TGS 2015 – Dragon Quest Builders Hands-On Preview (PS4, PS3, Vita)

September 23, 2015 Written by Heath Hindman

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Dragon Quest Builders may appear to be a Minecraft clone, but don’t go writing off. It brings with it the color and beauty of Dragon Quest‘s rich world, to great benefit.

As far as demos go, this one did about as well as a demo can do in showing off a nice slice of the game. A number of different materials and blueprints were provided for players for building. The staff suggested following the blueprint to make a house, but you could do whatever you wanted. I built a Greek temple with mushrooms topping the columns. What’s up.

There was also a decent chunk of land to explore, enemies to fight, objects to gather, and treasures and quests to find. Gathered materials could be taken back to the base and used to create new materials or types of equipment. I felt like I was able to grasp the feeling of the game right away, and there wasn’t a lot of pesky tutorial information to wade through. Most show floor demos are very structured experiences, so it was nice to see one where the staff were comfortable letting you do whatever the hell you wanted.

DQB‘s combat wasn’t anything to write home about: it’s a simple matter of attrition, where you hit things with your stick until it dies. Most combat encounters were over within seconds, so they weren’t at all tedious. Of course, the demo didn’t have any difficult monsters within range, so it’s hard to say if this simple combat is representative of the whole game or not.

The method of placing blocks felt a bit clumsy and slow, but also like the player could get used to it fairly quickly. It was a bit of a pain to place blocks one-by-one: some kind of shortcut to place a rectangular slab would be nice, for example. I hope the final game follows a system similar to a lot of alchemy games, where you can just make something with two button presses if you have all the materials and have made it before. It would really speed things up…which is exactly why I don’t expect that to make it into the final game.

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Even though the game seems to be structured in a fairly free way, the game is, like other Dragon Quest spinoffs, shackled to the Dragon Quest name by way of a terrible interface. Most of the action controls — moving around, jumping, hitting stuff, etc. — felt fine, but when it came to inventory management, the menus were the Dragon Quest(TM) brand of slow and inefficient. I opened a chest to find a several items, only to find that I had to take things out of the box one at a time. I asked, “Is there a button to take everything?” My booth guide said, “No. I’m sorry.”

Combining the make-the-world premise of Minecraft with the recognizable world and rich art of Dragon Quest, Square Enix hopes to take Japanese gamers by storm when it sends Dragon Quest Builders to stores on Jan. 28. International release of this Vita, PS3, and PS4 game has yet to be announced.

I Built a Good List of TGS Previews, Too: