Dragon Quest Builders Review: Working The Land

Dragon Quest Builders serves as the jumping-off point for a new tale in a new period using an old setting–the storied land of Alefgard from the first Dragon Quest. It’s an alternate reality that begins where the original game ends, but with a twist: the hero from the first game didn’t defeat the Dragonlord. No prior knowledge of the series is required, but having a familiarity with the its jingles and diverse bestiary helps to invoke a strong sense of nostalgia

Given that the world-crafting genre is uncharted territory for Dragon Quest, Square Enix was wise to make the tutorial equal parts concise and informative. This allows you to start building within minutes of launching the game, and it’s satisfying to get the hang of building complete houses, crafting items, and surviving the Alefgardian wilderness. A seemingly menial task like bricklaying is made easy when it only takes one button to set the brick above, below, or at head level. Moreover, the process of upgrading a wall with higher-quality bricks works in one convenient, single-input motion.

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It’s almost as easy as adapting to Dragon Quest Builders’ combat, which isn’t as frenetic as fighting in Dragon Quest Heroes–but it moves more quickly than the main series’ turn-based battles. This orientation period also showcases the game’s heavy emphasis on RPG-inspired questing. Building a bathhouse feels less like a chore when there’s a checkmark, a congratulatory jingle, and a grateful NPC who has a reward for you.

Supporting Dragon Quest Builders’ story and its objective-intensive draw is a foundation built on 30 years of franchise nostalgia. No, you can’t explore settings in later mainstream installments like Zenithia (seen in Dragon Quest IV, V, and VI) or Dragon Quest VIII’s Trodain. Still, coming across familiar monsters, such as metal slimes, and well-known items like chimaera wings, will make any Dragon Quest fan smile. It’s surprising how well all these elements–running the gamut from the music to the bestiary–have been adapted to this malleable world. Enemies drop crafting ingredients rather than experience. Energy from digging is replenished by eating food. The overworld, as revealed by the camera positioned way up high, won’t show the original 1986 map, but the blocky art style will resonate with old-school JRPG enthusiasts.

It’s not Alefgard as we’ve known it, but it’s no less inviting–thanks to the familiar aesthetics and the classic low-level enemies who litter the land near your town. Exploring simply for the sake of it isn’t time wasted here. Going off in one direction can yield a wealth of resources for crafting items. The only variable that would devalue any free-roaming excursion is when you’ve maxed out your capacity for an item type–a tough task, since you can carry 99 of something.

Even though the world’s terrain is open to manipulation, the maps remain faithful to classic JRPG world design. For example, the farther you venture from civilization, the more likely you’ll run into tougher enemies. The journey to a quest destination is seldom a straight line, as Alefgard presents myriad distractions, often with worthwhile rewards. The forests, deserts, and towers have their share of obscured secrets–the kind you often reveal by swiveling the camera. It’s doubly rewarding when using visual clues to hunt for treasure underground and inside mountains. A missing block or a brick that looks out of place can be a hint to a nearby prize, such as a useful set of 25 windows for your future buildings.

Advance through the story enough, and all manner of slime and golem will turn the tables and perform a siege operation against your town. You and your comrades work to protect all four sides of your base while you reinforce the perimeter with barriers and automated fire-breathing gargoyle statues. In other words, Dragon Quest Builders plays like a tower defense game at times, putting a delightful twist on the popular genre. You’re defending a square area rather than a winding route, and not all of your support options are stationary; this only enhances the diversity of activities in a game that throws plenty of goals at you.

Invasions can do significant damage to your towns, and even if the resources to rebuild are plentiful, repairing your inns and workhouses can be time-consuming; but you can avoid this process altogether if you wish. Dragon Quest Builders’ Free-Play mode saves you the grief of hostile monsters and offers more peaceful islands where you can get your architectural juices flowing.

