How – and why – Dragon Quest Builders 2 on Switch runs so badly with user-made levels

July 26, 2019
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Is Dragon Quest Builders 2 the worst performing game on Switch? And if so, why? Let’s take a step back from those questions for a second. Here we have a truly beautiful game that combines the block-building mechanics of Minecraft with the colourful aesthetics and lore of Dragon Quest. It’s a game that oozes quality in so many ways, offering a full-bodied RPG campaign to follow through and extensive tools to build and even share worlds online. This is a wonderful game; full of the charm that defines director Yuji Hori’s other works, complete with a story that distances distance from its block-based inspiration.

Developer Omega Force goes to town in its engine-work too. The anime style is a focus, and it’s propelled by beautiful water shaders and caustic effects from the start. We get proper, real-time shadows cast by characters as the sun travels its arc, from dawn to dusk. Atmospheric cloud scattering features too, plus god rays streaking past cliffs at sun-down. Not to mention the material-work is built to blend naturally with the lighting. Even as rudimentary blocks, every object has a brilliant glow, and especially in user-made worlds, it creates a beautiful aesthetic.

But yes, performance is an issue on PlayStation 4, but in particular on Switch. In extreme cases, Nintendo’s hybrid console finds itself lurching beneath 10 frames per second while playing online user-made creations. Certain content pushes the game engine to extraordinary lengths – way past Omega Force’s objectives for the main story.

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