A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a creative building experience for the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows PCs. The game is a sequel to 2016's Dragon Quest Builders, and it has a focus on building wrapped within an old-fashioned Japanese role-playing game. The player's customizable avatar takes on quests -- such as building a house or sowing a field with seeds -- from non-player characters, and then goes out into the world to gather resources and fight monsters using magic and melee weapons. Combat is mild and is viewed from a raised perspective, with monsters disappearing quickly after being defeated. Strong themes of friendship, community, and providing help to those who need it run through the story, with subplots showing how people -- including villains -- can change for the better if they embrace the right ideas. Players also get to exercise their imagination and be creative as they freely build not just what other characters have requested, but anything they like by crafting the elements they need and assembling them according to their whims. While the PS4 and Nintendo Switch versions offer downloadable content for purchase separately, the Xbox and Windows versions include this content in the purchase of the game.
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What's it about?
DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 takes place about a century after the events of the original Dragon Quest Builders. Players take on the role of a builder -- someone who has a knack for harvesting resources, refining them, and putting them together in novel ways -- in a time when such people are outlawed by a villainous cult that would rather destroy than create. After washing up on a desert island alongside a mysterious boy with no memory, the player's character begins a journey that takes them to nearby islands to make new friends and help them achieve their goals, from building a sustainable farm to creating an entire village. These missions are broken into a series of smaller projects that see players exploring their surroundings, harvesting minerals and resources to use in construction, and fighting roaming monsters. You'll also solve building puzzles while making new friends and recruiting them to come back to the base and lend a hand. While players are sometimes requested to build specific things based on blueprints, they also have freedom to create whatever they like from scratch with the resources they find. This is especially true when playing in the new co-operative mode, where players work together in the same world to defeat monsters, gather resources, and build anything they can think of. There's also additional downloadable content to expand the gameplay, with new recipes to create clothing, structures, tools, and more.
Is it any good?
If you like Minecraft but wish it had a story and concrete objectives, this is the game for you. Dragon Quest Builders 2 keeps everything that worked in the original -- including simple harvesting and building mechanics, a broad cast of mission-bearing non-player characters, and a cute anime aesthetic -- refines elements that needed some work, and adds new ideas for good measure. For example, you can now fast-travel to previously visited locations in the blink of an eye, and there are some fun new ways to get around, including gliding on the wind to cross the ocean and swimming into pools of water to find hidden chambers. Players can also easily switch between the default third-person perspective and a first-person view, which comes in handy in some building situations and while moving around indoors. And the new co-operative mode, which lets kids play with up to three other people locally or online, provides an outlet for players who want the freedom and social elements they're used to in games like Minecraft.
But the real draw -- and chief differentiator from other games of this ilk -- remains the goal-oriented story mode, which provides a sense of forward progress and rewards for work done. It's always easy to figure out what you need to do next to progress the story, and you'll earn plenty of new recipes along the way that will allow you to build more powerful gear and more sophisticated structures. The included downloadable content in the Xbox and Windows versions (which are optional in the PS4 and Switch versions) also provide a lot more options when it comes to building and shaping the world as you see fit. Plus, the traditional JRPG (Japanese role-playing game) story, while simple, is filled with positive themes, including the power of friendship and the potential for villains, in the right environment, to turn over a new leaf and become good, productive members of society. Dragon Quest Builders 2 won't replace or become as popular as Minecraft, but Square Enix's series has carved out its own little place alongside Microsoft's monumental building game by giving players a creative experience with a little more narrative structure and a polished look and feel.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about screen time. It's easy for Dragon Quest Builders 2 sessions to stretch on for a long time, but since you can save your progress whenever you like, have you considered setting up a hard stop time when you begin playing, to help manage your screen time?
When people come together, they can accomplish a lot more than when they work alone. What sort of things are only possible when groups of people team up to support a common goal?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
- Subjects: Language & Reading: reading, reading comprehension
Science: engineering, geology, rocks and minerals
Social Studies: citizenship
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: solving puzzles
Creativity: imagination, making new creations
Self-Direction: set objectives, work to achieve goals
Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
Tech Skills: digital creation
- Price: $49.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Square Enix
- Release date: May 4, 2021
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Cooking and Baking, Magic and Fantasy, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Alcohol Reference, Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: May 18, 2021
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.