Ever since the announcement of Dragon Quest Builders 2, I have probably watched the announcement video a few times that normally other people would find creepy. It’s like a stalker syndrome and I can’t help it. Fast forward to December 6, 2018 and we finally get to try out the Japanese Version demo before its official release in Japan on December 20.
With a full day of messing around in the world, there are quite a few things I find bad but more of it being good. Character customization is still the same as the first which means there are very minimal choices to go with. A few skin, eye and hair colors and that is pretty much it along with your preferred gender. So call the fashion police, we need to get this investigated! And speaking of characters, your companions that follows you around would also help you gather materials considering there is any nearby of what you just gathered like seaweeds, stones, and dry leaves. It’s a much-needed addition considering it is sometimes a bit too bothersome to gather every little thing in the world that people like myself would create contraptions in the battle island of the first game just to grind for materials to use for a build or two while sipping coffee or watching a movie.
The world as we know it has changed and it’s gorgeous! From towering mountains with falling water and the ability to explore the deep sea filled with seaweeds and even more seaweeds, it really is such a treat to go on an adventure. Honestly, the Vacant Island where you got washed off on is rather small but has a few interesting spots like the abandoned hut beneath the waterfall and interconnected biomes from sandy beaches to snowy mountains.
But when there are good things, there also comes the bad ones. Block placement speed is still rather slow which would take you hours upon hours to finish gigantic and towering builds. However what makes it much worse is that you really can’t strafe to one side while holding the L1 or L2 if there’s no block in that direction. You won’t fall that way, I get it! However, it’s the nitpicky self of mine that can’t be bothered to fix his position in order to place blocks in quick succession while moving backward. It might not seem much but honestly after a full year with thousands of hours poured into DQB, it gets irritating and boring to waste time placing blocks from one end to the other. Attack speed on your mallet, however, is much faster meaning you get to clear out the sand blocks and dirt much quicker although the time it takes to break other things like stone blocks and stone pillars has much higher durability which takes longer to break.
The more notable change that I find interesting though is that your equipment doesn’t break anymore. Whacking blocks with a crafted stick doesn’t break it after a while and the idea of equipping two things at once, a weapon that can be used with the square button and the other be it a mallet to break harder blocks or gloves to pick up certain objects that are activated using the R2 button makes it easier to gather things and kill enemies if you’re up and about in the world. But while that is different now, you can also see the game from a new perspective and that’s in first person. Similar to how you’d play Minecraft, the game gives you a cursor along with the traditional block outline to where a block would be placed. While I can’t say I’m a fan of first person, it can, however, make building easier for the newcomers who came from the other game. But sadly, camera controls are a bit of a turn off as my view would sometimes go into a super close-up mode in houses with roofs and going out of it still would stay the same with the only option to fix it by moving the right stick until it zooms out.
It’s not a builder game without crafting and what we have is a cleaner interface. Craftable items are separated into sections as the first one did but instead of it being listed down it’s now lined up neatly from left to right with the option to craft as much as you need than an option to craft one or craft ‘til you drop your pants! Cooking has also been changed and instead of being able to craft hundreds of cakes and pies in an instant, each one of your seashell and seaweed meals needs to be placed on a campfire and cooked after a certain amount of time. It makes it more realistic which is never a bad thing until you go overboard. What’s for breakfast? Says my uninvited guest. And here I say nothing for you! You lazy ass! With the game having a different way hunger works, it’s now safe to be hungry all the time as HP doesn’t deplete anymore but it does give you an exhausted animation after every swing of your weapon. Should you find yourself out of food in the middle of nowhere, you won’t be dying anytime soon.
Dragon Quest Builders has its camp levels and that has been removed in the sequel. But here we have an EXP meter to which you can level up by killing monsters. While I have no idea or really just can’t understand Japanese at all, I would simply assume it would increase your damage dealt with monsters.
Overall, it’s still a game that I am really excited for despite the short bit that we had to work with. Half of it is a tutorial within a ship which makes most of the things I expected to get like a chest to store my items in non-existent. The photo mode and online screenshot sharing is also an added bonus that could potentially boost one’s motivation to build and inspire new ways to start a design for floors, walls or even the craziest of things. And while it isn’t present in the demo or I simply haven’t found it yet, huge rollercoaster jumps with mine carts and gliding from towering mountains would be on my To-do list when the game comes out in the West.