Dragon Quest Builders 2 review for PS4, Nintendo Switch

Platform: PS4
Also On: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Omega Force / Square Enix
Medium: Blu-ray/Digital/Cart
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes
ESRB: E10+

As much as I enjoyed Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age, I think I might actually like Dragon Quest Builders 2 even more. There?s so much to do here, exploration, building, quests and side quests, quirky character interactions, crafting and so on, that you?re constantly moving forward and progressing through the game however you see fit. Much like the original, the blending of a Minecraft-esque building mechanic with Dragon Quest characters and world design works extremely well, and makes for a really unique action-RPG that?s unlike anything else.

Just like the original Dragon Quest Builders took cues from NES/Famicom Dragon Quest, Builder 2 incorporates elements of Dragon Quest II. Most notably the enemy faction dubbed The Children of Hargon, and Malroth, Lord of Destruction. The overall story revolves around the Children of Hargon capturing or enslaving builders, and restricting the world from being able to build anything new. You, as your male or female player character and builder, will in turn convince the multitude of NPC?s you meet to pick up your building cause, and restore the world brick by brick.

You?ll generally move about the play area while in a third person perspective, much like the first game, but Dragon Quest Builders 2 also features a first-person mode which is immensely helpful when it comes to building stuff. It changes the analog controls so that when you press back on the stick you?ll just slide backwards while still facing forward, making it easier to lay down rows of objects in quick succession. It also becomes a little easier to target gaps and smaller spaces while in first-person mode.

As you play through the story you?ll start to learn recipes and blueprints allowing you to build bigger and better items. Much like the first game you?ll start with simple structures, but quickly advance on to larger projects. The story does a great job of piecing out projects for you to tackle, getting players accustomed to the building mechanics but also doing so at a fast enough pace that it won?t bore returning players. It helps that the writing in Dragon Quest Builders 2 is really good, humorous and entertaining throughout, much like the mainline Dragon Quest series.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 also looks really great, which won?t come as a big surprise for those that played the first game, but it certainly still manages to wow me when I scale back my view and take in whatever progress I?ve made. Carving out fields, rivers, lakes, and more in conjunction with large buildings, a variety of building materials, and seeing NPC?s just strolling about really makes for an impressive image. The combination of simpler blocks with more detailed objects helps make the whole thing just pop out more, and for me ends up being more visually appealing than other Minecraft inspired titles.

There?s a lot of other tweaks and additions present in Dragon Quest Builders 2 as well. Online multiplayer that supports up to 4 players, a new glide item that allows you to jump off of high objects and glide across vast areas (think Breath of the Wild), villagers that?ll auto-build certain structures while you?re off adventuring, and more. There are multiple story focused islands to explore, and then smaller resource heavy islands to check out, where you?ll have a handy checklist of items to find that can give out bonus rewards upon completion. Weapons, armor, and tools are separated from your standard resources and crafted items, and you?ll have multiple types of tools at your disposal as you advance. You can also uncover mini-medals through little challenge puzzles hidden across all maps that are fun, environment challenges to uncover.

All in all, I?ve found Dragon Quest Builders 2 to be an absolute blast, and I?ve had a hard time putting it down just to write this review. I?d absolutely suggest checking it out when it releases, regardless of whether you?ve played any type of Dragon Quest game prior to this. The heavy emphasis on exploration and building mixed with breezy action is a real joy, making Dragon Quest Builders 2 one of my favorite games so far this year.

Paul Bryant – Nintendo Switch

After spending some time with Dragon Quest Builders 2 on Switch I can tell you the addiction is real. So real that I had to start writing about the Switch version before it sucks my life away and I forget about other games! And if you played Builders 1 on Switch then you won?t be surprised to hear that it?s exactly what you hoped a part 2 would be like. And you also won?t be surprised to hear that it?s perfect for Switch!

Other versions of this game will run at a higher frame rate and resolution but from my experience the Switch version is still just as fun to play despite the cutbacks it takes to get a game like this on the portable console. You will see some variable frame rate and the game will eat your battery life but if you?re worried about which version to choose then just know that there?s no wrong choice for fun factor! One other thing I notice are some very long loading times when you start the game or move areas. If you?re like me then you?ll just use this time to make sure you?re all good on beers. But you probably also know how good it is to take something like this on the go instead of only playing on a TV and continue tending to your game while your kids are playing soccer or other boring things.

At first I was concerned that differences in performance might change my experience with Builders 2 on Switch but I do agree with Dustin about the overall score. What you get is a worthy sequel that addresses complaints with the original at the cost of similar performance trade-offs seen with other quality Switch ports. There are graphics options you can tweak to make things better and my only complaint is that I would have liked the option to lock the frame rate at 30fps but there is very little to say besides this. So if you?re interested in the Switch version then you?ll find a very rich and enjoyable game awaiting you!

Note: Square Enix provided us with a Dragon Quest Builders 2 PS4 code for review purposes. Nintendo provided us with a Dragon Quest Builders 2 Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A+