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Video Game / Dragon Quest Builders

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"Build for fun! Build for adventure! Build to save the world!"

Dragon Quest Builders is a sandbox action role-playing spin-off of the Dragon Quest series developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Play Station Vita, and Nintendo Switch consoles. The game is set in Alefgard, the world of the original Dragon Quest video game, and players control the savior who is tasked with rebuilding the world after it was destroyed by the evil Dragonlord. The game features a voxel aesthetic style, with gathering and building elements. The game was released on the PlayStation platforms in Japan in January 2016, and was followed by a worldwide release in October 2016, with the Nintendo Switch release in February 2018 worldwide. Launched on mobile on March 26th 2022.

A sequel was announced for the Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch and the global release date was announced to be July 12th of 2019.


Dragon Quest Builders contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Barbella, from Kol, hangs with a pack of burly muscleheads and can hold her own in a scrap. When monsters invade your base, any female villager will become an action girl as they fight back against the monsters.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Plenty, as is par for the modern Dragon Quest localization course.
    • "Ragged rags: A torn and tattered tunic that provides paltry protection."
    • "Cypress stick: A broken branch whittled to work as a weapon."
    • And many more!
  • After the End: Set after the bad ending of Dragon Quest I.note 
  • Alternate Timeline: As stated right above in After the End, this game takes place during a timeline in which the Hero of Dragon Quest I said 'Yes' to the Dragonlord's offer at the end of the game.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • While managing hunger is key to both adventuring and building efficiently, having to worry about this while building up your settlements can get annoying; build a proper cafe/bistro however and so long as you're within your base your hunger is locked at whatever state it's currently in, allowing you to work at home without having to worry about food intake.
    • Early on in the beginning quests, you get to build a Colossal Coffer; a massive, magical treasure chest that can hold a lot of items and materials. Its most important feature is that you can access it from anywhere in the world, and it automatically receives anything you pick up when your personal inventory is full. This prevents the old problem in Minecraft-esque games of "my inventory's full, now I have to leave all this stuff behind".
    • In Terra Incognita, the other islands can be reset to their original states via the main island's Banner of Hope. This way, you will never be lacking for materials.
  • All Your Powers Combined: The Builder simply doesn't have the strength to defeat the Dragonlord on their own. During the final battle, though, the people you've helped along the way will show up to give you the items you need to survive and win.
  • Apocalyptic Log: There are books scattered throughout the realm written by one of the last few literate people describing his journeys through the wastes of Alefgard to Tantegel.
  • Arc Words: "You are not a hero". The Goddess Rubiss tells the Builder this to reinforce that you are not a traditional RPG Hero, and to make it clear that you won't improve just by killing monsters. It starts to become clear that she means more than just that, however.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Your character can learn many of the game's recipes immediately just by picking up the materials needed to craft it.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Sword of Ruin from Chapter 4. It has the highest attack of any equippable weapon in the game (that's including the Sword of Kings), and is practically a Disk One Nuke in said chapter if found early on (once the player gains access to the Giant Mallet, it's only a matter of finding it), but it also prevents you from changing equipped weapons or tools until it breaks. And before you think you can just purify it, doing so will break it.
  • Bag of Spilling: Justified. The Dragonlord's magic has wiped away humanity's knowledge and ability to create, which is why you lose some of your crafting recipes between chapters. The ones you retain are altered to use resources available in the new region.
  • Beef Gate: In addition to the typical "enemies are too powerful here" example, you can't break certain blocks unless you have a powerful enough tool to do so. In some cases, even you can break certain tough blocks - those blocks still won't give you the appropriate material drop unless broken with higher-end tools.
  • Big Bad: The Dragonlord.
  • Bullfight Boss: This is the preferred way of dealing with knight enemies. They rush at the Builder shield first, and are stunned when they crash into something, leaving them open to attack.
  • Call-Back: Characters from before the Fall of Alefgard, including the Dragonlord, speak how they did in Dragon Quest.
