I fell in love with the original Dragon Quest Builders back when it was released in 2016, so how does this new PC port hold up?
Back when the game came out 8 years ago, I reviewed the PlayStation 4 version of the game and promptly completed all of its challenges. When the Switch version came out a few years later, I did the same and on both counts I thoroughly loved the game.
The first Dragon Quest Builders managed to take the building and crafting setup from Minecraft and also inserted an excellent action role-playing game into the mix. It also felt entirely natural for Dragon Quest to exist in this form as well, considering its pixelated heritage.
The pacing of the game was also excellent, with each of the four areas having their own story and fairly speedy upgrade path. This upgrade and pacing speediness was sadly lost in Dragon Quest Builders 2 and that became a long and arduous grind.
The latter game is noteworthy when it comes to this new PC port though, as there are a bunch of changes that have mysteriously carried over (or backwards, depending on how you look at it).
Before I get to that though, this is a very solid PC port of the first Dragon Quest Builders. The draw distance is increased and the general quality of life changes for PC users are very much present and correct.
However, this new port is developed by Artdink and while I do have a great deal of affection for this studio, especially after the enjoyable SD Gundam Battle Alliance, they’ve made some functional changes here that take away from what made the original game so great.
In that, weapons and armor no longer degrade. Your hammer is always equipped and has the large block bashing move from the second game. The same goes for your sword, as that too is always present. Things like shovels are also just a separate item you use now.
The hammer block bashing setup does make things overly easy early on as well, but you also have things like auto-jump over blocks that render the staircase items rather pointless.
You can also carry massive amounts of items now, without them being separated into increments of 99 units. You also have more item slots to use from the off, which makes the Colossal Coffer a far less pressing upgrade, although thankfully still a necessary one.
The weirdest change though is the Bashmobile you get from the third area onwards. This seemingly has no movement restrictions at all and can boost around to an almost ridiculous degree.
What I am getting at here is that these changes aren’t there because the PC version needs them. These are functional changes to how the game fundamentally works, because I am guessing someone at Artdink wanted to change things.
It’s still broadly speaking the same game, but it plays differently and not entirely for the better. Yes, there are a few improvements, but some of the changes actually take away from the considered pacing and structure of the original game.
What especially irks me is that elements from the second game, which I enjoyed a great deal less, have somehow made it into this port of the first game, which was originally far better.
I still played through the whole game again though and did all the challenges. It’s still a fun time to be had, but the game design changes do feel out of place and unnecessary.
The good news is that you can still buy and play the PlayStation 4 and Switch versions of this game and those are both still thoroughly excellent.
One final and disheartening point, is that the original team that made Dragon Quest Builders aren’t credited anymore. You get a broad thanking of the original team without specifying who they were. I personally think this kind of rewriting of the credits to oust the original team is definitely wrong.
Overall, this is a good PC port of the first Dragon Quest Builders but has some weird design changes taken from the second game that take away from what originally made this game so special. If you have no other option than to pick up the PC version, you will definitely enjoy yourself, but it’s sadly not as good as the PlayStation 4 and Switch versions.
Dragon Quest Builders
Publisher: Square Enix
Released: 13th February 2024
Disclosure: Square Enix sent me a copy of this game for the purposes of this review.
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