Minecraft needs no explanation. The title, developed by Mojang is a global sensation that has sold over 130,000,000 copies, making it the second highest-selling game of all time behind Tetris. On top of this astonishing figure, Minecraft has expanded itself in countless ways, branching the franchise into; spin-off games, TV shows, movies, books, toys and even education curriculums in some schools. At this point, we are no stranger to seeing Minecraft products announced or released, so what does it take to generate a rejuvenated interest in the franchise? The short answer is something entirely unique in a completely new direction. It's time to welcome Minecraft Dungeons onto the scene.
Developed by Mojang, Minecraft Dungeons is an action RPG coming to both PC and Xbox One, taking players on dangerous quests set in the iconic Minecraft world. Built with an emphasis on keeping with the lore, this title (that happens to be the first standalone game developed by Mojang since Minecraft itself) is inspired by classic dungeon crawlers, bringing all the objectives, dangers and thrills to the relaxing and creative world of Minecraft.
Minecraft Dungeons plays from an isometric camera angle, meaning you see the character from an almost top-down perspective. This allows you to see oncoming enemies from all angles, planning your attacks in ample time. In the game, unlike Minecraft, you cannot build or mine anything, in fact, the world itself isn't very interactable, as you would expect from a dungeon crawler. This does mean the storyline, based around taking down the evil Arch-Illager, which takes place over nine biomes in unique levels offering both the main objective and side exploration puzzles, fits the traditional dungeon crawler genre stereotype almost perfectly.
As for how the title plays, fans will be glad to know the control scheme is relatively simple. For Xbox, the Left Stick is strictly for movement whereas the Right Stick and strangely enough, RB, bring the ability to perform a dodge roll away from danger. As for the main buttons, A is for melee attacking and X, Y and B all perform different abilities, respective to the character type you are playing. LB pops a consumable health potion, which is on cooldown and RT fires ranged attacks from the bow and arrow weapon each character can use. The two remaining controls belong to Up and Down on the D-Pad, bringing the ability to access your inventory and a map respectively.
The character classes are limited to three; the double-handed swordsman we mentioned earlier, the wizard and finally the dual-wielding sickle user. Each of these three classes has unique abilities, such as the defensive potion from the swordsman or the powerful spells cast by the wizard, but that's about where they differ. Sure, the armour sets picked up for the mage will look at little different to the swordsman but the way they work is quite similar in its statistical benefits. Mojang has done this because they want players to be able to just have fun with Minecraft Dungeons. Throughout the title, each of the three classes simultaneously levels, meaning you don't have to commit to just one class to be able to experience the full game.
Furthermore, on the levelling business, Minecraft Dungeons offers ways to build your character the way you want to in each level. For example, the dual-wielding sickle character can enchant his weapons with lightning, so that with each swing he chains electricity to nearby enemies. Due to this classes' ability to attack incredibly fast, the chaining effect frequently occurs, making for a great deal more damage being outputted. To have this skillfully engaged however, players will have to commit three levels worth of skill points into this one upgrade tree.
One of the more interesting features of Minecraft Dungeons are the mobs. Some of these are from Minecraft itself, such as Zombies, Skeletons and Creepers however, there are new types also introduced in the title. Wizards and the Key Golems are some of the many new additions, with the latter bringing new mechanics, as certain doors need keys to open them. To obtain these keys, players will have to find the Key Golem (a small golden key looking fella with short, stubby legs and wide eyes) carrying it to the door without other mobs stealing it from you or knocking it out of your hands. Once back at the door, the Golem will disappear, and the way will be opened.
On top of regular old mobs, Minecraft Dungeons also brings several boss fights to get stuck into. These can range anywhere from the mega boss at the end of a level, who uses unique abilities and has a stacked health bar for players to hack away at, all the way to random mob encounter bosses, such as the iconic Enderman. When encountering an Enderman for example, the renowned static effect will start disrupting visuals, before it attacks you from a random direction. Similar to the end of level bosses, Endermen also have chunky health bars for players to hack and slash away at.
One of the more interesting features we noticed whilst playing was the fact it's not ruthlessly difficult as lots of other dungeon crawlers are. Of course, there are times where Minecraft Dungeons is challenging but you can clearly see Mojang has put a large emphasis on making the game accessible to a younger audience, the very same demographic Minecraft itself plays towards. This means the title is fun above all else, which is exactly what you want from a Mojang created Minecraft spin-off.
Overall, with what time we spent with the game, we can say Minecraft Dungeons is looking to be a dungeon-crawling RPG that fans of both Minecraft and the genre as a whole can enjoy. Even though it's not as challenging and can feel a little too easy in places, it is fun above all else. Minecraft Dungeons captures the very essence of Mojang and Minecraft, sprinkling it with something entirely new, making for an experience that is just outright enjoyable. We can't wait to get our hands on the full game when it releases in 2020 on PC and Xbox One, it's just such a shame we have to wait so long.