(Pocket-lint) – Minecraft is a franchise that defies all others. It’s still racking up massive player counts thanks to its endless replayability.
And, after a successful foray into new territory with Minecraft Dungeons, Mojang is taking another little risk with Minecraft Legends.
We got a hands-off demo from Xbox at Gamescom 2022, and it seems like a pretty safe bet at the moment.
From what we’ve seen so far, Mojang is cooking up another vibrant little hit with Minecraft Legends.
We’re curious to see how its other modes pan out and actually get some hands-on time with it in the near future, but the campaign looks like a clever fusion of Minecraft with a simple yet rewarding strategy system.
- Promising mix of real-time strategy and Minecraft-style gameplay
- The images look very impressive at this stage.
- We need to get some hands-on time with the game before we can comment further.
Perhaps the biggest challenge Mojang faces right now is convincing people of what Minecraft Legends really is. It’s a real-time strategy game, but not in the traditional sense.
You take control of a main character on horseback and, from an active position on the field, command and lead troops as you move with them. It’s a more active way of taking charge, placing you as the general in the field in an army rather than an omnipotent observer. And it means you can seamlessly move between two game types.
The demo began with our character exploring the overworld, a recognizably blocky, Minecraft-esque world that is procedurally generated as you’d expect.
He then showed us villages to befriend, which are dotted around the landscape and help you recruit more units to your cause. That means even factions like zombies can, in fact, join your cause. Various buffs can also be found, from patches of wheat that increase your speed for a while, to mushrooms that allow you to jump super high for a while.
The threat looming over all of this is a Piglin invasion, reaching out through the Nether portals to take over parts of the world with their sprawling bases. These moments are punctuated by hilarious cutscenes that polish them off, reminding us that Mojang isn’t shy about backgrounds.
You’ll need to find these Piglin bases, explore them to come up with a plan of attack, and then create your own force to confront them, with the goal of destroying the nether portals at their heart.
Each base will have its own style – we saw one bastion base, which was very defensive with walls and towers, but apparently others will have different styles to encourage new approaches as you find them.
Raids mean a combination of Minecraft gameplay twists: First, you’ll gather resources in patches around the world (delegating this to little floating helpers who can do it without any heavy lifting). Then, near the enemy base, you will build your own camp where you can respawn and create your own troops.
We looked at a few types of Golem that could be created, from Moss Golems that heal your forces, to Cobblestone Golems that are specialists at knocking down buildings. It’s clear that this variety of troops will be a big part of what makes the game more complex.
The next phase is attacking your enemies, with a variety of commands allowing you to rally your troops, direct them to attack specific targets, and set them up to guard areas if you wish.
As this plays out, you can charge in to make small revealing attacks on your own, though you’re not a huge force: the point is to direct your army, not make it redundant, according to the developers.
We were looking at an early mission, which happens shortly after the game’s tutorial, so things were kept pretty simple. Even then, the attacked base had layers of defenses and buildings that needed to be broken down before the central Nether portal could be boarded.
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We’ll have to judge how easy it really is to control your strength, but looking at someone else, it seemed smooth and relatively intuitive.
However, we can comment more on the impressive visuals of the game. There’s a crisp, almost cell-shaded look to the blocky world, but it’s the beautiful, vivid colors that caught the eye the most. These have apparently been dialed down a bit to match the game’s fairytale-style storytelling, and the effect is great. Looks like it will run at 60FPS also on an Xbox Series X, which is always welcome.
With other modes in the form of versus and challenge options, four-player co-op, and multiplayer to be fully detailed at some point, there’s plenty more to see from Minecraft Legends. However, for now, we are heartened by your presentation. It’ll be one to watch out for, as an Xbox Game Pass game from day one, too.
Written by Max Freeman-Mills. Edited by Rick Henderson.