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Dragon Quest Builders is full of opportunities to take breaks from questing and defending your town. The franchise’s endearing aesthetic, defined by Akira Toriyama’s character designs, can make the simple process of building and designing rooms around town fly by. To customize an inn, you need simply place a torch, and get to work laying out beds and other furniture as you wish. Although you can share your personalized building creations, it’s not possible to visit your friends’ worlds. It’s also disappointing that there’s no cross-save support between the PS4 and Vita versions, despite the fact that they feature the same content.

The excellence of Dragon Quest Builders illustrates the versatility of this 30-year-old franchise as much as it speaks to the engrossing appeal of Minecraft-inspired creation. The story-advancing draw of quests goes hand-in-hand with the depth of a crafting system that cleverly uses monster drops as some of the game’s building tools. Whether you want to focus on completing assignments or build with no specific purpose, the game is feature-rich enough to suck up untold hours, even if this happens to be your first Dragon Quest experience.

Editor’s note: Dragon Quest Builders’ re-release on the Nintendo Switch proves to be a splendid fit for the hybrid console. Its downgrade to 720p on the Switch is negligible when the framerate is smooth and comparable to the other platforms. The Dragon Quest series’ loveable art style, anchored by Akira Toriyama’s character designs has never veered toward hyper-realism, which is why this port’s visuals easily flourishes even at lower resolutions. And whatever your preferred Switch control and viewing setup, navigating your industrious hero and crafting complex structures becomes intuitive over time.

The Switch-exclusive features–limited to the free-building non-story mode–adds another layer of endearment to a game already brimming with charm. You’re now paired with a Great Sabrecub who–despite its preciously compact size–is mountable for swift traversal across your custom maps. This feline who first appeared in Dragon Quest V isn’t the only new throwback, though. Free-building also features retro customization options, allowing you to make 2D landscapes in the style of the original Dragon Quest. It’s the type of well-designed fan service that will bring smiles to the faces of fans of the franchise.

The flexibility to mold the land and vanquish endearing monsters on a large screen and on the go offers a welcome level of convenience the PlayStation versions lacked. While this is obviously a benefit of all Switch games, the involving nature of Dragon Quest Builders, particularly the sense of player ownership in carving the land to your liking makes this game a strong match for the Nintendo platform. – Feb. 7, 2018, 11:00 AM PT

The Star Wars Books Fans Wish Disney Had Done Instead Of The Last Jedi

The Force Awakens wasn’t the first attempt to continue the story of the Skywalker family. The original Star Wars sequel trilogy actually launched way back in 1991, although you’d be forgiven for missing it–after all, it debuted in bookstores, not the local theater.

Now that The Last Jedi has split the Star Wars community in two, some fans have proposed that Disney should have brought author Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn books–the original Star Wars sequel trilogy–to the big screen instead of introducing viewers to Rey, Finn, Poe and the rest. But those books are decades old. Would they really be better than Lucasfilms’ newest efforts? And what makes them so popular, anyway?

It’s all a matter of timing.

Reanimating a dead universe

It’s hard to imagine these days, when every year brings a new Star Wars movie and a truckload of spin-off media, but in the early ’90s Star Wars was effectively dead. In the ’80s, Lucasfilm had tried to keep the franchise alive with animated series like Droids and Ewoks, but those fizzled out. George Lucas claimed that he had more Star Wars stories to tell, but not a single film was in active production. At the time, the only real source of fresh Star Wars material was West End Games’ tabletop role-playing game.

Sourcebooks full of stats and trivia aren’t the same as brand new stories, however. Fans were hungry for new Star Wars adventures, and Lucasfilm left them high and dry.

That’s the climate in which Bantam Spectra released Heir to the Empire, the first book in the Thrawn trilogy. While the book came out in 1991, work on the novel had begun two years earlier, when Bantam Spectra editor Lou Aronica negotiated a secret publishing deal with Lucasfilm. After securing the rights, Aronica hired Hugo Award winner Timothy Zahn to pen the new trilogy, and gave the author carte blanche to do whatever he wanted with Star Wars’ classic characters.

