“Creation is born of destruction… nothing can be built from nothing.”
This is one of the pivotal quotations in Dragon Quest Builders 2, and it perfectly sums up the experience.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a creative masterpiece, developed by Omega Force and Square Enix. It’s a sandbox full of opportunities for adventure and building, and it gives creative control to the player like the series never has before. The story is whimsical and fun, the characters embody the traditional Dragon Quest charm, but the quest system can sometimes be destructive to what is otherwise a truly masterful build.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 continues with the formula of the first Dragon Quest Builders, with a standalone story centred around building mechanics, and featuring a wide world made entirely out of blocks. But Dragon Quest Builders 2 is no mere Minecraft imitation; it’s a fantastic experience that adds a lot of elements that has made the Dragon Quest franchise so popular.
Each block-tastic island in Dragon Quest Builders 2 is ripe for creation. The game gives the player a whole range of building elements to use, and each can be destroyed, re-built, and destroyed again to the heart’s content. The possibilities for builds in Dragon Quest Builders 2 are endless; you can easily sink hours into designing something, and completely ignore the quests for a while.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 also manages to not overwhelm the player with too much information or possibilities. It introduces new materials and items at a steady pace, but it does so in a way where the player will be well-versed in using each material before new ones are added. There are very few moments where the player will feel out of their depth, and that’s a real accomplishment considering just how much there is to create here.
A noticeboard is introduced early into the game, which displays some of the best builds that other players have shared a screenshot of. It’s a brilliant way of creating inspiration for players looking for ideas. Creating and uploading builds would make for a great game in itself: building is simple, and the range of materials means that it’s nearly always possible to make whatever the heart desires.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 includes a levelling system, which is the main way that newer materials and items are withheld from the player until they’re ready. Each time the player levels up they learn a range of new recipes for new builds, items, and materials. Levelling up your character is achieved through gaining XP by killing monsters, and there’s a wide variety of them on each island.
At first, the enemies are fairly simple to defeat. But the difficulty will consistently increase, until some much more challenging monsters are introduced. At this point, however, you’ll have equipped some newer armour and weapons, and will have equipped your party with better items too. Sadly, fighting is very simple: smash one button to hit the enemy, then run away when the monster is about to attack. Learning the pattern to each enemy doesn’t take too long either.
But Dragon Quest Builders 2 isn’t about combat; it’s about building, and the simple combat system ensures that the focus remains on creation. The player can also level up their base on each island, which is a much more efficient way of improving how much your experience will improve in the game.
In order to level up any base, yellow hearts need to be collected. These drop from NPCs when you’ve either completed a quest they’ve given you, or are going about their daily routine and doing something they enjoy (typically something which also involves an item you’ve built). When enough have been collected the base can be levelled up, making new NPCs join, and making each work in a more effective manner too.
The missions in Dragon Quest Builders 2 are usually pretty simple. They’re not quite fetch quests, but rarely ask much more of you than that. Typically, a quest will see you travel to a new part of the island to find a new item or character, and complete an activity engaging with the new item.
I never found this to get repetitive though; there’s enough variety to the quests that they never feel too similar. And joy can be found in the most simple of tasks thanks to the fact that travelling in Dragon Quest Builders 2 is just so accessible and fun. Each island holds many secrets, and adventuring is something that never gets old. It’s rare to find an area which is difficult to get around, and typically each island rewards the player for exploring.
In between these quests are requests from the NPCs, which are usually more fulfilling tasks. For instance, they’ll want specific styles of rooms created, specific items crafted, or a particular action achieved. Some of these builds follow a blueprint (which will be provided to you), but some allow the player to use their creative spark. Even with the blueprint, building is simple and highly enjoyable, and nothing quite matches that feeling of completing a build.
However, some of Dragon Quest Builders 2‘s quests can feel very prescriptive, which takes away from the sense of freedom that the game so valiantly builds on in most other areas. For example, a quest may ask you to build a certain room, but you’ll need to find the required items first. Sometimes you’ll have already found these items through your own exploration, and the game does not make it clear that the activity has been completed. It’s led to me wandering around aimlessly, wondering where the item is that I need to find, only to figure out later it was already in my inventory.
At times, I’ve also found myself unsure on what I need to be doing, whether it be knowing where to go or what to find in order to complete a task. For the most part, Dragon Quest Builders 2 does a good job at pointing you in the right direction, but that makes the moments where the game fails to sufficiently guide you even more frustrating. These moments really ruin the flow of the game, letting the whole experience down somewhat.
Despite some unforgivable frustrations created through some of the quests though, the overall experience of Dragon Quest Builders 2 is very gratifying. It builds on the success of the first game by adding a range of new features and materials. Building feels effortless and allows for the player to be as creative as they can be, while each island offers a whole new world of adventure. Dragon Quest Builders 2 is close enough to being the building canvas you have always hoped for, and it gives you the power to be the creative builder you’ve always wanted to be.