<img src = "https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Redstone_Golem_Approaching-800×450.png" alt = "Redstone Golems are a real problem Minecraft dungeons Butt. "/>
Enlarge /. Redstone golems are a real pain in the butt of the Minecraft dungeons.
When Microsoft bought the Mojang game studio in 2014 for a whopping $ 2.5 billion, fans of the biggest series, Minecraft, immediately wondered what would happen next. Would this be the end of Minecraft on competing platforms like PlayStation? Was the Java version toast? Should we suffer from an inappropriate horror like Minecraft: Kinect Dance Party?
It turned out that Microsoft was largely a solid shepherd for the Blocky series. The traditional Minecraft game continues to receive regular free updates for every platform imaginable, and its cross-platform builds stand alongside the original Java incarnation. Also, we haven't dealt with a few annoying spin-off games. So far, there has just been a well-reviewed Telltale adventure and a decent Pokemon Go clone.
Microsoft and Mojang's shared ambitions are growing this week with Minecraft Dungeons, the first series spin-off to sprout in Mojang's offices. At E3 2019, the studio admitted that it had been running a Skunkworks department for some time to find the right game concept for its mega-hit universe. The first spinoff volley is a family-friendly action role-playing game.
If you're caught up in the game's obvious selling point – a dungeon crawler in the shadow of titans like Diablo III and Path of Exile – you'll get a little disappointed in Minecraft dungeons. What is interesting here, however, is that Mojang's design decisions, which are about adapting the genre to something that thematically fits the universe of the series, worked perfectly. This is a unique offering for the well-trodden genre, which is a remarkable achievement. And although there is a lack of endgame punch from his inspirations, Minecraft Dungeons is easier to sell if it is described as follows: a more powerful, addictive version of the LEGO action series.
To the weapons! As in blocky, stocky arms
At the milder end of the combat spectrum: a single creeper. And it really comes to us!
On the more hectic side of the fight: the nameless as a mob spawning boss.
Seriously, this redstone golem is a pain in the blocky butt.
This forest biome is one of the game's most boring zones, but it definitely looks pretty in Unreal Engine 4.
Enderman is one of the game's more difficult enemies and usually appears in the middle of a normal wave of mobs to make things more difficult.
The "Multishot" magic makes every crossbow so much fun to shoot.
Enemies also receive enchantments, and you will find even more of these specially charged enemies in increased difficulty.
At any time, tap a button to view a map overlay.
Technically, this is a "key golem" on the hero's back. Should you be damaged while carrying it to a door, it will scurry away from you. Cute thing.
The plot keeps things simple. A new villain called "Arch-Illager" (pronounced like "villager" but without "V", so sick and not in the Beastie Boys way) creates an unprecedented number of "mobs" (the series) & # 39; monsters ) and must be stopped. While Vanilla Minecraft has many combat options, this scourge is too big in both strength and number to make this move set enough.
So the blocky heroes of Minecraft Dungeons seem familiar – with the default characters Steve and Alex as options – but their new controls shamelessly steal the Diablo archetype. The action is viewed from top to bottom and with an isometric camera angle. Heroes have a mix of melee and ranged attacks, plus explosives, helpful pets, evasive maneuvers, and a full-body gear menu that they can click through. (All platforms support gamepad control, many can also swap mice and keyboards.)
Continuation of the Diablo theme: Each level is generated randomly according to a theme (swamp, castle, dungeon, etc.), with pre-made parts matching to plan your above-ground and underground trips. They are pretty much all action-oriented. Some of these parts include requirements like "Free five villagers from cages" or "Get a key" to get ahead. However, these should steer your heroes into the fight and not strain your brain.
Up to four heroes can play in co-op either on the same screen or online. Unfortunately, cross-play isn't enabled at the time of launch – apparently not even between players on Xbox One consoles and Windows 10, which violates Microsoft's usual Xbox Play Anywhere promise.
Make your own hero
The first big differentiation of MD comes from the lack of discrete classes. The Mojang developers said during a press event prior to release that they wanted to allow players to "design" their gaming experience the way they could create a custom made Minecraft instance. This means that your game style is all about your inventory.
