Courage and wit have served thee well, Western world. Dragon Quest Builders, Square-Enix's mash-up of Dragon Quest and Minecraft, is getting an English release for the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita in October.
Unlike its cousin-titles, Dragon Quest Builders is more about building than fighting -- though you have plenty of opportunities to beat back the ever-creeping wave of monsters that threatens to encroach whatever sanctuaries you manage to build.
See, Dragon Quest Builders takes place in a version of Alefgard that's been thoroughly wrecked by the series' first villain, the Dragon Lord. If you recall the premiere Dragon Quest / Dragon Warrior, the Dragon Lord makes an offer to the descendent of Erdrick: Join him, and rule half the world.
In Dragon Quest Builders' timeline split, Erdrick's progeny takes the offer, and things go further south than Cantlin town. The hero dies, monsters swarm the land, and Alefgard becomes a barren, windy wasteland devoid of life and hope. Whatever humans remain eke out a sad existence.
In time, the hero of Dragon Quest Builders (that's you) rises out of the dust and starts rebuilding Alefgard into the fertile realm it once was. Shelters assembled for the survivors gradually become towns, and materials gifted to you by the townsfolk let you build bigger, better things.
And, obviously, there's a certain Dragon Lord who's drunk on his own power and needs to be dealt with.
As Bob pointed out last year, Dragon Quest Builders may wind up being an ideal Minecraft experience for older people. Not just because the 30-year-old JRPG series is drenched in nostalgia, but also because it's a sandbox-style game with structure and purpose.
I like Minecraft quite a bit. I like the fact it gives you the option to build or explore, or to combine the two activities via crafting, mining, and the construction of fortresses and traps.
But I admit Minecraft's lack of structured goals makes me a bit nervous. As I play I wonder, "Am I doing this right? How do I know when I'm finished?" Obviously, you're supposed to play Minecraft indefinitely. There is no end goal, unless you want to hunt the Ender Dragon. But simple concepts that are easily grasped by ten-year-olds are sometimes beyond me. Besides, I'm old enough to feel paranoid about "wasting time," which is how I feel when a game doesn't present me with a list of things to do.
With Dragon Quest Builders, I can explore and build, but I can also work towards a solution towards a very big problem. People need houses. People need safety, shelter, and they need to live in places that aren't shattered deserts crawling with goonies. People need to be liberated from the shadow of the Dragon Lord. As long as I know I'm working towards an actual conclusion, I don't feel bad about taking my sweet time getting there.
Ready thyself, Dragon Lord. I am coming for thee with a big mallet.
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