Dragon Quest Builders 2 Review – To Build or To Destroy

There are so many Dragon Quest spin-off games. You got the Monster series, the various cameos in the forgotten Itadaki Street on the PS Vita (hm, I should probably see if I can find that to review someday…), and of course, the Builders series. I’ve always wanted to see just how would they manage to mix the RPG charm of Dragon Quest with the voxel-style sandbox games that became wildly popular thanks to Minecraft.

Divine Punishment Upon the Builders!

In Dragon Quest Builders 2, you are an apprentice builder who wakes up in a ship of monsters. Unfortunately, builders have now become the main enemy of the Children of Halroth, monsters that served under the evil lord that was defeated by the hero of Dragon Quest II. But even though the lord was defeated, his lackeys are having none of it, as they’re still bent on destroying the world and have even incited a legend that all builders do is bring destruction and ruin.

It doesn’t take long however, for a storm to knock the ship into a deserted island, where upon waking up, you meet Malroth, a foul-mouthed young man who does not remember how exactly he got there, or who he was…though the game doesn’t exactly keep his identity a secret from the player, and the name will immediately sound familiar to you if you’ve played Dragon Quest II. Together with you, the builder, Malroth tags along in your journey, hoping to shape the world once more with the “power of creation”.

An “Open-World” Game with Endless Potential

Look, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Dragon Quest Builders 2 is going to feel extremely familiar to that one game that you probably heard about…ah, who am I kidding. It’s like Minecraft. However, don’t just write off the game as a simple Minecraft clone, because it manages to set itself apart in a multitude of ways.

The first thing is that, while you can definitely call Dragon Quest Builders 2 an open world, there is a sort of “linear” progression to it. As you progress through your journey, you’ll go throughout multiple islands, fulfill a series of requests, and progress the story.

And yes, it sounds crazy, but there is a proper story to follow here, and in classic Dragon Quest fashion, it doesn’t shy away from being a traditional RPG. You’re essentially living an aftermath from after the classic “the dark lord has been defeated, but the world continues at chaos” troupe.

However, what really hooks you is the sheer freedom of how you can tackle the game’s quests. There’s absolutely no time limit to anything, and even if you take your time, things still get done, as building rooms has the NPCs interact with them, and perform daily duties.

Combat is also interesting. I’ve said it before that Malroth will tag along on your journey, and well, this also applies to combat. He has his own set of weapons you can craft, and whenever you start attacking an enemy or destroying some debris, he will automatically move on to assist you, which is really cool. Furthermore, your EXP bar is shared with him, meaning that leveling up affects both of you at the same time.

After you’ve cleared the first chapter of the game, an endeavor that took me over 12 hours, you’re introduced to the Explorer Isles, and this is going to sound crazy but here is where the infinite replayability lies, because every time you dock on one of those islands, they are completely regenerated at random, meaning no isle will ever be the same.

You’re also encouraged to go on a Scavenger Hunt, where success means you can obtain an infinite amount of materials to use at will on the Isle of Awakening, the home base for Dragon Quest Builders 2. In short, it feels like you are slowly unlocking a sort of creative mode for the game.

Improvements from Dragon Quest Builders 1

Though Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a sequel title to the original builders, they both have different stories that aren’t interconnected with each other. However, many will tell you that the sequel does improve a lot on the issues that the original had.

And indeed, when compared to its predecessor, Builders 2 removes a lot of the annoying mechanics that Builders 1 had, such as the ludicrous rule that every single recipe is gone once you move to the next area or chapter. Builders 2 also no longer enforces a particular range which the game considers to be your “base of operations”, and allows the player to expand however they want.

Charming Graphics, Awkward Controls

When it comes to graphics, you can clearly see that classic Akira Toriyama (rest in peace) style when it comes to the character design. In fact, Malroth and the protagonist are so similar to Goku and Vegeta that I can’t help but keep seeing their personalities projected into them. The Minecraft-like cubic graphics aren’t bad, but…the game’s controls aren’t as refined.

Throughout the game, you’ll obtain many tools such as a hammer, a pot and even gloves. Unfortunately, the X button is used for so many things that once that it can actually get confusing, because it is shockingly easy to accidentally talk to someone, instead of interacting. It’s also a bit of a shame that besides hair and skin colour, gender, there’s not much customization for the Builder at first.

In my opinion, a customization option for them would’ve been nice, but the only one available is that you can switch which button plops down a building block from R2 to Square (which also changes the tool to R2 if you choose to swap them).

Replayability = Infinity!

Because of its open world nature, and the absence of a time limit, I would argue that Dragon Quest Builders 2 has a very, VERY long story. I’m talking upwards of 60 hours, maybe double or triple of that if you’re going for the Platinum, even if everything is obtainable with just one playthrough.

And even besides the main gameplay, you can connect online and even share your creations via the noticeboard, and believe it or not, every week there is a contest where players must submit snapshots and share them online. As of the time I’m writing this, the community seems to be fairly active, with new weekly contest themes and many avid builders sharing their creations on a daily basis.


Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a game where you can comfortably lose track of time as you build towards the new goals that the game constantly sets for you, but it also feels that your actions have a purpose. Even if you just boot up the game for 30 minutes or so, you’ll still feel that progress is being made towards your goals, and that your time isn’t being completely wasted.

Though it fixed some of the issues of its predecessor, it also introduced new ones. A lot of its new features are locked behind story progression, and the story takes quite a bit to get through. And the predictable plot certainly doesn’t do it a lot of favors, and doesn’t make it enticing to go through. But thanks to online multiplayer and a still very active community, you can easily build your own creations while still enjoying that classic Dragon Quest style of game you’ve known and loved.


  • Lots of quality of life changes when compared to the first Builders game
  • Improves greatly on its predecessor
  • Infinite possibilities of gameplay


  • Rather predictable story plot
  • Awkward controls at times

Very Good

Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a game where you can comfortably lose track of time, and one that improves a lot on its predecessor. It's not perfect, introducing new issues, but it's still a solid title.

Angelus Victor
PS4 version purchased by reviewer for the purposes of this review.