As the highest-selling video game of all time, and arguably one of the biggest brands in videogame history, it’s no surprise to see Minecraft slowly shift into other genres in an attempt to attract new fans to the franchise. In the past, we’ve already seen this with the releases of Minecraft Story Mode and Minecraft Earth, and now the team at Mojang are moving into another new space; dungeon crawlers
The world of Minecraft feels like a natural fit as a dungeon crawler. Minecraft’s mobs serve as a challenging and diverse collection of enemies and the game looks great running on Unreal Engine 4, especially with some fantastic lighting effects. While you won’t be mining this time around, the sense of exploration certainly hasn’t gone amiss. The dungeons in the game are huge, featuring plenty of different paths and hidden treasures throughout. I found myself wandering through each dungeon, exploring every nook and cranny in order to find as much as I could.
The game pits players against the Arch-Illager who has gained possession of a powerful artifact and is now using his powers to build an army of mobs against their will. To get to him, you’ll need to take out his minions while saving as many villagers as you can. The narrative certainly isn’t complex by any means, with Mojang instead opting to focus on the gameplay experience.
We’re talking about Minecraft here, and so the game caters to young and inexperienced players, but there’s also plenty of depth present for those interested in exploring further. With no class system present in the game, Minecraft Dungeons instead lets you build your own character through gear selection. It also lets you assign up to three enchantments to your weapons, armour, and artifacts, which can then be upgraded as you level up. Enchantments included elemental effects, reduced cooldowns and more.
It’s relatively easy to pick which gear and enchantments to use on a whim and get by with some success, but players that prefer to build a character tailored around their preferred gameplay style will certainly benefit from it during harder sections of the game, which become more and more prevalent as you progress. By the end of my playthrough, I was using enchantments that gave me shock and burn damage, as well as a knockback ability on ranged attacks. This combination worked pretty well, but there are plenty of options to mix and match with.
Like any game, Minecraft Dungeons isn’t perfect. Enemies can sometimes fall through the map, making it impossible to take them out. It didn’t become a grave issue during my playthrough, but I feel like it could lead to a significant problem if it were to occur during times when the player needs to take out every enemy.
A clearer explanation of the loot system would be great too. When opening chests each player is gifted with their own reward, but it wasn’t clear on how the game decides what loot each player will get. During one of my cooperative sessions, it felt like the game kept giving me and my partner the same kind of loot. I’d get weapons, while they’d always get armour. On other occasions, it was more balanced but it’d be great if there was a feature to trade or at least drop unwanted loot to manage these instances better.
Minecraft Dungeons is an experience that just about anyone can find some fun with. Ultimately, its greatest strength is its approach to accommodate a wide variety of players. In a game so focused on cooperative play between people of all ages and playstyles, this is a crucial aspect to have, and the team at Mojang have done well to pull this off.
With only 10 levels available the game might look like its short on content, but my initial playthrough lasted close to ten hours. When you factor in the additional difficulties that you can tackle, as well as the fact that each dungeon is procedurally generated, you’ll have no trouble in finding some replay value in this.
Minecraft Dungeons is available now on Xbox One, Windows PC (through Xbox Game Pass) Playstation 4, and Nintendo Switch.
*Early game code provided by Xbox ANZ
Minecraft Dungeons is a neat little game that just about anyone can enjoy thanks to how easily accessible it is. The game does suffer from a few bugs, but its nothing that can be ironed out with a quick patch. With aesthetically varied levels that are procedurally generated, it’s easy to come back to the game and I’m sure there will be a lot of fans that have a hard time putting the game down.
- Easily accessible
- Replayability through varied levels and procedural generation
- Great graphics
- Annoying bugs
- Imbalanced loot drops in co-op
- Missing a few QOL features