Minecraft Legends Review
As someone who has not really dabbled in the global phenomenon that is Minecraft, I’ve always been intrigued about what the fuss is all about. I’ve done all there is to know about it except play the game because I don’t have the creative juices for it, and while my daughter can easily school me on the subject any day of the week, there was bound to be a Minecraft-related property that I could get into at some point.
Enter Minecraft Legends. What’s touted as an action strategy game, it felt to me like this could be the one that finally sucks me into the blocky overworld. Just from the announcement trailer alone, it was really tough to get a feel of what the game really is and how it would play, and after spending over 20 hours with it, it still boggles me at how aspects of various genres have just come together to work as well as it did.
What even is an action strategy game? Well, whatever it is, if it’s anything like Minecraft Legends, it’s a hell of a lot of fun!
To Build or Not to Build
First off, this is not your regular Minecraft experience. Minecraft Legends is a spinoff game that puts you in the blocky boots of a character that’s tasked to save the overworld from the invading horde of Piglins from the Nether, and instead of controlling your character and units in an overhead manner a la RTS, you’re taken right to where the action is on the ground. It’s quite hard to picture, so I’ll try to explain it as simply as I can.
True to the Minecraft DNA, players will be able to take let their creativity run wild, albeit in a more restrained and straightforward kind of way. As the commander of your forces, who you directly control in the world using the power of the Legendary Lute, you can issue a number of commands – ordering your troops to gather around you, attack enemies, gather supplies, and much more.
Minecraft Legends is also a strategy game, and it lets you do real-time strategy activities like gathering supplies through the use of Allays, which are basically your worker drones. Gathering resources is simple and intuitive, and only requires the players to place the pointer on a plot with the necessary resource that they need (Wood, Iron, etc) and click to let the Allays auto-collect everything they can. Some biomes will be rich in a certain resource, and in order to build more complex structures, you’ll need to collect more complex resources such as Redstone and Diamond.
It goes without saying that these resources are integral to the core loop of the game, allowing you to start building structures and units. Structures range from stairs, walls, gates, and even defensive structures like arrow towers. You won’t be in control of a base, per se, but instead, you’ll need to wander through the world and liberate certain regions which the Piglins have occupied, and along the way, help out the denizens of the overworld like the zombies, skeletons, and creepers.
Units, on the other hand, will require you to build spawners, which are basically special tiles that spawn a specific unit. You’ll start out with Cobblestone Golems which specialize in structure damage, and Plank Golems which specialize in unit damage. As you progress, you’ll gain access to more powerful units, and depending on whether you’re helpful enough to gain the services of the citizens of the land, they could be at your disposal too.
As with strategy games, you can also upgrade your structures and troops, but they aren’t as straightforward as you think. The upgrades aren’t complex, and you’re only really upgrading capacity most of the time, so it’s a pretty shallow aspect. Upgrading them will require precious Prismarine, which you can only get by exploring the land and taking the fight to the Piglin outposts and bases, each with its own set of challenges.
As you can already figure out, the core loop of Minecraft Legends is surprisingly very fun and engaging, albeit very simple. The game employs a back-and-forth of gathering resources and units and spending to prepare you for the tougher battles ahead. Smaller Piglin outposts don’t require much to take down, and your initial unit cap of 20 Flame of Creation units should be more than enough, but larger bases will have more complex layouts, requiring you to build forward bases and use more refined maneuvers as you creep your way in just enough to wreak continuous havoc.
As you wander throughout the world of Minecraft Legends, you’ll also uncover secret Golems and Towers that will allow you to expand your arsenal as you suppress the Piglin threat. And suppress you shall, because the game has a day and night cycle that will see the Piglins either expand their territory if you take too long to conquer locations or even attack the villages you have liberated.
During these attacks, you’ll need to repel waves of attacking Piglin with your troops and the defenses you have built, and you’ll be notified in advance to give you enough time to work on it. Whether you build a stone wall or an array of arrow towers is your choice, and while it may not be enough at times, you have your trusty sword with you to help the troops out in battle like a true commander. There’s an impressive variety of Piglin troops to deal with, with basic grunts to bigger beasts, so act accordingly!
