Dragon Quest Builders 1 and 2 Retrospective Review + Differences

Dragon Quest Builders 1 and 2 Retrospective Review + Differences

With Dragon Quest builders too out now
in North America many gamers will be wondering how Dragon Quest got thrown
into the sandbox genre in the first place and if the Dragon Quest builders
series is worth playing. What’s up kreative gamers? I’m mark and I want to thank you for coming along with me as we explore how Dragon Quest Builders was
developed, I’ll review the game and then we’ll take a look at the new features
for Dragon Quest Builders 2. You may be wondering how it came about
to combine the Dragon Quest series with the sandbox genre in the first place and
you’ll likely be surprised to discover that despite the similarities there was
actually no involvement by Minecraft developer Mojang. Let’s go back to
2014. Obama was in office and there were only two Spider Man 2’s. Dragon Quest
Builders producer Noriyoshi Fujimoto and director Kazuya Niinou were fans of the
sandbox video games, but knew the genre was not popular in Japan where gamers
were used to a more structured game style. What’s more is that sandbox games
usually lacked set objectives which posed an obstacle with their approachability.
They wanted to find a way to introduce the genre to Japanese gamers. And what’s
a good way to push an unfamiliar game style to a new market? Combine it with
one of the most popular brands in the entire country of course, and as such the
idea for Hello Kitty builders was born. “I always liked Minecraft and this is
something I wanted to experiment with: a JRPG blended with building mechanics,”
said Niinou in an interview with Variety in 2019. “That’s where we thought we might
be able to make a fun game if we brought in the RPG elements of Dragon Quest and
have a story unfold hilel you also freely build things,” said Fujimoto. And the
result is what he called the block building RPG genre. This isn’t the first
Dragon Quest game to deviate from the style of the main series.There have been
many spin-offs, especially in Japan, the purpose of them being to appeal to new gamers and broaden Dragon Quest’s audience. If someone played one of the
spin-offs and enjoyed it, it might influence them to play another Dragon
Quest title. Combining a sandbox framework which allows the player to
freely destroy and create anything they can imagine with a structured story
driven RPG would present a set of challenges and take much trial and error
for the developers to overcome. According to Niinou the dev team was a smaller one consisting of a few dozen people. 53 names are credited under Business
Division 5 in the games credits including a few designers from Charaban’s
Inc., a design studio out of Tokyo, however many more were involved through
other divisions. “Usually making a role-playing game fun
involves tweaking the various numerical values in the game,” said Niinou to Forbes
in 2016. “In this case we focus solely on what the player experiences.” But they
found that the sandbox genre inherently has an aspect of not knowing what to do.
They needed to find a way to manage the story knowing that every player would be
building things differently and at different paces. To solve for this the
game was divided into chapters even though it was initially planned as an
open-world adventure. The developers also wanted to add more distinction between
areas and felt that if you kept all your materials from one area to the next the
game would become too easy and be less rewarding which further cemented the
chapter format. Each chapter has the goal of rebuilding a city destroyed by the
Dragon Lord. The player is given tasks by NPCs to build items and structures to
grow each city. Completing these tasks progresses the game so building
experiencing the story go hand in hand and drive the player forward. Boss
battles would be used to separate each chapter. The bosses are accessed by
completing required tasks, defeated by using the building skills learned in
each chapter, and victory unlocks the next chapter. In order to streamline building structures, blueprints were added which are diagrams to show players an example of what to build. The player is free to deviate from the blueprints but they provide further structure to help progress the game. “Once you have made the basic structure as instructed by the blueprint the rest is up to your imagination,” said executive producer Yu Miyake at Game Con in 2016. This allows players to dictate how they experience the game and set their own pace. You could play the game quickly by sticking to the blueprints, or take the time to express yourself in your city building. “One of the big points of this was to
take the sandbox portion of it and also the RPG portion and put them together in
a way that would appeal to Japanese gamers. To have it lead you through but you would still be able to do as you please when you play it.” said Fujimoto. There have been many imitations of Minecraft since its release in 2011. With the decision for DQ builders visuals to use Minecraft’s graphical style, coupled with the fact that Minecraft developer Mojang was not involved, it would be easy to dismiss Builders as another clone. Niinou does acknowledge the
obvious similarities to Minecraft, stating “Dragon Quest Builders was of
course born out of having experience playing Minecraft. I simply wanted to add
quests and drama to the Minecraft world.” And in 2016 Fujimoto said “Item and town construction is a major component so that similarity to Minecraft does exist. Beyond that it is a story-driven adventure game with many RPG elements. So even though there is some common ground it is a very different game.” He continues that the Dragon Quest series originally had a grid map made up of squares representing the terrain, which lent itself nicely to
