Simplified strategy, sometimes to a fault.
I played Minecraft Legends with my boyfriend Isaiah and we had a steady stream of ever-evolving takes. What started as optimistic indifference ended with me writing this when I’d rather be continuing our campaign, which he is currently playing without me — Judas! We are only a few hours into our adventures and so far, Minecraft Legends isn’t a must-play but it’s a cozy time and its PvP mode has some real potential.
Published by Xbox Game Studios and developed by Mojang Studios and Blackbird Interactive, Minecraft Legends is another entry in the line of Minecraft spin-offs. This time around it's an action strategy game offering a campaign or PvP experience. Both have the option to go it alone or team up with friends and there are monthly challenges to come. The campaign supports up to 4 players total via online co-op and PvP can be 1v1 or 4v4.
Campaign-wise, you’re facing off against a Piglin invasion. Your job is to protect villages and take down Piglin bases. The tutorials are straightforward and brief to get you started, slowly introducing new ideas as you go which avoids bogging down the initial gameplay.
You have a sword to take down enemies yourself but really Minecraft Legends is about building and directing more than getting your hands dirty with combat. The Allays are the real heroes here. These colorful, fairylike creatures only communicate via music. Luckily, you have your legendary lute to communicate with them. Blue Allays gather resources and yellow ones build structures and upgrades. You can also summon different types of minions to fight alongside you.
Really all of this comes down to a toolbar/menu and selecting what you want created, gathered, or destroyed but the musical lore is a great way to spice it up. Plus, it’s cute to hear little tunes while you command your Allays.
When it comes to being a general you use your banner to gather and direct your fighters. Again, these are all menus but the banner gives it a nice visual aspect. All of these touches add to the adventure feel.
Over time you can unlock more upgrades to mine more materials, creating more advanced and sturdy fortresses to keep your enemies at bay. What works well is how streamlined all the building is. Collecting wood is a matter of putting something down by the trees so the Allay gathers it for you and building a wooden wall is just a click and drag as long as you have enough materials.
After a few campaign challenges, we switched to 1v1 PvP, facing off against each other. We both agreed it was the best way to learn the game. I’m sure our understanding would grow through the campaign too but getting to experience all the aspects at once helped immensely. We juggled building, fighting Piglin for special resources, learning how to attack an opponent, and defending against invasion all at once. And since we were both beginners it was a relaxed environment.
Until it wasn’t.
At one point I decided to abandon my base building and focus on an ambush of Isaiah’s base which he found annoying since it was just a loop of me and my minions attacking him, I’d die, respawn at my base, and make my way back again. I didn’t win with this strategy but I got pretty close until he built up his defenses.
All our sloppy battle strategies aside, I enjoyed the PvP. There are some really smart decisions, including an announcer that clues you into the upgrades your opponent is making and whose base is taking what damage.
Unfortunately, I didn’t keep track of how long our battle was but it was long. Too long. This is probably because we were both rookies figuring out what the hell we were doing but I don’t think I want to wage all our wars in Minecraft Legends. It felt too time-consuming for how casual it is.
It felt like the intensity would pick up to speed up the battle. The Piglins that lived in between our outposts were allegedly getting more aggressive, but they never took us out.
Hopefully, future battles will go better. Though, I think we’ll team up next time instead of facing each other.
A drawn-out PvP battle wasn’t our only issue with Minecraft Legends. The simplified nature of the game causes some information to get lost completely. For instance, when I’m going to place arrow towers it shows me their target radius but not the radiuses of towers I’ve already placed. I could create a more efficient fortress if I had this information but instead, I’m left guessing.
Similarly, you can’t see the health of any given structure (whether it's yours or an enemy’s). This makes it hard to know what needs to be fortified on your end or which spots or structures you should be targeting because they’ve become weakened.
Isaiah wanted an option to zoom in on the action a bit more, especially since it gets chaotic quickly. This is exacerbated by the experience of toggling between all these menus in the heat of battle on a controller. This is where the PC version might shine but we played on Xbox Series X|S.
Directing your summoned minions into battle has a Pikmin vibe to it but it doesn’t feel as good or as precise. And since there’s a cap on how many you can gather at one time, the back and forth of summoning and directing can get tedious. More often than not, we felt like we were wrangling kindergarteners more than leading an army.
Given the lowkey approach to strategy I’d personally love a few cosmetic options. I know building is all about practicality here but why not have a little fun with it?
I’d like to finish the campaign and so would Isaiah. At the time of writing, our desire to roll credits is 90% and 70%, respectively. He can see himself getting more interested as time goes on if the progression loop entices him but he can also see himself getting sick of taking out Piglin outposts over and over again. Personally, I found the tasks simple enough that I can put my brain on autopilot to get through battles but enemy behavior was dynamic enough that I’d have a few fires to put out.
After our Minecraft Legends crash course via the 1v1 battle, I felt like an expert. We’d split up roles to have one person get resources and fight while the other focussed on building but join the fight as needed. We’d go to towns the Piglins were targeting for an attack and design a fortress before the battle began.
This early on Minecraft Legends does feel a bit repetitive but there’s a comfort in that familiarity and this has more depth than Minecraft Dungeons. I recommend everyone at least give this a try but it’s far from our next favorite co-op game.