  • Call to Agriculture: Talking to Magnus after completing Chapter 1 will have him mention that he wants to give up being a blacksmith and try his hand at farming (though he does wonder whether he'd even be able to get seeds to grow with humanity's ability to create gone).
  • Car Fu: The Bashmobile, constructed during Chapter 3, is a Magitek hot rod that can ram monsters for big damage. It is required to fight the bosses of the area, the magmalice and firn fiend.
  • The Chosen Many: The game mentions that there were multiple descendants of Loto who tried to kill the Dragonlord and died; with the latest one taking his offer.
    • If all of the flashbacks are from the Builder's own memories, then they were a descendant of Erdrick who reached the Dragonlord and turned down his deal. Because they lacked the ability to grow stronger from defeating monsters, they weren't strong enough to defeat him on their own and perished in the battle.
  • The Chosen One: The goddess Rubiss awakens your character as the chosen Builder, the only human with the ability to create, after it was stripped by the Dragonlord.
  • Dead All Along: The Builder is actually a dead person that Rubiss revived to carry out Alefgard's rebuilding. That cave you woke up in? That was your tomb.
  • Deadpan Snarker: It's obvious from some of the Builder's responses that they can often get annoyed at some of the requests made of them.
  • Death World: Tantegel has been reduced to an ashen wasteland, blanketed in eternal darkness, desiccated bones strewn about, and the air heavy with ash.
    • Rimuldar is covered in blight that has decimated the human population. A major part of the chapter's story is finding infected people and helping cure them.
  • Disney Death: In the endgame, Rubiss reveals to the Builder that she only gave them just enough vitality to complete their task, which they exorbitantly used up in forging the MacGuffin artifacts the actual Hero would need to save the world. In spite of that, they go to fight the Dragonlord anyways, and at the end appear to be just barely clinging to life. All implications before the credits roll is they had just enough vitality left in them to speak to everyone at Tantegel one last time... And then, after the credits, they're right back outside the castle with the boys from Kol, already beginning construction on the city, seemingly no worse for wear, and at least several days have gone by. It appears the Builder invoked Screw Destiny even on themselves.
  • Downer Beginning: The first game's Non Standard Game Over was chosen, and the world's become a Crapsack World shrouded in darkness. Are you a bad enough dude to rebuild this broken world?
  • Drop the Hammer: In addition to breaking through earth and mining resources, your mallet can be used to give monsters a good whack on the head.
  • Drought Level of Doom: In Chapter 3, healing item ingredients such as white petals and medicinal leaves are very scarce, forcing you to hunt bunicorns for the occasional Random Drop. It gets downplayed once you get the second teleportal though, as its destination contains ingredients for more powerful healing items. But even then you have to hunt monsters for some of the ingredients, and the area is filled to the brim with Elite Mooks making hunting there a pain.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: When you confront the Fallen Hero at the end of Chapter 4, it's shown that he has mutated into a regal-looking Hoodie.
  • Exact Words: In exchange for joining with the Dragonlord, the hero of Dragon Quest I was granted half of the world to rule over. Chapter 4, however, reveals that while the Dragonlord made good on his promise, exactly how big the hero's half of the world would be apparently wasn't specified in the deal and instead was determined by the villain. The hero's half thus consists merely of a castle with a sign outside saying "half the world" while everything and everywhere else surrounding it is by default the Dragonlord's half.
  • Experience Points: Discussed Trope. The Builder is explicitly a class that cannot gain Experience Points through killing monsters; they gain experience through building.
  • Face–Monster Turn: The Fallen Hero in the years since his time after receiving his castle of "half the world" has transformed into a Hoodie by the time The Builder confronts him.
  • Fallen Hero: The game's premise is that the hero of Dragon Quest I accepted the Dragonlord's offer to rule half the world. In the years since his ill-fated choice, he has lived out his days ruling over a tiny little castle in Tantegel titled "Half the World".
