Dragon Quest Builders is an open-ended game. While the campaign does have a story, as well as lore offered through books, letters, and interactions with characters, you’re allowed to come to your own conclusions some situations and characters. All we really know for sure is that it is set after the bad ending of the original Dragon Quest. Yet, it’s very easy to come up with various theories as to the identity of the avatar. Depending on your perspective, you may come to different conclusions. I’ve thought up three that could all fit quite well.
Note: there will be spoilers for Dragon Quest and Dragon Quest Builders in this article.
My favorite theory is that Dragon Quest Builder’s legendary builder is actually the hero of Dragon Quest. In the original game’s bad ending, Dragonlord offers the hero an opportunity to rule by his side. When you accept, he says, “Then half of this world is thine, half of the darkness, and… If thou dies, I can bring thee back for another attempt without loss of thy deeds to date. Thy journey is over. Take now a long, long rest.”
What happens when Dragon Quest Builders begins? Your avatar wakes up in a grave. Rubiss, the goddess, helps you get your bearings. But, your character isn’t happy about making time to listen to her speeches. While you never hear his or her actual commentary, you get an idea of the responses. At the outset, your character comes across as impatient and a bit self centered. Not great for a hero. Except, Rubiss makes some things very clear as you exit this tomb. The first is that you have awoken from a long slumber. The second is that being unable to remember your past may be a blessing. The third is that you aren’t a hero.
All three of these things make sense if Dragon Quest Builders’ main character is the same hero who chose the bad ending in Dragon Quest. You certainly aren’t a hero anymore, after agreeing to the Dragonlord’s proposal. And you very obviously would have had a long rest after the events of that game. Plus, the original game’s text does imply that you can be resurrected if you die, which the original hero definitely did. Given what happened, it is best you don’t remember, since you may repeat history if you did. Someone who had been alive before the bad ending would still remember how to create things. Sleeping in beds gives you access to “memories” from Dragon Quest in your dreams. Plus, your character can have quite a smart mouth when interacting with people around Alefgard.
While it is possible that people playing Dragon Quest Builders are following a fallen version of the original hero, there’s another Dragon Quest character that may also fit the bill. We’re never told exactly when Dragon Quest Builders takes place, but it’s enough time that the towns from the game have fallen into ruin, but people like Larouche have had an accurate oral history passed down and a book like the Cantlin Chronicle has survived. About 100 years sounds about right, doesn’t it? After all, there was an apocalyptic event when the bad ending occurred, and the influx of monsters could have immediately wiped out towns. It certainly seems like the Cantlin fortress fell fairly quickly. So, if Dragon Quest Builders is about 100 years after Dragon Quest, it would be about the right time for the Prince of Midenhall to show up.
Dragon Quest Builders’ male avatar looks exactly like the Prince of Midenhall, while the female avatar looks like a palette-swapped version of him. But it isn’t just about the appearance. There are other elements that suggest they could be related. Dragon Quest II’s hero was the only one in the series unable to use magic. Who else can’t use magic? The legendary builder can’t. There’s also a sign of a shared lineage. The Prince of Midenhall was a descendant of Erdrick, as was Dragon Quest’s hero. Since our characters are seeing dreams based upon that hero’s memory, then getting a message saying he or she can’t tell whose memories they are, it could suggest they’re seeing these thoughts due to being part of the legendary family. This would also explain why our avatar is still comfortable using a sword and shield, as those were the Dragon Quest II’s hero’s primary weapons.
But what about Rubiss saying it’s best the player doesn’t remember the past and suggests he or she isn’t a hero? Well, because the hero chose Dragon Quest’s bad ending, Dragon Quest II never happened. That means this character, who could have been the Prince of Midenhall and a hero, isn’t. It could be a blessing that the past is forgotten because it was tragic, due to the whole Dragonlord taking over everything.
My final theory only works after you’ve actually seen the ending. What if it was all a dream? No, seriously, what if it was? After you’ve beaten the Dragonlord, saved the day, and enjoyed a final feast with your friends, you wake up in what appears to be a normal, happy Alefgard. One of your employees asks if you had a nice dream while napping on the job.
There are a number of clues here that suggest this is happening in the “real world” and quite current. One is that your character’s employee has text that’s clearly showing a dialect and accent, much like the flavorful localizations in games like Dragon Quest VII. He wakes you up with a, “Mornin’ Boss! ‘Ad a nice night, did ya?” He also says, “You was ‘ammerin’ away in yer sleep, wiv a massive grin plastered over yer mug! Wot were ya dreamin’ abaht this time?” This is notable, as the characters we come across in Dragon Quest Builders don’t tend to have regional accents, despite our travels around Alefgard. This could be due to the world’s circumstances, as nomadic people would develop different speech patterns, but it could also be attributed to our character not hearing other dialects in his or her dream because he or she doesn’t use them.
Another is the project they’re working on. It’s a project that is turning Tantegel town and Tantegel castle into one city. When Dragon Quest was first released outside Japan, the castle was Tantegel and town Brecconary. They were separate locations. By the time Dragon Quest II occurs, the two have been combined into one location – Tantegel. This means events of Dragon Quest happened not long ago in Dragon Quest Builders’ real world, since the town and castle haven’t become one place yet. Dragon Quest’s adventure is still fresh in our avatar’s mind, which means he or she would have dreams in that dream that accurately went over what happened before the events of Dragon Quest Builders. Such an event being recent would also explain why he or she would have this dream, perhaps thinking about an alternate outcome if things had gone wrong. Their job, as a builder, influenced the matter in which the day could be saved again.
All three of the theories Dragon Quest Builders seemed to suggest as I played illustrate exactly what is so great about this game. It gives you a hint of lore and story, but doesn’t specifically say certain things are or aren’t true. Your character can be whoever you want him or her to be. You could even go ahead and think of the avatar as a hero, even if Rubiss says this person isn’t one. This is your story and your version of Alefgard, after all.
Dragon Quest Builders is now available for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.