In recent years, the Minecraft franchise has broken new ground, from Telltale games with voice influencers to ambitious augmented reality games. The accessible Minecraft Dungeons game of 2020 is the most successful so far. With Legends, Mojang seems to appropriately simplify the real-time strategy genre.
During a Gamescom demo by Creative Director Magnus Nedfors and Executive Producer Dennis Ries, it’s especially surprising how many similarities Legends have to ‘vanilla’ Minecraft. Each player-initiated world is randomly generated, the usual hot streak is there, and collecting resources and building settlements are important pillars of the gameplay – but then keep an eye out from your trusty mare.
Although the fairytale worlds, full of different biomes and landscapes, are very similar to those in the regular game, players do not touch a block themselves. The blue creature next to you does the most important jobs by selecting an area or object and assigning it a task. Often this is just the mining of resources in a specific area, with blocks disappearing from the environment at a satisfactory pace and the counter increasing with a myriad of different blocks and materials.
This makes Minecraft’s most important mechanics a useful starting point for Legends strategy elements. Defeating the Piglins – the evil, ungainly pigs – naturally requires a settlement and men of their own. For example, in the demo, we meet the Horde of the Bastion, a tribe that built a majestic fortress with a gate that constantly slandered evil monsters into the world.
It is up to the player to find the perfect base, build troops and storm the castle. This sounds more impressive than it is, because thanks to a new power, your horse will easily jump to the top of a suitable mountain and the castle and base barracks will be in place in no time.
According to Nedfors, players can expect increasingly larger fortresses as well as “many different troops.” However, in this case, there are still a few different creatures: Golems that attack from a distance, heal Golems and Golems that smash into walls and enemies. Players are given the option to send all troops to a target such as a tower or group of enemies, or direct them by class, while occasionally striking themselves with a sword.
In the simplistic context of the game, this works great. While strategy games for newcomers and young players are often overwhelming, this seems to be addressed in Legends. With the push of a button, you can summon up to twenty men together and divide them by towers, enemies, and, for example, an all-encompassing shield booster. Colored arrows and spells may fly through the air, but – similar to Minecraft Dungeons – players always maintain a certain degree of overview.
Presumably, Minecraft Legends won’t appeal to the seasoned strategist, although it promises to offer some more in-depth elements. The world is filled with villages and other inhabited areas, in addition to the villagers, there are also remarkably friendly monsters. Forging alliances will give players extra help in taking on the spicier Piglin Rules. Exactly how this works is not entirely clear yet.
Legends also includes a competitive and co-op multiplayer mode. Although we haven’t seen the modes in action yet, it should extend the gameplay a bit. The question remains how long Legends will stay alongside infinite Minecraft and Minecraft Dungeons, which are now richly filled with linear levels. With Minecraft Earth, Mojang has proven he is not afraid to kill a failed project.
But aside from the aforementioned predicament, Mojang appears to be filling another gap in the market with Legends. The game is pleasing to the eye with its cartoonish graphic style and the synergy between the basic and strategic gameplay in Minecraft seems to work very well. If that grabs attention for long enough, Mojang has a successful secondary show on his hands.
Minecraft Legends will be released in 2023 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X and S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.