Posted: May 26, 2023 in Minecraft
By Kevin Lott
Sometimes, I think we can all agree that studios get carried away with their IPs. The Hobbit isn’t nearly as good as Lord of The Rings. The Star Wars sequels could never compare to the original trilogy. Even the newest Marvel movies suck compared to the early ones! Minecraft Dungeons was somewhat of a disappointment in the grand scheme of the Minecraft franchise, and with another title recently having been added to the fold, Minecraft Legends, is history going to repeat itself? Is this new game even worth copping? Let’s find out.
Developed by Mojang Studios and Blackbird Interactive and published by Xbox Game Studios, Minecraft Legends is an action-strategy video game that was released on April 18, 2023, for multiple platforms including Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. It is a spin-off of the popular sandbox game, Minecraft. Although the game received mixed reviews from critics, it has garnered attention from fans and players alike.
The game is a third-person action-strategy video game that blends strategic gameplay elements with mechanics inspired by action games. The game features both cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes, offering players a range of ways to enjoy the game.
Set in the Minecraft universe, Minecraft Legends follows the story of an invasion by the piglins from the Nether, who spread their corruption across the Overworld. The player takes on the role of a hero, tasked with saving the Overworld by bringing together its mobs to defend their home. With their banner in hand, the player embarks on a quest to defeat the piglins and stop the spread of corruption before it’s too late.
Development for Minecraft Legends started in 2018 and the game was officially announced during the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase on June 12, 2022. A trailer was released on the Minecraft YouTube channel shortly after the showcase, confirming the game’s availability on additional platforms.
Issuing commands to your soldiers is a breeze, whether you’re using a gamepad or mouse controls, as they typically devolve into “go kill things over there” or “follow me.” This is made possible by armies consisting of only a few dozen units, which makes things manageable. It’s genuinely thrilling to storm a Piglin Fort, break down the gate, and send in your own horde to wreak havoc.
However, there are some downsides to this simplicity. While certain units are designed to counter specific enemies, such as Skeleton Archers being the best option for dealing damage to the massive flail-wielding Portal Guards from afar, it’s often easier to overwhelm opponents with sheer numbers due to abundant resources and the ability to spawn forces instantly. This takes away some of the strategy involved in certain battles.
It’s also disappointing that creating mixed battle groups isn’t possible. Although you can command all units of a specific type simultaneously, you can’t create custom groups of mixed troops. It would have been great to lead a squad of damage spongy zombies with healing units to push the front line, backed up by a group of archers protected by Plank Golems raining down destruction on the Piglins. Unfortunately, such precise control is not feasible.
Fortunately, participating directly in battles as the hero provides an opportunity to make clever decisions. As the most powerful member of your army, you’re always on horseback and armed with a sword that swings in wide arcs. This allows you to create swarms of Cobblestone Golems to invade, commanding them to focus on destroying buildings while you protect them, or send units to guard one side of a friendly settlement while you cover the other. These types of decisions are what make strategy games so enjoyable. In general, the strategy games need layers of complexity to allow for in depth gameplay, and that isn’t always achievable in this game.
Resource gathering and building are essential to any Minecraft game, and Legends delivers on both fronts with an intuitive and polished system. Allays come in two types that assist with these tasks. One type focuses on gathering resources, allowing you to point them at a grove of trees or a quarry filled with ore and have them strip the resources independently. The other type carries out building instructions, quickly assembling structures such as golem spawners or arrow towers, provided the resources are available. This streamlined system allows you to go from idea to construction with just a couple of button presses or mouse clicks.
The Piglin army attacks settlements most nights, with each new assault highlighted on the world map. However, assembling walls and gates to hold them back is a breeze thanks to the hardworking Allays. Deciding how to build each base is engaging, with structures such as an Architect Hut or a Masonry providing a constant drain on resources but leading to a much more fortified town that’s better able to withstand the Nether’s rampaging armies. The choice between foraging for more resources to keep building or hunkering down for the coming battle is compelling, and executing a plan is a satisfying experience.
The Allays’ independent operation feeds into the strategy elements of combat in interesting ways. For example, defending a settlement from an invading force of Piglins while commanding walls to be built requires careful multitasking. If wood supplies run low, you’ll have to ride to a nearby forest and start the collection process, letting both sets of Allays work while you continue to fight. However, Piglins will target the fragile Allays, keeping this mid-battle backup from being too overpowered and forcing you to think twice before leaving them unprotected.
Your primary home base is the Well of Fates, which serves as your starting point, the default respawn location when you die, and the location for most of your upgrades. Destroyed Piglin structures drop Prismarine, which is used to construct upgrade structures that allow you to do things such as command more troops or store more materials. There’s a limited number of places these upgrades can be built, and you’ll need to decide whether to increase the size of your army, open up opportunities to mine specialty ores like coal and redstone, or add more Allays to expedite resource gathering. All of these options are actually enjoyable and interesting!
So, is this game actually worth our money? For $40, I think so. While I don’t believe that Legends is some impeccable RTS that reinvents the genre, it is a good game. I would say that if you’re comparing this to something like Company of Heroes 3, I don’t think it wins. But if you’re trying to decide whether or not this faithfully adapts the ‘vibe’ of Minecraft to the RTS genre, I say it succeeds. For the Minecraft fans out there, I say cop it! Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother.
Minecraft Legends is a captivating strategy game that successfully simplifies a notoriously intricate genre, all while retaining the crucial element of choice and consequence. However, the game’s simplified approach means that some genre standards, such as creating custom unit groups, have been omitted, which is regrettable because it somewhat limits strategic possibilities in the middle of a conflict. Complex gameplay is sort of the defining characteristic of RTS, and making a ‘kid friendly’ RTS seems counterproductive. Nevertheless, Legends leverages other familiar aspects, like the resource-gathering Allays, to great effect, and it stays true to the iconic Minecraft aesthetic with some of the most visually appealing blocks in gaming. With all that said, have a great day!