Minecraft Dungeons is an Action-adventure game that is inspired by older Dungeon Crawlers and set in the Minecraft world. With the limitless possibilities of the Minecraft world, I was eager to find out what they could do with Minecraft Dungeons. The evil Arch-Illager has been rejected by his people, wandering alone he is rejected by the villagers and stumbles upon the Orb of Dominance, he seeks vengeance. Alone, or together with friends, you must save the villagers and stop the corruption spread by the Arch-Illager. Fighting through the hordes of the undead, through caves of spiders and even through banquet halls, you will find new weapons and powers that will make you unstoppable. Not that you were not in the first place, just more… unstoppable-er?

Developer: Mojang Studios
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Platforms: Windows, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 26 May 2020

Minecraft Dungeons, when first booted up, surprised me. There was an accessibility menu before you even start. The accessibility options were not in the depths of the in-game-menus, no it was there instantly, ready to welcome anyone that wanted to play. I loved that there was a welcoming embrace before you even started. We see this more and more, video game developers focusing on accessibility options, and it is beautiful. More, please! The accessibility is also within its gameplay; it is not over complicated and is a great place to start with ARGPs.

As previously mentioned, the game is accessible and an excellent entry point into the ARPG genre. The mechanics of the game are barebones and straightforward; there is no over-complication. You do not need to worry about classes, because there are none. You have three slots on your character that are for a Melee weapon, a ranged weapon and Armor. That is it, besides your relics which act as abilities. The game provides a fluid movement for players to experiment with different types of weapons and skills, leaving you with the freedom to experiment. The game, while yes, is simple it does offer a little bit of depth, however not much. Each piece of equipment (Minus relics), can be enchanted with points you earn from levelling up. The enchantments vary per item, but you can enchant weapons and Armor with some impressive abilities.

For example, my favourite weapons in the game were the duel sickles. They were fast and could dish out high DPS. Two enchantments that I used were Gravity, which pulled mobs towards you and an ability that created lightning strikes when I hit something. I stood still started to hit everything got pulled into me and died an electrifying death. It made me feel mighty! While the enchantments are fun, there isn’t anything to write home about, they do their job very well and synchronize well enough. The best thing about enchantments is that you never have to commit to them. You do not ever lose the points that you spend on enchantments, as when you find a better item you can scrap your old item for some emeralds and the enchantment points you spent will be returned. This is a great feature, its helpful to newer players, they never misspend points because its impossible. It allows players to experiment with any item they find. It also means that once you are bored with a specific type of weapon, you can find a new kind and enchant that. You are never bound to a particular playstyle.

However, I will mention that the ranged options, specifically the crossbows, are over-powered. You can stand at a safe distance and spam shots into mobs, they have tried to nerf this with an ammo system. But unfortunately, through enchantments, this gets nullified very quickly. The character will automatically aim for you. Also, some crossbows are automatic, therefore, making the system effortless and broken. With the enchantments for crossbows, bosses just become a joke, stand far enough away from them, and you can continuously rain arrows upon them, making the more difficult modes easy.

Unfortunetly the AI within the game are easy to manipulate. Enemies will just run directly towards you. There is no need to approach them the majority of the time. As for ranged enemies, you can stand behind pillars and they will repeatedly shoot at you, line of sight does not appear to be something they try to get. This means it is quite easy to run and hide to get some health back, the enemies never present much of a threat. Although, there is some interesting mechanics that they have tried. For example, the spiders will shoot their webs at you and it will trap you for a moment. Once you are trapped they pounce on you, honestly if they were not so easy to kill, it would be terrifying.

The game takes place over a single map and once you have completed that map you are then tasked with replaying the map at a higher difficulty. The great thing the developers have chosen to do is include difficulty sliders within each difficulty bracket so that you can play each mission at a level that suits you. This was great, and I found that the recommended difficulty was decent enough, and the enemies provided some challenge. However, this creates artificial content. I dislike when games have a very short campaign and try to get you to replay it by making it difficult. It doesn’t add anything for me, at all. That goes to say, the campaign is concise, and we had finished it within a few hours.