a 3-D world of blocks used in Minecraft. The team decided to develop for the PS4, Vita, and PS3, and to create the game with Sony’s Phyre Engine due to its compatibility with multiple platforms. Phyre Engine has been used for games such as Unravel, Final Fantasy X and X-2 HD, and Journey. Since they hadn’t made this type of game before existing tools and middleware would not work for development. So an entire new toolset was created by the program engineer. “The game data itself was pretty simple so everyone was able to understand the
system,” said Niinou to Forbes in 2016. We assigned one person per level to
implement everything needed. Development focused first out the structure and tools of the games such as materials and items, and put the story into the game later. And given the connection of the grid-based visuals which Yamoto mentioned,
it’s fitting that the story of Builders connects to that of the original
Dragon Quest as well. “One of the most playful and memorable scenes from Dragon Quest was when the boss enemy says ‘If you join me I will give you half of the world’ after which you must select ‘yes’ or ‘no’,” said Fujimoto. “We thought ‘what would happen if you choose the answer that’s not expected?'” The idea stuck and the plot became if the
hero in Dragon Quest 1 were to have taken the deal and the
world of a Alefgard were consequently left in ruins. The developers loved the
fun what-if scenario and alternate storyline and thought this was a great way to show the game truly has a Dragon Quest story. Now the “hero” is the only one
who can build and create and must apply those skills to rebuild for cities:
Cantlin, Rimuldar, Kol and Tantegel. They added a free-build mode for those who just want to build without battling, time-constraints
or story elements. There are monsters but they’re there to help you rather than battle you. Multiplayer features unfortunately were not included as the developers wanted to concentrate their efforts on the challenge of combining the two game genres and not bite off more than they could chew. The testing was performed by gamers who hadn’t played the other Dragon Quest games with the idea that it would help make the game accessible to all players. Dragon Quest Builders released on January 28, 2016 in Japan alongside a limited edition Vita console. A North American release would follow
on October 11 2016, eventually followed by the Switch version
released on February 9th 2018. After the release, Fujimoto did acknowledge there are things they would have liked to have done differently. He points out better monster A.I., allowing players to level up and increasing their character stats, more dynamic boss battles, and making the game generally more accessible. Fans liked the game,
particularly and unsurprisingly in Japan. Total sales for the title across all regions and hardware stand at approximately 1.24 million as of July 2019 according to vgchartz.com. In Japan there were contests where people would send in the Dragon Quest Builders creations and Square Enix would rank them. They held a live stream where they explored some of the top selections and announced a winner. In February 2018
another such contest was held called ‘Builders 100 Landscape Contest: The Road to
Builders 2.’ Square Enix selected 100 winners whose creations are included in
Dragon Quest Builders 2. With the game’s success could we see the sandbox formula applied to other Square Enix properties? When asked this at PAX West in 2016
Fujimoto stated “We do think that Final Fantasy combined with a sandbox game
would be successful, mainly because over here Final Fantasy is very big.” Unsurprisingly no such game has been confirmed. Although Square Enix was similarly cryptic when asked if there would be a Dragon Quest Builders 2, which is of course now a reality. So there you have the story of an
unlikely union of the sandbox genre and the Dragon Quest series and how Dragon
Quest builders was born from it. Let’s shift gears and talk about the game
itself and if it’s any good. I should mention before that my
experience with Dragon Quest is thorough but my experience with sandbox games is
pretty basic. So full disclosure, graphically this looks just like Minecraft. In fact I assumed this was developed in partnership with Minecraft’s developer Mojang similar to how Dragon Quest Heroes was developed with Koei Tecmo. But I was wrong. So I asked myself ‘how could Square Enix get away with ripping off Minecraft?’ The answer: transparency with the Minecraft
influence and drastic changes in the gameplay. Dragon Quest Builders plays more like
a traditional video game, while Minecraft feels almost like
model-building software. In fact if it weren’t for the boxy visuals,
I would compare Builders more to Dark Cloud, Animal Crossing, and Zelda. Hear me out! Much like Dark Cloud or even Act Raiser, Builders is divided into two styles of gameplay: Your action and your building sequences. Builders action and combat is akin to classic action RPGs such as older Zelda titles and the Gaia series. It has simple aim and swing-your-sword
style of action but not to a fault as
you have much else to consider such as managing your HP, resources, hunger,
and enemy patterns. In fact I would compare the gameplay and graphics most Cubivore on GameCube, especially when these gray blocks are coming after you! How’s that for an obscure comparison? Then you have the building part which mechanically is like Minecraft but I would compare more to a simulation game. I’m always moving
around trivial little trinkets in the houses trying to boost my town’s level,
sort of like when I’m working on my feng shui in Animal Crossing.