The Minecraft Legends campaign could take around 15-20 or so hours to finish (way faster if you don’t explore and take your time), and this is mostly due to how much you’ll have to prepare to take on the largest Piglin bases as conquering them could take a while. It’ll take a more thought-out approach rather than just overpowering them with troops, but the game has a very helpful tutorial system as narrated by The Hosts (NPCs named Action, Foresight, and Knowledge) that leaves you with proper basics and opens things up just at the right pace until you’re off building on your own.
Minecraft Legends take bits and pieces of the strategy and action genre and fuses them together to create a game that seemingly doesn’t work but has pleasantly surprised me. From the highly intuitive controls to the vibrant and colorful world and its inhabitants, there’s so much about the game to get lost in, and even when you’re not on Piglin duty, simply exploring the world and its many biomes is a relaxing and rewarding activity.
Speaking a bit about the controls, while Minecraft Legends doesn’t go full-on RTS mode, its control scheme is to be lauded by combining simplicity with a layer of depth that adds a tactical layer. While more casual players will choose to simply have all of their units auto-attack the next unit or structure, more advanced players can choose to select individual units to do certain actions depending on the situation. This combination really makes the game easy to pick up but will take time to get a full grip on and will surely please genre veterans.
Overall, while it doesn’t fully lean into either its action or RTS inspirations, there’s a good mix of both. Hardcore fans of each genre may be turned off by its simplicity, but Minecraft Legends sets up newcomers with a good introduction to the ever-growing franchise.
The campaign is just one mode of Minecraft Legends, but most players will be spending most of their time in multiplayer, whether it be taking on the campaign cooperatively with friends or engaging them in battle in chaotic PVP. This is where the game truly shines, and players will need to employ everything they’ve learned from the campaign to take on the challenges of PVP.
To keep battles from being repetitive, PVP in Minecraft Legends will offer procedural generation, ensuring that players will need to think up strategies on the fly to conquer the other team of up to four players. If a team won before due to the abundance of Redstone for building the powerful Redstone Launchers, it could be possible that they won’t be as lucky the next time around, and will need another tactic.
Teams could assign dedicated resource gatherers or maybe even share the responsibility across members. Whatever the case may be, Minecraft Legends PVP requires a great deal of coordination, which sadly falls flat due to its lack of in-game chat. Instead, there’s a barely sufficient ping system that won’t solve all woes, but at least there’s something.
Depending on how good or bad you and your team turn out to be, matches in Minecraft Legends PVP could last around 20 minutes, which isn’t such a long time due to the number of things you’ll want to be doing to constantly have your Allays be resource gathering or building structures. At this point in the review process, it was quite hard to get into a match due to differing time zones with other reviewers, but a couple of matches in and it’s safe to say that chaos will almost always ensue, whether it be due to the lack of cohesive communication or just plain old hectic fun.
Will it keep players glued to Minecraft Legends similar to how the base game has? That’s a story for another day, and while it certainly isn’t as expansive as the original Minecraft game, this spinoff has the chops to introduce the franchise to newer players such as myself. Knowing how Mojang has supported the original game for years, we can only hope they do the same for Minecraft Legends as well.
What we liked:
- Fun and engaging gameplay
- Classic Minecraft formula with a unique twist
- Vibrant and colorful world
What we didn’t like:
- No in-game chat for PVP
- Might not be for everybody, just as Minecraft was
- Thin plot
- Doesn’t lean too heavily on its action or RTS inspirations
Verdict: Buy it!
Minecraft Legends takes the base formula of Minecraft and employs a uniquely fun and engaging twist that will keep you glued to your TV sets for hours on end. Whether it’s repelling a Piglin attack or taking the fight to one of their bases, the action and strategy required are well thought out and most importantly, fun to execute.
The campaign mode of Minecraft Legends will keep players busy who want to learn the basics of the game, progressing to more advanced tactics as they push back the invading Piglin threat. PVP mode in Minecraft Legends is where chaos ensues, with teams of up to four players battling it out for resource and tactical supremacy.
Whichever way you choose to play, Minecraft Legends offers a fun time that doesn’t go overboard with its action or strategy aspects too much to turn away the other, but instead finds a good balance between the two that results in an entertaining outing.
*Minecraft Legends was reviewed on an Xbox Series X with a review code provided by the publisher.