Minecraft Legends hands-on: Is there a genre Minecraft can't conquer?
The block-building sandbox takes on real-time strategy in this delightful new step.
As soon as you saddle up your horse and take your first steps in Minecraft Legends you will immediately recognise your surroundings. The third-person view might be a bit odd at first depending how you play regular Minecraft, but there are plenty more changes that are immediately noticeable in Legends, too. For everything that is familiar, there is something fresh in this new RTS spin on the blocky formula we know so well.
In Minecraft Legends, you take on the role of a hero who is brought into a world in order to save it from a Piglin invasion. A fairly simple set up, but one that also comes with a lot of information on how this legend differs from the usual Minecraft experience, with the first major separation being in this "legend" aspect of Minecraft Legends. There's a clear narrative here of you being the hero, rather than just making up your own tale in a survival world. When speaking to the developers, they described this not necessarily as a canon Minecraft story, but rather a myth that could exist in the world, a story that villagers could tell before they sent their children to bed.
The narrative for Minecraft Legends - at least in the first hour or so - isn't anything special, but it has no need to be. It is an excuse for you to roam the world and fight the Piglins. Early levels mostly consist of you and your army of golems travelling to different settlements, stopping a Piglin invasion, and setting up better defences for the next time the adorable, evil critters come running. You can also take the offensive in Minecraft Legends and take out Piglin outposts to stop further attacks. The gameplay here marks another major departure from the Minecraft formula, as your traditional tools of a pickaxe, sword, axe, and shovel are traded for your lute, which you use to send allays to go collect materials for you, your banner to control your units and your fire to summon them. Through these tools, especially the lute, you don't need to spend hours punching trees and taking the time to build bases block-by-block. Instead, you just collect a bunch of resources from a given area, and can build ramps, walls, archer towers, and more in a matter of seconds. This streamlined gameplay might not be for those who want the simple life of a wood cabin atop a hill, but that's what traditional Minecraft is for. Minecraft Legends' quicker approach to mining and crafting allows you to better focus on the meat of the game in its combat and strategy, of which there is quite a lot.
This is an ad:
On your end, combat is incredibly simple. Hit the enemies and try not to get hit are the only rules you need to live by. Your units can be commanded to take down Piglins or their buildings, though, and each unit you can create is better at one thing than another. Stone golems, for example, are much better at breaking apart structures, while zombies can be a tanky frontline force to bog down enemy troops. There's a lot of simple stuff you'll pick up quickly in Minecraft Legends, but it appears there is a good amount of depth, too. Perhaps not as big of a ceiling as other popular RTS titles, but there's a higher ceiling than you might first think. This was made especially apparent through the time spent in Minecraft Legends' PvP mode.
PvP might just be where Minecraft Legends is at its strongest, as it becomes an incredibly engaging party game. It is designed to be played 4-versus-4, but 3v3 and 2v2 are available in private games. The goal remains the same no matter how many players you have: destroy the enemy tower. However you try and accomplish this task is up to you. Build a base strong enough to wear the enemy down, make a redstone cannon to obliterate their fortress, or swap out your horse for a giant beetle, hop over the enemy walls and lead an army of creepers to their tower (that one was a personal favourite of mine). Communication is rather key in PvP for Minecraft Legends, as it is best to know who's collecting resources, who's building a base, and who's going across the map to scout the enemy out and engage in guerrilla warfare. Compared to single-player, where the worries begin that fighting Piglins can become monotonous, PvP gives an extra level of depth to the game.
This is an ad:
Minecraft Legends at first appears to be a rather niche title. It might be quite hard to convince RTS fans to make the jump over to the cutesy, charming world of Minecraft, and normal Minecraft players might not have much interest in the gameplay offered by this new title. But, if you're on the lookout for a fun, third-person adventure that looks to have an interesting story as well as a cracking PvP mode, there's no reason to ignore Minecraft Legends.