I’m not tryingto contrast builders and Minecraft. At its core you’re still smashing blocks to
collect resources used to build things. But the developers are right, this plays
very differently from your usual sandbox game. The main difference is that
Builders has structure. It takes the sandbox genre and it combines it with linear gameplay in the form of tasks to complete
to progress the story Those tasks may be to collect resources, build new items and equipment, or create entire structures with certain elements in mind. Other less
Sand-boxy tasks might be to explore and find new residents or defeat certain
enemies. The resource management does get complicated later on because you get so
many items with equally as many options of what to build with them. Thankfully
there is a button to sort them and you unlock the ability to access all of them
on the fly early in the game. Builders of course connects to its title-sake as well—Dragon Quest—but it doesn’t play or look very much like a Dragon Quest game
until you start to dive in. Overall it’s visually very different but most of the characters and enemies are derived from the series and were again designed by
Akira Toriyama. It’s pretty fun to see them in action
here. Many items and pretty much all the weapons and armor are straight from
Dragon Quest as well. For example you restore HP with medical herbs, return to towns using chimera wings, and some of the first weapons you craft are cypress
sticks oaken clubs and copper swords. You also have to concern yourself with
cooking food since you have a hunger meter [stomach grumbles] but I think that the added depth for this fits in nicely with the gameplay. The music is mostly remastered
Dragon Quest classics just as most of the spin-offs are, which serves as a constant and delightful reminder of what series this is. The story actually ties in nicely with the series and aligns specifically with Dragon Quest 1. It
takes place after DQ1 and follows an alternate timeline as though the hero
had failed and the Dragon Lord sent the world into darkness and distress.
It may be simple but I think the alternate timeline is actually pretty fun. It
reminds me of Back to the Future or the split Zelda timeline. But most
importantly it gets us back into the world of DQ1 and it’s neat to revisit
the cities that you may remember and notice the callbacks. You can customize
the ‘hero’ to a certain degree with their look and name but more interesting is
that you can change this at any time during the game from the title menu. It’s your job as the ‘hero’ to gradually rebuild all those cities which were destroyed by the Dragon Lord and free Alefgard from his reign. It’s estimated that the game will take about 40 hours to complete, but myself I’m finding it to take quite a bit longer. It’s really going to depend on how much time you spend fine-tuning your structures. Adding to that completion
time is when I find myself wondering ‘what am I supposed to do now?’ New game mechanics like farming and taking care of sick town folk left me with
questions early on about why what I was doing wasn’t working.
Additional clarifications would have been beneficial. If it’s the building you’re really into there is a free build mode called Terra Incognita. Here you can upload your structures online as well as download other player’s creations. The script is too long as usual but well-written and often genuinely funny. “There is a lot of humor that is both
in the story that is played and overall in the fact that the hero is the only one who knows how to build set Fujimoto at PAX West 2016. Take this hammer hood for instance. He’s pretty concerned about us
inquiring about his “tool”… T for Teen indeen…d…Indeed. Exploration is fun with a good
variety of landscapes but I wish there was a way to quick travel to more
locations. I often find myself re-traversing areas to get back to some place
out of the way that I’ve already been. You can zoom out to see your surroundings but maps of each location would have been a welcome addition. Always be ready to build rooms to sleep in on the fly so you don’t have to return to base which will cut back on travel time. This will also save you from
traveling at night which should be avoided whenever possible. It’s too dark to see anything and the enemies become extremely annoying. It’s hard to know who to recommend
Dragon Quest Builders to because I’ve really never played
anything like it before. I did find it very accessible, extremely addicting, and I think that most other gamers would find it that way too. I would say having a pre-established enjoyment for Dragon Quest in general is the first criteria. It may not play quite like a Dragon Quest but it’s still strongly connected to the series. If you enjoy any kind of simulation games such as civilization, The Sims, Roller Coaster Tycoon, or even Animal Crossing you’ll
probably find enjoyment here as well. The devil is in the details,
and you’ll need to have a good time managing resources and creating structures as these are major components of the game. If you’re looking for a deep
RPG experience you won’t find it here. Be prepared for simplified RPG mechanics and a
light-hearted albeit lengthy script. And finally be ready for a longer game as it’s expected to take at least 40 hours to play and the average player will see far more than that tick away as they lose themselves in their creations. Although there initially weren’t plans
for a sequel, good sales and fan feedback did lead to one being developed. On December 20, 2018 Dragon Quest Builders 2 came out in Japan and a North American
release followed on July 12, 2019. As stated by Fujimoto there are things in
Builders 1 that the dev’ team wishes they would have had a chance to do differently. And now that I’ve had a chance to play Builders 2, does it improve upon that established formula to address those concerns? To wrap up let’s talk about some key new features in Builders 2 that fans of the original will be interested in. Very quick backstory: Square Enix did enlist Koei Tecmo’s Omega Force studio to develop the sequel, instead of doing it all in-house.
