Dragon Quest Builders is what happens when Square Enix makes a direct sequel to the original Dragon Quest that has a battle system that sometimes reminds me of action-RPGs like The Legend of Zelda and a building mechanic that resembles Minecraft. It isn’t 100% like any of those games. There’s a plot in Dragon Quest Builders, but it isn’t told in the conventional manner. You learn things as you go, either via information found on explorations, dreams, or new villagers. Your builder isn’t a hero who levels up in any sort of traditional way. He or she has equipment and techniques, stored separately from your materials and other stored items. There’s the Minecraft building and terraforming mechanic, but crafting items, equipment, food, furniture, and more materials. The game has missions and a point, but it’s probably best you don’t adhere too closely to it.
Dragon Quest Builders is the sort of game where there’s a clear motivation to keep moving forward through the storyline quests. These missions can give you access to new areas and recipes, both things you want as many of as possible. Rushing will absolutely allow you to reach new plateaus, as well as open up new things for the Free Build creative mode. But I recommend taking as much time as you can in the early game, as there’s no penalty for savoring every moment to collect and see as much as possible.
Part of it is because Dragon Quest Builders is a game that will constantly allow you to build on and upgrade your settlements. Let’s use Cantlin as an example. It begins as a two person community with one house mostly built. (You’re one of those people.) Not long after acquiring the giant mallet, that will grow to five. Though the game doesn’t really mention it, all of those people are going to need places to sleep. While having a bunch of mud huts may not look pretty, One of the best things you can do in this early part of the game is begin some basic city planning.
It’s wise to start doing this before you go find Rollo and bring him to town. Pippa will give you plans for a workshop that will not only have room for the mason’s workstation, but also a forge once you get the recipe for it. I recommend keeping that room as the main creation space. Not long after Rollo rolls around, you’re going to need a building with space for a 2×1 cookfire, a 1×1 pot and 1×1 chest. This will be your first kitchen. It might not even be a bad idea to have a building nearby for your 3×3 Colossal Coffer, a piece of furniture that expands your bag space and doesn’t require you to head back to town when your 15 on-hand openings fill up.
Here’s why it’s okay to start building up your town so early. You’ll start acquiring recipes for walling and flooring kits. Once you start getting recipes for straw floors and brick blocks, you’ll be able to use one of them as a material for a kit that lets you transform floors or walls where you’re standing into that material. Those ugly walls and earth floors can immediately become more eye-catching. Even if it doesn’t look exactly the way you want early on, you can create a strong foundation.
Once you have Pippa’s house and workshop built, as well as maybe an early basic bedroom with some beds and a torch for newcomers, a kitchen, and a “shed” for the Colossal Coffer, have recruited Rollo, fought your first wave of enemies, it’s the best time to just go nuts. Once the transporter is placed, you’re going to head to a place where all you’ll want to do is defeat monsters for drops, mine blocks for coal, copper, and silver, collect stone, and gather all sorts of often things. Now’s when you need to create and stock up on essentials.
There are certain items that should always be in your early-game inventory before making this journey, because it is very likely you will get sidetracked on the way. At least 25 healing creams are essential. They only restore 15 health, which isn’t much, but will make a difference. You also must stock up on Marshrooms. Once you have a cookfire, you should abandon plumberries. Shrooms-on-a-stick restore 20% and are the best food option until you start getting medicinal herb leaves that you can combine with plumberries to make the fruit salad that restores 20% of your hunger and 10 HP. You should also create three giant mallets as soon as possible, since you’ll go through them faster than you can imagine. And, naturally, a handful of Chimaera Wings will help you hurry home.
Once you reach this point, you’ll also be able to start making more worthwhile equipment. Ragged cloth isn’t a frequent skeleton drop, so save the two you get during introductory quests and use them to make wayfarer or leather armor. Create two copper swords as soon as you can. It’ll be tempting to make a stone sword, since you’ll get that recipe first, but you can make copper swords at the same time and they’re superior. Make sure you save some copper for a leather shield too, as you’ll be meeting a lot of monsters in this area and have to defend Cantlin from monsters again soon.
Once that second wave of monsters hits, I recommend resuming city planning. That’s when you can start building bedrooms and assigning them to characters, preparing dressing rooms, and designating buildings as places like inns or shops. You’ll also get to start creating more defenses for the town too, which means it’s the perfect time to really make Cantlin unique.
But remember, Cantlin is only the beginning. Dragon Quest Builders is a huge, open game. You’re going to get to do great things. Plan your towns wisely, to ensure they’re functional and easy to peruse. Take time to fill your immediate inventory with essentials like shrooms-on-a-stick, fruit salad, and Chimaera Wings, as well as extra weapons and tools so you’re always carrying the proper equipment. There’s a lot to do and it’s easy to get caught up in collecting, so make it so you can keep trips back to towns to a minimum while exploring, while also stocking up on plenty of materials so you can spend as much time building when you’re on a roll.
Dragon Quest Builders will come to the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in North America on October 11, 2016, followed by a European release on October 14, 2016.