I’m not the biggest fan of crafting titles, mostly due to the open-ended approach to gameplay. Not to say I only enjoy linear engagements — instead, I prefer having a focused, story-driven experience during my game time. Like the original Dragon Quest Builders, Dragon Quest Builders 2 not only sees the return of a story mode but also introduces a hefty host of new features, warranting the “2” within the title of the game.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 doesn’t change things up that drastically from its predecessor, instead, it builds (no pun intended) upon what made the first game great. For example, Builders 2 offers a higher block limit, as well as a substantially larger game world to explore. The original Dragon Quest Builders gave players several biomes to explore and progress through, which made the title feel fleshed out and well-realized, yet this also in some instances, resulted in the game feeling a bit fragmented — especially for players that wanted to focus in on, and embellish any, one given area or chapter.
Dragon Quest Builders 2, reintroduces players to these different biomes, which take the shape of the various islands — however, unlike the first game, DQB2 gives players a large island from the very beginning of the game, which acts as the main homestead of the player. In simpler terms, this starting island becomes the canvas in which players can paint in different elements accrued from the other islands found throughout the story.
This approach to gameplay not only fixes the disjointed nature of its predecessor, but it also creates a much longer feeling single-player campaign. Dragon Quest Builders 2 begins after a short sequence in which the player washes ashore on the starting island of the game, after being cast away from an enemy slave ship. From here, before players actually get to build anything substantial on the starting island, (Isle of Awakening) the game quickly transitions the story to an area known as Furrowfields, which acts as the first chapter or tutorial world of the game proper.
Now, I use the term tutorial here, rather loosely — For vets of the series, the tutorial feels more akin to a refresher of the core mechanics found within the first game. For everyone else, Forrowfields is a prolonged introduction into building towns and gathering resources for the rest of the game.
Not to say Furrowfields was a bad beginning necessarily, it just felt like it overstayed its welcome, especially for being the first obstacle in the way of getting access to the much larger, Isle of awakening. From this point on, Dragon Quest Builders 2 opens up, particularly, in regards to progression. Unlike the first game, DQB2 merely suggests where the player should go (that usually being, a smaller island to explore, gather new resources and even recruit new NPCs).
Aside from the Isle of Awakening, medium to smaller sized islands occupies the rest of the Dragon Quest Builders 2 world map. The smallest of the additional islands, tend to offer a laundry list of items to tick off as you slowly become an amateur naturalist. Completing these scavenger hunts reward players with an infinite supply of base buildings items, such as wood or a mineral.
The larger islands within Dragon Quest Builders 2, gives players access to more story segmented sequences, the closest thing the game has to the chapters found within the first title. These sequences tend to be much more involved, bringing with it new and distinct environments, building materials, tools, contraptions, NPCs and Boss encounters.
Amongst some of the new tools, my favourite would be the Drawing Pen, which, despite a slightly vague name, allows players to make their very own blueprints of existing layouts of stuff they have imagined and placed around their own world. Additionally, players can share these blueprints, making it relatively easy to hodgepodge together structures from other instances.
Speaking of multiplayer, sadly Dragon Quest Builders 2 does not allow co-op story progression — thankfully, the game mostly makes up for this, by allowing up to 4 players to play together at any given time. The servers for the actual mode were not available during the time of my review, however, prospect players should note, the game will only allow the host of the world to reap the benefits of the extra support, additional co-op players are not permitted in taking any resources back home with them, during multiplayer sessions.
Without spoiling too much more, another new addition to Dragon Quest Builders 2 comes in the form a detection dog (which essentially doubles as your pet) that helps the player find hidden seeds, treasures and other resources scattered about the game world. Little things like these are peppered throughout the game, ultimately adding up to a sizable wealth of additions and improvements over the 2016 original.
One new feature that unfortunately feels a little tacked-on is Dragon Quest Builder 2’s first-person camera mode, which borrows inspiration from titles such as Minecraft. Unlike Minecraft, however, DQB2’s new perspective feels clunky and unintuitive, making it only fun to play around with in passing.
In terms of story, Dragon Quest Builders 2 keeps it relatively simple, perhaps a little too simple, especially in regards to the character Malroth, who clearly is the reincarnation of the main antagonist, now relegated in being your faithful companion and primary muscle throughout the entirety of the single-player campaign.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is an easy recommendation for fans of the original, however, players who may have skipped out on the first game, it may be advised to check it out prior, as the core of the sequel, feels wholly unaltered from its source material. Players looking for a fun co-op experience or those who don’t care about paying a little extra can quickly jump into Dragon Quest Builders 2, without the worry of missing anything crucial but can look forward towards the prospect of new mechanics and content that make for a worthy sequel.