fighting everything he sees, apparently. If you thought the tutorial ended with the ship, oh, you are so, so wrong. The game itself is almost all a tutorial, but not in a monotonous way. You see, the game works tutorials into the gameplay; so, while you are aware that some of the tasks you are completing are tutorials, they also serve a purpose of actually progressing you through the game. Quests assigned to you are usually in the vein of collecting certain types of items or blocks in order complete builds and progress the settlement. There are a lot of fetch quests; but, for the most part, they are made quick and easy with the use of fast travel points. In regards to story, if you are not a fan of reading through dialogue, you may find yourself skipping a lot of text. There is no voice acting; in my humble opinion, I would still gladly play the game without the story element present. The story is not the game’s strength, and it simply pads it out with the huge amount of settler dialogue, which can get monotonous.
The game takes you through many varying environments as you progress through the campaign: plains, deserts, caves, mountains, ruins, and more. The overall goal is to build up your settlements. Quests guide you through this naturally, and you’ll find on completion of these that the people living within your settlements will drop little hearts on the floor for you to pick up. Think of this almost as a satisfaction rating: the more you collect, the more the settlers are enjoying the structures you have built. Once you have collected enough, you can level up your settlement, which gets you further into the story but also makes the town more susceptible to enemy attacks, which typically come in waves. Combat is similar to the first game: highly simplistic. The game allows you a basic attack: a slashing attack. Further into the game, you unlock moves that you can combo, on occasion, with your fighting partner Malroth and a heavier swipe attack—but don’t expect much variation or a complex system. I found myself going into battles with a plethora of cooked food, ready to spam the “eat” button for heals. The combat is simplistic, but that was okay, as that’s not where this game shines.
What more could you really want out of a game like this than a good building experience? This game provides that. There are hundreds of stylistic blocks and items, so you can build to your heart’s content. The game explains early on that everything you build can have a purpose if you place the correct items within the room that you construct. For example, creating a small room (say, 4×4 blocks) and placing a pot and towel in there will create a toilet room that your settlers can actually use (and create a useful by-product: nightsoil). The game has many purpose-built rooms, which it allows you to discover through experimentation of furniture placement. This can be a lot of fun: figuring out what items belong together to create useful sets. The game provides lots of blueprints for unique buildings, too, that you end up creating during the campaign, one example being the Silver Bar you construct in the settlement in Khrumbul-Dun. Once you build the structure outlined on a blueprint, it remains with you to build anywhere else you’d like to in the future. You can really take each settlement as far as you wish outside of quest progression. You can simply just complete the quests to progress in each settlement before moving on to the next, or you can take your time and build extra-functional buildings in every town—improving the infrastructure and making the town to your aesthetic before moving on.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 provides a lot of value within the price you pay to own it. For fans of sandbox games where building is the key to providing the bulk of your entertainment, this game is a no-brainer. It was built for creativity, and is the type of game to sit back and play at a relaxed pace. The game definitely satiates the need to build and create but is accompanied by some other things to do. Notably, across each terrain, you’ll find puzzles to complete and difficult monsters to defeat. There are always new blocks to be found out in the wild to collect for your builds, and monsters to come across which drop items for you to cook up in new recipes. I recommend picking this up on Switch, especially for commuters (just make sure to not miss your stop…) and on PlayStation for those who want a laid-back couch-gaming experience.