You’re busy exploring the caves and minding your own business, mining before three energetic godlike beings pull you underground in a war against the invading Piglins. I didn’t register for this, but at least that’s what I should do while the pork chops are cooking. The characteristic creativity of Minecraft players is why they chose you. You have the imagination you need to lead this new world to victory. If so, it’s a pity that you can’t do many things in Minecraft Legends.
Similar to Minecraft Dungeons, in Legends you take on the role of a silent hero who dives into a new world to save defenseless villagers. This time, you have an army that you can beckon and call upon riding horses (or tiger backs and parrots etc) as you lead a charge against the enemy’s stronghold to destroy the nether portal. It blends Minecraft’s core gameplay loop with signature RTS elements to gather resources, create sponsors to summon soldiers, and build ramps to reach otherwise inaccessible points. Rinse and repeat until all Nether portals are destroyed, all three Piglin warlords are dead and the world is saved. Simple, right?
One of the biggest problems with strategy games is how overwhelming they can be for beginners. It’s usually bombarded with stat-heavy, jargon-laden mechanics that require dozens of hours of play to read and figure out different unit types, essential buildings, myriad resources, and walls of text. The first time I played StarCraft 2 was the biggest barrier I faced when entering the genre, but Minecraft Legends threw all of that out the window.
Legends is easy if you know Minecraft or survival games. Wood and stone are the starting materials and can be obtained by cutting down trees and mining stones. everywhere. It’s what this genre has been badly needed for years. Rather than replacing materials with better ones as you progress, wood and stone are essential to the end and all builds depend on them to some extent. It’s so easy to find, so you don’t get bogged down looking for complicated ingredients. Materials in hard-to-reach places. One of the biggest problems with strategy games onboarding new players is how quickly they become confusing spreadsheets with intricate details. Minecraft Legends simplifies the crafting process so you never fall into these traps. There is only one material toolbar, not the full codec, until the end of the entire campaign.
The downside is that you have nowhere to go after a 6-hour campaign where you’ve mastered everything. All fortifications are destroyed, no new attempts are made in PvP, and the monthly mode has everything you’ve already used dozens of times. Endgame is a peaceful, empty world, so you can’t progress further. Ironically, many people miss the reason why they’re obsessed with strategy and survival games, because even beyond the story mode, they’re endless sandboxes. Beating the Ender Dragon is how you ‘win’ in Minecraft, but there’s so much to do afterward. In Legends, you can clear the world of Netherrack or build more fortresses, but for what purpose? With nothing to fight and nothing to gain, the only solutions are to start over or venture into PvP to use the same limited toolset over and over again.
After we’ve defeated the swarm, even if there are still battles left in the world, attacking Piglin Fortress is tedious and quickly repetitive. You can only get to them in one major way: build the ramp, send troops, retreat, get more troops, go back to the ramp and send new troops. Keep repeating this until you reach the Nether portal and close it. Villages offer a variety of defenses that can be built in different ways, synergizing with each other and maintaining an army to keep things fresh. Attacking the fort is more limited since you can’t build on netherrack unless you heal it, but it’s usually not worth the hassle though, as it’s easier to send 10 creepers to blow up the wall yourself. Like the game, I’ll be quick to sidestep the ethics of using them as soldiers.
The routine nature of driving an attack is only exacerbated by how tricky ramp placement can be. They aren’t laid out block by block, they stretch and contort to wrap around the environment, but this can often cause the camera to fly in all different directions if it hits something it doesn’t like. Often the camera didn’t have a ramp, so I was pushed off a ledge trying to set it up. Nonetheless, the ramp is made entirely of wood that can somehow withstand the lava. Missed opportunities to utilize other resources in different scenarios, as Minecraft itself does well.
It’s a broader symptom of how limited your options are in Legends. On the one hand, it attempts to emulate the creative freedom of Minecraft, but on the other hand, it seeks to appeal to strategy newbies by making the genre more intuitive and accessible than ever before. I’ve succeeded in the second goal, but that means it’s pretty simple as there are very few items to unlock and play with. After a few hours, you will run out of most of the features the game has to offer. Until you reach a meta where you learn all the features of each tool and make the rest unnecessary. I’ve had over 2,000 hours deep in Minecraft and I’m still learning new things, but after 6 hours in Legends I’m already tired of using the same walls and towers in and out.
Like Dungeons, longevity will undoubtedly come from DLC, but in the end Minecraft Legends feels like an incomplete experience. There are so few schematics and troop types to work with that it doesn’t feel too overwhelming for newcomers to the genre, but leaves little for those who want to try a new strategy game. And if you came expecting a sandbox feel unique to Minecraft, you will be greatly disappointed because the oil wells dry quickly.
3.5/5, review for Xbox Series X. Review code provided by the publisher.
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