I’ll be honest I’m not a big Minecraft fan and I’m not the world’s biggest action RPG-er either so I didn’t hold out much hope I’d get into a blend of both in the shape of Dragon Quest Builders 2.
I was wrong.
For those new to the series DQB2 is an action role-playing sandbox game developed by Omega Force and Square Enix on Nintendo Switch and PS4.
Players must find materials and use them to construct buildings and other equipment. And new to DQB2 is the ability to fly and travel underwater, as well as a fast-travel function based on a retro-style map.
Up to four players can join in the fun together cooperatively online - as well as wireless play which is exclusive to the Switch.
The big shift this time out is towards a more action role-playing sandbox style rather than the turn-based format of previous titles.
The storyline centres around the Children of Hargon who want revenge for the defeat of Hargon and Malroth by the descendants of Erdrick.
Players control either a male or female builder, who is captured by the group as they try to eliminate all builders and ensure nothing else is built.
But you escape your imprisonment on a ship and end up on the Isle of Awakening, where you meet a person named Malroth, who has no memory of his past. Malroth then acts as your tutorial guide as he shows you the way and helps level up your building prowess.
The graphics are - like Minecraft - blocky and bright. But DQB2 are more cutesy with a slight Anime influence and are perfectly suited to the Switch in particular.
The environments you inhabit are massive and there is lots to explore and a great deal of satisfaction as you are adequately rewarded for doing so.
This is where I surprised myself most. I was expecting to play for an hour and get bored but the vast degree of exploration and discovery kept my attention locked in for hours on end.
You do have to zone out somewhat at times when it comes to the often maddeningly lengthy chats from the other characters on your quest but it is a small grievance and could be just me that finds it maddening. The characters are great, though, and they contribute a great sense of adventure and fun to the overall experience.
Another slight negative was the size of the text - particularly in handheld mode on the Switch - which was often far too small.
But there are so many quests to do and a variety of tests to hone your skills and building tools these slight annoyances do not encroach on your enjoyment of the game.
Combat feels very much like an add-on in what is primarily a building game and is not as polished as it perhaps could have been. But again it is not a deal breaker.
Some of the buildings are fantastic as you look to create your very own living, breathing city and that is DQB2’s crowning achievement.
An excellent addition to the genre and one of the most surprisingly addictive titles of 2019 so far.