Building and farming games are often at the mercy of your own creativity. The games often give you a big tool box to work from, but ultimately they're often only as fun as you can make them be. When the first Dragon Quest Builders came out, it served up a little bit of questing context to keep things interesting. It's a light action-JRPG with Minecraft block-building elements and the story and adventure that went along with creativity served the first game decently. Dragon Quest Builders 2 does the same, returning with a cavalcade of new tools and improvements as well. Though it doesn't always succeed in making things interesting, it does often feel like a fun and engaging world in which to play around.
Where Do We Begin In Dragon Quest Builders 2?
Dragon Quest Builders 2 takes place far after the events of the first DQ Builders. In a world once crafted with love by a legendary Builder, things have fallen into a bit of disarray. The original Builder defeated the mad priest Hargon and banished God of Destruction Malroth into the unknown, but the splintered groups of monsters known as the Children of Hargon survive in scattered remnants across the world and seek to carry their master's obsession for destruction wherever they go.
In this story, you play an Apprentice Builder who is caught in servitude and eventual death at the hands of a sea crew of the Children. The Builder is only saved from their fate in a storm that destroys the ship and washes them up on a beach on the mysterious Isle of Awakening. Immediately, you discover an amnesiac warrior who happens to be named Malroth, as well the pushy and posh Lulu. It isn't long before you discover that the island you've arrived on is a blank slate of creation for an Apprentice Builder such as yourself, and you're off to make it a paradise for your companions. Malroth lends you aid with his combat prowess as you venture to other islands to gather knowledge and other inhabitants to help you in your task. It's interesting because where the first game was very much a solo affair, Malroth is your constant companion here, and other NPCs also often aid in your endeavors.
What Do You Do In DQ Builders 2?
Much as in the first game, you still deconstruct and reconstruct the world around you as you see fit. Tools such as the hammer allow you to remove blocks as you will before replacing them and new materials and build options come readily as you complete quests and learn new recipes or gather them in the wild. Rudimentary combat also returns to the game. It's not deep by any stretch, but DQ Builders 2 serves up an okay hack n'slack affair that breaks up the monotony of regular building, although it can be a little annoying when monsters interrupt your work. The spawn rates in the game for replacing monster mobs are a little high and you sometimes have to watch your back while you're on a project. Even so, none of the combat feels so rigorous that it distracts for long
Of course, the meat and potatoes of your adventure is building. As you travel to other islands, you receive quest after quest tasking you with ways to improve whatever land in which you're working. There are occasional set pieces that require a bit more strict adherence to what the game wants you to build, but a good portion of it allows you to decide what, where, and how you're going to put things together. Only occasionally did we feel like we had less agency with the game's larger projects, and honestly, it's not that big of a deal for how much of the canvas was ours to paint elsewhere.
Is Dragon Quest Builders 2 Better Than 1?
There's a lot that was added into Dragon Quest Builders 2 to make it worth a new romp. Firstly, the space is massive. Not that DQ Builders 1 was small, but Builders 2 feels vast even by comparison. More than that, there's a lot of quality of life improvements that keep the game moving along nicely. You can sprint, your tools and armor no longer break after regular use, and you can swim through water and glide through the air (after collecting an item for the latter). More than this, there are fast travel globes all over various locations in Dragon Quest Builders 2 and you can use them whenever you feel like it, making movement to wherever you want to be a constant breeze. By far, the fast travel was one of the most convenient time-savers to us.
That said, the quality of life extends beyond your character as well. As you finish tasks, you gain followers, and these denizens are far better than they were in the first game. As you level up your settlements, you not only gain more recipes for yourself, but your denizens will aid in your work and especially the more mundane tasks. For instance, in a farming camp, they'll till and water all the fields for you, and after you level them up, they'll even replant seeds in fields assigned to a certain crop. As long as you collect the materials for your population, you can turn tedious townwork into a pretty autonomous cycle in Dragon Quest Builders 2.
Malroth is also a pretty great companion. Not only is he the heavy hitter of the two of you, he also aids in harvesting materials in the wild. All you have to do is hit a certain material to start collecting it and Mal will start harvesting similar materials in the immediate area. He also focuses in on any enemies trying to do you harm. The only thing we noticed that we didn't like is Malroth's tendency to stand a bit close to wherever you are in the wild. Sometimes he's too clingy and it can lead to some awkward situations, like you breaking a block under him that leads him to take fall damage.
Another thing that fails to avoid issue in Dragon Quest Builders 2 is some of the smaller islands. These islands are randomized often have extraordinary resources for you to find, but they come with scavenger hunt checklists that are just boring. They lead to the reward of having unlimited supplies of certain resources, but there was nothing special or interesting about the islands where companionship, questing, and camaraderie fills the gaps in nearly every other part of this game.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a lot of good things in one. It's not the most engaging of JRPG stories, but there's enough context and engagement in nearly every corner of it to keep things moving nicely. The conveniences added to this game make it really streamlined to play, cutting the monotony of having to walk everywhere, rebuild the same gear, or engage in constant menial tasks often. The game's big projects are splendid moments, but we also enjoyed our smaller creative projects where we had full control over it. We could do without certain chores like scavenger hunt islands, but these spots are scarce compared to everything else the game offers.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 doesn't manage to avoid all tedium, but it does a serviceable job in moving you along, letting you do what you want to do, and giving you plenty of context to do it. If you want a lighthearted action-RPG and farm/build affair, another romp through the colorful Dragon Quest universe in Builders 2 is well worth your time.