There is no particular reason for Minecraft Dungeons to be a Minecraft game. Its dungeon crawling gameplay could adapt to any fantasy setting, its enemies could be villains of any hack-and-slash monster. There is no mining or crafting. And yet, the Minecraft theme makes a lot of sense: it’s a friendly aesthetic for a different genre, its enemies are instantly recognizable, and while you won’t be spending your time tearing down walls, there’s plenty of character building. to master. .
Due to launch in summer 2020 for PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One, Minecraft Dungeons is a user-friendly RPG dungeon crawler game. Alone or with a group of friends, you traverse its procedurally generated corridors and caverns swiping monsters and collecting loot. The more loot you get, the faster enemies drop, the bigger enemies get, the better loot they drop.
As someone who spends their time playing Minecraft with Survival Mode, Dungeons plays right into the risk and reward of venturing into one of the caverns in the main game, not knowing exactly how things will play out. But it’s also a more structured experience – there’s a firm start and end to each level, with bosses and mini-bosses, keys to find, and traps to dodge.
On your character page, you have slots for a melee weapon, magic bow and arrows, and an artifact with various properties. One is a horn that knocks all enemies back a few steps, good for crowd control. But I mostly settled for a kind of fixed anti-mob bubble, good for getting into bottlenecks. There are also slots for traditional Minecraft armor types, with additional RPG levels and stat boosts. There is no class system in Minecraft Dungeons – just the ability to tailor your character through armor and weapons in whatever build you want.
You can roll around to avoid traps and enemies, summon a friendly pet to help you fight, and drink health potions (albeit on a cooldown). And you’ll need them, as Minecraft’s familiar zombies and spiders soon give way to new, beefier enemies with more diverse powers. There’s a floating sprite that spits AOE green light and wizards with magic laser beams. Even the keys you need to locate are alive.
My favorite moment was realizing that the key I picked up flew away after being hit by an environmental trap – two blocks hitting me from either side. Probably annoyed that I couldn’t roll and miss the trap in time, the key had gotten up and gone, and had to backtrack to find it. I discovered him moaning a few passages later.
A handy icon still shows you the vague route to follow, and there’s a simple map overlay you can leave open on your screen showing your location and that of other players so you don’t get too separated. Only once, when another player was on screen with around 15 enemies spitting projectiles, performance slowed.
I’m curious what it has to do with the game’s emerald currency, which satisfactorily springs from treasure chests and is dropped by larger monsters (there’s also a mob of pigs with a chest at the treasure on his back, unfortunately you have to shoot down to grab his prize). The demo here at Gamescom was timed, so I never saw an end screen. And I’m interested to see what other areas and enemies lie ahead. The level I saw was based on a desert temple, although there are plenty of opportunities for other biomes to offer new types of challenges. There’s still about a year to go until the game launches, but it looks promising – and like Minecraft itself, there’s a lot to build on.