Minecraft Legends review for Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, PC

Platform: Xbox Series X
Also On: Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Switch, PC
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Developer: Mojang
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: Multi
Online: Yes
ESRB: E10+

I used to be deep into Minecraft when it first debuted on PC. The aspect of having an open world that I could shape and play in was a major draw for me and many others across the globe. What started as a simple game of virtual Lego, grew into a huge multimedia beast and began spawning other types of games from inside it’s own universe, such as Minecraft Dungeons, and 2 adventures titles called “Story Mode”. This latest creation is the real time strategy / adventure game Minecraft Legends, and it certainly will keep you busy as well as entertained.

Legends takes place at a time in the Minecraft world where all of the worlds inhabitants like villagers, skeletons and zombies actually all lived in peace with each other. One day a portal to the dark world, known as the “nether” opened and an army of creatures known as “Piglins” emerged, destroying everything in their path. The three gods of the Minecraft universe contact you, “The Hero” , to aid them in their battle against the invading armies. You’ll be defending villages against raiding Piglins, attacking Piglin outposts and raiding enemy bases in many different scenarios. To aid you, you can mine for material to craft weapons, defense towers, ally spawners, bridges and ramps that will all come in handy in battle.

You don’t mine like you used to in the original Minecraft, as the gatherers will do it for you if they are placed in a specific area for what they mine. For example, a stone gatherer will only gather stone and it has to be deployed near an area where stone can be found. This is the same for every element that can be collected so you’ll have to a little exploring to find certain material. You also cannot collect material if you do not have access to the right gatherer, but overtime more become available as you progress through the game. Once you have enough material it will be available in the menu and can be built automatically where ever there is enough space and if the surface permits the build.

Ally spawners can be built to summon armies of your own to combat any enemies, but these allies are kind of braindead and need to be directed where to go many times during battle. You can’t sit back and send troops, you have to make sure they aren’t running in circles or just standing with no direction constantly, so you will be doing a lot of the fighting while your allies attack enemy spawners, portals and enemy defense towers. In some battles, original Minecraft enemies or “mobs” like Zombies and Skeletons will show up and can be directed to on your side against the Piglins. The original mobs are less dependent on you than the crafted allies, but sometimes still need direction so they don’t wander off or stand around and die. It all takes some practice to get used to battling, but as you progress through the single player experience, everything begins to get easier and you can take on more difficult challenges.

The game really does hold your hand throughout and rarely lets you fight on your own without some form of guidance. Along with the main campaign, you have access to a competitive PvP mode where up to eight players can join a lobby and will be split into teams of 4 each. The main goal in PvP is to destroy the opposing teams base using all craftable structures and weapons available. You can also play the main campaign cooperatively with up to 4 players. All online modes will support cross platform play!

The graphics highly resemble the original Minecraft game, only with a slightly higher resolution and fancier animations. Like in every Minecraft game, everything is made out of square bricks, including living beings. The characters all seem to have more life in them when compared to the original game and the voice work (of the actual speaking characters) is very well done. There is also a lot more detail in everything, from shimmering water effects to wind blowing through open valleys, making it actually feel like a living world. Controls do take a bit of getting used to, and can sometimes be a bit clunky, but overall are well suited for a console real-time strategy (RTS) game. Sound and music is also very reminiscent of the original, although most of the music only happens in battles and cutscenes, it’s all very fitting to the situations. Most of the time you are treated to the ambient sounds of the surrounding world while exploring or heading to the next battle on your compass.

Minecraft Legends as a whole, is an entertaining experience that can easily occupy a big chunk of your gaming time. Some of the battles in the campaign can last upwards of 40 minutes before there is a victor, and exploring and mapping the vast world can also be quite a task. The minor issues with controls and the and the overall handholding throughout can be a bit jarring to seasoned real-time strategy players, but non RTS players can get the idea shortly after jumping into single player, while VS modes may throw them a bit of a learning curve.

I. myself, am not a huge real-time strategy fan, but I did enjoy my time with Minecraft Legends and I feel most fans of the series will like what is being presented here. If you don’t enjoy RTS games or aren’t a fan of the franchise, then this won’t be the game that will sway you, I can recommend this if you’re curious about how Minecraft and this genre of game can coexist and if you are a Minecraft fan in general. Overall, a great game for fans, but not for everyone.

Note: Microsoft provided us with a Minecraft Legends Xbox code for review purposes.

Grade: B-