Minecraft Legends review: Co-op focus sacrifices solo experience
As the third Mojang title, Minecraft Legends has plenty to live up to, with the success of Minecraft and Minecraft Dungeons lingering – but does this survival strategy have pinpoint execution like a Skeleton or self-destruct like a Creeper?
At its heart, Minecraft Legends is meant to be played with friends, boasting a variety of PvP, Co-op, and single-player modes, alongside unique monthly adventures. At its core, this is a fast-paced family-friendly strategy title, taking heavy inspiration from the chaotic battles of Minecraft Dungeons, and the open-world adventure of the traditional Minecraft many know and love.
However, with so many systems, game modes, and controls, Minecraft Legends stumbles under the weight of its own material.
A blocky experience
An open-world game is nothing without its landscape. You need something exciting around every corner – loot to search for and landmarks to explore. Minecraft Legends has all that, from hidden chests filled with rewards to multiple mounts, each with their skills, as well as a healthy sprinkling of classic biomes for players to enjoy.
Laced within the multiple biomes are different elements to help keep the player on their toes. For example, grass stalks help improve your speed, redcap mushrooms give their often hilarious jump boosts, and deadly spikes are guaranteed to take out your allies if you’re not paying attention. All make for an entertaining wrinkle in your journey, which is also greatly aided by the fast travel you gain after saving a town or camp.
On top of this, the resource mining and building mechanics invoke that classic Minecraft feel, tying the title to its roots, and allowing for the landscape manipulation that the series is famous for.
While there’s plenty to do within the relatively vast open world, we couldn’t help but think the title could have brought more to the table still. The chests unlock a few rewards but introduce nothing game-changing and the resources around the world could have been picked up from certain towns, making exploration feel redundant, aside from a very few rare Ores.
Open-world biome beauty
It’s no secret that Minecraft is beautiful in its simplicity, whether that’s enhanced through shaders or in its vanilla state. Minecraft Legends takes that aesthetic to brand new heights, providing what feels like a high-quality RTX version of the game, filled with stunning skies, wonderful waters, and a luxurious landscape.
Blending with the visual design is immersive and hilarious audio. This is greatly enhanced by the fantastic voice acting of Action, Knowledge, and Foresight, who each guide you through the instructive tutorial and help you get to grips with the often confusing controls.
The complexity of the inputs is where the beginning of the game falters, as it throws a ton of different techniques at you all at once. Understanding Minecraft Legends and how to work your character can be a little overwhelming. Such diversity does offer you a unique style you craft when fighting but also made some of the battles a little disjointed. At times we had to try and remember each technique in the heat of battle, causing occasional faltering, and forcing some fights to feel confusing and incoherent.
After some time familiarizing ourselves with the controls, we were able to finally enjoy the single-player mode – playing through the story, taking part in the challenging battles, and watching fantastic cutscenes. Each provides a perfect respite from the gameplay, along with many laughs, many at the expense of the Piglins.
Combat battles the story
As the self-proclaimed villains of the game, the Piglins give each battle a humourous, chaotic, and challenging twist, while the multiple allies you summon make each fight different.
Battles are almost solely between two factions, leaving players to float in the middle, conducting their allies rather than fighting by their side. We would’ve preferred to have a few skills that allowed us to fight with their allies, but there are still thrills to be found in combat, especially when the hoards of Piglins descend.
Complementing the often chaotic battles is a variety of techniques and skills that you unlock throughout the story, alongside the ability to summon mobs to your aid, direct them, and more. Most abilities forced us to think before acting, but that did lead to frustrations as we couldn’t unsummon mobs or gather them at larger ranges.
While combat and exploration, though not without their caveats, we’re largely fun and thought-provoking, the broader narrative never lands as well as it should. The nature of the open-world strategy design often forced the story to the wayside, even obfuscating the next steps of the critical path and where we we’re headed on our journey.
Defeat Piglins with friends
From PvP games and Co-op playthroughs, it became clear that this is what Minecraft Legends is all about. The fast-paced experiences, hilarity among friends and enemies, and intense planning make for a much more enjoyable experience as compared to the single-player.
Although, while the structure is certainly there, certain elements falter. Namely, the inability to communicate directly with a public team and the limited controls labeled within the single-player. Nevertheless, those issues are mitigated when you sit down with friends and destroy nasty Piglins – or each, other depending on your preference.
While Minecraft Legends’ single-player mode is an enjoyable time – aside from a few pacing and control issues – this is a title that is undeniably focused on its Co-op and PvP mode and thrives in that environment more than others.
The Verdict – 3/5
Despite proving its capabilities as an enjoyable co-op and PvP experience, Minecraft Legends just fails to land that punch seen within games like Minecraft Dungeons. Its story sits in the shadows and its single-player falls short of its PvP and Co-op offerings, forcing half of the experience to feel void. Thankfully, the game is saved slightly by its collaborative gameplay, allowing for more replayability and enjoyable experiences with friends, but for us, it just didn’t impress as much as we wanted it to.