Review: Minecraft Dungeons

The fact I can sit through the entirety of Minecraft Dungeons with nieces and nephews and not have to worry about excessive gore is a delight by itself. I’ve been playing Diablo since the original and if you know anything about that, it’s clearly a series not meant for children. But the gameplay is fun and engaging and it’s taken some time but finally, Microsoft and Mojang have found a way to not only expand the Minecraft property but also created a way to bring together generations of gamers.

I guess purchasing Mojang was a wise decision, huh?

Minecraft Dungeons

Essentially dropping all the things familiar from Minecraft into a top-down isometric view, you get a game that plays like Diablo but lighter. You pick your hero, choose their skin, and away you go. I’ve always found the aesthetic to be charming. It’s hard not to like the blocky-nature of the series honestly, it works well in Dungeons. You’ll start a level and fight your way to the end; and you’ll collect loot, gear, and various tonics to beef your character up. Hacking and slashing, dodging, and long-range attacks from several types of bows is a treat.

Deep Dungeon Dive

Your hero comes with a short-range melee weapon and a long-range weapon. I’m partial to swords and axes but if you prefer a spear or a set of daggers those are viable options too. Combat is surprisingly satisfying in execution.  Something I liked is the combat slider and being able to choose how easy or difficult I want to make the level. The higher the slider, the higher the difficulty with better rewards.

Loading Screen Creeperwoods

You also only get three lives per level in Minecraft Dungeons. I learned the hard way that when dealing with a Mob and overwhelmed at the enemies coming at you, lives are used quickly. In particular, I boosted the difficulty and dived into the Redstone Mine and was promptly put down. Being the first time that I’d lost and gone game over, I was sent back to the hub world.

In the hub world, you can camp, interact with the blacksmith and exchange emeralds for loot boxes. While I was never invested in buying many of them from the blacksmith, they do offer another avenue to unlock gear. However, the tried and true method of dungeon diving is always the best way to earn new gear.

Screenshot MenuEnchantBurning

Skill up!

There are no skill trees to worry about in Minecraft Dungeons. Instead, as you level up, you earn Enchantment points to add to your weapons. These passive skills range in nature and they are random to boot. For each piece of equipment, you collect, there are three diamonds with various Enchantments and each diamond holds up to four upgrades. The good thing is that if you get a better piece of gear, all you need to do is to salvage the piece with Enchantment points. You can then reassign the points to your new gear.

Minecraft Dungeons

And then you’re introduced to Artifacts. These are found from enemy drops, or in chests and help to turn the tide in battle. One might add fireworks to your arrows, creating an area of effect blast. Another summons a wolf to fight by your side. Another grants a boost of speed in dungeons. You have three slots to equip Artifacts and each comes with a cooldown period.

Playing with friends is easy and balanced. Games like Borderlands used to divvy out the loot in one bunch, so if you wanted a specific weapon, you’d have to grab it first. In Minecraft Dungeons, the issue is that while everyone gets loot, it sometimes isn’t as good as what your friend has in his cache. And while the easy thing to do is to trade items, you simply aren’t able to do that. So, you salvage what you can and move on. The upside is that loot is almost a non-issue and you’ll find lots of it when diving into a new area, so it’s more nitpicking of what should be.

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Minecraft Dungeons is a short and entertaining video game. However, it still lacks a ton of depth other games offer to the player. That said, there’s room for gambling in the next iteration because Mojang played things safe with their spin-off property – not that it’s a bad thing. Minecraft has a rabid fanbase spanning a decade, and throughout those years the series has garnered a signature look that may not be for everyone. Still, there’s a ton of charm to be found and I don’t blame the studio for doing it.