When I was a boy, many, many moons ago, I was a sucker for the old Command & Conquer games, even going so far as to buying C&C for the Nintendo 64, which was a challenge to play with that controller, believe me!
Now, Mojang Studios have decided that what the world really needs at this time is to have a mixture of the old Command & Conquer magic, mixed with a Minecraft flavour. The resulting game is Minecraft Legends.
Of course, with such a strong visual style as Minecraft has, you’d expect Minecraft Legends to look good, and it does, if somewhat square. In fact, you could be forgiven for thinking this was regular old Minecraft as the world looks very much the same as the original game. While there are new things to look at, 99% of the game is instantly familiar.
The enemies are the Piglins, alongside their “General” for want of a better word, and the creatures that we can summon to help us are also very familiar, if usually somewhat more hostile. All I can really say is that Minecraft Legends is certainly a Minecraft game; in looks and sounds even if the gameplay is different. This is a good thing, in case you were in any doubt.
The story of Minecraft Legends is pretty straightforward, to be honest, and none the worse for it.
The Piglins have invaded the Overworld from their base in the Nether, and they are busily attacking peaceful villages and capturing the villagers for goodness knows what. At times like this, it is usual for a hero to rise to defeat the Piglin hordes, and luckily this time, it is us that will answer the call. With the assistance of other worldly allies, called Foresight, Knowledge and Action, and as they teach us new things, we can begin to summon allies, build defences and take back the world.
Also, they give us access to Allays; little fairy looking creatures that can gather things for us, build structures and so on, which is very helpful as we go on. So, with a clear mission in front of us, and an enemy that it is easy to ignore our consciences as we kill them, the scene is set for an epic showdown.
With the narrative set, it is now that we can have a look at the way that Minecraft Legends plays out. There are two strands to the game: the Story mode, which can be played solo or with a team, and the Versus mode, which allows us to take on other players in a fight to the death. The way that the game plays is pretty identical in both regards.
Through the course of the story, we are given an objective – to rid the world of the Piglins. Thankfully we get access to some basic tools to accomplish this feat. We are given access to a couple of basic units, a Plank Golem, which fires arrows at enemies, and a Cobblestone Golem, which is a melee unit and very useful for taking out enemy buildings. With these units in tow, we are pretty much left to our own devices after the tutorial portion of the game, before deciding what we need to do in order to move the narrative along. There are villages to rescue and reinforce, there are allies to help and recruit, and finally there are the Piglins to root out of their bases, sending them back to the Nether.
Helping villages will reward us in the long run, as each village can gather resources for us as time goes by. While we can gather wood, stone and so on for ourselves, having a ready made supply does come in handy. There are other points of interest to find in the world as well: various towers that we can find and learn how to construct, and new creatures that we can ride. Going into battle riding a purple tiger will let you relive old He-Man fantasies!
As we find bases, we have to build spawners nearby, that allows the summoning of allies. These range from the basic Golems, through skeletons, zombies and creepers, up to more powerful allies once we have found them. Having a mixed army is a good idea, as otherwise it is easy to get wiped out. For instance, a group of Golems will happily smash the Piglin structures, especially the defence towers, while a group of skeletons can provide overwatch with their bows. The old faithful tactic of the “tank rush” from those C&C days works just as well here, as an overwhelming attack can usually take out an enemy base.
There are many other tactics to utilise as well – once you get the ability to cure Netherrack, I like to make a patch of ground where I can build things, and then construct a Restone Launcher to take out the enemy towers safely from a distance. There are many ways to play, and finding out the methods that work is very much part of the fun.
The multiplayer side of Minecraft Legends works pretty much the same as the story mode, except that a human opponent (or opponents) is infinitely more sneaky than an AI opponent. We are tasked with destroying the enemy base, and to do this, we can summon the same allies as in the base game. It is then simply a case of overwhelming the enemy, while defending our base. And to add a little spice, there are also Piglins in this mode too, so there is never a shortage of things to fight. Luckily, the resources that are gathered are shared amongst the team, so you aren’t left in the wild with only harsh language as a weapon.
What’s nice is that the controls for Minecraft Legends are very well thought out on the whole, and you will soon be in the swing of building, spawning, and sending your minions off to do your will. The only thing that is pretty counterintuitive is the rearranging of the taskbar; you’ll need to press the right stick in order to rearrange the structure you are looking to build, for instance, and this isn’t mentioned on the screen. I had to dive into the built in manual to figure out how to change it. Other than this, the tutorial does a good job of explaining what we need to do to play, so it is all good.
Minecraft Legends is a proper strategy game, despite the friendly look. Scratching the surface will show a surprising amount of depth and whilst hardcore RTS players may sneer, it brings a ton of fun to the table.