The Square Enix team took some time on their E3 2016 Twitch stream to give a lengthy demo of the North American localized version of Dragon Quest Builders. The game was announced as coming to the West a month ago, and it was quickly dismissed by a large segment of the public as a Minecraft clone.I’ll admit that I shared their opinions until I spent time watching the demo. Dragon Quest Builders differs from Minecraft is several significant ways.
First, the perspective is different. Minecraft is a first-person game while Dragon Quest Builders is told from an isometric third-person perspective. This might seem like a superficial difference, but I don’t think that it is. Minecraft creations, especially in the games creative mode, are personal expressions like drawings and sculptures. The first person perspective helps enhance those feelings. The isometric perspective used in Builders lacks that personal connection. I don’t know that this weakens the game at all, but it is, at the very least, a difference that is worth pointing out.
Second, Dragon Quest Builders has a more game-like structure. It has a plot, specific stages, and clear objectives. In this way, it is essentially just another role-playing game with a different conflict resolution system. Minecraft, as is well known, is very free form. There are clear mechanics, and there is even and “end,” but that is not clearly enforced through gameplay.
Dragon Quest Builders has a very unique gameplay loop. Players are tasked with defeating the forces of evil by… building things for people. That’s right. Killing monsters doesn’t even give experience. Instead, the wandering monsters that populate the world drop materials that are needed to help build objects. For example, the slimes drop blue goo which can be combined with wood to make torches.
Its not all freeform though. The people in your slowly growing town will give you quests and ask for specific things to be built. A blacksmith might request a smithy, for example. This gives you specific goals to accomplish whenever you are playing.
Square Enix is releasing Dragon Quest Builders for the PS4 on October 11, 2016 in North America and just three days later in Europe.