Review – Minecraft Dungeons
Minecraft has come a long way in the past decade. From going through its alpha and beta stages, to getting a full release, a Tell-Tale Games story, and even a movie. Yet, for some reason, Minecraft Dungeons still felt like it was completely out of left field when it was announced and we saw its Diablo-clone style of gameplay. It wouldn’t be fair to discredit the game before getting to play it though. To be fair, it was actually one of the most highly anticipated games of the year, behind games like The Last of Us 2 and Cyberpunk 2077, obviously.
As mentioned above, Minecraft Dungeons is a Diablo-clone. There’s absolutely no arguing this fact, and that’s okay. Some of the best games are clones, and at the end of the day if the game is good, who really cares? The story of Minecraft Dungeons is fairly basic. The Arch-Illiger is causing havoc around the world, capturing villagers, and pillaging villages. The player(s) needs to work their way through various dungeons to gain access to the Arch-Illiger’s castle and defeat him once and for all. Pretty basic premise at the end of the day.
The first thing you’ll notice that makes Minecraft Dungeons more basic than similar games is the fact that there are no class options. You’re simply limited to what you can find and that’s about it. On top of no classes, there’s no real stats either. Sure you deal more damage and have more health as you level up, but there’s nothing along the lines of balancing dex and strength, or being a glass cannon. While you may not have stats, the gear you find throughout the world does. All the gear has item levels, something to help dictate if a new weapon is “better” or not.
When building a load out, the gear options are one melee weapon, one ranged weapon, one armour, and three artifacts. Artifacts are essentially a player’s skills. Without access to classes, there’s no reason to have skills, and without skills, something needs to be put in place to handle large crowds. Comparing gear is also nowhere near as easy as it should be for a loot based game. With no dedicated compare button, you’ll simply have to work your cursor back and forth between the two items you’re comparing and remember numbers. It’s frustrating and it makes it very easy to accidentally have the wrong item equipped.
Unless you count the fact that you can play through the levels as much as you want and adjust the difficulty/levels, Minecraft Dungeons is an incredibly short game. A full run through of the story will, at most, take you a few hours. What the game lacks is a reason to return after. Sure, you can grind out to max level and try to get the best gear set up, but there’s not much of a reason. Without classes, there’s no point to restarting the game and playing with a different character. Without something along the lines of Diablo 3‘s rifts, or something like Diablo and Path of Exiles‘ hardcore mode, there’s not much of a reason to return to the game.
The difficulty of Minecraft Dungeons is also incredibly unpredictable. On the first playthrough, most levels were tackled while the game said my gear was underleveled. I didn’t have much of an issue either. The entire game was handled pretty easily, even some of the more annoying bosses like the Redstone Monstrosity. This was, right up until the very last level. Again, the level itself was handled fairly simply. Even the first phase of the Arch-Illiger was fairly easy. The second phase though, was a massive spike in difficulty. Suddenly, you’re being hit by lasers that will melt you like butter. Minecraft Dungeons does give you lives; you’re able to die three times per level, and dying and having to restart here is incredibly frustrating.
Seeing as you don’t have a class and don’t have abilities, level up rewards are handled a bit differently. Instead of getting stat points or ability points, you are granted enchantment points. Enchantment points, just like in Minecraft, are used to make your weapons and armour better. Weapons can have up to three different enchantments, but typically just have one or two. Each enchantment slot has the option of one to three enchantments and each enchantment can be upgraded to level three. If you sell an item that’s been enchanted, you get your enchantment levels back making it worthwhile to sell items as soon as you get something better.
Minecraft Dungeons does promise that DLC is coming, whether this ends up just being a cash grab to add a couple extra levels is yet to be seen. All we can hope for is that this will give fans of the game a reason to return to the game and give a reason to grind out levels and gear, otherwise, Minecraft Dungeons will surely fall to the wayside.
Mojang stuck with what they knew. Minecraft Dungeons stayed true to the blocky aesthetics that Minecraft is adored for.
As far as Diablo-clones go, Minecraft Dungeons does what it does well, but it doesn’t do much. Minimal levels or reason to return after first completion.
All the regular mob sounds are here from Minecraft. I hope you like the villagers “huu” because you’ll hear it a lot.
Fun Factor: 6.0
The first playthrough was fun. The difficulty spike at the end was a tad bit jarring, but besides that, it was good. I just wish there was more to do than just replay the few levels over and over again.
Final Verdict: 6.5
Minecraft Dungeons is available now on Xbox One and PC.
Reviewed on Xbox One.
A copy of Minecraft Dungeons was provided by the publisher.