It would appear that Square Enix has managed to do it again. The developer has released yet another hobbled port on mobile, this time for Dragon Quest Builders. It’s a surprise release launched in celebration of Dragon Quest’s 36th anniversary, and despite the high asking price of $21.99 (that’s with a current 20% discount, by the way), controller support was removed, and DLC was added. Yep, $21.99 doesn’t even get you the whole game. If you’d like to unlock the new free play build mode exclusive to the mobile release, you’ll have to spend more money. Gee, thanks, Square Enix.
While you can’t find the mobile launch trailer on the new Google Play Store listing, the above video is still worth watching since it shows the game’s touch controls and graphics. If you’re unfamiliar with Dragon Quest Builders, it’s a story-based Minecraft-like building game, voxels and all. The linear design is stage-based, where you’ll clean up the lands of specific locations by building settlements, with tons of crafting mixed in. It’s a solid game that’s fun to play, especially if you enjoy titles like Minecraft, though the mobile port leaves a lot to be desired.
First off, the $21.99 asking price is too high, even when considering this included a 20% discount. This is only made worse to see extra DLC added to the title. Sure, this DLC is at least new for the game, adding a free-build mode amongst a few cosmetics. You can grab all of the DLC for $5.99, whereas the total price for the game and its DLC is $26.99. In comparison, the 2016 game is still full price on the Nintendo Switch ($49.99), as well as PS4 ($59.99). So the mobile release is the cheapest option out there, even at its high price, but since Square saw fit to remove controller support, you will be forced to use the new touch controls.
Thankfully the touch controls are okay. They’re not great but are certainly good enough to tool around in this game. Dragon Quest Builders can be played at a slow pace, and even the combat is relatively simple. Still, removing features that the game was built around, like controller support, is incredibly short-sided.
As far as performance is concerned, I can hit 60FPS on a ROG 5 with the graphics on high, though dropped frames are common. This means Medium or Low settings will be more viable for most devices. Beyond these three choices, there are no other graphic settings in the game.
So it would seem Square Enix is still comfortable releasing sloppy ports of old games on mobile at high prices. Add on top the company’s horrible track record on mobile, where it often leaves games broken for months on end, and that $21.99 asking price sure comes off pretty unpalatable. What’s really awful is that Dragon Quest Builders is a great game otherwise and would be perfect for play on tablets and Chromebooks, but without controller support, phones are the only viable way to play without the touch controls spread uncomfortably across a screen. More or less, it’s sad to see such a slapdash approach to mobile releases, which is precisely why Dragon Quest Builders is a treacherous investment.
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