Minecraft Dungeons Xbox One X Review

Minecraft Dungeons is a fun and short adventure with everything you would expect from isometric RPG adventure, nothing more.

By Grayshadow, Posted 29 May 2020

Minecraft Dungeons isn't like traditional Minecraft. There's no building or crafting, instead, it's a hack and slash title that takes a lot of reference from Blizzard Entertainment's Diablo series. With the player traveling through multiple biomes to save the Villages from a deadly threat. It still carries the Minecraft charm with enemies and locations designed after the massively popular indie title but doesn't attempt to take advantage of the mechanics that made the franchise such a hit. Instead, relying on the Minecraft charm for an average experience.

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Minecraft Dungeons' central narrative is about stopping the Arch-Illager. An Illager who has obtained a powerful staff and has been using his new powers to enslave the Villagers. The Heroes must stop the Arch-Illager and rescue the enslaved Villagers.

Players take control of 1 of several custom heroes from a pool of avatars. The selection is varied but for some unknown reason, Microsoft locked a handful of avatars behind paid DLC. None of the avatars have special abilities and just serve as cosmetic vessels. Players can have 3 additional players and play through the adventure alone or with friends. The game's difficulty, as far as I can tell, doesn't alter base on how many players are present. Having more players actually makes the game easier. 

Players will travel through 10 maps killing enemies and earning loot. You can equip 1 melee weapon, 1 range weapon, 1 set of armor, and 3 artifacts. The controls are solid, with each item linked to a face button and artifacts requiring a charge after each use. The interface is clean and easy to navigate so you always know how much health you have left and characters are always in the certain of the screen.

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Similar to other isometric RPG titles like Diablo or Torchlight 2 you earn more powerful loot as you progress through the game. With the player able to power up weapons and armor using Enchantments but not artifacts. Enchantments are earned by leaving up your character and each item has a unique set of upgrades with some having multiple tiers. You can dispose of useless items for emeralds and if the item carries an Enchantment you get back those points depending on the item's rarity and what tier the enchanted weapon is at.

Emeralds serve as the game's primary currency. These are used to purchase loot crates from either the Blacksmith for a random weapon or Wandering Trader for a random Artifact. You cannot purchase emeralds and these must be earned from gameplay but the most powerful items come from enemy drops.

All the enemies come from Minecraft with the exception of a few boss fights. You'll fight hordes of these enemies ranging from your standard Zombies to Illagers. More powerful enemies such as Endermen have unique health bars and require a bit more effort to take down. The key, especially on harder difficulties, is crowd control as you can be easily overwhelmed. Managing enemy positions and navigating the environment becomes paramount during the later stages. Especially when managing your dodge which can evade attacks and pass through gaps.

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Levels are well-designed and it's hard to get lost. While there are optional paths that reward players with extra loot a waypoint is provided if you get lost. The map is also incredibly helpful in showing deadends that highlight potential areas where treasure chests could lie. The maps and enemy placements are randomized but core places remain untouched, making each new run refreshing. Stages are varied and take reference from Minecraft's various biomes. You have grassy fields, dark caverns, snowy mountains, and more. Sometimes puzzles are provided such as locating a key or flipping switches. It's nothing major but sometimes unique hazards are placed to give the stages some variety outside from looking different.

To keep combat flowing Minecraft Dungeons doesn't allow the player to keep healing items. You're given 1 potion that recharges over time but all other recovery items, outside from weapon, armor, and artifact abilities, must be obtained from fallen enemies. This also goes for arrows for your ranged weapon. There's no option to purchase arrows and you must keep track of your arrow count. This means you have to keep moving and killing if you want to obtain a critical healing item or more arrows. You can wait for your health potion to regain its charge but players are rated at the end of each stage based on your performance. Giving players an item based on your completion and speed.

The musical score helps provide that adrenaline to keep combat and exploration exciting. In other games, the constant killing of the same enemies would eventually become annoyingly tedious but here the musical tracks helped alleviate those feelings. Providing ear candy while you slaughter hundreds of Illagers and monsters

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The primary goal is always obtaining more powerful loot and Minecraft Dungeons has a dense array of items to collect. Harder options provide better rewards and if killed you're given 3 chances to try again. Default is selected from the beginning, Adventure is unlocked after beating the game, and Apocalypse after beating Adventure. Each of these options has sub-difficulties that unlock based on your overall level to keep players aware when something will be out of their league.

While Minecraft Dungeons looks like Minecraft it doesn't have the same feel. There's no building or crafting to keep the hack and slash combat the central focus. Telltales' Minecraft: Story Mode provided alternatives to building while remaining loyal to the core concepts of its game such as taping a face button while showing Jessie building. Without building in some form Minecraft Dungeons it loses the heart of Minecraft in general.

At its core, Minecraft: Dungeons is your standard RPG isometric dungeon crawler. It's fun and well-put-together but doesn't do anything unique. Just kill, loot, and move on to the next stage. The story isn't compelling and plays out like a children's story but much more shallow. Outside of the visuals, Minecraft Dungeons is just standard isometric RPG looting. There's very little here that other games within the same genre haven't done.

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At the beginning of the map selection, you'll notice this "Island Realms" option but it says "Coming Soon". This seemed fine at first, just more content on the way. However, once you complete the game the ending stops short and a teaser for the upcoming DLC plays. Meaning to see the rest of the game's content you'll need to purchase 2 DLC packages at a later date. Given the game's short length of 5 hours it very poor sequel baiting.

The game is so simple compared to actual Minecraft. The core game is generally considered for children but those who've played the game know that it's much more complicated than it seems. A deep layer of mechanics and tools are provided to create marvels of not only creative structures but teaching tools for complicated tasks. Minecraft Dungeons is the opposite of that creative and intricate system Minecraft is known for by the community who made the IP such a hit.  

Minecraft Dungeons is a fun and very simple dungeon crawler. It has all the elements for a good isometric RPG title and the infusion of Minecraft's iconic characteristic will definitely attract fans of the franchise. However, if you have no interest in Minecraft in general there's very little reason to even play. Minecraft Dungeons doesn't offer anything unique to the genre and other games within the same style offer more. The story, while simple, has been locked behind paid DLC. Minecraft Dungeons is a fun and short adventure with everything you would expect from isometric RPG adventure, nothing more.

Adam Siddiqui,
Managing Editor, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC
Publisher(s): Microsoft
Developer(s): Mojang, Double Eleven
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Dungeon Crawler
Release Date: 2020-05-26

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