With just months shy of the first game’s three year anniversary, Dragon Quest Builders 2 has arrived on western shores – primed once again to fulfill every sandbox player’s needs. Having played and reviewed the original to completion, a sequel certainly piqued my interest. Could they freshen up the formula? Or would it be more of the same?
Moving on to the game world, Dragon Quest Builders 2 finds itself set in Torland where you the hero has to now deal with the last vestiges of the evil mage Hargon and the god Malroth. Taking place following the original game, it’s up to you to defeat the wretched Children of Hargon. Of course, without going directly into spoiler territory, the main story doles out new quests as you take up the mantle of a builder. Once again you’ll be collecting, building, eating and working your way through the narrative as systems become more complicated along the way.
Making your way through, the biggest change from the first title comes about by way of how you build. As you gather more members of your town you’ll be able to build further complex buildings and the like. Things are more spread out, so progression on its own won’t be quite as easy. To that end, the quest system has been revamped into different types including missions that encompass larger objective and require other small missions to completed first.
The battle system has changed with the introduction of party members including the amnesiac Malroth. He, along with your townsfolk, will now join you in combat. Not only are enemies stronger but you’ll engage in tower defense-esque fights in order to protect your builds. This is somewhat of a downer, in a way. Due to the addition of a crew, your character does feel a tad restricted compared to the previous game. As a result, battles can take some getting used to in the earlier levels.
With a massive open world to explore, there’s no shortage of things to do in Dragon Quest Builders 2. With a traditional map, players can unlock items and complete challenges and puzzles as they go through the main scenario. Smaller bosses, for example, litter the landscape and offer up plenty of recipes for building as well as level experience.
This format lends its hand to the game’s somewhat slower progression compared to the first. But with that comes a few bonuses. For example, your items won’t wear out. There’s also a new stamina bar that allows you to sprint around the world. Travel options also now include gliding and swimming underwater. Building has become more streamlined as well, with new tools and better materials. You’re effectively rewarded for taking your time, so that’s a plus too.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 also brings with it the option of up to four player offline and online co-op. We tested the offline version for our review and overall the experience seems mostly seamless. By inviting visitors to your map, you can build and play together in real time. For a game with so much to do, it’s a welcome help and easy fun when you can build something together.
We tested the PlayStation 4 version (it’s also available for Nintendo’s Switch) and overall the game is as solid as the original. Running smooth throughout, the game only feels sluggish during some of the larger battle segments – such as having many units on screen at once. Given the simplicity of the graphics you’d expect a little more improvement but it’s nothing that’ll turn you away from a solid experience regardless. Even during co-op mode, we didn’t notice any real glaring issues.
Having spent hours with the original Dragon Quest Builders I wasn’t quite sure what a sequel could bring to the table. After playing 2, however, I feel I can safely say it’s just as fun if not more. Having more freedom is certainly a plus and I enjoy the addition of party members in combat. I’m still not super into sandbox building games but I can appreciate the callbacks to various Dragon Quest series lore and how this story seemingly fits in with those stories. Overall, Dragon Quest Builders 2 is an enjoyable game that any fan of either Dragon Quest or sandbox games can appreciate.
Disclaimer: A review copy of Dragon Quest Builders 2 (PS4) was provided to Nova Crystallis by Square Enix, the publisher. The advertisement(s) below benefit Nova Crystallis.