I’m going to keep this really simple. If you’re a fan of action RPGs, Minecraft Dungeons is a must play. It takes all the core functionality of an ARPG and executes it perfectly. The developers didn’t layer additional complexity on top of that. You’re not going to find 500 hours of gameplay here. Rather, it’s going to be a solid 30 to 40 hours with a bunch of replay baked into that timeframe.
Let’s start at the very beginning. You witness a brief cinematic that is jovial and charming and introduces the bad guy. You will learn why you need to go through the land slaying zombies and monsters, which are all callouts to Minecraft, from what I understand. I have actually not played Minecraft before. Your next task is to select your character skin - not your character class. Your play style can favor melee or ranged combat, but that is gear dependent and not permanent.
Again, standard ARPG mechanics: isometric camera, on PC you click around traversing the procedurally generated maps and kill the bad guys with your sword or your bow. As the game progresses you will come upon different weapons with varied attack power, speed, range, and ammo consumption (ranged-only). Melee weapons vary: swords, glaives, hammers, and more. If you find an overpowered weapon, melee or ranged, you will feel power immediately. But to truly lean towards melee or ranged playstyle, you will require an armor set that compliments that desired approach. There aren’t weapon sockets or gems you can collect to do different things. You just find cool weapons, enchant them and you move on until you find something more powerful - which never take long in my experience. I like this system: level up your hero, earn an enchantment token, enchant an item or armor, weigh this decision against just a few options. Each item type has a different enchantment benefits. There’s three enchantments per slot, there’s as many as three slots. As you use an enchantment token. You lose it, but it doesn’t go away permanently. If you decide to salvage the item, which is a function in the game for processing your equipment, you get the enchantment back, along with a some of the world currency.
Each mission has a difficulty slider and you can see the relative rewards. Maps contain small caves and dungeons that yield additional rewards. So be sure to completely walkthrough every nook and cranny of the missions. Enemies vary from scrubs to mini bosses to big bad bosses. Unfortunately, the difficulty spikes with the latter. The standard enemies come in a variety: low to high HP, melee or ranged, magic or arrows.
The game’s not perfect. I don’t like that your arrow capacity disappears on the next mission. Pro tip: don’t hoard arrows. And I don’t like that you can’t pause even in an offline game and you can’t save mid-mission. As a father of three young kids that rarely afford me an hour to myself, this sucks. Again, if you’re a fan of action RPGs, Minecraft Dungeons is a must play at $19.99 or $29.00 for the Hero Edition, which includes a few additional skins and the eventual DLC.
Thanks to XBOX Game Studios for sending me a key. But boos to Microsoft for not refunding my pre-order 🙁