Dragon Quest Builders 2 offers the unrivaled joy of constant accomplishment

Dragon Quest Builders 2
Best PS4 Game
Best PC Game
Best Online Multiplayer Game
Best Single-Player Game

In life, it’s often hard to accomplish things. Progress is hard to see. Failure is constant. Plans don’t always work out as intended. There are factors beyond your control.

In Dragon Quest Builders 2, none of these are much of a problem.

The Builders franchise sets itself apart from other Minecraft-like games with its focus on giving players direction and controlling the play experience through varied task type and pacing. It’s more of a game than the usual sandbox. Of course, it still sets itself apart from slow-life games like Animal Crossing and JRPGs like the core Dragon Quest series by the freedom it still retains. This is a world that lets you terraform and build freely and stray from the main quest for reasons that aren’t just about grinding.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 works hard to maintain that balance, with more guided segments broken up by more creative ones and constant breaks to the central island to give you more pieces to use to shape your world. It’s this pacing, in addition to the marked control and engine improvements, that sets it so far ahead of its predecessor, even without as neat and tidy a plot. You’re not overwhelmed by the to-do list, but you can always look to it for an idea or two. Want to try making some undiscovered room recipes? Want to find the tallest spot on the island? Want to just take some bombs down to the mine and go wild for a little bit to get some resources? You can, and the game’s as happy as you are when you make these things happen.

The magic here likely stems from the game’s constant efforts to avoid a fail state. Battles are tactically interesting at times, but never so punishing that you’ll have to keep trying to get the execution right. Failure isn’t really a thing in exploration, but even when you’re out to look for something specific, environments are hand-crafted with visual cues to lead you in the right direction. And each time you do something the game asks you to do, it’s much more likely to offer you something new and useful for your creative pursuits than it is to use cheap psychological tricks and make irrelevant bars fill a little bit.

You gain friends without ever losing them. You build worlds without ever seeing them collapse. You never have to see something you worked hard to make end in irrevocable, heartbreaking failure.

Which is great, because there’s enough of that heartbreak in our lives already.

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