As I mentioned in the month in review post, I bought a copy of Minecraft Dungeons last month and actually found some time to play it this past week.
I am going to get my negative vibes out of the way first.
It is kind of a pain in the ass to buy the game on PC. That you have a Mojang account cuts you no ice, you have to have a Microsoft account. You probably have once if you have Windows 10, since they require it, but you may not remember that the login for that is probably in your password managed under a URL that doesn’t have the word “microsoft” in it. (Look for “live” on the list.)
Then there are three different versions, a Windows 7, 8, and 10 version, a Windows 10 version, and a Windows 10 Hero version, which will get you the next few DLC packs they push out. But otherwise, I couldn’t really tell the difference between the first two… the descriptions were paltry in the extreme, so bought the first one because… more support is better? I don’t know. Maybe I made a mistake there.
And then there is the fact that the game has its own launcher, which may sound like a nit pick, but there is a button for it on the damn Minecraft launcher that, before you buy the game, gives you a link to the store page and, which after you buy it, comes up with a button to launch its launcher. I mean, WTF?
Minecraft Dungeons is also clearly a console game that they also brought over to Windows. The opening page starts in with all the controller buttons you need to activate this or that.
That also probably explains why there is no built-in functionality to take screen shots. I had to hit print screen and tab out to paste images into Paint.net to get what you see here. I tried to use the nVidia GeForce experience to take screen shots, but the game is too new to be supported in that yet, and I didn’t want to go dig up my Fraps account just for this.
After 45 minutes of buying then trying to install it some place besides the default location… and being warned not to uninstall for heaven’s sake… I was perhaps not all that favorably disposed towards the game.
And, in the end, it isn’t actually Minecraft… you cannot punch trees or build or whatever and it is click to move as opposed to first person perspective. But if you’re making an action RPG Diablo clone, being able to build a redstone sugar cane harvester probably isn’t a requirement.
That is what it is after all, an action RPG with a Minecraft skin on it. And the game meets expectations there. Zombies groan, skeletons rattle, creepers go “sssss… BOOM,” and so on, while you and your blocky avatar move through the game.
The UI will be familiar to anybody who has played a Diablo or Torchlight or most any action RPG, with perhaps the arrow count standing in for the mana bulb, as there isn’t any magic casting classes… as there are not really classes. You’re just a Minecraft protagonist.
Once you play through an intro that sets the story, you end up in a base from which you will head off on your adventures.
The base is pretty sprawling, and I assume you end up unlocking things as you go along to make some of that space meaningful, but as you start out there are mostly just a chest here and there you can open to collect some of the game currency, which are emeralds of course.
Unlike Diablo, Minecraft Dungeons is mission based. You go to the mission table in your base, click on it, and choose from some of the missions currently available to you.
Each mission has its own story which ties it into the over arching story of the game, and each has its own set of discreet objectives, bosses, and what not you need to overcome in order to finish.
This is not a bad thing. While you don’t get a sense of a world as you are teleported into each mission and return back to your base, it isn’t a giant leap away from something like Diablo and its waypoints and quests. It works.
And there are, of course, chests and loot and upgrades to be found as you run through missions.
You can find better gear, and there is an system of enchantment points that let you improve the gear you have.
That gives you the whole optimization element where you have to decide on gear, the benefits it provides, and the enchantments it offers, the latter of which can be different for items that are otherwise the same.
And you can salvage gear you do not want for emeralds and a refund of the enchantment points you have spent on a particular item.
Things start our light and charming, the game play is easy, and it was quite the delight.
The missions have a map that shows you where you are and what areas you have yet to poke your nose into (because chests are always a possibility in every side path) and little arrows point you towards every objective, so you are unlikely to ever feel lost Even death has a light touch. I did a jump roll into some water and died… no swimming here I guess.
You get a set number of lives per mission, but when you die you get dropped back at a safe spot and can just carry on. But if you die to many times you get sent back to your base to start over again.
After a couple of missions I was pretty happy with the game. I showed it to my daughter, who liked the idea, and considered getting a copy for my Switch Lite. It seemed like it might be a good title to play on that. There is no cross platform play… or even cross platform saves/accounts… but I wasn’t so dug into the PC version that I felt I couldn’t change over. You can play with up to three of your friends, which on the PC side is controlled through a friends list, though how that really works I haven’t seen yet as I have nobody on my list.
And then I got to the content gating mechanism.
While you have levels… because levels will never die… and gain enchantment points with each level, you also have a power measurement based on your level, gear, and enchantments.
Each mission has a recommended level of power you ought to have to take it on. After the first few missions I ran though I was at power level 6 and the next range of missions were suggesting 10.
It isn’t a hard barrier. You can run the missions with a power suggestion higher than your actual, but they are tuned for that suggestion as a minimum. Still, you might get a gear drop that will boost your power as you go through.
Or you can re-run past missions. You can actually dial up their settings from their default to something more challenging, which gets you better drops.
I am less enthused with that option because, with all the charm and cuteness and Minecraft feel to the game, none of the levels were really interesting enough that I was thinking, “I want to do that again!” when I was done. I was far more, “Okay, let’s get the next mission going!”
Still, it feels a bit thin so far, though I need to measure that against the $20 price.
And I am also not that far into the game yet, so perhaps I have not hit the more interesting missions. It is light and easy to pick up though. It just needs to clear the “compelling” hurdle for me.