Rather than using the first game as a framework and since Builders 2 wouldn’t be on Vita or PS3, they decided to use a new game engine entirely. “Bringing it to new platforms gave us more opportunities as we wanted to build a new system for the game altogether,”
said Niinou to Variety in 2019. As far as gameplay goes there is a slew of new features and quality-of-life improvements. We’re now treated to alternate means of transportation like riding a sabre cat, there is a run button, and we can fast travel! We can carry quantities greater than 99 items per slot, move objects without breaking them down and recollecting them, cut objects in half, weapons don’t break, there’s a map, the list goes on and they’re all very welcome. A greater focus has been
placed on exploration and the world of Builders 2 feels larger and more open
than its predecessor. That world is full of interesting places to explore full of puzzles and combat and they feel more like traditional Dragon Quest dungeons.
Changes to the mechanics for cooking and farming have been implemented. Farming
for instance fuels more like Harvest Moon now and the townsfolk actually help
out which makes it a lot less arduous. In fact the NPC’s help out a lot more in
general. The cooking change is unfortunately more time-consuming now, at least so far, and along with the paragliding and a few other aspects
seem to be blatantly borrowed from Breath of the Wild, not that that’s a
bad thing. Combat is one aspect that did not change much.This was a missed
opportunity as it would have been fun to see aspects of the core Dragon Quest games such as spells, skills, or classes implemented. But given that this was developed by Omega Force,
the studio behind Dynasty Warriors, it’s not surprising to see hack and slash combat. Much as the first Builder’s story is
based off of Dragon Quest 1, Builders 2’s story takes place after
Dragon Quest 2. And there is still a ton of dialogue, so much of it is unnecessary too. Dragon Quest games in general have been becoming more and more text-heavy, and I know that story is important
and I love the Dragon Quest stories, but I still think that they would
benefit from being more to the point. we’re given a permanent party member which is nice he’s always following us around and
helping collect resources, but there’s more to him than meets the eye. Multiplayer mode has been added too but it’s unfortunately not unlocked until
you beat the first island and equally unfortunate that it’s limited to the
free-build area and it’s only online. It does not support local split-screen or
co-op for the main story. And finally if you played the OG Dragon Quest Builders and have a save file on your console you will get a few bonuses unlocked
when you play Builders 2 I understand that you’ll also be able to transfer some of the save data from 1 to 2. I don’t get to take advantage of any of this though because I own one on the PS4 and 2 on the Switch. So does Builders 2 improve on where Builders 1 falls short? Absolutely! The quality of life changes are undeniably an improvement, but I don’t think that that necessarily
makes 2 a better game, and ultimately which one you prefer is
going to depend on your own taste. They both are hybrid sandbox-RPGs but Builders 1 skews towards the sandbox side while 2 skews more toward the RPG side. Will we see a Dragon Quest Builders 3? We’ll have to wait and see how Builders 2 does. Hopefully well as it’s been getting great reviews. I hope we see a third because there is a lot of opportunity to build on the formula and potential to grow in the series. If there
is I hope it’s based on the merchant town from Dragon Quest 3 and ties into
that game, arguably the best in the whole series and probably my personal favorite. So there you have it! Let me know in the comments your thoughts on Dragon Quest Builders 1 and 2 and on this video. As always thanks for watching and thanks
for your support. Kreative Games is brought to you by viewers like you! Don’t forget to hit that subscribe button and remember that in video games and in general variety is the spice of life.


  1. I think the biggest thing I loved about DQB1 was the growing and leveling of your town. I recall wanting more of that in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles with its family system, so DQB1 was fantastic in this sense. I've yet to delve into the sequel beyond the demo, which I found to be mostly a slog compared to the balance of the first game. Anyway, the editing of this video is impressive, as well as the retrospective details!

  2. IN DQ builders you are not a hero, You are a Builder. Is even a key part of the plot, the goddess will always tell you that you are not a hero, the reason why you can t level up.

  3. I love the mainline Dragon Quest games and I've been meaning to get into the Builders games. I picked up builders 1 on PS4 for cheap awhile back so I'll probably start with that before I jump into the second game. Great video by the way.

  4. 1 was missing too many prospective gains in growth. 2 was waisting a hope for reinstating the switches stationary implications just to get blown out because its screenshots causes a "Glide" Glitch that ruins your controllers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *