Minecraft Legends: A Strategy Game with Endless Adventure

Real-time strategy games can be complex and intimidating for new players. However, Minecraft Legends defies this notion by offering an approachable and captivating gaming experience. Developed by Mojang and Blackbird Interactive, Minecraft Legends seamlessly blends the aesthetics and mechanics of Minecraft with the beloved aspects of games like Pikmin and Age of Empires. While it may fall into repetition at times, this rock-solid RTS game is a must-play for fans of the genre and young players alike.

A New Dimension for Minecraft

Minecraft has always been synonymous with the survival crafting genre. With Minecraft Legends, the game ventures into new territory while retaining its iconic visuals and gameplay elements. From the moment I started playing Minecraft Legends, I was transported to its unmistakable world through its captivating opening cinematics. These cinematics introduce the invasion of the Overworld by Piglins and the desperate call for help from three “Hosts” named Foresight, Action, and Knowledge.

The story of Minecraft Legends may not delve deep into intricate narratives, but the well-made cinematics add a unique flair to the game. The real shift in this spinoff is its genre. Divided into two major parts, Minecraft Legends offers players the opportunity to attack Piglin Outposts and defend villages. As players explore the procedurally generated open world, they can gather resources, recruit Minecraft mobs such as Golems, Skeletons, Creepers, and Zombies, and engage in epic battles against the Piglins to reclaim the Overworld.

Each mob in Minecraft Legends has its own distinct abilities and purposes. Stone Golems and Zombies excel at melee attacks and destroying structures, while Skeletons prove to be formidable ranged attackers. While players can command all units simultaneously, issuing specific orders to troops yields the best results in taking down enemies and overcoming obstacles. For fans of RTS games, imagine Age of Empires with the gameplay mechanics of Pikmin.

A players summons mobs to attack a Piglin outpost in Minecraft Legends.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Minecraft Legends seamlessly blends action and strategy elements, similar to the Pikmin series. What sets it apart is the surprisingly intuitive gameplay on a controller. A comprehensive tutorial guides players through the basics, and a How to Play reference guide is readily available in the game’s menu. Thanks to its association with the Minecraft franchise, Minecraft Legends serves as an excellent introduction to the RTS genre, making it accessible even to newcomers.

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Building a Legacy

As players navigate the unique Minecraft Legends overworld, resource collection plays a pivotal role, aided by the help of Allays. Resources in Minecraft Legends, such as wood, stone, iron, coal, gold, diamond, and lapis lazuli, will be instantly recognizable to Minecraft players. This familiar aspect bridges the gap between RTS games and survival games.

With these gathered resources, players can construct various objects, including pillars that grant permanent upgrades, a Carpenter building that heals damaged structures, and towers that protect against enemy attacks. Crafting these structures becomes essential as each procedurally generated Overworld in Minecraft Legends is dotted with villages, at least one of which is under constant threat from Piglins every night.

If the village’s fountain is destroyed, the village is lost, and players must fight to reclaim it. To ensure the villages are protected without constant intervention, players must build proper defenses. This tower defense-like element adds a fresh twist to the gameplay and allows players to leave their mark on the world. It’s truly rewarding to witness the impact of each battle, whether it’s the scars left near a previously conquered Piglin base or the fortified defenses of a village I’ve personally built.

This screenshot shows combat in the Nether in Minecraft Legends.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

However, the user experience could be improved. Players can assign frequently used structures to a hotbar for quick access, though setting it up in the menus can be a bit frustrating as it doesn’t display the name of the replaced item. Additionally, removing structures can be a cumbersome process, with no easy way to despawn units unless they are defeated. Furthermore, the deconstruct button shares the same shortcut as commanding units forward. These minor tweaks would greatly enhance the overall control and gameplay experience.

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Despite these minor flaws, Minecraft Legends remains a straightforward RTS game. Once players grasp the game’s mechanics, they’ll find themselves well-equipped to delve further into the genre. It’s worth noting, however, that the repetitive nature of Minecraft Legends may become apparent rather quickly.

Repetition Sets In

The RTS genre often suffers from repetitiveness as players become well-versed in constructing the best units and utilizing effective strategies. While Minecraft Legends attempts to combat this issue, it falls somewhat short. Although each campaign takes place in a unique and procedurally generated world, the experience soon becomes monotonous. After exploring the relatively small open world, the single-player adventure feels stagnant, with repeated sieges on similar-looking bases and defenses of similar-looking villages. By a certain point, every Piglin base raid seems to blend together.

A pig Piglin threatens a smaller one in a Minecraft Legends cutscene.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

On the default difficulty, villages typically survive the night if enough Carpenters and walls surround the fountain. While this approachability may be appealing to some players, it does little to surprise or captivate. With the exception of the appearance of a few boss Piglins toward the endgame, Minecraft Legends lacks the depth and variety that keeps battles interesting in other RTS games. Procedural generation may be fitting for a survival sandbox experience, but a more handcrafted touch for this RTS game would have enhanced the overall enjoyment. There is potential in the Lost Legends mode, offering bite-sized challenges, and I am hopeful that future expansions will introduce new biomes, enemies, and base obstacles.

Boundless Adventure with Others

Minecraft Legends truly shines in its multiplayer options. During the review period, I had the opportunity to try out both the 3v3 and 4v4 modes. Multiplayer feels like a condensed version of the campaign, where players race to acquire resources and construct defenses for their bases, mimicking the protection of villages in the single-player mode. The most effective strategies involve gathering as many resources as possible early on and building a smaller base structure closer to the opponent’s, complete with a Redstone launcher that deals massive damage to the enemy fountain.

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The multiplayer matches in Minecraft Legends offer a myriad of possibilities. As walls, towers, Redstone launchers, and more emerge across the map, and resources dwindle, the world evolves. Walking through the final moments of a match feels distinct from the vast wilderness at the start. This results in visually unique matches that translate into equally engaging gameplay.

In one match, I focused on base building, while in another, I took an aggressive approach and attacked the enemy’s base immediately. Whether you prefer building, combat, or simply exploring and gathering resources, Minecraft Legends’ multiplayer mode caters to different playstyles. With the potential for future updates to introduce new structures and mobs, multiplayer mode will only become more exciting and enjoyable. Once players grasp the core mechanics through the campaign, they’ll find immense satisfaction and endless fun in the multiplayer experience.

Four players stand together in the 4v4 PvP mode of Minecraft Legends.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

In conclusion, Minecraft Legends is an entertaining RTS game at its core. While it may suffer from repetition in its campaigns, it serves as an accessible gateway for both young players and those new to the RTS genre. With upcoming releases like Pikmin 4 and Stormgate’s beta, 2023 is the perfect time to dive into real-time strategy games. Despite its flaws, Minecraft Legends will likely captivate and inspire young players as their entry point into the world of RTS games.

Minecraft Legends was reviewed on Xbox Series X and S consoles.

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