Minecraft Legends is an action-strategy game that offers years of co-op fun
Microsoft has delivered a cracker here.
This is the best Minecraft game since, well Minecraft.
Where the last spin-off title Dungeons was a decent little action adventure game, Legends builds on that whilst also bringing into the fray the best elements of the original block builder.
What you get is an action-strategy title that’s built for multiple platform cross-play gaming joy with pals for years to come.
It’s all focused around an invasion by the evil piglins into your wonderful blocky but colourful Minecraft world.
Like a real-time strategy game, you’ll find yourself building up a host of ways to defend, attack and defeat the oncoming critters using a mix of mining for elements, building of structures and machines to fight with them and strategy moves designed to grind your enemy into the dirt.
It comes in three distinct parts.
There’s a story mode, which can be tackled single player or with up to three pals across not only the latest Xbox consoles and PCs, but also Playstation 5 as well.
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Then there’s the multiplayer battle mode where you can face off against either one adversary or three, pals or online randoms.
This is essentially a game of old fashioned my-castle-versus-your-castle with the last man standing the winner.
And then there’s the added bonus of regular challenge drops you can download, featuring things like horde mode where wave after wave of evil piglins attack your bases as you battle to survive.
Firstly, developer Mojang has done a bang-up job of making the usual Minecraft world look both familiar and better than ever.
There’s a screen-popping colour and vibrancy to this game that I’ve not seen before in the series.
It stays true to its roots while adding in ever so subtle detail, making the world feel lusher, more alive than before.
The early story features three guides, which is all a bit odd, but basically it boils down to a hefty tutorial before you’re unleashed on a rather large procedurally generated open-world.
No two games then will ever really be the same.
The core mechanics involve using music to control your army of Golems and Allays.
You send the Allays out into purposefully picked parts of the map to mine for elements like rock and wood.
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Your hero can then use these mined goods, and a bit of musical lute playing, to build defence towers to battle oncoming baddies, or bridges to ensure a vital passageway when counter-attacking.
You’ll also be able to establish Golem-spawning hotspots, where your friends (some of which were former foes in the original game) can be generated onto the map as a small army you can then direct into battle.
Different Golems do different things, so cobblestones will slowly work away like woodpeckers in bashing down a rival’s tower, while Planks shoot arrows at the enemy.
When you musically create a mixed gang of them, you can lead one, some or all to certain parts of the battlefield, ordering them to fight piglins face-on or strategically take out their defences before going in for the kill en masse.
It’s all quite close up, over the shoulder type stuff, which makes battle harder some times due to a lack of real oversight like in a traditional RTS game.
But that’s a rather small niggle, because the flip side is that you always feel in the heart of the action, and with a trusty blade to hand you can easily get all hero and start hacking away at baddies yourself on horseback at any point.
That gives each fight a sense of real action, connection rather than what could have been a more distant stand-offish role had it not been the case.
The deployability of this game is immense and from the minute you pick up the controller you’ll know folk will be fighting online in Legends for decades to come thanks to its inclusive all-consoles access and forgiving mechanics.
It’s incredibly tough too once you go online and try to outwit someone with more experience of the genre.
So be warned, while it looks cutesy, it has some real bite and even the one-player challenges can leave you dead and buried in a matter of minutes if you’re not on top of your strategies.
Minecraft Legends is gaming at its best – fun, welcoming, evolving, easy to play but endlessly difficult to master. And best played with friends.
You’ll be continuously tested by this game and it takes its forebears’ core mechanics and adds them neatly into a new-but-familiar mix of action and strategy.
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