I thought I would take a bit of a break from the constant stream of Monster Hunter World posts to talk about something else that I’ve been playing. Dragon Quest Builders was originally released on the PS4 and Vita back in October 2016 in the United States. There is apparently also a version that runs on the PS3 in Japan, but seemingly that copy never made it over here. I remember being super interested when I first saw the trailer, but by the time it was released was deeply distracted by other things. Just scrolling back through my blog… on the month it released I seemed to be dabbling in World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars 2, Destiny 1, Diablo 3 and a little bit of Skyrim. Basically it released while I was distracted by other things… and as a result I never actually got around to picking it up.
Scroll forward to February, a month where I am mostly in a Monster Hunter Shaped hole… and I notice that it officially releases on the Nintendo Switch. I’ve not really had any builder games in my life over the last few months, so in theory it was maybe a good time to dig into a new one. It is really hard to describe what Dragon Quest Builders is because it is this sort of beautiful amalgam of a bunch of different games. At times it feels like a Legend of Zelda game especially when you don a sword and shield and go out into the world to whack monsters. There are times when it feels like Minecraft because you are absolutely collecting resources and building up your base. Then there are times when it feels a bit like Actraiser where you are intervening in the lives of the NPCs that populate your village.
The story of the game is pretty simple at face value. The game world itself is that of Alefgard the world of the original Dragon Quest, and is essentially what would have happened… if we had failed and the Dragonlord won. It is also a world where over time the fledgling human populace has lost hope and forgotten the power of creation. You as a builder are granted the ability to look at a set of raw resources and gain inspiration in how they might be shaped into useful objects. As a result it is your place as the new hero… to start reclaiming the world through combat and creativity and push back the forces of the Dragonlord.
The world itself is divided up into a series of islands, and through the course of gameplay you can learn how to make teleporters allowing you to traverse between them for different resources. All the while you continue running quests for the NPCs that start showing up in the town you are slowly piecing back together. Placing blocks together in certain ways creates rooms that then the NPCs can inhabit, and you begin to create machines that they can then utilize giving you resources that then can be used as you go out venturing the “save the world”.
I’ve loved Minecraft since the moment I first watched a YouTube video explaining the basics of the game. The problem with Minecraft however is that it is awesome to go out and create things in… but it also doesn’t really have a point. Sure there is the whole Ender Dragon nonsense that was placed in game late… but really there is no sequence of events that you need to complete to “beat” the game. For me “beating” Minecraft is amassing enough Diamonds to be able to use full Diamond everything and not give a crap about it. However regardless of how cool you build your world out… it feels hollow because there are no NPCs inhabiting it.
Dragon Quest solves this problem by allowing you to build a world… that then comes to life as various types of NPCs come live in it. Sure you can get this sort of functionality with modding, but it always feels tacked on to the side of the game and not really part of it. Dragon Quest gives you a reason for your wanderlust and harvesting and allows you to keep coming back to a place you call home and in doing so help out the people surrounding you. This might be a subtle difference but it is the one that is the most important and is why I have been playing the heck out of this game each night before falling to sleep. I like that I can pick it up, do a few things and feel like I have accomplished something. If this sounds at all interesting to you, I highly suggest checking it out.