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Dragon Quest Builders (Switch)

Posted by GG Goblin On February - 8 - 2018

Rebuilding Alefgard again.

I will make no apologies for being a big fan of Dragon Quest Builders when it launched for PS4 back in 2016. While I can acknowledge that Minecraft is a great game, the lack of direction left me feeling a little cold towards the game, and while there are a whole mine cart full of Minecraft clones out there, Dragon Quest Builders was the one that really caught my attention. Now, the JRPG flavoured builder has arrived on Nintendo’s Switch console, what could be better?


Dragon Quest Builders has already had an outing on both home and portable consoles, with versions of the game being available for both PS4 and Vita. But the Switch is a new console, being around for less than a year, and offers both portability and big screen gaming in one comfortable package. Playing Dragon Quest Builders on the Switch can be a compromise – the visuals in docked mode are perhaps not quite as sharp as players would hope. However, for anyone lucky enough to own a Switch, this is surely the best way to play Dragon Quest Builders.

So what do you get from this Minecraft clone from Square Enix on Nintendo’s latest console? Well, this is pretty much a direct port from the earlier versions of the game, and that is no bad thing. Also, it should be noted that Dragon Quest Builders is much more than a Minecraft clone; the game is as much action RPG as it is mining and crafting.


There is a story, for starters. The evil Dragonlord has brought darkness to the land of Alefgard and his army of monsters roam the land. As if this wasn’t enough to contend with, the Human inhabitants have also lost the ability to build, meaning they simply can’t create anything. Fortunately, the player gets to control a character who has been given back the ability to build by a mysterious voice. It is up to the Builder, and the player of course, to deal with the monsters, rebuild Alefgard and bring back the light.

The player is then introduced to the remains of the a town and given a little guidance as to how to start gathering materials and building. To begin with, the materials are very basic and collecting them is straight forward. Simply swing your tool at a block and it will be smashed into its component materials. As the player progresses in the game, they will find themselves needing more and more complex materials which will require more and more complex tools, which the player will have to craft from more difficult to gather materials. And so begins a gameplay loop in which the player will gather materials to build something that will allow them to gather better materials, etc. This loop is broken up and made more interesting in a number of ways, not least of which is moving the player to a new town and making them start again from scratch every so often.

Heading to a new town and new map can be a little jarring, almost feeling like a punishment the first time it happens. But it is all part of the progression and allows the story to move on. All the while, the player is learning new recipes to make use of the ever more exotic materials they gather. As the player repairs buildings in their towns, NPCs will come along and start offering quests for the player. These NPCs also do their best to help protect the town from the monster raids that come along every now and again, giving the player one less thing to worry about.


Aside from the raids, monsters can mostly be avoided in DQB if the player wishes. However, like pretty much everything else in the game, monsters are a great source of certain materials, so fighting them is inevitable. The combat is nice and simple, with an action RPG flavour. Special seeds will give the player more health as they progress, and there are a couple of new moves to be learned down the line. But for the most part, dealing with more powerful monsters will involve crafting better weapons and armour, once again feeding into that gather and craft loop.

Each region in the game introduces new materials, new NPCs and a new boss that will have to be dealt with to progress. But there is also plenty of freedom for players to explore both the maps and their creativity. There are defined conditions that need to be met in the game, but outside of these the player is pretty much free to take their time and do what they want. However, for the ultimate freedom, there is a dedicated sandbox mode that players can use to vent all of their creativity, in a much more Minecraft-like manner.

Visually, DQB has an undeniable blocky look that is often found with these mining and crafting games. But it also has that awesome Dragon Quest cuteness that fans of the series will appreciate. Players don’t have to be DQ fans to jump into Builders though, there is no real cross-contamination of the story, and the family-friendly feel makes the game suitable for any audience.


With Dragon Quest Builders 2 confirmed as being in development, it would have been a blocky crime not to release the first game on the Switch. So here it is, just as enjoyable as it was on PS4, but now open to a whole new audience. Both the light JRPG elements and the mining and crafting work brilliantly together, while the Dragon Quest overlay adds charm and character. It may be just another port, but in my mind Dragon Quest Builders was an underrated game and hopefully this new audience will give it the attention it deserves.




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