Minecraft Legends is an action strategy game developed by Mojang Studios and Blackbird Interactive and published by Xbox Game Studios. The game will be released on April 18, 2023, on PC, Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch and is Minecraft with a strategy twist to it. Where Minecraft Dungeons had an aRPG focus, Minecraft Legends plays like a real time strategy with squads of units to command, while you as the central character issues commands, builds defenses or get in the action yourself. It’s a very cool take on the Minecraft universe that I didn’t know I wanted until I played it. I went in kind of not expecting this to be a full blown RTS like Crossfire Legion or Homeworld, but it turned out to be more of a commander in charge of squads in real-time battles. It’s a heck of a lot of fun but make sure you go in with this knowledge.
We get to explore a familiar yet mysterious land full of diverse life, lush biomes, and rich resources. It looks like Minecraft and has elements of the base game, but this paradise is on the brink of destruction. The piglins have arrived and they’re threatening to corrupt the overworld. We will learn to fight the piglins, defend local villages, gather resources, build structures, unlock upgrades and fight back against the piglin invasion. During the introduction cinematic we meet ‘the hosts’ – Action, Foresight and Knowledge. These three recruit us, a player who was innocently mining away in Minecraft, and whisk us to the overworld. We are their Obi-Wan Kenobi, their only hope at restoring peace to the overworld.
After the intro cinematic ends, we are taken to the game’s menu where we can choose our hero character from 10 preset characters. Your choice is cosmetic only and you can change the outfit once you unlock more through the marketplace. There are two main game modes in Minecraft Legends – campaign and versus mode. The campaign starts after the piglins have invaded and interestingly every new campaign creates a fresh overworld for you, and every player’s overworld will be different. The campaign can also be played with up to 4 players in cross-platform co-op which is very cool. Versus mode is a pvp mode where you have options to play 1v1, 2v2 or 4v4 matches with your friends or players around the world.
I went straight for the campaign mode where the hosts guide us through the tutorial and teach us the basics of resource gathering, troop production and commanding our troops to perform actions. We are given a legendary lute that allows us to play melodies that control creatures called allays. They teach us some basic melodies to get us started as we learn the user interface and how to utilise the allays. Blue allays collect resources while yellow allays build structures. The interface is very clean and minimalistic which is great.
In the bottom left we have a resource count and the number of allays we have spawned at the time. In the middle is our tasks bar that has four groups of allay commands. Z is the resource gathering hotbar, X is for combat where you can summon troops based on the resources you gave available, C is the structures building hotbar where you can build walls, ramps, arrow towers, carpenter huts and more, and finally V is the improvements hotbar where you start to unlock new upgrades. In the bottom right of the hotbar is our flames of creation case that show us the max number of troops we can summon at a time as well as buttons for Q and E to execute our commands.
Once we’re in the overworld, it looks very much like a Minecraft game. We are given a horse mount and told to go and defend a village that is under attack. The village is a fair distance away so off we go running. Early on there were no monsters we had to avoid during our travels, though you do need to avoid thorny bushes. As we successfully defend villages, we unlock fast travel between them and our central Well of Fate. The Well of Fate is home to our hosts and is a safe place where we can make upgrades and improvements to our tools.
When faced with a combat situation, we can fight with our sword to take our basic piglins, but the idea is that we are a commander as such and can summon troops to fight for us. Outside of combat areas we can place summoner stones. Wood allows us to summon plank golems which used ranged attacks and are good against the piglins. Cobblestone golems use melee attacks and are good at smashing buildings. You can initially control up to 20 troops with any combination of troop types. The first upgrade we can do back at the Well of Fate is to harvest iron and this allows us to summon grindstone golems and mossy golems.
When in combat situations, if you yourself get too close to an attack tower for example, the tower will target you and you will start to lose health. When your health gets low, the screen starts to pulse red, and you need to move away so that your troops take the agro. Stand at the back and your health will slowly regenerate. If you die, you will respawn at the Well of Fate unless you have progressed and built yourself some wellhouses that you can place around the map close to the action, so you don’t have to run as far if you die.
After the first hour or so you will progress the story past the introduction and then face a world with several piglin camps that you can progressively take out. In these are elite monsters though which can be fought by yourself but will be much easier with your troops. Harvesting resources before you pick a fight is highly recommended. As night-time approaches, a village will be targeted by the piglin for attack that night. When this happens, fast travel there and hope you have enough resources to build arrow towers, walls and gates around the village to protect its central well. Your map shows you how long before nightfall to give you time to plan your defenses.
If you successfully defend the village, you’ll be rewarded but you may also need to repair it. On the map you can see smoke coming out of villages that need repair, and building a carpenter’s hut will repair the well and any structures within its field of influence. If a village falls, the piglin will claim it as their own and it’s another piglin camp you will have to take back. Thus commences the gameplay loop of Minecraft Legends where you need to work to rid your overworld of the piglin while bolstering the defence of the villages who will reward you.
As you explore more lands you will unlock more resources to mine and in turn, bigger and better upgrades. You can increase the number of troops you can control, how many troops you can order with your banner, better building defences and structures, and so on. There are also question marks that pop up on the map which are secrets to discover. Some piglin’s drop keys that will open chests around the map and there are some cool treasures to collect.
Minecraft Legends has now become my favourite of the Minecraft games out there today, taking the mantle from Minecraft Dungeons. It’s a very cool and fun way to play a Minecraft game, especially co-op campaign with mates, and I am enjoying my time in the game a lot. There’s that familiar feel of defending one more village or searching for that extra rare resource to chase better upgrades and build a bigger army. You are always rewarded the further out you explore, and standing on top of a mountain and looking out over the overworld is a great experience, planning your next moves.