Review: Dragon Quest Builders (PlayStation 4)

Reviewed by Thomas Hugh, posted Oct 11, 2016, last updated Feb 9, 2018
Oct 11, 2016
  • Release Date (NA): October 11, 2016
  • Release Date (EU): October 14, 2016
  • Release Date (JP): January 12, 2016
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Developer: Square Enix
  • Genres: Sandbox Creation
  • ESRB Rating: Everyone 10 and up
  • PEGI Rating: Seven years and older
  • Also For: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation Vita
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
Dragon Quest Builders is a streamlined Minecraft experience with a story.
Thomas Hugh


I've always had this weird problem with games that do not have a clear goal. Minecraft is the best example; I see it's value as a creation and learning tool, or something my kid would like to mess around with because he loves Lego. But for myself, if there is no real reason to be building these vast intricate structures, then I'm not interested in playing it. This all changed with Dragon Quest Builders.

You see, DQB is Minecraft, but it has an excellent story mode and nice graphics, so right away I'm more inclined to get stuck in because I have a reason for the building and crafting, and I like Dragon Quest's world and characters.

The Quest Begins

Dragon Quest itself is now a 30 year old franchise with various spin offs across multiple genres of gaming. DQB takes us back to the land of the original Dragon Quest, Alefgard, and builds the narrative around what would have happened had you chosen to join the evil Dragonlord and plunge the world into eternal darkness.


In typical Dragon Quest and JRPG tradition, you awake from a deep sleep with no recollection of who you are, before receiving instruction from the ethereal, heavenly Goddess. It turns out that you are the Legendary Builder and are tasked with rebuilding the world and saving its denizens. Conveniently, the residents of the starting town of Cantlin have lost the ability to do anything, they can't construct the simplest of structures, a chair or table, not even a wall. I was left wondering how they had managed to survive up until this point, but it didn't matter, as I was here to start taking requests and rebuilding the town.


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Littered around the world map are various creatures from Dragon Quest's world for you to bash, swipe or whack and collect their resources. Everything on the map is ripe for the picking as a building material; rocks, trees, plants -- smash 'em and grab 'em; it doesn't take long for your inventory to fill up with a vast array of items. Residents will offer up recipes for certain room types they would like erecting, and it's as simple as placing the blueprint onto an area and crafting and placing the required furniture and ornaments into the correct positions.


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The story is a great way of teaching players the ins and outs of the editor before allowing them to go wild in free-build mode, which is unlocked after completing the first chapter of the story. DQB story mode consists of 4 stand alone chapters, each one unlocked after the last, and then selectable from the main menu at any time. Every chapter has new terrain to farm and enemies to defeat, and the story continues throughout all 4 of them. I put in around 12 hours on the first chapter alone, but could have easily spent 50, levelling up my base and perfecting its defenses. Each story chapter has side missions to complete and challenges to overcome, most of which I missed as the challenges aren't revealed until it's time to wrap up the chapter.


At night time, the home base you have lovingly spent hours creating can be attacked by random enemies. These usually aren't a problem as your newly settled townsfolk actually help you to fend of the creatures and protect the town. However, at certain parts of the story, you will be attacked with force by all manner of increasingly powerful nasties that give zero shits about wrecking the place you have spent so long making your own. With the right walls built and traps laid, these nocturnal attacks can also be easily overcome but when it's time to meet the chapter's end boss, you may as well say goodbye to everything you've built, the items crafted, even the people you've saved as the boss will level your town within minutes if you go in ill-prepared!


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I've had a ton of fun playing Dragon Quest Builders so far. I've found it an almost magical experience, which is a bold claim coming from someone in their mid-thirties, who usually plays stat-heavy turn based RPGs and first person shooters. I've tried to get into Minecraft on numerous occasions, but I prefer to play a game, not create it, and Dragon Quest Builders merges those two principles perfectly, not only making it interesting, but fun too.

It's also a fantastic game to play with a younger gamer, my 6 year old son, who wanted to be a Minecraft fan because he's friends at school are, absolutely adores this game. He can read the game's text himself, something that eluded him with Minecraft's pixelated graphics, and he can control what he is doing with ease using the streamlined controls and menus.


Launch Trailer

+ Makes Minecraft-style gameplay interesting
- Day/Night cycle is too short
9 Presentation
DQB looks fantastic with a brightly coloured and detailed world, the opposite of Minecraft's dated visuals on consoles.
8 Gameplay
A streamlined Minecraft experience with a story. Gameplay is simple yet rewarding and in free mode the only real limits are your imagination.
9 Lasting Appeal
DQB story mode can take anywhere from 40 to 100 hours to complete depending on how thorough you are with each chapter's challenges and side quests. Then there is free build mode where you can spend as much time as you want building your creations.
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Dragon Quest Builders is an excellent building sandbox woven together with JRPG threads. It allowed me to have fun with the gameplay in a genre I wouldn't usually care for.


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