Dragon Quest Builders, Square Enix's take on the Minecraft formula, comes to North America and Europe next month. The game was on show at PAX West and Mystiana Rulean reported back on her time with the game.
I played Minecraft once with a friend. When they had to look up how to make a basic tool, I started to lose interest. I asked what the main story of Minecraft was and my friend gave me a look like I had just asked why the game was made of blocks, I knew then this game was not for me. I’m not one to avoid open world games, but I also need a story to keep the ball rolling. The concept of Minecraft has promise, but on its own it falls flat.
When I first heard about Dragon Quest Builders, I was passively interested. I am a huge Dragon Quest fangirl, but not all of its spin-off games have hit the mark for me. I still haven’t finished Dragon Quest Heroes, as one example. However, at the same time, there have been some fantastic ones; Rocket Slime immediately comes to mind. When Square Enix gave me a chance to play Dragon Quest Builders at PAX West, I was eager to find out for myself if Dragon Quest story telling would be able to pull me into a Minecraft-like game.
The game starts with the end of the world. For those that have played the original Dragon Quest (or Dragon Warrior as it used to be called), you will remember at the end of the game, the hero faces the Dragonlord for the final battle. Before combat begins, the Dragonlord offers a simple choice: instead of doing battle, share the world with the villain. If the hero and villain join forces, the world is plunged into darkness and your game ends. Dragon Quest Builders’ story is based on this exact choice. As the world is thrown into chaos, mankind loses the ability to create anything at all. Even fire is now beyond the simple beings inhabiting this ruined landscape. Our new hero is mankind’s last hope at rebuilding civilization.
After some medium-level character creation, our hero or heroine emerges from the crypt they awoke from. The spirits guide them to a nearby town… or what’s left of one at least. Broken buildings fill the area. One person is just scraping by as our hero approaches and the tutorial part of the game begins. Gather basic materials and find food, weapons, tools, and even carve the earth itself. Create a room to sleep in, a rudimentary kitchen to cook food, a storage area. The town’s population slowly grows as more and more requests are completed. Our hero isn’t locked down to just what the new inhabitants want, however. Creating new items can still be explored even if the recipe isn’t known, and rooms can be a new design, even if that design hasn’t been asked for just yet.
The time just flew by as I repaired the town with nothing more than earth tiles. I still haven’t been able to cut down trees, break rocks, or find a decent weapon, yet my town of no name has half a dozen people in it. I can see how addicting this game will be and am already curious about how, and when, I would be able to move to a new area. As I notice I’ve gone well over my time limit, I realize I haven’t done much at all. Sadly they denied my request to take the game home, so I’ll just have to wait until October 11, 2016, to rebuild the Dragon Quest world as I like.