The concept of the Dragon Quest Builders games is simple: combine the Dragon Quest world with Minecraft-style gameplay. The first Dragon Quest Builders released to fairly positive reviews, but it was clear that there was definitely room for improvement. Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a step above the first game, delivering a lengthy adventure that should mostly please Dragon Quest and Minecraft fans alike, but it too has room to improve.
One of the first things players will notice and appreciate about Dragon Quest Builders 2 is its graphics. The game is colorful and vibrant, leveraging the Akira Toriyama aesthetic from the main Dragon Quest games to great effect. Music from the Dragon Quest franchise helps complete the presentation, which makes exploring the game a much richer experience for those with an appreciation of the Dragon Quest series.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 may be a spinoff of the main Dragon Quest series, but it shares a lot more with the core games than just its graphics and music. Like the core Dragon Quest games, Dragon Quest Builders 2 is massive, with a lengthy story mode that will keep fans engaged for dozens of hours. While the action-RPG mechanics are simplified and far from its main focus, make no mistake that Dragon Quest Builders 2 delivers a huge, content-rich adventure on the scale of the traditional turn-based JRPG games that it spun off from.
Dragon Quest Builders 2's story mode is both one of the game's greatest strengths as well as an area where it somewhat falters. On one hand, having a Minecraft-style game with a story and structure is a great idea, offering a unique gameplay experience that's hard to find elsewhere. Furthermore, this structure can give players a sense of purpose that's usually lacking in these kinds of games. On the other hand, the story mode's linearity is sometimes detrimental.
It's true that players are free to ignore quests and just do whatever in the sandbox, but they will simply not have access to the tools they need to really enjoy Dragon Quest Builders 2 to its full potential. This means that everyone will have to go through the story, which is great for learning how to play, but can also be quite boring thanks to excessive dialogue and sometimes unclear quest objectives.
While it drags at points, the story mode does do a great job of introducing players to Dragon Quest Builders 2's many different gameplay mechanics and ensures that they will be able to build their own world with minimal headache. There is a ton of information being thrown at the player all the time, and the sheer number of things players can do in the game can be overwhelming, but it's far better than simply doing dry tutorials like in other games.
Overall, those who played the first Dragon Quest Builders can expect a generally similar experience with Dragon Quest Builders 2, though there are some quality of life improvements to note. Fast-traveling has been added to make getting around the huge game worlds much easier, and it's now possible to play in first-person as well, which is great for those who would prefer a more Minecraft-style experience. Dragon Quest Builders 2 also features multiplayer, which was sorely missing in the first game.
Unfortunately, the multiplayer implementation in Dragon Quest Builders 2 is perhaps its most disappointing aspect. Square Enix has openly boasted about its "offline multiplayer," but we imagine that many fans will feel tricked when they discover that the game doesn't allow for multiplayer on a single Switch or PS4 console. "Offline" refers to playing Dragon Quest Builders 2 with friends that have their own Switches. Split-screen is not supported, despite the feature being commonplace for similar games like Minecraft.
Multiplayer is also not quite as engaging as Minecraft's or similar games, as the meat of Dragon Quest Builders 2 is the main story that is largely single-player focused. It's easy to see how those who would rather jump right into multiplayer may come away frustrated, especially since multiplayer itself isn't even unlocked until after reaching a certain point in the story. Add the fact that progression through the story isn't possible with friends, and it's clear that Square Enix could still do a lot to improve the multiplayer experience in Dragon Quest Builders 2.
Of course, having multiplayer at all in Dragon Quest Builders 2 is still appreciated, and while there are areas where it can be improved, it works fine and it's easy to play with friends after the feature is unlocked. Everything in Dragon Quest Builders 2 works and the game has remarkable polish - during our time with it, we ran into zero technical issues, graphical mishaps, or anything of that nature. Since it's just a spinoff and not a main Dragon Quest game, some may have expected the developers to slack off a bit, but instead, Dragon Quest Builders 2 delivers undeniable quality on par with what can be expected from the main series.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a well-made game, but the story mode can be a drag and the multiplayer implementation may not be what fans expect. There is still room for improvement with this franchise, and it's easy to see how a third entry that addresses these concerns could very well end up being a classic.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is out now for PS4 and Nintendo Switch. Game Rant was provided a Switch code for this review.