Minecraft Dungeons, the latest installment in the ongoing phenomenon that is Minecraft, has finally arrived. I probably would have written this review earlier, but that would have required me to stop playing it. Minecraft Dungeons takes the setting of Minecraft and plops it right inside a Diablo style action RPG. My kids and I have spent countless hours leveling our characters and we’ve been having a blast. Minecraft Dungeons doesn’t break the action-RPG mold in any way, but what it does provide is some much-needed dungeon crawling delight for Minecraft fans and acts as a type of introduction to action RPG’s for younger players. If you have kids, this is a must-buy. They will be comparing the item levels of their gear and destroying waves of mobs like champs in no time. You’ll probably end up becoming addicted to it like myself in the process.
Minecraft Dungeons is a 1-4 player experience that has you travelling through different locales like swamps or desert temples in an attempt to thwart the misguided and outcast Arch-Illager. The small Illager was pushed away by his kind, so he has decided to wreak havoc on those that have done him wrong and rule over the land. All the Minecraft enemies are here including Zombies, Skeleton Archers, Spiders, Endermen, Golems… you name it. They look great and perform their usual attacks and animations. Creepers will explode if they are not disposed of when they come within range and Witches will throw poisonous potions at you from afar that will deal damage over time if you’re not careful.
While the game retains the core DNA of any isometric dungeon crawler where you battle hordes of enemies and loot, what sets Minecraft Dungeons apart is the way character progression works. You aren’t tied down to a specific class from the moment you press start, it’s what weapons you equip that dictate how you’ll fight. Each character can equip a wide variety of melee weapons, armor, and ranged weapons. There are also three item slots available for Artifacts. These Artifacts can be mushrooms that provide you with a damage/attack speed boost or a piece of straw that can summon a llama to assist you by spitting on enemies. Most of the time I would just take the gear with the higher power (item) level to replace, but at max character level you can really start to mess around with the different gear to better suit your play style. Once you find the proper combination where you can use them all in sync to perform some devastating damage, that’s where the fun kicks in. As far as I can tell there isn’t a level cap (there’s a trophy/achievement for level 50, but I’m currently 57), so as long as you keep pushing your level, you’ll still gain experience to earn Enchantment points to place in your weapons.
Your weapons and armor can each be enchanted to enable different perks. Depending what type of rarity your gear is (Common, Rare or Unique) you can have up to three different enchantments on any one piece of gear (so you could technically have nine enchants on your character at once) . Just some of the enchants I’ll mention here include increased damage, slowing enemy movement when you attack, or causing enemies to literally explode and cause damage to other enemies once you’ve defeated them. The freedom here is a welcome change. How you build your character is entirely up to you.
Combat is fairly basic. You can perform close-range melee combos and shoot a ranged weapon from afar. There’s a dodge and potion that both have cooldowns, and Artifacts are assigned to three buttons that can be swapped between each other. We spent most of our time playing on PS4 and the controls handle very well for console. My son did end up getting Xbox Game Pass and has played it on both Xbox & PC and he prefers PC. Everything works well so it really only comes down to a matter of preference as to which console you want to play it on. If you want that classic Diablo click-fest experience, I’d say go PC. If you’re on Xbox, you can pick up on Game Pass for $1 right now and have access to the full game. If you’re looking to purchase it to keep though, there are two versions of the game. There’s the Regular and Hero Edition. The Hero Edition will set you back a bit more (roughly $10), but I say spend the extra money. You will get some extra cosmetics and you will have access to two DLC packs once they become available. If you did pick up the Regular, there is a Hero Pass available separately that will give you access to everything that’s included with the Hero Edition.
In terms of how much game you’ll get out of Minecraft Dungeons it’s pretty short if you’re only going to play through it once. Our first play through on Default difficulty took around five hours to complete. As with other dungeon crawlers though, what will keep you coming back is the new difficulties you unlock after completing the game on the Default difficulty. There is Adventurous, which provides a medium challenge. The last one you’ll unlock is Apocalypse (this is the one we’re making our way through). With these new difficulties you will discover more powerful items to help you progress. Progression feels fair and ramps up at a reasonable pace. Each level also includes a 1-6 difficulty slider, so the goal is to be able to run everything at Apocalypse 6 to push yourself to the limit. If you play at the appropriate power levels though, you will never feel overwhelmed.
Despite the simple gameplay, Minecraft Dungeons is just a great dungeon crawling experience. Seasoned players will blast through the game quickly, but if you love Minecraft or have kids like myself, you will find yourself getting lost in this world for hours on end slaying zombies and creepers galore. – NVJ
Minecraft Dungeons is now available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch & PC