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Minecraft Legends review: a strategy game full of wanderlust and adventure

Will McCue

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Minecraft Legends review: a strategy game full of wanderlust and adventure

Featured Image Credit: Microsoft / Mojang

Minecraft is a game of infinite imagination and endless possibilities; for me the sense of everlasting adventure is one of the many reasons that makes Mojang’s behemoth of a franchise so special. Out of the four spinoffs, (Story Mode, Earth, Dungeons and now Legends) Minecraft Legends is the one that reminds me most of the core game. You collect resources, explore biomes, build defences for innocent villagers and attack evil Piglins at whatever pace you like.

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The main gameplay in Legends is that of a strategy game but if you want to play it as an action/adventure you absolutely can, allowing that Minecraft charm to really shine while introducing younger fans to a new genre of gaming.

Minecraft Legends / Credit: Microsoft
Minecraft Legends / Credit: Microsoft

The overarching story in Legends is that the Overworld is under attack by Piglins from the Nether realm and it’s up to you, the hero, to save the day. The world is full of procedurally generated biomes, meaning each player’s world will be slightly different. The game was designed to be at its best when playing with up to four friends who can jump in and out at any time. Unfortunately, during the review period, it can be fairly difficult to properly experience the brilliance of multiplayer but I’d imagine working together as a team is the best way to play Legends.

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In the opening cinematic I particularly enjoyed a subtle nod to OG Minecraft players when the character crouches several times to show the narrator that they’re agreeing, something all Minecrafters have done on servers across the years.

Minecraft Legends / Credit: Microsoft
Minecraft Legends / Credit: Microsoft

I was a little apprehensive at first as I’m not the biggest fan of RTS games, however developer Blackbird Interactive has included a super useful tutorial that explains all the basic controls so even an imbecile like myself can understand. You start with basic mobs, buildings and commands that slowly become more advanced the further into the game you get. It can sometimes be easy to skip through tutorials in video games but I’d highly recommend paying attention in this one as it’ll make your experience much more enjoyable.

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Before you can go after the pesky Piglins, you’ll have to collect some materials. To gather resources in Minecraft Legends you don’t punch trees yourself, oh no. You have fairy-like creatures called ‘Allays’ waiting for your command. Simply highlight an area and they’ll do the mining for you. At first, you can only collect stone and wood, which can be used to craft basic buildings like an archer tower, a ramp or a wall. After a while though, you’ll unlock the ability to mine redstone, diamond and more, which of course can be used to craft the more advanced items, such as a redstone TNT launcher. It’s a little overwhelming at first but stick with it and you become the hero the game tells you that you are in no time.

In addition to taking down Piglin bases, there are villages dotted around the map that you have to defend. Thankfully, the lovely villagers collect resources for you too so it’s worth looking after the big-nosed fellas. You can fast travel between the villages too, adding even more importance to keeping them safe. The day/night cycle follows very similarly to Minecraft, with each day lasting around 20 minutes. When night falls, the baddies will choose a village to invade, with increasing difficulty the further you get into the story.

Minecraft Legends / Credit: Microsoft
Minecraft Legends / Credit: Microsoft
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To attack, or defend, you spawn in mobs such as a little cobblestone brawler or a wooden pinshooter. Where Legends differs from traditional RTS games is that you rush into the action with your battalion, swinging a diamond sword and building along the way. One Piglin base I’ve found is fairly high up, meaning that on the way to the epicentre I have to build ramps to give my troops easy access. The mixture of classic Minecraft building with fast-paced strategy works seamlessly and keeps everything flowing. You don’t get a second of rest until you’ve fully destroyed the portal at the centre of each base.

The usual Minecraft mobs like zombies, skeletons and creepers are actually your pals in Legends. They’re under attack from the Piglins too and once you save them in side-quest like missions, they’re available in your roster. I found that creepers are particularly useful in blowing up castle gates before sending in an army of zombies to clean up. Good little creeper lads.

Bases differ enough to keep it fresh for a while however if you’re not super into strategy, like myself, it can get a little repetitive after a while. However, if you take your time, read up on recipes or upgrades in the nifty handbook and you’ll discover almost unlimited tactics.

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Minecraft Legends / Credit: Microsoft
Minecraft Legends / Credit: Microsoft

Adventuring through a blocky world, farming resources and finding treasures with calming music took me back to doing the same thing in the Java version of Minecraft ten years ago. It’s odd that a strategy game would give me this nostalgic sense of wonder but Legends really does entice you to explore the world and investigate its many wonders as much as it encourages tactical battles.

I climbed up a tall tundra mountain just because it looked cool and I wanted to see the world from its highest point, only to be met with a plethora of diamond ore and a treasure chest. This is what I mean when I say Minecraft Legends is an action/adventure game, not just a battle simulator. Question marks often pop up on the map with points of interest that the game wants you to investigate and you’re always rewarded for your exploration efforts.

The environment is very obviously Minecraft but has a distinct twist with more watercolour shades and a thin black border around blocks. If you allow it, you’ll be mentally transported into the fairytale-like land and hours will go by in what feels like minutes.

Minecraft Legends / Credit: Microsoft
Minecraft Legends / Credit: Microsoft

Several times though when dashing around the terrain on my horse mount, the game stuttered and put my character back half a second or so. It’s not annoying enough to stop you from playing but jarring enough to take you out of the moment.

Separate to the campaign, multiplayer team battles are another large part of Legends. You head off in teams of 2, 3 or 4, starting with nothing and have to gather resources and build defences while simultaneously trying to destroy your opponents’ base. Again, I haven’t had the chance to properly try this out as the game hasn't been released to the public yet but I’d imagine it would be a lot of fun with a squad of friends. If you’re solo queueing however, you may have a rough time trying to communicate with your team as there’s no in-game chat option. This is to safeguard children which is totally understandable but makes it extremely difficult to work as a team when all you can do is ping locations and items. I can see that as being a frustrating experience.

Strategy games often take themselves way too seriously whereas Minecraft Legends does the exact opposite. It’s an enjoyable, lighthearted hybrid that prioritises exploration as much as tactical battle gameplay. It’s accessible for younger audiences and RTS newbies while still being challenging at later stages in the campaign. The Minecraft Midas touch has turned another genre to gold but a few hiccups mean Legends isn’t quite a diamond.

Pros: Accessible, great mix of adventure and strategy, Minecraft charm is still there.

Cons: Limited communication options in multiplayer, few visual glitches/stutters.

For fans of: Minecraft, Minecraft Dungeons, Strategy Games

7/10

Minecraft Legends comes to Xbox Game Pass (Reviewed), PC, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch April 18. Code for review was supplied by Microsoft. Find a complete guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.



Topics: Minecraft, Microsoft

Will McCue
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