Each character is given six inventory slots: a melee weapon, a bow and arrow, armor, and three "artifacts", which I prefer to call "skills" because of the way they are. These are the types of skills you would expect from a Diablo skill tree for a particular class, for example. In contrast to Diablo, you can combine any with MD. You might want an armor ability (a grappling hook that pulls bad guys towards you and pulls you away from friends), a ranger ability (charged fireballs), and a necromancer ability (conjure up a combat llama that spits at your enemies). . Find the appropriate items for each ability and place them in your three slots. Most revolve around a cooldown timer rather than a "mana bar".
Fighting llama? Uh, the hell yes.
Weapons and armor can be enhanced with enchantments. Here I had two options and I committed to both …
… but note that this armor has a diamond with three smaller symbols. In this case, the player has to select a favorite, whereby the other two options disappear.
Another look at enchantment opportunities.
In addition to the loot found in an average encounter, you can also use campaign gems and gems obtained to "scrap" older items to buy new, random equipment. Unfortunately, at the time of going to press, this system is a bit poorly tuned, as it mostly spits out worthless equipment – although I did get some amazing exotic products this way.
Weapons and armor have their own built-in status bonuses. They prefer certain game styles, be it by strengthening their armor, strengthening the arrows or shortening the cooldown. There is also a new "enchantment system". Take a new armor and you will see a small diamond in your menu with three perks options. As an example of a possible trio, poisonous clouds are randomly generated; lightning damage is dealt to nearby enemies when you dodge; and you add a direct damage bonus to every attack. All three sound good.
The tick is, once you select one of these three, the other two will disappear. Enchantments always work this way when a new melee weapon, bow, or armor causes you to diminish potential benefits. They also spend a limited supply of enchantment points on all three gear types that can be equipped, which further expands your decision matrix. And you will often do this: Whenever you equip a new piece of equipment, you can restore your old enchantment points by "scraping" the older stuff (which you probably want to do as this is a prey-driven game and there are often better ones Loot around the corner). This way I learned that I didn't really like the game's electro-dodge roll advantage: I spent points on it with early armor, found I didn't care, and decided to use it in the future Equipments not to choose items.
Roll with the random loot stamps
In the early stages of the game, it felt organic and fun to cycle through all six gear slots and find a preferred style of play. New types of weapons usually emerged with a clear numerical lead, especially from what I had equipped, so that I switched from a massive, slow hammer to a frenzied short-range dagger and benefited from it, even if that meant retrofitting my general combat strategies.
The same goes for any other item that can be upgraded, and that quality multiplied when I had a co-op playmate by my side and bounced off the loot's new acquisitions. At first we were annoyed about a strict game restriction: no sharing of loot. Everything your character picks up is just for you, not for swapping or swapping. UH what? I thought we could build our characters the way we wanted, Mojang! But as we delved deeper into the game and the numerical jumps of our prey reached a plateau, this prey mentality developed that rolls with the blows. My co-op partner was fed up with her archetype and changed her occupancy, which meant that she would no longer serve as a party healer. "Oh, I was holding on to a healing item," I replied, and after equipping it, I exchanged a number of other elements to become a ranged mage, as my cohort turned into a damage-eating tank.
Compared to the genre's Stalwarts, MD is less about playing a mandatory role than rolling with the random loot strikes, and for some players the results may feel funnier and looser. For others, the fact that your existing loot cannot be numerically increased a la Destiny could prove frustrating. You may have to give up a certain hero archetype if the game's incredibly random reward system denies you the valuable equipment you've been dreaming of.
One thing for MD is how solid every weapon and item type feels. Some shine more when combined with a perfect set of suitable equipment. The grasping hook mentioned above throws up unless you are otherwise built to eradicate waves of melee enemies, for example. But for the most part, melee, ranged and magical attacks are fun to puree over and over again (which is important in the repeating do-it-again genre of a procedurally generated dungeon crawler), and the enchantment system does it possible to drizzle easily at ridiculous bonus skills. Do you want a crossbow that regularly shoots five bolts that then explode in both burning flames and toxic clouds? Make it happen, and then watch these little damage indicators pile up on your enemies as they melt away.
The switch "Okay, guys, let's get serious"
While the first trio of levels in the game is a snoozer that you need to go through – both on your first run and subsequent runs of higher difficulty – the rest is full of life. A mix of well-known Minecraft enemies and brand new monsters fits together in satisfying action RPG ways to overwhelm the players and force them to be aware of their combined strategies. Careful juggling of splash damage skills, temporary invulnerability boosts, and other super power perks is required as soon as mobs come together in brutally choreographed waves.
