For many gamers, Minecraft is the pinnacle of creative freedom. From basic blocks, through to Redstone creations and other technological marvels (you can play DOOM in it!), the game is filled to the brim with creativity and innovation. The franchise’s boundless potential has spawned three spin-offs, all of which dig deeper into Minecraft lore and offer even more creative potential. Now the fourth new Minecraft entry has made its way to gaming shores with Minecraft Legends.
If Telltale’s Minecraft: Story Mode is any indication, the Minecraft universe actually has a ton of lore and deep dives into personal plights not necessarily related to actual deep diving and mining. The true beauty of Minecraft, however, lies in the game’s ability to encourage creation; specifically through unique backstories around player-owned lore. Minecraft Legends, on the other hand, follows the same route as the Telltale game. In this way, players take on the role of the Overworld, along with the Hosts (creatures named Foresight, Action, and Knowledge), and must then build bases, break down enemy encampments and, eventually, take the fight to the Nether.
Contrary to Minecraft tradition, Minecraft Legends showcases Mojang’s effort to truly branch out into wildly differing genres. In saying so, the game still features a jam-packed campaign, filled to the brim with cutscenes and story bits made to pull at the heart strings of any gamer, Minecraft veteran or otherwise. From the initial Piglin invading waves, through to a truly unsuspecting world going up in flames, the opening hour alone features very dramatic and emotionally fuelled scenes adequately setting the stage for the grander adventure.
While the game’s beautifully crafted narrative takes players on an unexpectedly emotional rollercoaster, the gameplay is the star of the show; taking the franchise in directions not normally associated with the franchise. Even so, resource gathering and army building remain at the heart of the game. However, the main goal in most missions is to destroy Piglin Outposts by destroying portals and enemy barracks. In order to do so, players can build up armies of their own, defend friendly villages from Piglin attacks, and befriend non-hostile forces to join in on the fight.
Managing units is easy and simple. Unlike more contemporary real-time [or turn-based] strategy titles, the action strategy genre encourages constant flow. Consequently, building bases and training troops takes a backseat in order to encourage collecting mobs in the Overworld. Mobs such as golems, skeletons, and even Squids, can all be directed toward enemy encampments. Similar to other strategy titles, each type of mob also comes with their own set of strengths and weaknesses, and it is up to the player to figure out which mobs to send where. Unlike standard Minecraft, enemy mobs are not just basic Piglins either.
In Minecraft Legends, Mojang have upped the ante with a slew of Piglin variants, who also make use of general Overworld mobs to get their way. Players will take on basic Piglin Grunts from the get-go, but more powerful variants such as Bruisers, Portal Guards, and even “Piggos” will quickly fill the procedurally generated battlefields Minecraft is known and loved for. Fortunately, Mojang have also introduced neutral and friendly mob variants to the Minecraft World to aid in combating the wider variety of Piglins. These include Grindstone Golems and their knockback prowess, Plank Golems who are ranged fighters, and even healing Mossy Golems.
Upgrading units and buildings follows the same quick and easy mantra as commanding forces. There is no real “tech tree” or “upgrade menu”. Instead, players will have to collect rarer resources and build improved structures. A special new stone requirement for higher tier upgrades, called prismarine, is also earned when defeating Piglins. Similarly, exploration in Minecraft Legends is very much encouraged as mobs of increasingly challenging enemies are scattered throughout the Overworld. Even so, they remain few and far between enough for players to have a decent gander at their own world. Procedural seeds are the centrepiece of Minecraft, after all.
Thanks to the game’s procedural nature, not much of anything will be the same for different players. Sure, grassy plains and desert oases exist, and the campaign does rely on some form of pre-created level design, but mountaintops in the distance and greenery will essentially be different every single time. Fortunately, Minecraft does look quite astonishing, even with its blocky, 16-bit colour aesthetic. Furthermore, there seems to be a clayish tint on everything in Minecraft Legends. Whether this is merely an adaptation of newer assets released for Minecraft Java, Redstone, Windows 10, or any other version of the vanilla game, remains to be seen.
Fortunately for the general aesthetic and design, Minecraft Legends also runs like a dream on Xbox Series X. Loading may take much longer than anticipated, but there seems to be some kind of behind the scenes processes going on whereby the game merely just… runs. Loading is instantaneous when going into battles, while Quick Resume works like a bomb. Similarly, loading into a world for the first time may take around twenty or so seconds, but it is hardly a drop in the bucket compared to how quick and smooth the game runs. With that said, it must be noted how there were one or two game crashes within the first five hours of play – before day one patches. These often occurred during integral story cutscenes, and had the undesired consequence of progression loss. While a patch will likely be made available by the game’s release date, it remains as a slight concern.
Minecraft Legends is a true treat to experience. While not exactly a full-on strategy title like Age of Empires or even Command & Conquer, strategy fans will still be pleased at the amount of units to command and buildings to erect. The story most definitely takes the main focus here, with around 20 hours of singleplayer gameplay to tide all Minecraft fan over during a single campaign, and many more if players decide to replay certain missions or pursue the ever elusive Award Point goal. Regardless of reasons to play, Minecraft Legends is as true to the vanilla Minecraft experience as any other spin-off, and its strategy and story elements do not impede on the creative freedom the franchise is known for, making it a good addition to the Minecraft fold.
|It feels uniquely Minecraft||One or two game crashes|
|Minecraft aesthetic works with any genre|
|Infinite replayability thanks to procedural generation|
Title reviewed on Xbox Series X with code supplied by Microsoft.
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Junior Editor at Vamers. From Superman to Ironman; Bill Rizer to Sam Fisher and everything in-between, Edward loves it all. He is a Bachelor of Arts student and English Major specialising in Language and Literature. He is an avid writer and casual social networker with a flare for all things tech related.