TGS 2015 – Dragon Quest Builders Hands-On Preview

dragon quest builders title card

It’s Minecraft with Dragon Quest skins.

Dragon Quest: Builders, as was alluded to in the announcement post, is a Minecraft rip with Dragon Quest skins. I know that sounds like a particularly harsh judgement, but my time with the game at this year’s Tokyo Game Show led me to believe that the developers literally took a working build of Minecraft, tidied up the edges, and slapped some Dragon Quest characters in there.

Yep, right down to the blocktacular “retro” graphics, Dragon Quest: Builders is Minecraft. You even start out pretty much exactly the same way – you’re dumped in a green field with some trees, you punch trees to get wood, use wood to make a pickaxe, use the axe to mine stone, et cetera, et cetera.

The game is in third person and exclusive to consoles, which actually makes it worse than the original Minecraft, as you’ll spend a lot of time trying to get your guy to look the right way and place blocks at the right angle. The game attempts to make up for this by providing you with “blueprints” that you can use to better guide the construction of your structures, but it does feel quite hand-holdy.

While going for a jolly good free-roaming romp throughout the map is possible, the advantage that Builders has over Minecraft is that it actually has proper progression. You’ll receive quests from quest givers, delve into dungeons to find specific items, and have to rebuild the dilapidated kingdom of Alefgard to protect it from evil do-ers. The quests and dungeons in particular are short and have rewarding goals.

It’s also given crafting the Terraria treatment, in that it doesn’t require you to memorize specific crafting shapes and recipes and instead simply shows the ones available to you by looking into your inventory.

Being a Dragon Quest game it also has quite a few more RPG elements than its source material, and as you progress through the game you’ll level up, find magic equipment, and be able customize your character. But you’ll only do it by yourself, as Dragon Quest: Builders is a strictly single-player affair.

That’s right. They copied Minecraft but failed to copy the one thing that made it so addictive in the first place: the multiplayer. What’s the point in making these fantastic custom-build castles if you can’t even show them off? Or alternatively, blow up your friend’s house.

Dragon Quest: Builders was not the worst game I played at Tokyo Game Show – it actually has pretty solid gameplay and mechanics – but it was certainly the laziest. Unless you’re a die-hard Dragon Quest game, I would stick to Minecraft. with mods.

Dragon Quest: Builders will be released in Japan for the PS4, PS3 and PS Vita on January 28, 2016. There’s no word on a western release as of now.

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