  • Flashback Nightmare: The protagonist has dreams about events of Dragon Quest I.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Implied to be the fate of the Fallen Hero. Stuck for countless years alone in a tiny castle after accepting the Dragonlord's offer, by the time you meet him he's a raving loon who actually believes that he rules over Alefgard.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • Cantlin's Golem was built to protect the town of Cantlin. As it turns out, the creators didn't specify its directive to be "protect the people of Cantlin", so the Golem focused on protecting the buildings of Cantlin. After watching the human survivors turn on each other when supplies started running low, the Golem came to the conclusion that the biggest threat to the physical town of Cantlin is humans in general and chose to lead the monsters against them, later returning to kill any humans that try to inhabit Cantlin again. The town is essentially protected and preserved, but it made its protector eternally hostile to any human who would actually inhabit the place.
    • Rimuldar was suffering from a horrible blight. Gerontius and his apprentice Illius were searching for a cure, until Illius decided a cure wasn't possible so preventing death itself was a better plan. He indeed figured out a way to cheat death, by turning infected people into undead zombies.
  • Good Morning, Crono: You wake up after a nice, good slumber. It was actually centuries; your character dreams of the events of Dragon Quest I.
  • Grave Clouds: Dark purple clouds blanket Alefgard. Only by vanquishing the boss monster that lords over a continent can the clouds be dispersed and the blue skies restored in that region. Subverted in Tantegel: the darkness blanketing the area is so dark and impenetrable that the sky is pitch black. This is probably a Call-Back to Dragon Quest III, in which the same thing happened—to the same place, no less!
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Finding potatoes. Where are they? Where you found the Farmer Sutra, similar looking to Healing-Petal Flowers!
    • Figuring out how to build the Cantlin Garden. It has very obtuse requirements. Because you don't have a bucket you have to build it outside of town, which is already counter-intuitive, and you specifically need a midsized plumberry tree: A fully grown tree won't work. Since trees only grow in the town limits, you have to find an appropriate tree and build around it. To make this all worse, exactly one character hints at the goal and only in a non-essential, easily skippable conversation you only see by talking to him when he has no quest to offer you. And nothing, not even his dialogue, indicates that you specifically need a brazier.
  • Healing Potion: You can craft a few variants of these throughout the game.
  • The Hero: Averted. Early on, you're told that you are not a hero. This becomes relevant in the final chapter.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the final chapter, the Builder is told by Rubiss that the life force she imbued them with has largely been used up in the process of crafting the three relics needed to defeat the Dragonlord. Knowing this, the Builder decides that instead of living out a long life Holding Out for a Hero, they'll spend what life force they have left facing the Dragonlord to make things better for everyone else now.
  • Hope Bringer: The protagonist begins the game by literally being given a Banner of Hope.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Hunger functions the same as in Minecraft - if you are well-fed, you have a natural Healing Factor; if your hunger falls below a certain point, you lose the regeneration but suffer no other effects. If your hunger meter runs out, you will start losing Hit Points. There's no way to prevent this while adventuring, but you can prevent hunger while at your base if you make the right building.
  • I See Dead People: The Builder is able to see and interact with ghosts that are invisible to other characters. This is thanks to the Builder being a spirit themselves.
  • Item Crafting: A massive part of the game. You create everything from food to weapons to buildings.
  • La Résistance: There is one fighting back against the monsters in Kol by the time you reach it, albeit a rather ineffective one before you enter the picture.
  • Magitek: Among the monsters plaguing Kol and Galenholm are the artificial and automated hunter mechs and killing machines. During the chapter, you can also construct a magitek car called a "Bashmobile".
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Not all monsters in Alefgard are hostile. At least one gives you the plans to new items, in exchange for completing a sidequest.
  • Nice Day, Deadly Night: During the night, ghosts and their variants spawn in to chase down the Builder. They’re not too deadly, but they are a nuisance.
