I’m a little late to the Dragon Quest Builders party. I have a friend who promised me that I would love the first Dragon Quest Builders when it was released. He explained Dragon Quest Builders would be right up my alley due to my love of Animal Crossing. Animal Crossing has always drawn me in with features including taking care of fellow villagers, decorating my home, collecting items and essentially running the town without being the official mayor. I downloaded the demo to my Nintendo Switch, but I never got past the first couple of minutes. I was excited for other games at the time, and Dragon Quest Builders felt too new and unfamiliar.
When Dragon Quest Builders 2 was announced for release on July 12, 2019, it seemed like my time to try it. However, it quickly became deja vu as other more familiar games began receiving similar release dates. With a $60 price tag, it felt like a pricey gamble to pick up Dragon Quest Builders 2 not knowing if I would enjoy the gameplay at all. I didn’t end up picking up a copy at release and for a while I was completely okay with that.
From the outside, I viewed Dragon Quest Builders and its sequel as only a Minecraft-like game where all I do is craft and build with blocks. It wasn’t intriguing and and seemed almost empty. I had no idea that there was a story and a reason for each thing built. It wasn’t simply free-for-all building environment as I anticipated where you roam free designing and building the world at random.
When I heard that the sequel had a demo as well, I downloaded it and actually got around to playing it. The demo was lackluster and simple. There was nothing within it that had me wanting more. In fact, at times I considered ditching the demo before completion. It was slow in progression and didn’t really have me do more than a few basic tasks. While I later learned that this was more of a tutorial for the game instead of a true gameplay demo, it left me feeling that I wasn’t missing out on much. Had the demo been a bit longer and showcased a piece of the story, I wonder if my initial opinion would have been different.
It didn’t take long before I started to hear how amazing the game was from seemingly every direction. Positive Dragon Quest Builders 2 reviews filled my YouTube feed, podcasts, Twitter and even MMORPG itself, yet somehow, I still wasn’t entirely sold. I then remembered GameStop’s used game policy of receiving a full refund within the seven day return period. I knew that if I could get my hands on a copy, I could try it out and return it if it just didn’t click. The problem was that I couldn’t find a new, let alone used, copy anywhere near me which only built up the idea that Dragon Quest Builders 2 must be a great sequel.
One of my close friends got lucky and was able to scoop up a used copy as soon as one became available. She was kind enough to offer me her copy to try out while she focused on her backlog. The story started out slowly, but after a couple of hours, I became absolutely addicted.
The last game I fell in love with having known nothing about it beforehand was Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I know, how could someone who loves Nintendo not have played a Zelda game previously? I loved the expansiveness of the world and the ability to explore wherever I desired. The quests in Zelda: Breath of the Wild provided me a sense of fulfillment and, for the most part, felt rewarding. Dragon Quest Builders 2 brought back those same feelings of new excitement that I had while playing Zelda.
In Dragon Quest Builders 2, you are placed as a builder in a world where building is essentially forbidden. Slowly, other characters begin to trust your builder character through the completion of quests. You’re able to build rooms and buildings from blueprints, some with the ability to get creative, as well as create fields full of crops. As an Animal Crossing fan, I loved being responsible for my home base and the characters within it. With time and work, the characters begin to help out around the base, helping save you time to complete other tasks. This added more satisfaction as I watched the area that I had built up become a self-sustaining little town.
The quests in Dragon Quest Builders 2 have usually relatively quick to complete, making it easier to play for short periods of time when my time is limited. The shorter quests made it easy to play for short periods of time here and there without feeling completely lost within the main story. This aspect was greatly appreciated on the days where I had little time to play but desperately wanted to get back to the world for whatever time I had.
The building aspect is enjoyable. When building a specific room, you’re given general guidelines. However, in many instances I was able to throw a little bit of personality and creativity in with the requirements. Personally, going back after a completed task and leveling up of the base to update the room for better use has been an additional point of entertainment.
While quests and building are the primary purpose throughout the story, I found myself at times simply exploring the world. With a large item bag that you carry with you at all times, it’s easy to start collecting as many items as possible. Defeating various monster enemies at times presented additional items to add to the inventory, and exploring helped to find additional monsters. The maps feel large -- not quite Breath of the Wild large, but large in their own right -- and can grow even larger through quests. It was a joy to see all that the different areas offered.
After playing for some time, a dog enters the picture. I was able to befriend the dog and he became my sidekick. I truly appreciated that I was allowed to name the dog myself. While a minor detail, it gave me an option to further personalize the world and characters to my liking. Being able to name my dog allowed me to feel like he was truly mine.
A couple of issues hindered me early on. The first occurred when I was asked to build a room for one of the characters. I’m not sure if I missed or had forgotten instructions on how to lay the blueprint out on the ground, but I found myself trying to memorize the blueprint and build from memory. Once the room was constructed, I went back to the character to complete the quest, but they were still asking for the room. A few minutes of confusion occurred as I checked to make sure that no item was missing from the room and that everything was in the base’s boundaries. Eventually, I was able to get the blueprint on the ground and lined up with what I had built. This seemed to be the correct move, as it triggered the quest completion with the character.
The other more confusing issue occurred a while later, when I still had a main quest to complete with planting five different types of seeds. I had successfully collected three of the five types of seeds needed to complete the main quest. However, no side quest was made available to lead me towards the two remaining seed types. Exploring random locations wasn’t working out well for me and I became frustrated. After Googling extensively, I discovered that I must have missed a quest somewhere else on the map. So I pulled up my map, zoomed out, and sure enough, there was a question mark that ended up being the quest that needed completion.
These frustrations aside, I have truly loved Dragon Quest Builders 2. It has gone from a game that could tide me over until Animal Crossing is released next year to a game that holds its own as an addition to my favorites list. From the exploration and quests to the building, there has never been a shortage of ways to spend my time within the game. Crafting and collecting items to fill my bag became a personal challenge and helped me to further appreciate the world of Dragon Quest Builders 2. Having control over the placement of buildings on my home base and being able to name my dog were the icing on the cake and allowed the game to really feel more personal.
I still have some ways to go to complete the main story, but I feel confident that this is something that I won’t simply put down after the credits roll. Afterall, that’s where the DLCs come in for additional content. Dragon Quest Builders 2 has been a surprise love for me, and I somehow nearly missed it.