There had been Star Wars books before, of course. Before the original film’s debut, George Lucas tapped sci-fi legend Alan Dean Foster to write Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, which doubled as a blueprint for a potential low-budget Star Wars sequel (obviously, Star Wars did quite well at the box office, and Lucas decided not to adapt Foster’s modest story). Two prose trilogies featuring Han Solo and Lando Calrissian appeared on shelves between 1979 and 1983, but those were prequels set before the main Star Wars films.

By contrast, Heir to the Empire is a direct sequel to Return of the Jedi, taking place about five years after the second Death Star exploded. In the book, a blue-skinned and red-eyed Imperial warlord named Grand Admiral Thrawn attempts to restore the Empire to its former glory. In order to secure victory, Thrawn enlists Joruus C’baoth, the deranged clone of a dead Jedi who agrees to help Thrawn in exchange for the deliverance of Luke and Leia, who he hopes to convert into his dark side apprentices. Along the way, the Skywalkers and the gang team up with a nefarious smuggler named Talon Karrde and butt heads with Mara Jade, a Force-sensitive assassin with a dark past.

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New Fortnite Update Detailed, Adds Crossbow Weapon And More

A new update for Fortnite is on the way soon, and it features new content for the explosively popular, free-to-play Battle Royale mode on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Epic Games has provided a full rundown on what to expect from update 2.4.2, as well as a look at what’s coming soon.

For Battle Royale players, new Valentine’s Day-themed skins are being added, as you can see in the image below. More significantly, the update marks the addition of the new “silent” weapon that’s been teased by the New Updates screen recently. That’s turned out to be the Crossbow, which fires arrows, a new ammo type that is unlimited in supply. It can be found in treasure chests or as loot on the ground; Rare and Epic versions are also available.

This patch also features some bug fixes for Battle Royale, such as preventing players from sliding off of rooftops and dealing with a collision issue related to corners in basements. It also updates the recently launched Shooting Test #1 Limited-Time mode. Rather than being a squad activity, it’ll now only be playable solo. Headshots with shotguns will now do 200% damage (rather than 150%), and the Scoped Assault Rifle gets some buffs. Additionally, Epic notes that it’s aware that stat and challenge progress is not saved when playing the mode, so you may not want to bother with it in the meantime if that’s a concern for you.

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As noted recently, the Valentine’s Day event for Fortnite’s co-op mode, Save the World, had to be pushed back. The upcoming 2.5.0 patch will see the launch of its Valentine’s Day event, which includes a new questline described as “a love story, told the Fortnite way.” There are new heroes tied to the event, as well as the Cupid Crossbow weapon. Separate from that, there’s a new “reactive” quest type and an option to increase the difficulty to receive better rewards.

Subsequently, update 3.0.0 will launch the Spring It On event and bring an overhaul to the game’s music, while patch 3.1.0 will bring another week of Sprint It On content, improvements to the quest map, and more. You can check out the full patch for update 2.4.2, as well as previews of the following patches, on Epic’s website. In the meantime, you can see the newly added Fortnite skins.

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FTL Developer’s Next Game Launching Later This Month

FTL: Faster Than Light developer Subset Games has announced that its next game, Into the Breach, will launch for PC on February 27.

Into the Breach is a turn-based tactical roguelike where you take control of a team of three mechs, fighting giant, kaiju-like bugs. Similar to FTL, each run is relatively short, but randomized to enable lots of replayability.

Into the Breach plans to come to Mac and Linux later, but there are currently no plans in motion for other platforms or consoles. There’s also no price listed yet, but it will be available on Steam, Humble, and GOG.

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PSA: These Are the Best Valentine’s Day Flower Delivery Options

If you buy something through this post, IGN may get a share of the sale. For more, read our Terms of Use.

All holidays are about love: Thanksgiving celebrates the love of friends and family, Halloween is about loving demons and the undead, and Arbor Day is about loving trees. But Valentine’s Day is the only official holiday about love (get out of here with that Sweetest Day junk in October).