  • Noob Cave: Rubiss' tutorial takes place in an unusually peaceful version of this trope.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: In chapter 4, When you face the Dragonlord, he gives you the same choice as he had your predecessor: join him, and he would give you half of the world to rule. If you accept, he declares that you will be given the world's "blackest pits and dankest recesses" and tosses you in a tomb, where you die as the last of the life force Rubiss gave you fades away. Afterwards, you'll be booted back to the Title Screen.
  • Old Save Bonus: The Switch version of 2 allows anyone who has a save of the first game to craft the Legendary Builder's Outfit and the Dragon Lord's Throne.
  • The Power of Friendship: A driving force for the Builder within the game. It's their motivation for curing Elle in Chapter 2 and personally taking on Dragonlord in Chapter 4 to save Tantagel from having to continue to live under his shadow for an unknown amount of time until the next Hero appears. It's also what allows the Builder to be able to stand up to and defeat Dragonlord's second form after being stripped of everything but the Sword of Kings.
  • Power-Up Food: Some food that you can craft can restore HP in addition to refilling your hunger meter. Others, typically unlocked late in the chapter, provide buffs to attack and defense power.
  • RPG Elements: Subverted, oddly enough. As the goddess points out at the beginning of the game, you are not a Hero, so you don't get stronger by killing enemies. However, your base gains XP and levels up as you build it, and building certain rooms can provide persistent bonuses to you and your settlement.
  • Scenery Gorn: As depicted by the game's voxels, civilization has been thoroughly trashed. What buildings still remain after the Dragonlord's reign of terror began are dilapidated.
  • Schmuck Bait: Accepting the Dragonlord's offer to rule half the world, as detailed in Nonstandard Game Over. You get to see what happened to the last guy who did that, proving that the Dragonlord will twist any offer into a bad ending.
  • Screw Destiny: Rubiss tells you time and again that you are not a hero: your duty is to rebuild Alefgard such that a hero would be able to defeat the Dragonlord when he comes... eventually. You are not supposed to defeat the Dragonlord, yourself. You go and do so anyway, heedless of the fact that doing so would cost your remaining life. Elle, after the Dragonlord is felled, theorizes that this is why the original Hero accepted the Dragonlord's offer: he had been groomed to be the savior of Alefgard from birth and wanted to change his own fate, even though the consequences of doing so would be dire.
    • It's also mentioned in passing that you were a descendant of Erdrick yourself, but died before you could get a shot at the Dragonlord.
    • Doubly so in the post-credits scene, where the Builder seems to have pulled this off even in regards towards what should have absolutely been an inescapable return to death.
  • Silent Snarker: Most of the characters' reactions imply that the Builder is very snarky.
  • Skewed Priorities: One of the inhabitants of Kol will tell you that it's never too late to start bodybuilding and give you a set of dumbbells when brought to help you fight the final boss.
  • Sleepy Enemy: The game has a day-night cycle and many of the monsters that are active during the daytime will be asleep if you encounter them while adventuring at night. They'll wake up if you attack them or make too much noise.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: The Dragonlord isn't any better about this than he was the first time around; you will start by fighting weak slimes, and eventually graduate to more interesting and deadly types of monsters.
  • Sour Supporter: In Cantlin, there's a young man named Larouche who is very vocally pessimistic about your chances, and that he intends to leave before things go south. He continues to stick around throughout the chapter, and by the end he admits that his cynicism was just a defense mechanism because he knew what happened to the survivors of old Cantlin and didn't want to get his hopes up.
  • Status Effects: Present and accounted for are poison (HP diminishes over time), paralysis (movement becomes jerky intermittently), sleep (you become immobile for a while or until you receive damage) and confusion (directional inputs are scrambled).
  • Step One: Escape: The game opens with the protagonist waking up in an underground room. There's a door but it's initially too high to reach; he has to first learn the basics of how to collect raw materials and craft and place items in order to escape.
  • Storming the Castle: Done three times in Chapter 4 - Retrieving the Banner of Hope, defeating the King of Evil, and taking on Dragonlord himself.
