It's hard to build a reputation in gaming, but it can be even harder to keep one.
Dragon Quest Builders was one of last year’s sleeper hits, doing a beautiful job of mixing Minecraft mechanics with simplified RPG traditions.
It was a solid foundation, you might say.
The sequel has arrived with a little more fanfare, as Square Enix attempts to develop the spin off into a successful series in its own right.
They have added a number of quality-of-life improvements to gameplay, but is the upgrade constructive enough?
Dragon Quest Builders 2 follows the first game by roughly emulating the events of a classic Dragon Quest — in this case, 1987’s Dragon Quest 2.
The evil Children of Hargon are spreading propaganda that encourages people to let the world fall into ruin and disrepair, which conveniently includes imprisoning builders of any kind.
As the nameless builder hero, you begin your journey on a prison ship that crashes onto an island, where your story begins.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the somewhat free form gameplay of the first Builders has been replaced, like an empty plot of land, with more structure.
On the one hand, this brings with it tighter goals and progression, but on the other hand you lose the sense of exploration. In Builders 2, you move from town to town, on different islands, much like a standard role-playing game.
One of the benefits to this is that the game can dish out its upgrades in a more rewarding fashion. Items like the new glider, for example, come at a point in the game somewhat designed around its use, while areas are more tightly constructed in general, which makes for more linear but satisfying chapters overall.
The quality-of-life changes might be most noticeable to players of the first game, but they are still welcome.
You can now hold a weapon and tool at the same time, plus weapons and armour don’t degrade.
You can ‘bump’ into enemies without being hurt, which makes combat less frustrating, and you also gain experience points to level up through fighting, instead of using seeds of life. Inventory items keep stacking instead of maxing out at 99.
All of these changes are small, but make the overall experience more user-friendly and enjoyable.
In that sense, Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a bit like getting a house renovation. The basic structure remains the same, but there’s a little more room to relax. It may not be a new pad, but it’s still worth a joypad.
Meanwhile, gaming’s horror story with Hollywood looks set to continue, with the release of Doom Annihilation on October 1.
The release date for the series reboot was announced this week.
Ordinarily, we wouldn’t be too quick to judge a film before its release, but one look at the trailer — and the fact that Doom Annihilation goes direct to BluRay — doesn’t leave us in much doubt as to the quality of this film. Still, we will have to watch it to know for sure.
The director is Tony Gilgio, whose credits include S.W.A.T Under Siege and Resident Evil: Afterlife.
Also, something called Soccer Dog: The Movie, which we suddenly want to see. The main character is Joan Dark, who will be played by British TV alum Amy Manson, previously of Torchwood and Being Human.
Aside from the basic premise, in which “marines travel to Mars and open a doorway to Hell”, it doesn’t look like Doom Annihilation is sticking much to the lore of the Doom games, or even the iconography made famous by the series.
Nonetheless, we are doomed to watch it anyway.
Finally, Nintendo’s reveal of the Switch Lite console has split the opinions of some gamers.
The Switch Lite is a cheaper version of the Switch that is handheld only and has a slightly smaller screen.
It goes on sale September 20, with a price point likely to be around €200, or roughly €100 less than the original Switch.
On the one hand, this does provide a choice to gamers who never want to play on a TV screen — but on the other hand, it doesn’t seem to differentiate itself quite enough to make the price point tempting.
It will be interesting to see if consumers make the switch.