What would happen if you crossed Minecraft with Dragon Quest? Or if a Japanese developer had been the one to create Minecraft in the first place? The answer to either question is Dragon Quest Builders, of course.
While Minecraft is a very obvious comparison, the main objective of the game is to gather materials from the world so that you can build your own, it certainly doesn’t do Dragon Quest Builders any justice.
The EGX demo gave me 20 minutes, beginning at what I assume is the start of the game. The protagonist awakens in a world that has been destroyed by the Dragonlord and overrun with monsters, with its inhabitants having forgotten how to build things. Somehow you have that power. As well as a disembodied voice who guides you along your way to rebuilding Alefgard.
From the brief introduction, which taught me the basic controls, I quickly found myself in a larger area. There was a ruined village ahead and, further on, monsters bounced and patrolled the land. I claimed the village as my own and it wasn’t long before it had its first resident, a young girl called Pippa. It was through Pippa’s requests that I learned how the game works.
That’s the narrative as I understand it. I don’t know how far the story goes in Dragon Quest Builders, or how complex it might end up getting. I only played it for 20 minutes before it splashed up a “thank you for playing” screen.
You must rebuild a destroyed world. You’re not a typical hero who must save the world from monsters by fighting battles and completing epic quests. Instead, you field requests for a bed or a door from villagers. As I reached the end of my time with the game, I was attempting to complete a more complex building.
You gather materials by hitting them with a stick, pretty much everything yields something that you can use to build something else. Even the ground can be assaulted for its dirt, which you can fashion into walls.
I found a lot of satisfaction in completing Pippa’s simple requests in my EGX demo. Essentially she was getting me to build her a house, one step at a time, slowly introducing me to more and more mechanics while giving me a small sense of accomplishment.
Once her own house was finished, she gave me a blueprint for an entire building. I could put this down anywhere on the ground inside my settlement, building all the bits of furniture and walls and doors and such to its specifications. Handily, the blueprint kept track of what crafting materials I had and what I still needed to complete it, removing the guesswork or the need to work it out for myself.
The gameplay itself is fairly simple. You whack things with a stick that a fashion out of a different stick. There are more weapons and armour you can craft, but the end gameplay will still be the same. Hit monsters to kill them. Hit everything else to turn it into some kind of material you can use to rebuild the world. The simplicity kept the game going at a good pace, ensuring that I was always quickly working towards whatever goals I had.
Dragon Quest Builders launches on October 14, 2016 on Playstation 4.