The ‘Blocky Minecraft’ aesthetic was at first a concern for me, but when within the game, it looks beautiful. The characters move fluidly, and all look as if they belong in the world. The aesthetic is colourful and exciting. Building a sense of wonder and prompting you to explore the world. The game will always point you in the right direction so that you are never lost. But for those who choose to adventure more, you are rewarded with secret levels hidden away and chests containing powerful loot.

The game boasts a relaxing and carefree mood, despite the actual gameplay being quite chaotic at times. The music is honestly great, composed by the same artist of the Minecraft main series C418 and a few tracks from other composers. It accompanies the aesthetic of the game beautifully and lends from the Minecraft playlist. The music produced some nostalgia for old memories within the Minecraft world. The music also builds a sense of wonder; after all, you are still exploring caves and fields full of treasure and danger.

Corrupted by evil… Driven by vengeance… The Arch-Illager made all bow before him… And if they did not bow… they would fall. – Introduction Cutscene

The story is, unfortunately, unimaginative. For a franchise that boasts a beautiful affinity to help a person explore their creativeness, the game seems to forget this. It is very generic, and half of the time, you never honestly know what you are doing in terms of the story. While yes, the game does a great job at highlighting objectives and pointing you in the right direction. Sometimes you stop and wonder “why on earth am I destroying a buffet?”. The game does have introduction cut scenes, but as stated, if you are not the host of the world, you will rarely see them. The final boss ‘The Arch-Illager’, has not been done any justice, and although his fight is pretty exciting and enjoyable, his story is lacking. However, the game hints to another story brewing so we can only hope that they build on a character that is interesting, just not fleshed out.

The DLC problem

So, I’m going to run you through the first time I loaded Minecraft Dungeons. I got into a party with some friends, and we all started at the same time, we did our introductions, got to our hub, and I sent the invites out. As everyone was joining, there was a huge map that served as our mission selection, I loaded it up in massive anticipation of the So, I’m going to run you through the first time I loaded Minecraft Dungeons. I got into a party with some friends, and we all started at the same time, we did our introductions, got to our hub, and I sent the invites out. As everyone was joining, there was a huge map that served as our mission selection, I loaded it up in massive anticipation of the adventures waiting, and I saI would say a small message, but let us be fair, it is quite significant.


Paid DLC advertised on the main map of what could be an offline experience, on day one. Well, there we have it. We all know what is coming, a bombardment of DLC to the game to bolster its lack of content. Now DLC is not a bad thing, but the announcement so early in its lifespan is concerning. The main game is relatively short. And while yes, you can argue there is some length if you complete the game on all three difficulty settings. For a stand-alone experience of the story, there is not much, and it is lacking.

Upon finishing the game, I noticed that there were so many biomes and bosses from Minecraft that were not within the game. Now that’s fine, and they don’t have to be. But seeing that the new DLC is introducing two new biomes in the form of maps, this has me concerned. Are they going to take every aspect of Minecraft and resell it as DLC within Minecraft Dungeons? Mojang has announced there will be free content coming, so we only have to wait and see what they do. 

Minecraft Dungeons for me was a fun experience, the gameplay is enjoyable and can at times get hectic. The ease of combat and enchantment management was relaxing. The way that the game manages a non-commitment style to the weapons and armours to choose is great for people trying the genre for the first time. I can’t help but comment on the potential that they have used the base game to introduce people to the genre to make the game more complicated in the future. Not that it needs it! I do not see a problem with the lack of depth within the game. My primary concern comes from a lack of content and the DLC announcements. The new DLC should boost the game, and we have to wait and see how they manage their free updates.

For achievement hunters, the game is a breeze for the full gamerscore. It just requires you to complete it on the three difficulties. The rest you will unlock through natural gameplay.

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