  • Sugar Apocalypse: For the most part the game feels like a typical Dragon Quest world, with an overall optimistic tone. It makes it even more grim when you stumble onto periodic reminders that a lot of people have died, sometimes horribly.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Your character can't swim, and respawns on the surface if they fall into the ocean.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: On the other hand, all other bodies of water that aren't the ocean cap at two blocks deep which is just enough to put you completely under the surface; funnily enough these you can stand fully submerged in with no ill effects at all for as long as you want.
  • Trap Is the Only Option: In Chapter 2, you're sent to find a sick villager out in the Tingleweed-laced "Prickly Wilds". He fell into a pitfall trap, and the fastest way to get to him is to fall down the same trap and carry him out once you've dug your way to freedom.
  • The Unchosen One: The protagonist is repeatedly told they're not The Hero, just some builder meant to rebuild everything until the next time The Hero arrives. You can whoop the Dragonlord's ass anyways.
  • Unobtanium: At least one mineral per Chapter (orichalcum, mithril, etc.), but the game's primary example is Zenithium in Chapter 4. It's required to craft most of the legendary equipment and the Divine Altar and you'll be lucky to find more than a dozen clumps where it's available (and you need at least 9 for everything).
  • The Virus: Chapter 2's story deals with finding and healing cursed humans. The curse transforms humans into Horks when you get too close. It's possible to cure this curse, but in figuring out how to do it, a few humans will turn, and you'll have to put them down.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: The game does its best to try to get you to want to help the assorted villagers you come across. You don't have to build them unique rooms and decent beds; but they'll return the favor when you do with applause, battle support (if they're capable), and crafting items like food while you're away that you can pick up later.
  • Wham Episode:
    • It's obviously After the End, but the game starts out hopeful enough, with the few surviving humans all cheerful enough and happy to help you rebuild a city in what way they can. Then you visit the last bastion of humanity that existed before the end. It's made abundantly clear that the humans, paranoid, selfish, and crowded as they could be, were doing a perfectly good job wiping themselves out without the monsters getting involved. There's no suggestion the Golem turned on an enduring stronghold - it merely hastened what was already a bloodbath. Then things go back to optimistic almost as soon as you leave the area.
    • In Chapter 4, Rubiss reminds you a lot more often that you are not the hero. It is not your job to defeat the Dragonlord: the only reason you were brought back to life was to remake the Sword of Kings, the Auroral Armor, and the Rainbow Drop, so that when the real hero appears, he would have everything he needed to fight the Dragonlord. Of course, there's no telling exactly when the new hero would come: it could be a year from now, or a thousand years, if not more. Once you craft all of those artifacts, the magic Rubiss used to bring you to life begins to fade and she warns you not to attempt to fight the Dragonlord, since doing so would expend your remaining life force quickly. You, of course, proceed to Screw Destiny and do so anyway, heedless of the danger to yourself.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: The boy Builder becomes this if you equip the Flowing Dress or the Scandalous Swimsuit.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: The game as a whole, but especially Terra Incognita, a bonus level where you unlock new things to craft by completing story missions. note 
  • With This Herring: Every chapter. Chapter 1 begins with the Builder equipped with only Ragged Rags and no tools, 2-3 starts them off with basic equipment, 4 begins with them equipped with no armor and a Cypress Stick.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: The game has a hunger meter, and the Builder will slowly lose health if it is empty. However, the meter doesn't actually show up or begin to drain until Pippa points out that they should be hungry. Given the fact that the Builder is actually dead, their hunger might actually be psychosomatic.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: As brave as Barbella is, she's absolutely terrified of Lunaticks. Sure enough, when you're reunited in the final chapter you find her surrounded by them and unable to move until they're defeated.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Characters from before the fall of Alefgard, including the Dragonlord, speak like this (in another Call-Back to the original DQ, where everyone spoke like this).
  • Your Days Are Numbered: The life force Rubiss revived you with is finite, and it takes almost all of it to craft the items necessary for a hero to fight the Dragonlord.