The levels also determine where and how you can move. The best include crazy, Minecraft-worthy improvements that you may never see in Diablo. A castle level contains bouncy castles that hurl you (and your enemies) from tower to tower, from which melee and ranged combatants can benefit equally. In a lava refinery, certain relics can be triggered to send out massive straight lines of laser damage that can be activated excellently – as long as you don't accidentally get into their line of fire. I wish MD had delivered more of those crazy moments because they triggered some of my most memorable battles, but they only showed up about 10 percent of the time.
Enlarge /. A special thing worth mentioning is the game's "soul" system. Certain items only work if you collect souls from enemies that you kill, which triggers a special bar at the bottom left of the screen. Spend this bar on soul-specific items to trigger special attacks. Because these items work differently from others, they require special weapon and armor builds to maximize the effect. It's a cool later tweak on the game, and I hope that other crazy systems like this will find their way into the promised set of game patches.
The game's first "campaign" play is associated with a nimble level of difficulty that allows every age group and skill level to master the game's mechanics and customization paths. After that, your future game runs will be largely the same in terms of level generation … only with crazier waves of enemies that you'll have to deal with. Once MD flips the switch "Okay, guys, let's get serious," no one in a campaign should consider themselves a "casual gamer." And for these players, MD's more difficult challenge zones are beginning to add special enchantments to more of the bad guys you face. In practice, MD's enchantment variety is solid enough to make the game's finite enemy variety comparable to other "endless" dungeon crawl options.
But at least in my experience, collecting prey in the "end game" was a slow creep. I found myself struggling level by level, only to get out of everyone with a lot of low-prey prey and far fewer "exotic" drops than even the standard campaign served. Hopefully this is a pre-release optimization issue because if the game offers tempting reasons to switch from one class to another and go to the city of crazy customization in its new form, the results will be a blast.
Blocks against brick
I know I mentioned "LEGO Action Games" above and didn't talk about it. It's a loose comparison, but stay with me.
I occasionally like to play LEGO games with family members. They are pointless, they are satisfactory, and they have good acoustic and visual feedback to devastate all kinds of evil. At a basic level, Minecraft dungeons largely nail this quality because the feel of a standard push-button fight is identical.
In bad news, Minecraft Dungeons won't let you hit walls, cut trees, or otherwise deform the environment, which a LEGO comparison might make you believe. I understand why Mojang chose this path: his randomly generated levels must lead you into battle in a clear, entertaining way, and smashing or digging through the terrain would make this style of play a mess. (If the LEGO series served completely random levels and deformable terrain, I might have a bigger fit, but their pre-set worlds make it easier for them to sneak in moments with block busting.)
Minecraft dungeons launch trailers.
But in great news where LEGO games run out of steam pretty quickly (even unlocking new hidden characters doesn't change your tactics), Minecraft Dungeons does a wonderful job of creating incentives to experiment without making it difficult to do find out. Get a new article. Equip new item. See how new items make you stronger, more explosive, or just weirder. Kill mobs. To repeat.
Priced at $ 20 for a 7-hour base campaign and delving deeper into more difficult difficulties, Minecraft Dungeons is a simple recommendation for a simple but nuanced co-op game. (Also, you wouldn't know it, an Xbox Game Pass giveaway.) Limit your expectations to the $ 20 level – with no microtransactions beyond a $ 10 DLC bundle for new future levels – and you will score a surprise goal. Whether you're playing solo, playing with kids, or building a deadly serious clan with four players.
- A satisfying fight, powered by solid controls and satisfactory audiovisual pop.
- The system for creating your own classes ensures that players switch between game styles during the game's campaign.
- Crazier levels offer unforgettable, environmental moments that you won't find in Diablo.
- At the time of going to press, the loot system needs to be adjusted to keep the content of the endgame more exciting.
- If you're the type to commit to a single class and stick with it, Mojang doesn't give you much to work with.
- Glitches during the pre-launch phase caused our heroes to accidentally die during critical battles. Cross your fingers crossed, this will be patched.
judgment: The price for a clever, family-friendly alternative to Diablo is right. If you are looking for a new co-op game, buy it.