The latest Dragon Quest title, Builders, mixes the series' RPG stylings with the gameplay of a little-known title called Minecraft.
MCV speaks to producer Noriyoshi Fujimoto to find out more
Tell me about Dragon Quest Builders.
It is a sandbox RPG where the world is set in the Dragon Quest universe, but made entirely of blocks. Gamers are tasked as a legendary builder is to rebuild the world as they see fit and ultimately defeat the fiend with their creativity, expressed in the form of building.
With the right tools the blocky world is fully malleable – players can gather materials, craft items and build anything they can imagine. They can also demolish and rebuild when you want. They will be given certain tasks such as building a house for a character, but what and how is entirely up to them. Theycan also create weapons and traps and use them to defeat monsters in the process of your legendary restoration of the world.
What really sets Dragon Quest Builders apart from the rest is the fact it is first and foremost a full-fledged RPG. There is a very good story in place and the gameplay is structured, while striking the balance of having the liberty they would expect from a sandbox game. This basically gives more options to the players of following a story or just build-about.
Why decide to take the Dragon Quest in this new direction?
'Accessibility' in one of the most important factors in what makes Dragon Quest games so unique. If it can't be picked up by anyone to play then it's not Dragon Quest. Dragon Quest first brought RPGs to console gaming for wider access of the genre to the masses when it was predominantly PC based at the time.
This time with Dragon Quest Builders we wanted to retain the RPG side but bring in a new element of building and creating anything one wishes in a sandbox environment. For those who found existing block sandbox games too abrupt and without purpose after a few minutes, they may actually still like the gameplay if there was a story to follow and quests to achieve. On the other hand, if you are already into this genre then Dragon Quest Builders is a great way of getting to know the Dragon Quest universe while savouring the genre you enjoy.
How would you assess the game's performance in Japan thus far?
Superb. We reached over half a million sales in Japan alone within days of launch, consolidating Dragon Quest Builders as a title in its own right in the market. This game is also all about user generated content – so many people are still posting all sorts of creations and their own stories with the game, generating a cascade effect of player base increase. We've been told by many people that they've discovered the joy of creating through Dragon Quest Builders, and essentially that's exactly what we wanted the title to serve in Japan. We're really pleased!
What are your expectations of the release in the West?
Sandbox gaming is much more popular in the West – YouTube channels are absolutely packed with videos from the genre – and there is a large pool of existing audience who just gets it, unlike the Japanese market where we in part had to introduce the concept to start with. So it should be fairly easy for people to imagine Dragon Quest Builders as a sandbox building game with emphasis in the RPG element. Also, the 'Dragon Quest' part is just the underlining background so there is nothing in the game that would dampen the fun even if they know nothing about the Dragon Quest universe.
We've been seeing many great reviews across the West so far so I would urge players to give Dragon Quest Builders a go for a unique experience of block building sandbox with a great scenario – and perhaps this could be their entrance to the vast Dragon Quest universe.
Why release the title on Vita in the West?
We felt that Dragon Quest Builders is a sort of title that would very much appeal to Vita owners. If you like to sink yourself into the sofa and play intensively then PS4 edition is for you but if you are always on the move or your playtimes are fragmented by any reason then Vita edition is simply perfect. At the end of the day, more options the better – won't you say?
How do you think Dragon Quest Builders will affect the series' Western performance going forwards?
2016 marks the 30th anniversary of Dragon Quest series. It's not as well known in the West as we would like but it really plays an epoch making role in the console gaming history. If gamers were to 'discover' Dragon Quest now, they may be surprised to the sheer breadth of the universe, in terms of variety and depth. But they would also have instant access to something that has taken us 30 years to build. Dragon Quest Builders is definitely a great way of getting the feel of Dragon Quest while having great fun right from the start.
We're committed to bringing more Dragon Quest titles in the West as we believe it truly has potential to succeed even better. So watch this space.