In the original Dragon Quest Builders, you were alone in the wilderness. (Okay, in the Nintendo Switch version, you had a Sabrecat cub in Terra Incognita. But still.) It got lonely. Dangerous too, since sometimes people might have just wanted to build or gather, not battle. Dragon Quest Builders 2 resolves this in the most ingenious way. It gives us Malroth, an ally who is constantly by our sides. While this could have been a really basic inclusion designed to act as a quality of life change, he’s so much more than that. Square Enix have us a character who is incredible and far more interesting than he ever was in Dragon Quest II, making Dragon Quest Builders 2 better in the process.
After going through Dragon Quest Builders 2’s tutorial, where you were trapped on a Children of Hargon minion boat and forced to do the monsters’ bidding, you wash up on a deserted island. Only three living people are there. One is Lulu, a woman who was also apparently present on the same boat. The other is Malroth, an amnesiac who has no idea what’s going on. They quickly become your closest “friends.” But, while Lulu remains behind on the deserted Isle of Awakenings, Malroth joins you. He follows you everywhere, at all times. The only time he isn’t right there is when you enter into a multiplayer session.
In terms of gameplay, it’s the solution to so many problems that came up in the original Dragon Quest Builders. There could be difficulty spikes in areas. You could be outnumbered. With Malroth around, that doesn’t happen. This is a purely aggressive character who is designed to beat up the enemies around you. When he levels up, he gets stronger. Throughout the course of the story, expository segments have him powering up further. If a ghost or spirit comes at night to attack you, he’ll immediately jump into action to defend you and draw its aggression. If you’re destroying things in the environment around you for materials, like branches or rocks, he’ll start hitting other items to do the same. When a gauge builds up in a battle, you two can team up for a coup de grace.
Even better is how Dragon Quest Builders 2’s story justifies these increases in strength. People familiar with Dragon Quest II’s story will already know who Malroth and Hargon are and have an idea of what is going on. But for those who don’t, we get these vignettes where Malroth is essentially dealing with an identity crisis. While he doesn’t remember who he is, he becomes more aware of his nature and potential as the story goes on. There’s a reason why he keeps building in power as you keep building. Just as we eventually see why his attempts to keep trying to create like you do fail.
But, most important of all is what Malroth ends up being and meaning to you. He has a somewhat antagonistic relationship with Lulu, constantly bickering with her. He can be brusque with other people and sometimes mock them. But with the builder, there’s a sense of compassion and dedication. He admires the player, attempting to build things like you do. When enemies invade, he promises other people that he will keep you safe and escorts you to an area that shouldn’t be as dangerous. When the two of you are captured, he offers you his dinner, even though that ends up reducing his rations each day when a guard finds out. He trusts you to do the right thing when he gets a bad feeling in his gut. Even when he does speak in a somewhat condescending way about the Builder, it is in a fashion that is clearly teasing, unlike his comments about others. (I fully expect to see all sorts of Builder/Malroth fan art and fan fiction.)
Malroth is invaluable. When you are wandering through Dragon Quest Builders 2, perhaps attempting to complete a scavenger hunt on an extra island, survive quests on a campaign island, or building up your Isle of Awakening, he’s there to keep the monsters off of your back while you do more important things. He handles the heavy lifting. But, when it comes to actually telling the story, he really helps provide the heart of it. His demeanor, though rough, has an unquestionable kindness and loyalty behind it. Malroth is always there for you as you play. He’s around to provide some humor when dealing with NPCs who always seem to want something. Sometimes, he’s even there for a heartfelt moment. It’s a great example of an element that improves your quality of life both during the story and while accomplishing your building goals.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is available for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.