And look, real talk: As of right now it’s February 7. That means Valentine’s day is ONE WEEK AWAY. Classy flower arrangements aren’t like Amazon Prime – it can be tough to order these on very short notice, so our advice us to just take a moment and do it now. Although Amazon does have a great deal on two dozen roses via Whole Foods, because of course they do.

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Great Nintendo Switch Deal Includes Two Good Games

Outside of the Super Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2 bundles, Nintendo hasn’t officially packaged the Switch together with any titles, leaving it up to retailers to offer their own Switch bundles. A number have been available in the past from stores like GameStop, but a new Switch bundle from Newegg is a particularly enticing way to get your hands on the console.

On Ebay, Newegg is selling a new Switch with neon red and blue Joy-Cons and two good games for the system, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Fire Emblem Warriors, for $370. If you’re just picking up a Switch, chances are you’re already planning to get a game alongside it. Considering that each of these titles typically retails for $60 individually while the system costs $300, this bundle gets you an additional game practically for free.

The Newegg bundle is only available in limited quantities, and shipping is limited within the continental United States, so if you’re a prospective Switch owner, you’d better take advantage of the deal while it’s still available. You can read more about the bundled titles in our Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review and Fire Emblem Warriors review.

A number of major games are on the way to Switch this year, with Dragon Quest Builders and both Bayonetta titles arriving this month. You can see what lies in store for the system in our gallery of the biggest Switch exclusives of 2018. We also recently got a chance to play Switch’s inventive DIY game, Nintendo Labo, and were very impressed by what it’s capable of.

Some links to supporting retailers are automatically made into affiliate links, and GameSpot may receive a small share of those sales.

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PUBG Xbox One Patch Changes Vehicle Damage, Fixes Bugs

The latest Xbox One update for PUBG reverts changes made to vehicle damage in the previous patch.

According to the patch notes, the update is live, and it reverses a recent update reducing the damage players took when struck by a vehicle, after player feedback following the recent change. Players will now, once again, take increased damage when hit, and the team will “continue to tune and balance” it in the future.

The update also resolves an issue preventing players from vaulting over specific objects, fixes a bug which caused vehicles to relocate to another position on the map after players disembarked, as well as an issue causing the camera to move after a player died.

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The Good Place Officially Shares a Universe with Parks and Rec

Sometimes good things do happen, and more often than not these days, we have the beautiful brain of Michael Schur to thank.

Schur is the showrunner of NBC’s refreshingly daring comedy The Good Place, and also co-created Parks and Recreation — two shows that will bring instant joy to anyone who watches them. And, thanks to a recurring easter egg in The Good Place, we now have proof that Eleanor, Chidi and the gang share a universe with Leslie Knope, Ron Swanson and the other quirky inhabitants of Pawnee, IN.

Star Wars: It’s Time for Someone New on the Throne

When Lucasfilm dropped news this week about the next phase in their Star Wars film development, they did it with a double dose of information that was equal parts cherry flavoring and that weird aftertaste you get once you’ve taken the medicine. On the one hand, we got the announcement of a new series of Star Wars films which, to Star Wars fans, is generally great news. On the other, the films are being written and produced by Game of Thrones power couple David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

I have concerns.

Let me preface this by saying that I’m all for more Star Wars films and I love Game of Thrones. Benioff and Weiss are obviously skilled writers and producers with a multiplicity of awards to their names and they’ve certainly helped HBO raise their profile when it comes to genre fare with their work on Game of Thrones.

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How To Protect Your Gaming PC From Malware

It was around this time a year ago that we posted several tips for removing viruses, along with preventative measures for avoiding future infections. All of that still applies, but what happens when you have a particularly nasty malware infection that manages to evade your best efforts to eradicate it from your PC?That’s when you need to kick your efforts up a notch. If things get really bad, the only recourse is a full-blown reinstallation of Windows, but that should be reserved for a last ditch effort. Before you consider the nuclear option, try these next-level tactics we put together to remove even the most stubborn malware.