I wasn’t sure what to expect when Dragon Quest Builders was originally on the way. Minecraft never really did anything for me, but I’ll try anything once, especially if Dragon Quest is printed on the box art. It turned out to be a pretty fun little game! I enjoyed running around the blocky interpretation of the original Dragon Quest’s world, completing missions and finding new monsters. But something was missing; the combat wasn’t very fun. Builders often asked you to defend your turf from invading creatures, and battling them off was awkward to say the least. But for Dragon Quest 2, Square Enix enlisted the aid of a developer that knows its way around action mechanics. As a result, the overall package feels more complete, and fulfilling.
Omega Force and Dragon Quest = BFF
As announced ahead of Dragon Quest Builders 2’s release, Square Enix brought Koei Tecmo on board to assist with the non-building gameplay. And once I got my hands on the game, I was stoked to see not only the Koei Tecmo logo, but Omega Force’s as well. If you don’t know, Omega Force is the house that Dynasty Warriors built. Over the years, Omega Force has honed its craft and expanded upon the Warriors formula, as it joined with various IP from the likes of Nintendo, various anime classics, and soon, Atlus. While Dragon Quest Builders 2 doesn’t go full Dynasty Warriors, it’s easy to tell that there is shared DNA in its genetic makeup.
That said, Dragon Quest Builders 2 doesn’t stray dramatically from the first game. Your character, an infamous Builder, is not built for combat. Your buddy Malroth is a brick house, but you’re more there for moral support and supplemental damage. But you’re more than capable of contributing and maneuvering your way around enemy attacks. Like the first game, you main attacks will be little baby swipes with a stick, then eventually a sword, so on and so forth. In the first game, those little swipes felt so ineffectual that combat was worse than a chore, it was a hindrance to the rest of the game. Here, there’s a little more oomph. There’s a little trail of visual flair accompanying each swipe, which appears to comparatively widen the attack range, making it easier to land hits. Additionally, mashing the button over and over doesn’t lead to big combos, but multiple strikes are animated more fluidly, and feel more naturally tied to your button presses. Finally, it’s easy to jump out of attacking, making avoiding attacks significantly easier than before.
Buddies and Boss Fights
Having Malroth or other characters fight with you is also a huge deal. I’ll talk more about that later in another piece, but Dragon Quest Builders 2 has a big party element, which extends quite far into how the game develops. But in combat, the AI helps big time. Not only are your partners nice and durable, but Malroth in particular is a heavy hitter with his own unique gear. So while you won’t be taking down big monsters easily by yourself, having Malroth along to go after whatever beastie you’re targeting makes fights more explosive, and feel more manageable. Therefore, fighting is a lot more fun, and going out to grind EXP when you need to is a lot more of an organic part of the game’s flow. You also earn some new techniques, which even give your character the potential for big damage, AoE properties, and more.
Square Enix has definitely made the right move in bringing on Koei Tecmo to help with some of its spinoff projects. Sometimes, in-house Square Enix has trouble with taking on too much, and certain elements (such as action combat systems) really suffer as a result. But games like Dissidia Final Fantasy NT and Dragon Quest Builders 2, to name a few, have really benefited from this partnership. As much as Musou titles like Dragon Quest Heroes are a blast, it’s great to see Koei Tecmo also bringing new ideas to other titles outside of its usual fare. Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a much better game as a result.