Review originally published on 22nd May.

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch
Genre: Multiplayer action RPG made for newbies

In the Mojang-developed action RPG spin-off Minecraft Dungeons, equipment matters. Unlike other games cut from the same loot-and-slaughtering cloth, you do not have fancy skill trees to mess with as Mojang’s entry does away with classes and other such “frivolities”.

Instead, you earn Enchantment points to allocate to your equipment. See, each new loot you acquire after killing Minecraft mobs and villains like the Creepers and zombies comes with a bunch of passives you can choose to unlock. That passive ability can be upgraded with more Enchantment points to make it more powerful.

So if you’re someone who uses ranged attacks more, you can opt to give your crossbow a bit more oomph and speed with damage buffs and rapid-fire options. If you prefer hard-hitting area-wide melee swings, you can equip a Claymore or Hammer instead and unlock synergistic passives like better pushback or damage buffs when you’re low on health.

You can also equip up to three artifacts that determine your playstyle and build. Magic-users can just use Soul-using artifacts that can fire lightning or heal, as well as summon pets to act as meat-shields.

The best part? If you get better and rarer equipment -and you will in any action RPG mimicking Diablo- you can salvage the old one and get your Enchantment points back. You’re going to come across better gear with up to three slots of power-ups and better passives as you keep questing the different areas, each with their own randomized layout.

While not exactly on the same level as its source material in limitless potential, Minecraft Dungeons lets you get creative with your dungeoneering setup and build if you put the time into it. I suspect videos of OP builds to break the game in the next few weeks.

The Loot Cycle Cometh

Therein lies Minecraft Dungeons’ strength: its simplicity. The only way to get good weapons is not only to rely on random drops from the game’s bosses and elite mobs from all 9 areas, but to also gather enough money to buy randomly-generated loot from the merchants in your camp. Even when you’re done with said 9 worlds -6 hours or less on regular difficulty give or take- there are still two other difficulty modes to unlock featuring better loot for your Minecraft dungeoneer.

Together with the game’s aesthetics & storybook narrative, variable enemy types to deal with, the difficulty curve, and its drip-feeding of high-level loot with each dungeon run, Minecraft Dungeons succeeds in keeping action RPG fans sated even for a brief moment.

And that’s not even factoring local multiplayer, which is a breeze to set up. That’s important, considering that the Minecraft brand is all about accessibility and getting even non-action RPG fans together into something quick and easy, but with replay potential.

Its simplicity is also its downfall, as hardcore action RPG fans may be done with it after a couple of days. There’s nothing else to keep them from hanging around apart from the higher-level difficulties and the max level cap they need to get the best possible Unique gear.

The “pre-generated” levels start to show some familiar designs after the 8-hour mark, so there’s not much deviation there.

I also need to bring up how buggy and broken the last stage is. There were multiple instances where I ended up stuck after using the level’s trampolines getting to higher ground, as well as getting stuck in corners while the final boss just had its way with me. I do hope the game gets a patch in this section because this may throw off beginners who are just about to find out the big deal and value in the action RPG genre.

Mental Block

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Seeing as the game will cost you US$19.99, you’re paying for what you’re getting: a simple action RPG spin-off using one of the world’s most renowned video game IPs.

Is it a game-changer? Nope. Is it even an action RPG to beat pioneers like the Diablo and Borderlands series? Hell no. But it’s still pretty fun and is a great gateway drug for people curious about the genre. Plus, you could do worse than with a price tag like US$19.99.

Pros

  • Easy-to-learn action RPG gameplay.
  • Lots of replayability.
  • Cute graphics.
  • Much-needed co-op options.

Cons

  • Difficulty curve shoots upward at last two stages.
  • Some bugs require stage restarts.
  • Randomized layouts not quite varied post-game.
  • Gets old fast, especially for action RPG veterans.

FINAL SCORE: 60/100

Review copy provided by Microsoft & Minecraft. 

Disclaimer: We couldn’t get online multiplayer started & try out crossplay right away because the game isn’t out yet. Hopefully it’ll be just as painless when it’s up later on 26 May. We’ll be sure to update the review once that’s up.

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