If you told me before I sat down to play Minecraft Legends that I would end up hissing profanity at the screen while fighting the urge to drill, I wouldn’t have believed you. But there I was, deeper than I thought possible, giving in to the competitive edge I usually reserve for family Monopoly nights.

Although I admitted I was terrible, my hands-on preview of Minecraft Legends revealed an unexpected adventure world of impressive proportions, made up of randomly generated maps, biomes, and enemies. Even for players returning to the Minecraft universe, there’s more to Overlands than meets the eye. You’ll need to keep your cool whether you’re playing the campaign or the competitive PvP mode, as tactical strategy is what the game is all about if you want to live up to the heroic expectations that the villagers praise for you.

zero to hero

(Image credit: Mojang Studios)

When I sat down to play Minecraft Legends, I didn’t know what to expect. I had played about 15 minutes of Minecraft Dungeons with my nine-year-old cousin in the past, and while it was fun, I never picked it up again after he packed up the Switch and went home. I was, by all accounts, a complete beginner to Minecraft.

I guess it’s because I largely, almost passively, associated Minecraft with seventh graders at school. “It seems a bit simple,” Kevin Grace of Mojang Studios, the project’s narrative design director, was kind enough to agree. Like, these are blocks, right? How complicated can blocks be? But it turns out that once there, they can be very tricky and present some truly incredible challenges for even the most hardcore gamers.”

Not that I consider myself the most “difficult” player to play, but I wasn’t wrong. I may be used to combat from some of the best RPGs, with customizable weapons, intricate stats, and collectible armor blueprints, but the lack of all of those expected components left me vulnerable to the rugged terrain of Minecraft Legends. .

For returning players, it has all the core components of the original: you have four toolbars with which to build, gather materials, summon helpful companions, and explore the sprawling Overworld. However, this time it’s a strategy game. The main campaign can be played solo or with a co-op partner, and when I tried it out for myself, I was overwhelmed with the various mechanics on offer.

The main story of the Minecraft Legends campaign is, as Grace describes it, “exactly that: a legend. Imagine a villager telling a bedtime story to a village boy.” In essence, Minecraft Legends lets you create your own piece of Minecraft mythology, set sometime before the events of the original title; “They’re connected, but it’s different,” says Grace.

(Image credit: Mojang Studios)

But as with all legendary bedtime stories, villains exist to cause drama. “(In Minecraft Legends,) the Overworld used to be a more peaceful place. Until those adorable little angry idiots, Piglins, showed up.” Piglins are the gruesome, arrogant minions you’ll encounter while playing any of the game modes, wreaking havoc on villages and trying to take all the goodness of the Overworld and bring it home. to the much less abundant Nether.

So how can I fit into this story? With no way to fight back, Grace says, and “because the Overworld was a very peaceful place, (the story goes) they needed help. Maybe a hero. (They) needed someone to inspire the Overworld to rise up. Above all, they needed you. You are called upon to, without pressure, save the world.

I only played about 40 minutes of the campaign, and most of it consists of lengthy tutorials and cutscenes. I would have liked to have had a more substantial sense of Grace’s story in action, but it was a great opportunity to familiarize myself with the mechanics of the game.

In addition to collecting materials by playing mystical tunes for helpful goblins called Allays, you’ll fight off the ravages of Piglins with the help of golems. Golems come in all forms, from moss to stone to plank, and you can even get certain upgrades that let you lead Creepers into battle alongside zombies and other familiar Minecraft characters. They accompany you when they gather at a spawn point and will similarly show up as sentries at a marked location on command. This allows you to have more mobility around the map in terms of protecting structures, villages, and dodging incoming attacks from even more Piglins as the day/night cycles progress.

locked and loaded

Minecraft Legends PvP

(Image credit: Mojang Studios)

Like, these are blocks, right? How complicated can blocks be? But it turns out they can be very tricky and present some truly incredible challenges for even the most hardcore gamers.”

Kevin Grace (Mojang Studios)

However, as rich as the campaign is, Minecraft Legends really excels at PvP. Again, it has all the sandbox elements you’d expect from a Minecraft game, but when you team up in two opposing teams of up to four players each, you’ll develop new teamwork tactics to help you along. to conquer your enemies.

Using a combination of capture the flag, tower defense and building strategies, each team will be tasked with building a fortress to protect their own tower while plotting to destroy the enemy’s. Unlike campaign mode, PvP allows you to fight not only Piglins, but also enemy players. You will need to delegate tasks to your teammates carefully. This may be easier said than done: between collecting and building tasks and your offensive mode against the enemy, you’ll raid Piglin outposts and earn special upgrade materials in the process.

You will talk to your teammates through comms, like I was able to experience on two teammates from the blue team when we faced off against the yellow team. It quickly became a matter of barking orders and positions at each other, checking if we had covered base (we didn’t), if we needed more wood (we we did) and if the enemy team managed to spawn Creepers and the zombies first (they had).

Minecraft Legends Preview

(Image credit: Mojang Studios)

I spent most of my preview session rebuilding walls that had been torn apart by the other team’s Redstone Launcher tanks, struggling to position my golems to defend the open tower from the onslaught of stalkers, and concede three rounds of bitter defeat.

It was frustrating but also amazing, and this trial and error approach is exactly what the developer is looking for. “Since we’ve been playing it for several years, (I like) that it changes all the time,” says Anna Wendelin, director of user experience design at Mojang Studios. “In the beginning, we were doing PvP in a sense. And then you learn and adopt new strategies, and there are always new things to find.

It gives me hope that maybe on April 18, when I load up to play Minecraft Legends with my little cousin, his veteran brain will see something I completely missed. Like how to hit things with my little block sword.

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