Dragon Quest Builders Hands-On

Platforms:
PS4PS Vita
Released:
October 13, 2016
Publisher:
Square Enix
Developer:
Square Enix

Feature article

I’m the first person to admit that I never got enveloped by the craze known as Minecraft. Building things and being creative just isn’t my strong suit, and I normally appreciate a good RPG and therefore a good RPG franchise like Dragon Quest as it provides me with structure; goals I need to complete, mysteries to solve and characters I can assist with side-quests and other fun distractions. These two very different genres of video game have become one in Dragon Quest Builders, a game where you must build a town from almost nothing, while completing quests along the way, and I got to spend a solid few hours with the title last week ahead of the games release in October.

“…it¬†gave me a real feeling of purpose and some really clear and fun interactions in the world…”

The thing I noticed instantly as a Dragon Quest superfan was the fact that the art style, the soundtrack, the monsters in the world and the items are all taken directly out of the Dragon Quest universe. This made things comfortable for me, as I settled in to basic opening quests such as building my first house, acquiring basic materials and killing some Slime’s that were bouncing around just on the outskirts of my town (or, rather, the pieces of rubble that would soon form the building blocks of my fancy new town). While my first few quests remained relatively simple, things moved along quite quickly for me.

Resources and materials quite quickly started to fill my inventory and I quite quickly figured out that I had to figure out some sort of storage solution for this to occur. Other elements come into play frequently such as making sure you have enough energy, which needs to be restored by eating food, along with health that needs to be managed more traditionally. Of course, almost everything you need to interact with to ensure your character remains needs to be ‘built’ first after gathering the resources in the first place. It starts to feel pretty natural quite quickly, and as you progress through the game, stronger combinations become available to you to make your journey even smoother.

One quest in particular, I was informed that I needed to find the blueprint to create a big hammer, which would in turn allow me to gather tougher resources. I was sent to another land to try and do research and figure out where I could find it. Once exploring, a particular tower stood out that was begging for me to investigate, and once I had climbed it (by building my own staircase, of course), a family of Hammerhood’s (one of my favourite beasts from the Dragon Quest universe) dwelled within. They asked me to repair their roof with a specific material that I hadn’t learned yet, so I quickly figured out which elements I needed to combine and helped them out, which I have to say they were quite happy with. Before I knew it, the hammer was mine and I was on to my next stage of building in my town and my next quest soon after.

It’s the moments like these that gave me a real feeling of purpose and some really clear and fun interactions in the world that I was learning about. Stronger enemies come out at night, but of course tackling them means access to better resources. Some quite tough foes had me holding back from exploring until I had built a better weapon for myself, and the potential threat of a large group of monsters descending on my little town in an effort to tear it apart had me thinking about fortifying and keeping things stable, even if that wasn’t a specific request from one of the many characters that started to live with me.

Ultimately I appreciate the autonomy that Dragon Quest Builders is providing. Already in just the few hours I had played, I was satisfied with how my town was coming together, especially considering I started with nothing. There are¬†plenty of monsters and unknown lands to discover, along with the growing population of my town increasing at quite the quick pace and the freedom to essentially tackle different scenarios depending on how I’m feeling at the time. I can’t wait to invest what will surely be hundreds of hours in creating the most sustainable and, most importantly, awesome-looking world I possibly can when the game launches in October.