Dragon Quest Builders 2 Review

Richard Walker

Defying expectations by being much more than a Minecraft clone set within a storied RPG realm, Dragon Quest Builders was an enormously pleasant surprise (though it never made it to Xbox). And so it goes with Dragon Quest Builders 2, a superior sequel that provides more of the same sickeningly charming and unstoppably joyful fun within a sprawling block-based creative sandbox. Not only is DQB2 remarkably lovely, but it's also hugely engaging, especially if you have a propensity for building stuff and watching it flourish. If you do get swept up in making all manner of things, then you may find it hard to resist Square Enix's charming little sequel (actually, it's not little at all - it's flippin' huge).

Yoiu and Malroth - best of friends.

Like the first game, you play as a fabled builder, gifted with the ability to create in a world that's been brainwashed into believing that destruction is the only way of life. Shipwrecked on the 'Isle of Awakening' with amnesiac buddy Malroth, DQB2 begins with the basics, tasking you with building a simple room for Lulu, one of the surviving island inhabitants. With each success you chalk up, you'll unlock new recipes and blueprints to expand your building repertoire, and move on to a new realm and biome to spread the joy of creation across the land, returning with new items and techniques you can take back to the Isle of Awakening hub world, which you can bring to life with rivers, meadows, and forests.

Enjoyment in Dragon Quest Builders 2 comes from a wonderfully flexible and streamlined building system, as well as the myriad tools you're presented with. As an early challenge, bringing the cursed Furrowfield Farm back to life is a microcosm for the rest of the game, rejuvenating the soil, recruiting farmers to plough, sow and water crops, and catering to the every need and whim of the small community becoming irresistibly compulsive.

While fulfilling the wants and needs of a procession of NPCs forms the crux of Dragon Quest Builders 2, there are light RPG elements sprinkled throughout the game, be it levelling up to boost yours and Malroth's health, stamina, and combat prowess. But practically everything revolves around the building table, it being the place where you can create whatever you want, providing you have the requisite materials. New, better weapons can be cobbled together for you and Malroth, and you can furnish certain NPCs with sticks, swords, and clubs to help stave off invading monsters.

Combat is a scrappy, button-mashing formality and not exactly DQB2's strong point, but battling is mercifully doled out sparingly through either random encounters or epic siege showdowns during which you'll have to defend your base. Building and developing your burgeoning little piece of Eden is really what it's all about, and truly, Dragon Quest Builders 2 delivers it in spades. The beauty of this lies in the simplicity of the game's building mechanics, being able to swiftly cycle through building options before plonking them down wherever you see fit. As you complete tasks for NPCs, you'll see the fruits of your labour being put to use, and if you're an obsessive perfectionist (like I am), you'll want to make it all look as pretty and uniform as humanly possible.

As your creations and community grow, your friends will express their gratitude as dropped heart icons that you can go around hoovering up. This gratitude then feeds into a gauge that eventually enables you to upgrade the level of your base, prompting you to ring the nearby bell, learn new recipes, and progress to the next mission. As you progress, building becomes gradually more advanced and your recipe book will soon be bulging with a plethora of different objects, from doors to windows, tables, bonfires, bunting, roof tiles, farming equipment, trees, and items to expedite the growth of crops and other plants.

New traversal items also gradually become available, like the windbraker that allows you to glide across the map from high vantage points. There's fast travel too, which is helpful, unlocked via warp nodes dotted around each environment, making jumping from A to B nice and simple. Which is fortunate since there's a wealth of fetch quests to complete and a lot of travelling back and forth. Thankfully, DQB2 is frequently rewarding, so while it can be frustrating – and a little obtuse sometimes – when it comes to tracking down an objective, the sense of accomplishment when you do come home with something new makes up for it.

It all starts here.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a sprawling game, however, and towards the latter stages it can feel like a bit of a grind. When you do feel like the game is growing tiresome, something new or interesting is usually thrown your way to keep you hooked, which is fortunate since the story doesn't prove particularly engaging. In multiplayer, DQB2 really comes alive, as you're able to collaborate with friends on projects, with up to four of you able to work together. It's great fun, assuming you can gather three like-minded creative types to join you in your endeavours. With the addition of multiplayer, Dragon Quest Builders 2 feels like a more 'complete' experience than its predecessor, though single-player alone has a campaign that runs to well beyond fifty hours or so.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a thoroughly enjoyable oddity, fusing straightforward building block fun with light RPG and survival mechanics (eating, sleeping etc.). There's loads to do in each of the game's extensive sandboxes, with scavenger hunts on other islands, a persistent hub to go back to and keep on developing, and several different biomes to discover, each with their own challenges. There's a hell of a lot of depth on offer in Dragon Quest Builders 2, and while it's certainly not for everyone, those with the wherewithal to persevere and dive right into its multitude of sandbox delights, will reap the rewards.

Dragon Quest Builders 2

An esoteric little gem, Dragon Quest Builders 2 is an enormously enjoyable RPG-building sandbox hybrid that deserves time and attention.

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If you're already a Dragon Quest fan, then the music will be instantly familiar. For anyone else, the soundtrack will soon start to grate. It's irritatingly repetitive and will get stuck in your brain.


Akira Toriyama's trademark style ensures that DQB2 is brimming with personality, every character and monster a colourful and boldly-realised thing. Environments are massive, and you can switch between first and third-person viewpoints, which is handy.


Occasional camera issues can arise and traversal is often a huge pain, but the building mechanics are easy to get to grips with. Combat feels perfunctory, and sometimes objectives can be a little ill-defined and woolly.


A massive game that's been lavished with care and attention. While building and watching your creations gradually grow is immensely gratifying, DQB2 can become slightly tiresome at times and the story is bit too twee. Still, the localisation is superb.


A robust achievement list that rewards time spent exploring and beating every one of the game's realms. That in itself is no mean feat. We're talking tens of hours to see and do everything. Expect to dig in for the long haul if you want the full 1,000G.

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