Dragon Quest Builders

Offering freedom within structure, Dragon Quest Builders manages to formalise a riveting story within Minecraft's expansive template.

This, with any luck, will be the year of Dragon Quest in the west. Details on Dragon Quest 11's localisation are still nowhere to be seen - it's due at some point in 2018, the last we heard - and when that occasion finally comes it'll mark the series' first all-new mainline release over here since 2009's exceptional Dragon Quest 9. Before all that, though, there's the chance to get reacquainted with Dragon Quest Builders, one of the series' many spin-offs, when it comes to the Switch later this week, and having spent a couple of dozen hours in this new version's company the past few weeks I strongly recommend that you do.

Dragon Quest Builders review

Minecraft has a way of tapping into the deepest parts of us: the primordial instinct to survive the night and, once through it, to spend the day in creative endeavour. Through its stubby vision we learn to wrangle the land, refining elements and building first a cave, then a castle, then a computer. Dragon Quest Builders takes up the elemental themes, just as it takes up Minecraft's world-conquering template before attempting to refine it into something new.

Dragon Quest Builders

Publisher: Square Enix

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If Minecraft's greatest trick is the way in which it leaves players to do as they please within its verdant, destructible playpen, then it's one hasn't travelled the world with equal success. "In Japan, people like to be told how to play their games," explains Noriyoshi Fujimoto, one of the creators of Dragon Quest Builders, a game that attempts to splice §Minecraft's giddying freedom with the kind of quest-based adventuring for which Japan's beloved RPG series is known. For Fujimoto, Minecraft's guidance-free approach, which leaves players free to build a tower to the stars, dig a tunnel to the Earth's core, or chase sheep all day, goes some way to explain why its gargantuan and enduring success hasn't been replicated in Japan. "Minecraft is just finally starting to become popular with primary schoolchildren here," he says, sitting in a stretched sofa at Square Enix's Tokyo office, a plushie Slime (Dragon Quest's googly-eyed merengue blob mascot) perched on his lap. "But it's clear that it just isn't going to have the same breakout appeal that it's enjoyed overseas."

Dragon Quest Builders cements UK release date

Dragon Quest Builders comes out in Europe on 14th October 2016, Square Enix has announced.

The Minecraft-esque Dragon Quest spin-off is due out for PlayStation 4 and Vita.

Martin's played Dragon Quest Builders, and calls it "a fairly light construction RPG" and "a neat gateway to the series for newer players".

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VideoVideo: Sony conference roundup - Tokyo Games Show 2015

Aoife and Martin bring you the latest from Japan.

After dodging the limelight at this year's Gamescom, Sony finally gave us the press conference we were expecting back in August. Whether it was the conference we were hoping for, of course, is another matter entirely. Thankfully, in case you missed it, Aoife and Martin have gone over the biggest announcements and are ready to bring you up to speed.