Dragon Quest Builders: Is It Worth Buying?

Before the power goes out and I get buried in a mountain of snow, let’s take another moment to discuss Dragon Quest Builders, shall we?

The TL;DR version of this post is that pretty much everything I said in my early impression post remained true throughout my extended playthrough. The graphics still look amazing, the character design remains inspired and amusing, and the combat system still feels a bit clunky. The biggest change I saw as I finished chapter 1 and moved into Chapter 2 of my playthrough was how the speed and intensity of the game seemed to pick up:

  • In the tainted land of Rimuldar, the monsters don’t mess around: More of them aggressively attack you upon sight, and they attack your base more often and in greater numbers. You’ve still got a lot of allies to aid you in battle, but when they’re all sleeping, you end up going 4-v-1 against the enemy (it never turned out well in Splatoon, and it doesn’t turn out well here either). You learn pretty quickly to avoid doing anything at night and invest plenty of time in fortifying your base (I even went so far as to build a poison moat around my town).
  • As much as I enjoyed the story behind Chapter 1, battling the plague in Chapter 2 was even more compelling (and addictive), and I spent several hours just saying “One more quest, one more building, one more this, one more that, etc.” Stories and side quests are the main thing that classic Minecraft lacks, and this game is much more fun to play as a result.
  • There’s a lot more exploring in Chapter 2, and you’ll find yourself traipsing all over the countryside looking for rare materials and building blocks. Fishing and farming mechanics are also introduced here, and while the latter makes harvesting materials easier, looking for rare fish is only slightly less aggravating than looking for Feebas in Pokémon.
  • FWIW: I’ve spent a ton of time traveling recently (hence why this Wednesday post is my first of the week), and DQB plays as well on the small Switch screen as it does on a TV. That’s not something every Switch game can say (looking at you, NBA 2K18).
  • You get some new blueprints for your town in Chapter 2, but the size of your base isn’t much bigger (if at all) than in Chapter 1. It forces you to build up your base vertically, which can be kind of a pain when it obscures your view of an important room on the ground floor (and is doubly annoying when you have to rebuild it after a monster attack). Hopefully you get a bit more space to expand in later chapters.
  • There are certain mechanics that don’t really serve a purpose besides “Oh, Minecraft has it, so we should too.” Things like the day/night cycle and the hunger meter don’t seem to add anything beyond an added degree of difficulty, which doesn’t feel like enough to justify their experience.

Overall, I’ve really enjoyed my time with Dragon Quest Builders (and I haven’t even tried Terra Incognita out yet, which is the game’s version of Minecraft’s creative mode), and would totally recommend picking it up and trying it out if you’re interested. (As an added bonus, the game retails for $50 instead of the usual $60.) If you’re looking to kill some time between first-party Switch titles, you could do a lot worse than DQB.